The best Celtic Euro 2020 Fantasy Football team
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be choking with excitement for Euro 2020.
After all, for my fellow Scottish sufferers, the men’s side have not been in a tournament for 23 years. In that time, you could’ve had a child, put them through school, watched them become a class player, break into a first team, had their old tweets about “getting mwi” dug up, and get called up for Scotland.
So, there’s that. But also, again if you’re anything like me, in which case I’m deeply sorry, you’ll be thinking about Fantasy Football. Just to preface this; I’m useless at Fantasy Football. My stubborn refusal to pick any Rangers players this season past rendered me a mid-table mediocrity.
However, you’re here now, and you’ve clicked on this. So it’s important that we arm you with a Fantasy Football team who are at least tangentially related to Celtic. Of course, normal rules apply, so I’m limited to 3 players per nation. That makes it considerably more difficult, but we’re nothing if not up for a challenge.
What are we talking about? Well, UEFA have launched their own Fantasy Football game for Euro 2020, and you can play it for free. Here’s some info via UEFA.
In goals: David Marshall
Given that there are no outfield players outwith Scotland who are Celtic-adjacent, what else did you imagine to play between the sticks, here?
David Marshall, who I once ignored to get Javier Sanchez Broto’s autograph, is the obvious choice here. Given that his image is likely to replace the Duke of Wellington’s statue in Glasgow before too long, he’s the obvious choice here. We’ve been linked with bringing him back relatively recently, and he of course rose to prominence with Celtic, making his mark against an excellent Barcelona side in 2004.
To think; if it hadn’t been for a referee accidentally sending off Rab Douglas instead of Bobo Baldé, we might never have got David Marshall’s penalty save against Serbia.
The Euro 2020 Celtic-based defence
So, I’m going to pick my second Celtic man, and it’s Kieran Tierney.
He may not be at Paradise any more, but he’s a guaranteed starter for Scotland. On the left side of a three, KT is more than adept either in his more familiar LB role, or as a centre-back. He has to get in this team, it’s a complete shoe-in. To his right, in the middle of our defence, is Jason Denayer. Clearly, we would’ve picked Virgil van Dijk, but he’s going to miss the tournament [Independent].
So, and this in no way diminishes the acclaim of being in this team, the other choice for my back-3 is Dedryck Boyata. Fine, he’s got Vertonghen and Aldeweireld ahead of him, but the former Hoops centre-back is good value to get minutes for Roberto Martinez’s gung-ho Belgians.
A midfield 4, because why not?
This is where it starts to get a bit trickier.
By virtue of the limitations of the format, I’m going to have miss out on Andy Robertson. Yes, he played for Celtic’s Academy, and he may have won the Champions League, but he doesn’t get into this side. It’s not a knock on the guy, obviously.
So then: who’s our roving left-winger? David Alaba, obviously! Alaba is one letter way from Alba. Alba is Gaelic for Scotland. He’s in. It’s just that simple.
On the right flank: Ousmane Dembélé. On account of the fact that he has a surname in common with both Moussa and Karamoko Dembele, obviously. Look, nobody said this was going to be an exact science, or even clever, at all.
In the middle, it’s got to be the one and only Callum McGregor. One of the most reliable and consistent midfielders we’ve had over the last 10 years, McGregor is our third and final Scotland and Celtic-ish player here. Next to him, it’s a genuine struggle.
To complete the midfield, I had to choose between Danilo lie the fields of Athenry of Portugal and Emil Forsberg, whose absence for RB Leipzig against Celtic in 2018 made things ever so slightly easier in November 2018 [BBC]. In the end, it had to be Forsberg, because A: he’s Swedish and B: I’m going to get slaughtered by my editor for the Danilo pun.
Going all-out up front for Euro 2020
Up front, it’s far, far easier.
Jordan Larsson gets in, because frankly, he’s Henrik’s son and he can do what he likes. Hopefully we’ll get to see the Spartak Moscow man firing a few goals in, with 75-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing the tournament. Maybe the tournament will miss some wacky quotes [ESPN], but we’ll maybe get to see Larsson Jr tearing it up on the big stage, which is ultimately more fun than listening to someone talk about lions and compare themselves to God.
Next to him is Norwich legend Teemu Pukki. You might’ve missed it, but Finland made their first Euros in the history of their men’s national team. To say that’s solely down to an ex-Celtic player in Pukki is probably reductive, but guess what? I’m doing it. Expect a Pukki Party or two in Europe this summer.
One space left, and I’m leaving it for the best: Robert Lewandowski. The record-breaker for Bayern Munich was on Celtic’s radar back in Neil Lennon’s first stint as Celtic manager. Instead, Borussia Dortmund swooped in. The fact that Lewa turned down the chance to play for the same team as legends including Willo Flood and Zheng Zhi still haunts him to this day, we’re sure.
How far would this team make it in Euro 2020
Listen: is it a brilliant team? Probably not. Would it make it out the group stage? Again, probably not. But can we dare to dream? Oh aye.
At the very least, it’s built on a solid defensive foundation. Out of possession, McGregor will drop deeper, with Alaba and Dembélé covering the wings. Both are very pacy, and have the stamina to keep up with any attacker for 90 minutes (or more, if the final goes to extra time (which it won’t because this team is class)).
Playing Emil Forsberg out of position is questionable, but with the 3-player limit per country, I’ll admit I was clutching at straws a bit. Imagine him starting in the middle but advancing forward. He’s essentially got complete freedom to drift into any position he wants, really.
And tell me that’s not an amazing front three. Larsson can start on the left, as he’s also a winger. Pukki could be described as an unnatural fit on the right of a three, but to you I’d say: I tried my best. Leave me alone. And of course, with Lewa, who again, was on Celtic’s radar at one time, you’re pretty much guaranteed goals.
So, why not send in your own Sort-Of-Celtic-Ish Euro 2020 dream team? If you can do better than mine, it’s probably not saying a lot. But it’s something.