Any players picked for tomorrow’s match between Portugal and Spain will be locked in for the rest of the tournament. This means if you load up on players from Spain, and Portugal manages to win, you are at a disadvantage in Sunday’s final.
Let’s say you stack your XI with Silva, Torres, Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, Ramos, Busquets, and Iker. If Portugal wins, those nine spots will return nothing in the final. Conversely, if you think Portugal will pull the upset and load your lineup with Ronaldo, Pepe, Patricio, Alves, Nani, and Coentrao and Spain emerges victorious, you are wiped out for the final.
The same holds true for managers who gamble on Italy upsetting Germany on Thursday. Go with Buffon, Pirlo, Balotelli, Cassano, Nocerino, and even super-sub Diamanti and Germany wins, you are doomed in the final. Then again if you share the opinion of most of the world that Germany will win and you stack your lineup with the likes of Neuer, Ozil, Gomez, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Muller, Khedira, and Klose and Italy pulls off a shock result, your fantasy final will be a disaster.
Our private nine-team league has a tight race going into the final round of three matches. Nine points separate the first five managers. In the ESPN Experts league, it is not as close with 30 points the margin between first and fifth.
Managers looking to make a dramatic finish will gamble by loading their XI-man lineup with teams they think will be in the July 1 final. Most will have a combination of players from Spain and Germany. Looking at the games played leading up to the semi-finals, all four teams have had spotty matches. Spain and Italy drew 1-1; Portugal had to rally late to beat Denmark and also lost to Germany, while Germany was so-so in a 2-1 result over Denmark.
In case you are wondering, Sir John’s starting lineup will have five from Germany, five from Spain, and one from Portugal. An Italian and Portuguese result will, of course, be the end of his fantasy hopes.