Dark horses in action
Day 3 at Euro 2016 sees both Group C and Group D get underway, with world champions Germany in action against Ukraine in the last of the three scheduled games on Sunday.
Some of the tournament’s dark horses are in action on Day 3, with Turkey playing Croatia in the first fixture, before a well-fancied Poland outfit take on outsiders Northern Ireland.
The day’s line-up of games look particularly unpredictable, while there could well be plenty of goals scored from the impressive array of attacking talent that will be featured on the day. So who should fantasy football players be watching out for on Day 3 of the Euro 2016 tournament?
Turkey fantasy player to watch – Hakan Çalhanoğlu
Fatih Terim looks set to be one of a handful of Euro 2016 coaches using a false nine tactical system, with Hakan Çalhanoğlu appearing the most likely candidate to be asked to fill the role.
The Bayer Leverkusen starlet is a certainty to be selected against Croatia, even if it is still unclear exactly where he will be picked. Whether it is in midfield or in attack, the 22-year-old will be a key man for Turkey at the finals, not least because of his stunning free-kick ability.
Çalhanoğlu’s set-piece showreel is as impressive as any player at the tournament and even though goalkeepers will know all about his unusual technique, it will still be tough to stop him. Born in Germany, Çalhanoğlu has a great chance to announce himself to the wider public at Euro 2016.
Croatia fantasy player to watch – Darijo Srna
Coach Ante Čačić has one of the best collection of midfielders at Euro 2016, but our Croatia selection for their opening game against Turkey is the nation’s long-term captain, Darijo Srna.
The right-back has been one of the first names on the team sheet for over a decade and he has amassed an enormous 130 caps for Croatia, scoring 22 international goals in the process, which is a terrific record for a defender.
Srna is 34 now but he still gets forward to good effect. He was among the players on the scoresheet in Croatia’s last Euros warm-up game, a 10-0 demolition of minnows San Marino.
Poland fantasy player to watch – Arkadiusz Milik
Robert Lewandowski is by a distance the biggest star name in the Poland side, but the Bayern striker – top scorer in qualifying with 13 goals – will cost a huge amount in fantasy football games this summer, so Ajax’s Arkadiusz Milik may prove to be a better option.
The 22-year-old is a striker by trade, but usually features in the number 10 role for his country, although he swaps positions with Lewandowski during matches to confuse the opposition. Milik hit 24 goals in 41 games for Ajax this season, but after Lewandowski was rested in a recent warm-up against Lithuania, Milik and his team-mates struggled to create – and they drew 0-0.
Northern Ireland fantasy player to watch – Steven Davis
Northern Ireland have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their first major international tournament in 50 years as star striker Kyle Lafferty limped out of a training session on Tuesday morning.
With just a few days left to go before Northern Ireland’s opening game, Michael O’Neill’s plans have therefore been thrown into chaos – although the coach insists Lafferty is fine – but one man he can continue to rely on is Steven Davis, a midfielder who is the anchor and captain of his side.
Set-piece specialist Davis leads the pressing that Northern Ireland are known for, while he is also a threat with his shots from long distance. Northern Ireland’s chances of making it through the group stages look slim – especially if Lafferty is ruled out – but Southampton’s Davis will be solid. He could take responsibility for penalties in the absence of Norwich City forward Lafferty too.
Germany fantasy player to watch – Mesut Özil
Mesut Özil has been peripheral for Germany at times, but after a fantastic domestic season with Arsenal the playmaker is surely ready to show off his prodigious talent on the biggest stage of all.
The former Real Madrid man collected 19 assists and six goals in a tremendous campaign for the Gunners, recording a WhoScored rating of 7.66 for his excellent Premier League performances.
Germany have not lost in five games they have played against Ukraine and Özil has plenty of attacking talent to pick out with those rapier-like passes, with Thomas Müller prolific wherever he is played, while striker Mario Gomez would thrive on the 27-year-old’s through balls if selected.
Ukraine fantasy player to watch – Taras Stepanenko
Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka are Ukraine’s most famous international players, but if the nation has a man who is ready to be a breakout star at the finals, it is Taras Stepanenko.
The midfield anchor will sit in front of Ukraine’s defence but he is much more than a destroyer, as his fine range of passing will be key to launching rapid counter-attacks to his side, with long diagonal balls targeted at picking out Yarmolenko and Konoplyanka deep in opposition territory.
Stepanenko’s relationship with Yarmolenko is also worth watching, as the pair clashed during a match between Dynamo and Shakhtar in May. Yarmolenko kicked out at Stepanenko and was sent off as a result, with the pair publicly making up later, although resentment could yet lurk.