With the launch of the official 2018 FIFA World Cup Fantasy game
, it is time for fantasy managers to (virtually) suit up again, especially after the conclusion of the 2017/18 Fantasy Premier League season. And I thought I’d try to shift our mentalities off from a Premier League bias and shine the spotlight on some strong picks from other leagues, while avoiding the far too obvious picks of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. So, here’s an early look at some fantasy picks before the tournament kicks off on June 14.
Fedor Smolov (Russia)
Smolov plays in the Russian Premier League with FC Krasnodar and scored 14 goals in 22 matches in the 2017/2018 season, and was the second top scorer in the league behind Quincy Promes of Spartak Moscow. For the upcoming tournament, Russia are in Group A includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay, with only the latter likely to provide real resistance. As their main striker, he should be in the thick of the action.
Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
Another pick from Group A, the PSG man was the top-scorer during the World Cup qualifying with 10 goals in total. Meanwhile, Uruguay’s other star striker, Luis Suarez, has gotten used to playing second fiddle to Lionel Messi at Barcelona, and should be doing the same in Russia, clearing the way for Cavani. And the fact they have Suarez in a strong-looking squad means there’s a good chance that Uruguay might be top scorers by the end of the group stage. On a motivational note, Cavani clearly had issues with PSG strike partner Neymar throughout their domestic season. The World Cup would be a great avenue for him to let loose.
Jordi Alba (Spain)
Since we can’t pick David De Gea (being a Premier League player) for this exercise, we turn to Alba instead not only for the clean sheet potential, but also for his attacking prowess. With eight assists in La Liga, the marauding Barcelona full-back will be eager to get forward at every opportunity. Spain are in Group B with Portugal, Iran and Morocco, meaning that only Cristiano Ronaldo’s team are likely to provide any real threat to Spain’s clean sheet chances.
Marco Reus (Germany)
Will Marco Reus finally get a chance to shine for his country, having been unlucky to miss out both on the last World Cup as well as the Euros? He returned from injury mid-season and netted seven times out of his ten games back for Borussia Dortmund. The defending champions are in Group F with Mexico, South Korea and Sweden, in which they should comfortably top the standings.
With Ederson making a huge difference for Manchester City in their Premier League title victory, it is quite unbelievable that he is unable to secure the first choice goalkeeper option for Brazil. Alisson was immense for Roma in both their Serie A campaign, where he helped get them to third, and their Champions League progress to the semi-finals. In Group E, Brazil play Switzerland, Serbia, and Costa Rica – not exactly the teams you would associate with stellar attacks.