The European Championships were always going to play a big part in the story of this season.
With the first round of qualifiers that were eligible for performance dividends now over, I think that fact is starting to dawn on most traders. And, we have two more rounds of qualifiers to come in October and November to hammer that point home.
This is why as part of site Key Strategy for early season published just over a month ago, I emphasised the importance of signing up the key big international targets sooner rather than later.
I think some may have thought this was too early but with these qualifiers coming up and eligible for performance for the first time, I thought it would be really important to plant a flag on this territory as soon as possible, especially when those players have good domestic prospects too.
I’m hoping lots of members using the strategy did indeed sign up some of the top European internationals in advance. If so, they should be starting to see the benefits.
It’s not too late though if people haven’t. But we don’t want to hang around too much longer on this. There are still two rounds of qualifers to come and indeed we may not see peak hype for the Euros until early next year and closer to the Tournament. I think the elite European players who are expected to do well could hit some silly prices this season.
We shouldn’t just obsess over the Euros, though. What I am really looking for is a strong “full season story”. Domestic league dominance, Europa/Champions League knock out stages followed by Euro 2020 involvement with a big team is a very powerful combination.
We can also still find value here by doing better research than most. It may be that high quality players showed good stats but did not put up a big performance score in these games. They could have flown under the radar. Or, a player who did put up a big score could actually be over performing and we could sell them whilst others are hyped for them.
So let’s take a look through the qualifiers for the top picks. I’m selecting the best and most notable players, if I don’t mention a player it’s because I don’t think they make the cut.
Defenders: Alba, Carvajal
Midfielders: Alcantara, Ruiz, Parejo
Forwards: Morata, Oyarzabal, Suso, Alcacer, Rodrigo,
Market and Player Assessment
Good from Carvajal with a +200 vs Faroe Islands without a goal or assist which is not a surprise given his usual stats. Not guaranteed a place but has a good chance of starting and is capable of a win especially versus soft opposition. Alba looks similar, contributing an assist. Both still reasonable value and showing encouraging signs for club and country.
Alcantara was superb as ever for Spain. Every reason to believe he will replicate his strong domestic scores for his country. Rotation at Bayern the worry and also the toughness of the midfield category in general caused me to shave a half a star off his player rating but 4 stars is still very strong in my language. And the more he drops in price the better he is looking.
Encouragement for Fabian Ruiz holders and there must be a few amongst you given how frequently I have banged on about him in the last year! Started vs Romania and is generally considered to have played well. High baseline stats led to a 216 score without any goals or assists.
And he created 5 chances so could have been better. Edging north of £2 by now but the long term trend fit is very strong and he is close to perfect as a Key Strategy sort of player. Also note he is now picking up Barcelona/Liverpool transfer rumours for next Summer which helps. My only criticism of him is we need to see more goals but the overall package is excellent.
Parejo is brilliant at club level but without penalties I’d be sceptical. He may prove that wrong though because he took 3 shots vs Faroe Islands and created a whopping 7 chances, for no result. Still managed a 215 and could have been much higher. Easy game, though and tougher tests will come. But worth watching, I think he is a solid hold at the price anyway and if he came good internationally that would be a bonus that could possibly allow a hold longer into the season.
Not brilliant from Oyarzabal. Doing well to get the start but was hooked off after 60 minutes. Versus Faroe Isles you want to be seeing crazy numbers vs soft opposition but this was bang average apart from the assist. Will need to do much better if given a chance in the coming qualifiers.
Suso was solid but no big moment. Had 3 shots though and created 2 chances. A big winner from pre-season scouting at his knock down price, he currently looks worth the £1.83 for domestic football alone. If he got a Spain first team spot as well, holders could be set for another bonus.
Alcacer, Rodrigo and the non playing Morata (injury) could be fighting for the striker spot or sharing it. All of them are capable of 2-3 goals on their day particularly vs soft opposition. Although I wouldn’t be expecting regular performance wins from any of them. Morata looks the best value of the trio to me, back under £1 now following an injury but could return next game for Atletico.
His barren spell in the EPL turned many traders off and for that reason was seriously undervalued in pre-season. Has climbed from 70p to £1.17 since I mentioned that in Scouting.
Looks a danger for Atletico certainly and at that price IPD’s alone can push him higher. With Spain involvement on top even more.
Alcacer deserves an honourable mention too. The stats show he should be scoring every game and in reality he is, 7 consecutive games for club and country with a goal which is incredible. The downer is he is unlikely to win a performance dividend unless he gets a hatrick or more and he is about 40-50p more than I would typically want to pay for a pure IPD player.
Defenders: Maguire, Alexander-Arnold
Midfielders: Barkley, Mount, Maddison, Alli
Forwards: Sterling, Sancho, Kane, Rashford,
Market and Player Assessment
Finding value here is going to be very tough for obvious reasons. England players are just far too obvious.
The star players you can expect to stay in demand and probably get a steady rise as we head through the season and towards the Euros however given they are already at very high prices, it’s unlikely to be the best use of your cash. Fine for low maintenance holders but it’s not ambitious enough for me personally.
And in the next few months, I wouldn’t always count on those big prices always holding up, some people will want to take profits on them.
Fringe players making a late breakthrough because of injury or great domestic form might be the better hope.
Maguire is capable of a goal every 5-6 games for England and has the baseline to make it count for the occasional win. The insanely high price is a turn off though, even after the big drop. If that continued, he might come back into something like value range but unlikely.
