Here’s Rob Reid with his fantasy World Cup final tips article as he updates us on his team and transfers after reviewing the semi’s
fantasy World Cup final tips – Rob Reid updates us on his team
The semi-finals are over and the dust has settled, elation for some and shattered dreams for others. So close and yet so far for the defeated, only 1 game away from eternal glory for the victors. Enough poetry, it’s the last weekend and with it comes the final phase of the World Cup Fantasy Football. 2 matches; the surreal experience of the 3rd/4th play-off and the grand spectacle that is football’s pinnacle, The World Cup Final.
To remind you, I went into the semis off the back of a slightly disappointing 1/4 finals round with a drop of 3500 places to 7222 in the rankings. My squad was also looking somewhat threadbare with me down to the bare minimum of 11 available players and with my Wildcard already used back in the Round 2 of the Group Phase. I’d used my Bench Boost in the Last 16 but I still had my Maximum Captain Chip available.
It was a slightly odd semi-final round for my team, but I emerged with a respectable 41 points despite only 3/11 returns and a captaincy blank. My overall rank improved 1900 places to 5330, very pleasing at this stage of the competition. It was all about some good fortune on my defensive transfers in – I managed to bring in 2 defenders who both scored, one of whom also kept a clean sheet! Umtiti was a bit of a gut pick as I fancied him to return off a set-piece so I’m pleased this paid off. Trippier was a more measured pick, but I expected his attacking return return to come in the form of an assist rather than a goal so that was an added bonus.
My only other return was an assist from Griezmann and I missed out on bigger gains in the overall rank through only having 1 French defender and also from a blank from both captain picks – Lukaku and Kane. My main regret for this phase was not playing my Maximum Captain chip as it would have scored me an extra 10 differential points but I have the comfort of now using it in this last round so I don’t have to worry about captain picks on either gameday.
2 matches then, the 3rd/4th Play-Off match on Saturday between Belgium and England and The Final on Sunday between France and Croatia. I was wrong with who I thought would win both semis, hopefully I can do a bit better with the final 2 games – let’s take a look at them in more detail.
Saturday – Belgium vs England
I don’t really know why they still bother with this game to be honest. Neither team wants to still be at the party, they’d rather be home with their families, off on their holidays or back with their clubs. I suspect it will have the feeling of a pre-season friendly rather than a bronze medal match, but it is what it is and does present the chance for some fantasy points. I suspect there will be significant rotation in both line-ups but we have the bonus of being able to see both team selections prior to the deadline so we can adjust accordingly. Belgium are the favourites and the likely victors for me, but England may see it as a chance to prove a point – their critics (harshly in my view) argue they haven’t beaten a major side at this tournament and they’ll see this as a chance to put that right.
Of the first team players, I’d expect both Kane and Lukaku to start as they are both still chasing The Golden Boot. There are however some rumours afoot that Kane has still been nursing the injury that he had towards the end of last season so I wonder if we’ll see him substituted after an hour or so if it looks like The Golden Boot is secured. Otherwise, for England Trippier is likely to miss out after his injury in the semi-final and after that anyone could start. For Belgium, I’d be surprised if they leave out De Bruyne but again after that I could see anyone playing.
As for the result? Well anybody’s guess, but this has traditionally been a high-scoring match averaging 4 goals a game in the 10 matches since 1978. Last time out, The Netherlands beat Brazil 3-0 and were the first side to keep a clean sheet in this game since 1994 when Sweden beat Bulgaria 4-0. These are the only 2 clean sheets in this fixture in the last 10 games! I’ll go for Belgium to win this but it’s a 50/50 call to be honest! I’ve listed the bookies odds for what they’re worth – note the high clean sheet odds based on the history of this match.
Bookies Odds – To win (90 mins) – Belgium 6/5; England 23/10. Clean Sheet – Belgium 5/2, England 4/1.
Sunday – France vs Croatia
The final no-one would have predicted but let’s give both teams the immense credit they deserve.
