Fifa World Cup fantasy football 2018 tips and tricks: forwards, midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers for the final
Transfer bargains, best value players and captain options – here’s who you should sign for the final and third-place play-off at Russia 2018
The final two matches of the World Cup are set, and with them comes your last chance to snatch glory on Fifa’s official fantasy football game.
France will face Croatia in Sunday’s final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, after England and Belgium square off for the second time at Russia 2018 in Saturday’s third-place play-off from St Petersburg.
You can now select up to eight players from a single team with your €105 million budget and you have five free transfers to make.
There are still plenty of possibilities to ponder when it comes to picking your players, so check out our handy guide here:
He may be playing for the consolation prize of third place but Harry Kane (€11.2 million, 38 points) is still leading the race for the Golden Boot with six goals and is the highest points scorer.
The England striker is the most picked captain (24 per cent) but also has the ignominy of being the most transferred out player (82,300 users) with many perhaps expecting Gareth Southgate will give his skipper a rest in the meaningless Belgium match.
Warranted or not, Raheem Sterling (€8.9 million, 13 points) has copped plenty of flak for his performances in Russia and may also be a spectator from the bench on Saturday.
That could open the door for Marcus Rashford (€7.7 million, 6 points) and Jamie Vardy (€8.2 million, 5 points) to start up front together again as they did against Belgium in the group stage, when both sides were rotated heavily with qualification secured.
The Three Lions will be playing solely for pride, though, as will Belgium – and you’d expect Roberto Martinez will rest Romelu Lukaku (€10 million, 28 points) and Eden Hazard (€10.1 million, 25 points) again. Indeed, Lukaku, captained by 6 per cent of players, has been transferred out by over 72,000 users.
Michy Batshuayi (€7.9 million, 8 points) is likely to fill in – goalposts beware – and Dries Mertens (€8.9 million, 15 points) should also get the nod on Saturday after being benched for Belgium’s last two matches.
Take your pick from France’s frontline. Antoine Griezmann (€10.1 million, 32 points) has not been playing spectacularly but is the third-highest fantasy points scorer.
The Atletico Madrid striker has had two assists and three goals – but two of those were penalties and the other was down to a freak howler from Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera in the quarter-finals.
Still, fantasy users are high on Griezmann – 9 per cent have captained him, the second most behind Kane, and more than 77,000 have transferred him in for the final.
Kylian Mbappe (€9.2 million, 23 points) has cooled off a bit since his round of 16 double against Argentina, but his pace and trickery tormented Belgium in the semi-finals.
His temperament may be an issue though – the 19-year-old has been booked in his last two matches for timewasting and playacting, picking up just one point in each game.
Olivier Giroud (€8.9 million, 13 points) has gone over seven hours of football (425 minutes) at the World Cup without managing a single shot on target, but Didier Deschamps clearly trusts the Chelsea striker. And who knows, he may just break his duck and be the hero for Les Bleus.
You can expect to see a fair few users start transferring in Ivan Perisic (€8.5 million, 23 points) after his goal and assist for Croatia against England.
Perisic was man of the match but be wary – other than his goal against Argentina, the Inter Milan winger has been fairly quiet in Russia, picking up just two points in each of Croatia’s other four matches.
Mario Mandzukic (€8.9 million, 21 points) may be the man to go to for after his match-winning heroics in the semi-final.
The Juventus forward is a big-game player, too – he’s been a steady performer in the knockouts, scoring at least 5 points in the last three games, with two goals and an assist.
If you need a cheaper option from Croatia, Andrej Kramaric (€7.8 million, 13 points) and Ante Rebic (€5.5 million, 13 points) each have a goal at the tournament, and looked lively against England.
Paul Pogba (€8.8 million, 12 points) is being transferred in by a lot of players (over 67,000) but his disciplined performances in France’s midfield are not really adding up to fantasy success – he’s yet to register more than 3 points in a World Cup match.
Pogba’s midfield partner N’Golo Kante (€6 million, 15 points) isn’t burning up the points scoring charts either – it’s France’s defenders (see below) who are doing the most damage.
For midfield picks, if you haven’t already got Luka Modric (€9.1 million, 26 points) in your team then you need to have a long hard look at yourself.
As predicted, the Real Madrid man has confirmed his status as one of the best midfielders in the world at this tournament – he has the most points for a midfielder at Russia 2018.
Ivan Rakitic (€8.5 million, 17 points) has also starred in Croatia’s midfield, but, other than his 8 points against Argentina, has not picked up more than two points in any game.
