Fifa World Cup fantasy football 2018 picks and tips – which players should I choose?
The world’s best teams are all set to go for glory in Russia, so it’s time to get choosing your fantasy squad with our helpful hints
If you’re lazy like me and you find the season-long slog of Premier League fantasy football too much effort to stick with, then you’ll be cheering the return of Fifa’s World Cup version of the game.
With all 32 squads confirmed ahead of kick-off in Russia on Thursday, Fifa’s fantasy football has finally gone live on their official website.
So set up a league for your office or a bunch of mates and see who the ultimate football nerd is among you – but first you’ll need to create your team.
With only a virtual €100 million to play with, selecting your squad of 15 players can be a daunting task, but the South China Morning Post has got your back. Here are some tips for bargain players who might shine over the next four-and-a-half weeks:
Jordan Pickford – England
The inexperienced Everton goalkeeper represents a risk but he is not too pricey and likely to get the nod over Jack Butland as England’s No 1.
Gareth Southgate’s side are defensively sound with nine clean sheets since Euro 2016. And at 24, Pickford has proven himself already to be one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers.
Rui Patricio – Portugal
The Sporting Lisbon stopper is a seasoned campaigner with club and country – he had seven clean sheets in qualifying and conceded just one goal in the knockout stages as Portugal battled to European Championship glory two summers ago.
Patricio should be untroubled by Iran and Morocco in the group stage, but Portugal have a daunting opening clash against Spain to contend with first.
Joshua Kimmich – Germany
The holders are again among the favourites in Russia, and Bayern Munich’s rampaging right back is set to play a huge role.
Despite being just 23, Kimmich has scored three times for Germany already and had six goals for his club last season, including a double against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.
Thomas Meunier – Belgium
One of the best attacking defenders in the game, Meunier scored a hat-trick for his country in a 9-0 win against Gibraltar last year.
He’ll have license to get forward against Panama and Tunisia in group G before the crunch clash with England.
Nicolas Otamendi – Argentina
A fantasy football revelation with Manchester City this season, Otamendi scored five goals and helped his team to 15 clean sheets.
Argentina are also among the favourites for the tournament and look to have an easy time of it in group D with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria unlikely to trouble them too much.
Aleksandar Kolarov – Serbia
The former Manchester City left back has proved he is still capable of producing the odd goal or assist with Roma, and he scored twice for Serbia in qualifying.
He has a thunderous shot and is a threat from set pieces, so might be worth a punt.
Kieran Trippier – England
The Tottenham right back is set to benefit from Southgate’s 3-5-2 formation, with Kyle Walker likely to be deployed at centre back because of a lack of quality alternatives.
Trippier was man of the match against Nigeria last week and has proven his pedigree at Spurs by popping up with several pinpoint assists for Harry Kane, who will be looking to his teammate again in Russia.
Christian Eriksen – Denmark
On the more expensive side, but Eriksen scored eight goals – including a hat-trick against Ireland – and provided three assists during Denmark’s qualification campaign.
The 26-year-old has a great chance to find his shooting boots in group C against Peru and Australia before what could be a decider for top spot against France.
Paulinho – Brazil
Barcelona’s Brazilian midfielder has had the last laugh after critics wrote him off at Tottenham, having shone in China with Guangzhou Evergrande before earning his move to La Liga.
He’s been vital for Brazil, scoring six goals and making two assists in qualifying. His defensive contributions also mean he is an attractive option for any fantasy team.
Julian Draxler – Germany
Somewhat overlooked at Paris Saint-Germain, which is understandable given their array of attacking talent, but he is still a trusted lieutenant of Germany coach Joachim Low.
He should be fresh given his lack of game time in France and is capable of grabbing goals and assists.
Isco – Spain
The Real Madrid midfielder scored five goals in eight qualifying matches for Spain and is capable of providing plenty of assists.
At that price, he is another relative bargain, and could even be the star of the tournament if Spain go the whole way.
Bernardo Silva – Portugal
Something of a utility man under Guardiola at Manchester City, Silva still showed flashes of brilliance in the Premier League and is one of the main men for his national side.
He offers goals and assists and is a relative bargain.
Timo Werner – Germany
Not as expensive as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Werner could have just as much of an impact with Germany short of a big-name striker.
The 22-year-old has scored seven goals in just 13 games for Germany, and he hit 13 for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga last season.
David Silva – Spain
Price: €9.0 million
The Manchester City man is a snip at this price, and with 35 goals in 120 appearances for Spain he will be one of Julen Lopetegui’s leaders.
Silva had a sparkling season for City despite problems surrounding the premature birth of his child and at 32 this could be his last hurrah for the national side.
Andre Silva – Portugal
The AC Milan striker has had a poor season in Serie A, but he’s proven to be handy at international level.
Silva scored nine goals in qualifying for Portugal and should fancy his chances against Iran and Morocco.
You can’t argue with that price for the Manchester City striker – it’s excellent value for a player who could very well end up with the Golden Boot.
Jesus even outscored Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar in qualifying with Brazil – and group games against Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia offer chances to get up and running.
His stuttering debut season at Barcelona, which was blighted by injuries, means Dembele is a steal at this price.
He is set to form a front three with Antoine Greizmann and Kylian Mbappe, which should provide plenty of goals in Russia, and is the cheapest option.