Group F wraps up Matchday 2
The second round of group games at Euro 2016 comes to an end on Saturday as Group F takes over the spotlight, with another three matches lined up.
Belgium take on Republic of Ireland in the opening fixture of the trio, before Iceland face Hungary with both teams looking to build on their impressive showings in their opening matches.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal will then take to the field to round off the section, with Fernando Santos’ team taking on Austria after failing to beat Iceland in their first match.
A great day of fantasy football action is in store on Day 9 – here are some players to consider.
Belgium fantasy player to watch – Kevin De Bruyne
Marc Wilmots’ Belgium did not get out of first gear in a 2-0 loss to Italy, with creative talents such as Kevin De Bruyne failing to impress despite the Red Devils’ star billing at Euro 2016.
The top-ranked team in the tournament, Belgium seem to be less than the sum of their parts, with the likes of De Bruyne and Eden Hazard needing to step up for the game against Republic of Ireland. De Bruyne had a brilliant – if injury-affected – season with Manchester City and he needs to hit those heights at international level to help his side to move into the next round of the event.
Republic of Ireland fantasy player to watch – Seamus Coleman
Martin O’Neill’s men will be relatively satisfied with a 1-1 draw in their opening group match against Sweden, but there is a lot of hard work still to do if they are to qualify from the group. One man who was in fine form in that match was right-back Seamus Coleman, who produced the cross for Wes Hoolahan to put his side into the lead.
While Hoolahan is a doubt for the Belgium game due to a calf injury, the Everton full-back is fit and raring to go after collecting a WhoScored rating of 7.42 for the Sweden game, with only Hoolahan and midfielder Jeff Hendrick earning a higher score from that match.
Iceland fantasy player to watch – Gylfi Sigurðsson
Iceland and Hungary both got off to an excellent start at Euro 2016, with their qualification chances boosted as a result. Iceland’s 1-1 draw with Portugal was wholly unexpected, but there are no surprises in our choice of fantasy pick for this match as we stick with Gylfi Sigurðsson.
The Swansea City star takes virtually all of Iceland’s set-pieces and he is also a genuine goal threat from open play. Although he was not at his best against Portugal, Iceland should have more possession in this game, giving Sigurðsson the chance to show off his huge talents on the international stage.
Hungary fantasy player to watch – Gábor Király
Gábor Király is one of Euro 2016’s most idiosyncratic players, with the veteran goalkeeper wearing his typical dirty grey jogging bottoms during games. But his unusual attire was forgotten as the 40-year-old rolled back the years with a superb individual display to keep Austria at bay.
Király, who counts Crystal Palace, Burnley and Fulham among his former clubs, made a string of saves to produce a clean sheet in his side’s surprise 2-0 win to get their tournament off to a flyer.
Austria fantasy player to watch – David Alaba
Austria were arguably the biggest disappointment of the opening round of fixtures, looking off the pace and running out of ideas as they were comfortably beaten by Hungary. David Alaba looked to be trying to do too much in that game and he might settle down for this clash against Portugal.
Alaba provides plenty of value as a fantasy football pick due to the fact he takes most of the set-pieces for his side, while the Bayern Munich utility man – who typically plays in central midfield for his country – also likes to unleash shots from long distance.
Portugal fantasy player to watch – André Gomes
Cristiano Ronaldo railed against Iceland’s wild celebrations in bitter post-match quotes after they held Portugal to a 1-1 draw in the first Group F match, but the Real Madrid star would have been more wise to think about his own below-par performance.
With Ronaldo out of sorts – possibly carrying an injury – the torch was passed on to André Gomes, who is arguably the star of the next generation of Portuguese football. The 22-year-old teed up Nani for the opening goal of the game and he was a constant threat. Ronaldo does not need to do it all himself for Portugal any more, as he has the likes of Gomes to bring into the game.
Gomes racked up five goals and eight assists for Valencia last year and has been linked with a big-money move to Chelsea or Manchester United ahead of the next Premier League season.