We’ll start with France – they’ve got better and better as the tournament has progressed. They did what they had to do in the group phase with workmanlike wins over Australia and Peru before the 0-0 dead-rubber against Denmark. Their match against Argentina in the last 16 has been the game of the tournament in my opinion and was an attacking masterclass from Messers Griezmann and Mbappe. Wins over Uruguay and Belgium were kind of the opposite and they showed great defensive structure and organisation in the latter game, reflected in the relative xG stats for both sides (2.12 for France vs 0.53 for Belgium.) Varane and Umtiti look a formidable partnership in defence further protected by the tireless Kante and enigmatic Pogba in central midfield. Add to that the aforementioned talent they have up front and it’s no surprise they’re in their second consecutive major final – the question is can they go one better this time or will they lose their bottle like they did in the Euros?
Croatia are definitely unexpected finalists when you take into the account their recent internal turmoils but when you read between the lines there’s a good reason why they’re there. The core of the team boasts a host of domestic and European club honours between them so it’s no surprise really that they should have the guile and resilience required to win out in tight matches, as they’ve done all the way through the knockouts. Luka Modric is a prime candidate for player of the tournament and from half-time in the semi-final he took the game by the scruff of the neck, controlling the midfield area ably assisted by Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic. Wing-backs Vrsaljko and Strinic were also superb as was the countries second top scorer Mario Mandzukic. Despite the Croats being 20 odd minutes away from being knocked out, they dominated the semi-final on the xG front (2.13 vs 0.73) and although France are favourites on Sunday, I certainly wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s Croatia who lift the trophy come 7pm on Sunday night.
World Cup finals have been traditionally tight low-scoring affairs in the last 30 years since the 5 goal thriller that made up the Mexico 86 final. In the 7 finals since, there have been 7 clean sheets with 3 of them ending 1-0, another ending 0-0 and only France in 1998 and Brazil in 2002 scoring more than once. As such, covering both defences looks a wise move to me with France better than evens with the bookies for a clean sheet. Griezmann and Mbappe look the best attacking threats, though I wouldn’t write off Mandzukic and Perisic who both scored in their semi-final with Perisic also registering an assist on top. Luka Modric has offered less attack threat in the knockouts, but carries a high ownership so any returns from him will be costly to overall rank. Who’s going to win? I fancy France to nick a narrow victory.
Bookies Odds – To Win (90 mins) – France 10/11; Croatia 4/1. Clean Sheet – France 10/11; Croatia 5/2
So I’ve got 5 players into the final who should all keep their places – Umtiti and Griezmann of France and Strinic, Lovren and Modric of Croatia. My plan is to try and sell my whole knocked-out bench if possible, though I suspect I won’t have enough funds to sell cheapie Inui for anyone of any note. Also, if neither Kane or Lukaku start, I’ll sell them for Mbappe.
For players coming in, Lloris will come in for Muslera and I’ll bring in Varane or Pavard for Granqvist depending on what funds allow. For the other 2 midfielders – I’ll see who I can get who’s playing in the 3rd/4th Play-off within the confines of my budget. It could be I end up with someone like Loftus-Cheek or Nacer Chadli. I’ll make my final call once the teams are in around 2pm tomorrow, so I’ll post on Twitter to confirm then. I’m playing my Maximum Captain chip as well, but if I wasn’t, I’d probably captain Lukaku on Saturday and Griezmann on Sunday.
Thank you all very much for your support during The World Cup and I hope you’ve enjoyed my articles and analysis and found them useful. I’ll be back with a short article on Monday with my final score and overall rank. Best of luck for the final round!
Here’s the team:
Geek World Cup Leagues
It’s too late to join the telegraph league btw. I’m not sure what the rules are in joining the other leagues now but here’s the details anyway
McDonalds FIFA Official
or League code:
Sun Dream Team
Fantasy Football Geek
League PIN: WCW6UFM9