I discuss the build up to Euro 2012, and some tips for a Professional auction
The start of Euro 2012 is just over a week away now and, with the confirmation of the 23-man squads earlier this week, the excitement can really start to build.
We updated the Player List with all the new players, and cut the unfortunate ones who did not make it, on Tuesday afternoon and on Wednesday a large number of Fantasy League Professional leagues began their online auctions.
Many people see the auction as the highlight of the season for Fantasy League Pro, but time constraints meant that even the FL office league had to use the online auction engine this time around. It's sometimes hard to arrange a night to get everyone together to hold an auction, especially if you're already planning to meet up for your Premier League 2012/13 auction in a few weeks.
We feel that between eight and 12 teams is the optimum number for a Pro league in the European Championships. If you have many more than that, you start to really have to dig to the bottom of the Player List and use a real wealth of knowledge, or luck! Though you can have anywhere between 5 and 16 teams if you have the interest.
There are 14 teams in the office league meaning competition is fierce. Trying to secure one of only 16 starting keepers is a challenge, especially whilst avoiding defences from the likes of Denmark, Republic of Ireland and Croatia!
Getting your tactics right in an online auction is key, because it's a blind auction and you pay what you bid for the player, even if that bid is unmatched. It's always amusing then when the likes of Fernando Llorente and Mario Gomez go for £17.50m and £13m respectively, from a £100m budget, when they could have been secured for free. Having said that, you shouldn't spread your money too thinly, or you may end up getting no players at all.
Without wanting to give too much away to prying eyes, I think Group A is the place to go if you're looking for clean sheets. Particularly Russia, who only conceded four goals in their 10 qualifying matches and are in a group with defensively minded teams like Greece and Poland. A quarter-final tie against probably Germany or the Netherlands would then await, and with double points for the knockout stages you could then be faced with a problem.
Picking the Russian starting keeper is tricky though, as probable first choice Igor Akinfeev damaged his cruciate knee ligament in August and has played very little ever since. He made his return to the international stage as a second half substitute in a 0-0 draw against Lithuania last night though, and is still favourite to start against Czech Republic on the opening night next Friday.
As I've already mentioned Denmark, and particularly Danish defenders, should be avoided as they look to have the trickiest challenge of all if they want to make it out of the 'Group of Death'. I believe Ireland may sneak out of Group C, and then face a potential quarter-final tie with England, but you may want to steer clear of their defence, especially for the clash with Spain which awkwardly falls in the middle of their three group games.
Our opening bid round was processed this morning and remarkably, all of the 14 teams secured between six and 10 of their 14 players in that round. I personally managed nine players, securing big-money deals for Xavi (£22.5m), the possibly now injured Wesley Sneijder (£19m) and Bastian Schweinsteiger (£14m), while snapping up Glen Johnson, Olof Mellberg, Damien Duff and Andrei Arshavin for free. We now nervously await round two....
Have you started your auction? Do you have any thoughts or comments on what I've discussed this week? We'd love to hear from you, comment below.... Meanwhile, I'll be back closer to the tournament, and throughout Euro 2012, with some more blogging.
Ian Hart - Games Manager, Aston Villa fan.