Stade Francais take on Gloucester in the Challenge Cup final. We look at which players should be in your fantasy teams.
Stade Francais and Gloucester face off at Murrayfield on Friday night, with European silverware on the line for two sides who have been on this stage before.
Gloucester have two victories in previous iterations of this competition, while Stade have a heartbreaking record of four losses and no wins in their previous European finals.
Both teams emerged victorious from close semi-finals and another tight contest is expected this weekend. We’ve looked below at some of the key matchups and who should be in your fantasy squads.
As usual the battle for scrum supremacy will be a key one. Both sides have plenty of big names, with experienced internationals Richard Hibbard (€10.5m) and John Afoa (€10.2m) leading the way for Gloucester. Stade Francais rely on their powerhouse props, Zurab Zhvania (€9.5m) and Rabah Slimani (€11.9m) to lead them up front.
Zhvania has an excellent record of eight tries in his 28 international appearances, making him as good a bet as any front rower to impact your team. Hibbard adds the extra dimension of being like another backrower at times on the floor.
Tom Savage led Gloucester with 19 tackles in the semi-final, despite ten minutes in the bin. He’s also used to carry the ball and at €9.1m is cheaper than Stade’s main options.
For Stade, the explosive Hugh Pyle (€12.8m) is expensive coming off a semi-final where he scored a try and carried for 74 metres. Like Savage, Paul Gabrillagues (€10.5m) is at the forefront of what his team does defensively.
Both sides have serious star power in their back row, with an elite talent – Stade captain Sergio Parisse (€14.8m) and Gloucester’s young Lion, Ross Moriarty (€11.3m) – on either side.
Gloucester also have English international Ben Morgan (€12.2m) at No.8, giving both teams a player at that position who will carry the ball regularly. Their other regular flanker Jacob Rowan’s (€9.7m) hamstring injury means a likely starting spot for Lewis Ludlow (€8.3m).
Gloucester have a pair of high quality scrum-halves to choose from in Greg Laidlaw (€11.9m) and Will Heinz (€9.8m). Laidlaw missed several months with a serious ankle injury, but is now fit again and was recently added to the Lions squad for the summer. Even that isn’t enough to get him the start over Heinz, who is expected to captain the side.
Similarly Stade have plenty of riches at the position, with Will Genia (€14.2m) and Julien Dupuy (€10.4m) providing a quality one two punch for the French side. Genia is expected to start but both men will be involved.
The battle at out-half may well be the key to the whole game. Both Jules Plisson (€16.0m) and Billy Burns (€15.5m) have had excellent campaigns and played a huge role in getting their respective teams this far. Plisson scored 18 points in the semi-final including a try and the game deciding drop goal, while Burns scored all 16 of his side’s points in Gloucester’s semi. Burns has missed some time recently with injury, which bears consideration here.
Scottish international and try machine Matt Scott (€13.8m) is fit again and will partner Mark Atkinson (€10.2m) in the centre for Gloucester. Scott leads the team with 12 tries on the year in all competitions.
Despite a semi-final try, Geoffrey Doumayrou has so far been unpopular with fantasy owners, his (€12.1m) price seemingly off putting. His partner Jonathan Danty (€9.0m) is an exceptional athlete who creates space for those around him. He’s also a very strong candidate to make turnovers at ruck time.
Tom Marshall (€9.1m) returns from injury to start at full-back for Gloucester. Jonny May (€14.5m) is a threat going forward, but defensively missed six tackles in the semi-final.
The Stade back three are led by Hugo Bonneval (€14.0m) , who led the team in defenders beaten in the semi-final. Djibril Camara (€13.0m) and Waisea Nayacalevu (€7.5m) are the likely starters on the wings and have combined for 19 tries between them in the Top 14.
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