We are nearing the closing stages of Euro 2016 and to be honest it is very difficult to pick a winner at this stage. Real Madrid superstars, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, will be pitted against each other in the first semi-final featuring Wales and Portugal. In the second semi-final, two of the tournament favourites, France and Germany, will lock horns.
Wales against Portugal will be an interesting fixture as both teams have conceded goals regularly throughout the tournament. The focus will obviously be on Bale and Ronaldo and it will be interesting to see which superstar comes out on top.
The Welsh defence has looked like the better one so far but their attack will be blunted due the absence of Aaron Ramsey. Portugal, on the other hand, has scored more than one goal in a game on only one occasion so far in the tournament and that was against Hungary. Their defending improved considerably thanks to the efforts of Pepe, but the veteran centre-back might miss this crucial tie through an injury.
Replacing injured or suspended players will be easier for Portugal than for Wales and due to this reason I expect Portugal to go through to the final.
France vs Germany will be a very interesting tie. Both teams have world class players in abundance in their squads and have looked terrific throughout the tournament. Germany even managed to get past their biggest nemesis, Italy, in the quarter-final round. Meanwhile, the hosts France put five past Iceland in the previous round but Germany will be a much tougher challenge.
There are two ways to approach the semi-final round of the Euro fantasy game. The first is by using your allotted six free transfers and the second is by using your wildcard (if you haven't used it already).
The semi-final round needs a proper strategy even if you use the wildcard or not. You have to pick 15 players overall from four different teams.
Here is how I suggest you pick your squad.
1. Pick at most four players from one team. That way, you will have four players from three teams and three from the fourth. So even if you used your wild card, you can change six out of the maximum possible eight players that were eliminated in the semi-final and keep the eliminated players on the bench for the final.
2. Pick at least one defender from each team. This way the probability of scoring points from clean sheets is maximised.
3. There are two ways to approach the goalkeeper scenario and here is the first. If your first keeper is from Portugal or Wales then make sure your second keeper is from one of France or Germany. This way there is a good chance that both your keepers will make the final. However, keep in mind that there could also be a case where both your keepers are eliminated.
4. The second way to pick your goalkeeper ensures that at least one of your keepers makes it to the final. This can be done by picking the keepers of the teams that play each other.
5. Midfielders have been the heroes of Euro fantasy competition so far. My advice is the same - pick attacking midfielders or wingers or cheap central midfielders who are definite starters or central midfielders who are set-piece specialists.
6. Forwards have been the biggest challenge so far as most of them have let me down when it comes to scoring points. My advice is to go for players who have done well in the competition so far.
7. Before the game between Wales and Portugal make sure that all players from these teams are in your starting line-up. You can take them out and replace them with players from France or Germany if they don't do well. A similar strategy applies to your captain also.
Based on the strategy I've come up with, these are the players I would suggest for each position.
Goalkeeper: It's obvious that you need to pick two out of the four first choice goalkeepers. I have given two strategies and you can follow either one of them. The keepers you can choose from are Neuer, Lloris, Patricio and Hennessey.
Defenders: Based on my strategy I would recommend these players. Neil Taylor, Jonas Hector, Cedric Soares and Bacary Sagna. Your fifth defender can be from any of these teams but try to pick a fullback who is a sure starter.
Midfielders: Dimitri Payet, Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler, Toni Kroos, Joe Allen, Paul Pogba, Renato Sanches and Joao Mario are your best picks. I would suggest that you don't pick anyone outside this list.
Forwards: One of Ronaldo/Nani, one of Giroud/Griezmann, Gareth Bale and Thomas Muller are the best possible choices for the three forwards you have to pick. I have gone with Ronaldo, Giroud and Bale for this round.Published 06 Jul 2016, 03:09 IST