Fifa World Cup fantasy football 2018 tips: who to pick for the last 16 as unlimited transfers return
It’s time for a big overhaul of your World Cup fantasy football team, so here’s the lowdown on who to sign for the knockout stages on Fifa’s official game
At last, that sweet moment is here. No, I’m not talking about the first knockout stage of the World Cup – I mean all changes you get to make to your fantasy football team for it.
Us poor fantasy players have been restricted to a measly single transfer per round of group-stage matches so far on Fifa’s official game for Russia 2018.
But it’s time to rejoice, because we’ve now got unlimited transfers to make for the last 16.
That’s right – if you’re languishing at the bottom of your fantasy league while your colleague is lauding it over you because he captained Cristiano Ronaldo, then fear not, because the chance to make amends is upon us.
Player prices have now been adjusted in line with performances during the group stage, however, your budget has been boosted from €100 million to €105 million.
You can also now select up to four players from any single team for the last 16, which obviously comes in handy with half the sides having gone home.
WHO SHOULD I PICK?
It’s looks like fantasy users are sticking with Cristiano Ronaldo (€12.1 million, 23 points) up top, despite his penalty miss against Morocco.
Portugal have a tough last-16 tie against Uruguay, but Ronaldo loves nothing more than scoring on the big stage, and a whopping 18 per cent of fantasy players have picked him as their captain.
Harry Kane (€11.1 million, 26 points) didn’t even play in England’s third game against Belgium, with Gareth Southgate opting to keep him fresh for the knockout stages, but he’s still the top scoring fantasy player.
With five goals already, there’s plenty of confidence that the England striker will keep his nose in front in the race for the Golden Boot – he’s been captained by 6 per cent of players and transferred in by over 177,000.
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez also rested Kane’s Golden Boot rival Romelu Lukaku (€10.1 million, 19 points), who is one goal behind Kane on the scoring charts in Russia.
Lukaku could have a field day against Japan in the last 16, and should be able to bully their defence with his strength and pace. A good bet for goals, provided he’s fit, and you lot seem to agree, with 161,000 users transferring him in.
If you’re looking elsewhere for a top striker, Diego Costa (€9.1 million, 18 points) had a quiet night in front of goal against Morocco, but he could easily fill his boots against Russia, who let in three goals against Uruguay.
If you’re thinking Brazil are going all the way in Russia, Philippe Coutinho (€9.1 million, 20 points) is the Samba star to sign in midfield, and over 145,000 have done so for the round of 16.
The Barcelona attacker has one assist and two goals so far, and of the two £100+ million men (in real transfer fees, not fantasy money, guys) in Brazil’s team, it is Coutinho rather than Neymar who is shining for the Selecao.
You probably can’t go wrong with signing Luka Modric (€9.1 million, 19 points), either, if you have the money.
With two goals and some excellent displays for Croatia, Real Madrid’s midfield man has been transferred in by more fantasy users (197,000) the round of 16 than any other player.
Modric faces a midfield battle with Christian Eriksen (€9.1 million, 16 points) at the weekend, and the Danish star should be up for it again after a quiet evening against France last time out in what became a bit of a dead rubber.
If you’re looking for a bargain in the middle, perhaps have a punt on Sweden’s Viktor Claesson (€5.5 million, 15 points).
The quick-footed Krasnodar winger has racked up two assists and won his side their penalty against South Korea, and is the sixth-highest scoring midfielder still at the tournament.
Juan Quintero (€5.6 million, 18 points) has also been a bargain buy, with a goal and two assists for Colombia. Can the River Plate attacking midfielder do it against England?
Sweden’s Andreas Granqvist (€5.1 million, 25 points) has been the bargain of the tournament – the 33-year-old centre back is the most valuable player at 4.9 points per million.
With two goals from the penalty spot and two clean sheets in three games, you’d be wise to get him in your backline. A match against Switzerland offers Granqvist and Sweden a decent chance of progressing, too.
If you fancy another Swedish bargain, take a look at Granqvist’s fellow defender Ludwig Augustinsson (€5 million, 19 points).
The Werder Bremen left back has a goal and two clean sheets, and is the third most valuable player with 3.9 points scored per million.
Colombia’s Yerry Mina (€5.6 million, 24 points) has shot to the top of everyone’s defensive wish lists after scoring against Senegal.
It was the Barcelona centre back’s second goal in three games, and he has two clean sheets as well, making him the second most valuable player of the tournament (4.2 points per million) sandwiched between the Swedish pair above.
Brazil defender Thiago Silva (€6 million, 20 points) has also crept up the points-scoring charts to seventh place after a goal and two clean sheets in the group stage.
Silva’s Selecao teammate Miranda (€5.5 million, 14 points) is a bit cheaper if you’re looking to save some cash at the back, without scrimping on quality.
In terms of miserly defenders, Uruguay’s Jose Gimenez (€5.7 million, 18 points), Martin Cacares (€5.6 million, 18 points) and Diego Godin (€5.6 million, 18 points) are all great options.
The trio are all top 12 on the most valuable players list – but remember, they’ll be coming up against Ronaldo on Saturday.
The Danes aren’t a bad bet for defenders, either – Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen (€5 million, 14 points) might tickle your fancy, or Henrik Dalsgaard (€4.5 million, 14 points) if you want a slightly cheaper option.
Statistically there has been no better goalkeeper at Russia 2018 than Fernando Muslera (€5.6 million, 20 points), who has three clean sheets with Uruguay and has twice earned a point for making three saves in a match.
Whether he, like Uruguay’s backline, can keep out Ronaldo when they face Portugal this weekend is another matter.
Kasper Schmeichel (€5.1 million, 18 points) is your next best bet for a stopper, going by the numbers, with two clean sheets and 14 saves for Denmark, though Modric and Croatia will provide a tricky test to navigate.
Although they are expensive, it could be wise to free up some cash for either David de Gea (€6.5 million, 8 points) or Thibaut Courtois (€6.0 million, 14 points).
They’ve not had the best of tournaments, and Chelsea’s Courtois is the better bet on form with two clean sheets, but they face easy opposition on paper in Russia and Japan, whereas most of the other last 16 ties look like promising goals at both ends.
WHO SHOULD I DROP?
He may be captained by 10 per cent of fantasy players, but Neymar (€12 million, 12 points) has failed to fire on all cylinders so far. For that price you might be expecting a little bit more.
Neymar’s teammate Marcelo is being ditched at a high rate – 92,000 users have got rid of him – with the Real Madrid defender coming off injured against Serbia and a doubt for the game against Mexico.
Denis Cheryshev (€5.7 million, 19 points) was a star of the first two group games for Russia but had little impact against the first decent team they played in Uruguay.
He will have even cost you minus one point after scoring an own goal, and with Spain next up the fairy tale could be over for the hosts. Most of you seem to agree – he’s been transferred out by 94,000 users, behind only Joshua Kimmich and Manuel Neuer who are no longer in the tournament with Germany eliminated.