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Euro 2024 Fantasy: Foden shines, Kane eyes Golden Boot + Morata injury boost

A huge night in Dortmund saw England edge past the Netherlands in the second Euro 2024 semi-final.

Twenty-four hours earlier, Spain had seen off France to book their place in Sunday’s final in Berlin.

Here are some of the most noteworthy developments, from a Fantasy perspective.

READ MORE: FPL 2024/25 – Player prices revealed from Thursday

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MATCH SUMMARIESFPL-INSPIRED WINNER

Pre-match, our Dugout Discussion asked whether this clash would be more like England’s Euro 96 masterclass or Ronald Koeman causing anger and heartache in the infamous World Cup 1994 qualifier.

Yet it was more like the 2023/24 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) campaign. Cole Palmer (€7.3m) and Ollie Watkins (€7.4m) ended it as the best midfielder and forward, with 244 and 228 points respectively.

They replaced Harry Kane (€11.0m) and Phil Foden (€9.0m) in a risky 80th-minute double substitution, in an attempt to rescue a positive first-half performance that disappointingly fizzled out and returned to its usual standards.

But, in fairness to Gareth Southgate, his decision paid off handsomely in the 90th minute. Out of nowhere, Palmer’s through ball allowed Watkins to hold off Stefan de Vrij (€5.1m) and – from a tight angle – clinically fire into the far corner.

It earned him Player of the Match and, consequently, England have reached a second successive European Championship final. This time, it’ll be a daunting task against Spain.

JOINT-TOP SCORER KANE

Yet those Fantasy managers hoping for clean sheets were quickly saddened. Xavi Simons (€7.0m) gave the Dutch a seventh-minute lead when he stole the ball from a hesitant Declan Rice (€6.6m) and shot past Jordan Pickford (€5.0m) from outside of the box.

Soon after, the referee awarded England a very generous penalty. Kane’s shot missed the target and a follow-through involving Denzel Dumfries (€5.5m) was controversially judged to have been a foul. The Bayern Munich forward buried his spot-kick right into Bart Verbruggen’s (€4.6m) corner, meaning he delivered points for both earning and netting it.

Despite his seemingly under-par tournament, Kane is now one of six players to be joint-top scorer with three goals. Both he and Dani Olmo (€7.6m) will be aiming to win the outright honour in Berlin.

BETTER FROM FODEN

An eventful first half was probably England’s best of the tournament, albeit with little else to compete with. Many moments revolved around either Dumfries or Foden.

Minutes after conceding the penalty, Dumfries cleared a Foden shot off the line when Manchester City’s playmaker danced his way to an attempted prod past Verbruggen.

The Netherlands’ full-back headed a 30th-minute corner off the crossbar before Foden decided it was his turn to hit the frame. Positioned similarly to Lamine Yamal’s (€6.6m) Tuesday night stunner, Foden’s curler clipped the post and went wide.

He may still be without any attacking returns from England’s six matches but at least he was lively here. Another long-range attempt from the Yamal spot forced a good Verbruggen save.

SHAW ON AT HALF-TIME

Meanwhile, Kieran Trippier (€6.0m) once more got the nod to be in Southgate’s XI rather than Luke Shaw (€5.0m). Things were switched at the break but it coincided with the Netherlands growing into the game, sensing that England were playing for extra time. Virgil van Dijk (€6.0m) brought a save from Pickford.

Ultimately, Shaw didn’t do much going forward – three crosses, one chance created, 0.02 expected goal involvement (xGI) – but it should ensure he starts the final in a more balanced line-up. A differential way for Fantasy managers to cover England’s defence, knowing he scored in the Euro 2020 showcase.

In other news, van Dijk was joined on the yellow card list by Jude Bellingham’s (€9.5m) tackle on de Vrij and Bukayo Saka’s (€8.6m) push on an anonymous Cody Gakpo (€7.8m).

Sticking with the Arsenal attacker, his 79th-minute strike was immediately declared offside. Not that he’ll be losing any sleep over it.

SUPERIOR SPAIN

England’s biggest test comes next, of course.

Whether you’re going by underlying numbers (first for xG, shots, goals scored) or just off the good old eye test, Spain have been the critics’ choice of the tournament so far.

Looking at the bare numbers, Spain have been bested for shots and expected goals in their last two matches. But with La Roja having gone ahead with a long way to go in each game, the onus has been on the defeated Germany and France to attack. And even when it’s a team as swaggering as Spain, you can’t blame them for sitting on leads with the stakes so high.

We’re at a point now where all the analysis in the world means precious little in a one-off tournament encounter. Lamine Yamal, for instance, wasted chance after chance against Georgia in the round of 16. Then he pops one in from 25 yards against France, his first goal of the Euros arriving from a shot worth 0.02 in xG.

Yamal was, undeniably, the star of the show on Tuesday. An early chance he supplied for Fabian Ruiz (€6.7m) went begging, while the teenage winger flashed another long-range effort over.

The final could just as easily belong to Nico Williams (€7.1m), Ruiz or Dani Olmo, however. You pay your money and you take your choice with Spain attackers in Euro Fantasy.

Olmo scored for the third straight match here. With the gap between England’s midfield and their defence exposed but not completely punished by the Dutch – other than Simons – on Wednesday, the trio behind the workmanlike Alvaro Morata (€8.4m) will be quietly confident.

MORATA ESCAPES INJURY, TWO RETURN FROM BANS

Speaking of Morata, the striker looks to have avoided serious injury despite being felled by an overeager photographer after the game.

“We’re going to wait until tomorrow. We think it’s nothing, but it’s been a bit of an excess of celebration, logically. He had a blow that hurt, but it seems that it is going to be nothing.” – Luis de la Fuente on Alvaro Morata

Morata himself suggested he was fine later.

Spain will also get Dani Carvajal (€5.5m) and Robin Le Normand (€4.5m) back for the final. The defensive duo were banned in the semis but are now free from suspension.

FANTASY FINAL RULES

It’s also worth noting the Fantasy situation heading into Sunday’s final, where the deadline is Berlin’s 20:00 kick-off.

Managers are allowed up to eight players from Spain and England, with five free transfers per squad. These will be used to replace highly selected eliminations like Gakpo, van Dijk, Kylian Mbappe (€11.0m), Mike Maignan (€5.6m) and William Saliba (€5.6m).

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