Alexander-Arnold looks very strong for England and he has performance wins in the locker. A safe hold but not a great value one, it’s just too expensive.
Barkley played both games from the start. He did a lot right but lacked that killer moment like a goal that could change his fortunes. Still managed over 200 vs Bulgaria without a goal or assist, things could have been very different.
He has his problems because he does things sometimes which give your average fan reasons to doubt him. But for FI purposes he is one of England’s best and has come close to wins twice this season already.
The price fall makes him a decent punt again. If he wins and then wins again which is possible, people could revive their interest. May actually lose his place to Alli or Mount though so it’s a tricky one but finding value in England is not easy and any quality FI England players without problems will cost far more than £1.40.
Dele Alli did not have a great season and started this one injured. I would expect him to reclaim a starting place for England though. Down at about £1.65 a few months ago I was positive on him in scouting because I could see in a Euros year some would see value there. He is £1.92 now without kicking a ball probably for that reason. An in form Alli is capable of performance wins for England (and for Spurs although it is tougher there). Probably still room left for a punt on this one for those who fancy him returning to form.
Mount and Maddison will need to see significant pitch time in the next two sets of qualifiers if people will believe they will be starters for the Euros. They are at very high prices although do have ability. Holders may want to be wary of the next squad and first 11 announcements because there could be a trickle of leavers if they aren’t starting or performing well.
These were pre-season recommendations in Scouting when the prices were much lower. They have really flown to become over priced now and big profits could have been had back then.
If they did look like starting for England you could see them pushing £5 by the Euros build up easily so they are reasonable holds still, but for me, that’s not enough of a reward to make it worth it given the high prices at this stage.
Sancho finally got his first dividend win and he has been threatening as covered in Scouting. Ironically, this was one of his worst FI performances for overall involvement! He was lucky to get the match winner and be facing a leaky side. Looked much weaker playing for England than Dortmund on this evidence, for example 31 passes is extremely low compared to the 70+ he will often make at club level.
If this was consistent in the next qualifiers, it would be a red flag that he was not going to live up to the hype come tournament time. Has so much to do to support this price but he got the rub of the green this time. To be fair, he has been unlucky to miss out on a win at club level so it has evened out, he does have real quality my only objection is the insane price.
Sterling looked consistently excellent over both games, with the only caveat being how easy the opposition made it for England attackers. He’s a solid player and capable of performance wins for England particularly vs soft teams. He won’t do it anywhere near often enough for the price you pay though so you’d have to be confident you are going to get consistent media too.
Despite the dividend win we have to be aware Kane is not a brilliant performance player and he really does need these 2-3 goal days to challenge. That can happen during soft qualifiers, but is very unlikely to happen when facing tough opposition. Traders should be confident in getting some media out of him this season though. A decent pick, but as with most England players, just too pricey for great value.
Defenders: Lenglet, Digne,
Midfielders: Coman, Lemar, Tolisso, Ikoné
Forwards: Griezmann, Giroud, Ben-Yedder, Fekir,
Market and Player Assessment
I’m not normally a Lenglet fan, he is solid but usually lacks consistent goal threat or assist potential to make him stand out. Not true here though with 4 shots over both qualifiers, scoring 1. If this became consistent for France he might look interesting at 65p.
Digne looked very solid with a good baseline and an impressive 5 chances created. Good, but very well known and expensive since he plays in the EPL and is popular with the Fantasy football crowd.
Fantastic from Coman over both games, winning the midfield category on Saturday night and was in contention on Tuesday too. 3 goals and created 3 chances although none converted. Has done his chances of selection no harm at all especially because he played both left and right wing. Looks solid domestically and the price is still reasonable given the trend fit. It was just even better in pre-season Scouting at £1.40 or so. But at £1.77 now I think he does have further to go and he could breach £2.
Tolisso looked good although with Pogba and Kanté to come back in, you’d worry for his place. Over 100 passes and had a few shots. I rate him extremely highly. Similar mould to Alcantara but a few years behind him, could really string some wins together domestically and internationally with consistent minutes. Excellent long term prospect but would be surprised if he started for France. At the value price, that’s fine.
A goal and assist from Ikoné over the two. I’m not toally convinced by his performance credentials, though. And likely to be a substitute.
Nothing from Lemar but his underlying stats are very solid. Had one good chance to score. Probably a substitute. Atletico are not the best performance club either. But… he has quality and the price is reasonable at £1.04. I wouldn’t expect immediate fireworks but long term holders might be happy with this trade in a season’s time.
Griezmann was superb in many ways but just could not score, including missing *two* penalties over the two games. Generally considered to have had very good games though. Got 2 assists from a whopping 9 chances created across both matches. Looks very strong for club and country.
Despite the misfires he came close to a second win of the season with a 229 on Tuesday night. Forwards who can do that without a goal are almost always going to be very high quality. He was £2.20 when recommended in Scouting. £2.70+ now so not quite as good but I do think there are very few better season holds than Griezmann.
Giroud started both scoring 1 and it could have been more. Actually looking a decent shout given the extreme budget price tag if we believed he would keep starting and get some more minutes for Chelsea.
Ben Yedder came off the bench to score and it’s another encouraging sign for him. For the money, his domestic IPD potential is solid. If he did start for France that’s even better. We shouldn’t expect performance wins but I think we could see him creep up in price as the goals flow which they should given his threat level and track record.
Curious that Fekir only made such limited appearances. Did manage an assist during the time. It would be great news for any holders if he did get a place but I’m not sure where he fits in, it has been a while since he started for France.