Belgium’s star man Kevin De Bruyne (€9.8 million, 18 points) stirred into life in the knockout stages but could be benched against England if Martinez makes a lot of changes.
Jesse Lingard (€7.5 million, 21 points) is the second-highest points scorer among midfielders, but like De Bruyne could be rested for the third-place play-off, with Southgate likely to give a run out to his reserves.
It’s not really been a tournament for midfielders, in terms of points scoring, with set piece goals dominating.
Perhaps best to change to a formation with either two or three in the middle, and load up that defence and attack.
France’s backline is where it’s at if clean sheets and value are what you’re after. Raphael Varane (€6.1 million, 33 points) is way out in front as top points-scoring defender and the second highest points scorer overall, and has been a part of all four of France’s defensive shutouts in Russia.
The Real Madrid centre back has been a rock at the heart of Les Bleus’ defence and also headed in a goal against Uruguay. Captaining him would be a smart shout.
Samuel Umtiti (€5.9 million, 26 points) isn’t too far behind, with three clean sheets and a headed winner against Belgium in the semi-finals, and is the third most transferred in player ahead of the final (75,000 users).
If you’re looking for cheaper options, Benjamin Pavard (€4.6 million, 26 points) and Lucas Hernandez (€5 million, 24 points) have also been virtual ever presents in that rock-solid France backline, and as full backs may contribute an assist.
To put things in perspective, Pavard is the most valuable player left on the game (5.9 points per million) with Varane and Hernandez rounding out the top three, while Umtiti is sixth (4.4 points per million).
You probably should hedge your bets a little though – selecting all four would be an almighty gamble, unless you’re certain France are winning with a clean sheet.
Dejan Lovren (€5 million, 17 points) claims he’s now proved he’s one of the best defenders in the world, and if you agree then he’s a cheap option.
His defensive colleagues Domagoj Vida (€5.5 million, 22 points) and Sime Vrsaljko (€5.5 million) are a bit more expensive but have scored more points. Ivan Strinic (€4.9 million, 17 points) is your other Croatian option, and is the cheapest of the lot.
It’s important to note though that Croatia haven’t kept a clean sheet in the knockout rounds, and they have played three lots of extra-time so may not be playing on the freshest of legs.
It’s difficult to predict who will make up England and Belgium’s defences for Saturday’s third-place play-off, given there could be a lot of changes.
Some of England’s top defensive points scorers, like John Stones (€5.9 million, 26 points), Harry Maguire (€5 million, 22 points), and Ashley Young (€5.4 million, 17 points) could all get a rest.
Kieran Trippier (€5.5 million, 26 points) will be an injury doubt too after limping off in extra time against Croatia, and we could see Danny Rose (€5.2 million, 5 points), Fabian Delph (€4.6 million, 4 points), Phil Jones (€5.3 million, 2 points) and Gary Cahill (€4.8 million, 2 points) all called upon.
You may also want to ditch any or all of Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen (€5.9 million, 16 points), Thomas Meunier (€6 million, 14 points), Toby Alderweireld (€5.8 million, 13 points) and Vincent Kompany (€5.7 million, 6 points).
We could see Thomas Vermaelen (€5.4 million, 7 points), Dedryck Boyata (€5 million, 13 points) and Leander Dendoncker (€5 million, 5 points) all brought back into the side.
Hugo Lloris (€5.9 million, 23 points) and Thibaut Courtois (€6 million, 24 points) are the goalkeepers to go with if you’re looking at form.
Belgium’s Courtois has been selected by 28.8 per cent of users, nearly 8 per cent more than Lloris, but has only had two sheets compared to Lloris’ three.
Lloris has conceded four goals compared to Lloris’ six, though, and is the most transferred in player ahead of the final (89,000 users).
There is a chance that Roberto Martinez could rest Courtois too and give Belgium reserve goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (€5 million, 0 points) his first outing.
Southgate may also give Jack Butland (€5.5 million, 0 points) a run out for England against Belgium, but Jordan Pickford (€5.5 million. 19 points) and Courtois both played when the sides met in the groups.
Pickford perhaps deserved better on Wednesday, making five saves in the semi-final defeat by Croatia, but the Everton goalkeeper has only had one clean sheet.
If you fancy Croatia to shut out France in the final, Daniel Subasic (€5.5 million, 19 points) is a cheaper option than Lloris, but has not kept a clean sheet in the knockout stages.