How did your FIFA World Cup Fantasy go for the group stage? Whether it was good or bad, the knockout rounds will start on Saturday. Before it kicks off, you will get to reset your entire fantasy team, with an additional 5m added to your original 100m budget. You will have four days of captaincy choices, so try to make sure you have a solid captaincy option for each day.
Don’t forget that now each match has the potential to go into extra time, so it might be a good idea to avoid players who tend to get subbed out early. And no, penalty shootouts aren’t counted for fantasy points.
Also, if you haven’t used your Bench Boost yet, this could be the right time to use it. At this point you should be able to get a full squad of active players. Most of the big teams' starters don’t come cheap, and, the longer you wait, the harder it’ll be for you to afford them all. Right now, Russia and Japan are your go-tos for cheap bargains, but if none of them progress to the quarter-finals, it’ll be harder to get a full squad of 15 in the later rounds.
Without further ado, here are my thoughts for each match.
France v Argentina
Possibly the match to watch for the Round of 16, Argentina waited till the last game to squeeze into the last 16. Meanwhile, France were guilty of playing quite possibly the worst game of the tournament so far in their game against Denmark. Regardless, I think France will have enough discipline to hold off Lionel Messi and his not-so-merry men, with Paul Pogba likely to be the key fantasy pick.
Uruguay v Portugal
Uruguay are the only team yet to concede a goal and star strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez also appear to be progressing well, from no goals in their first match to both scoring in their final group game. Meanwhile, Portugal’s ageing defense showed how poor they can be against a strong team during their first group match against Spain, and Cristiano Ronaldo has gone from three goals, to one goal, to no goal (missing a penalty in the process).
Spain v Russia
Russia were undone against Uruguay, and you can expect them to fare no better against Spain. Diego Costa, in particular, will enjoy their physical game, and will not be unruffled in the least. Clean sheets are quite likely for Spain, making their defenders useful picks.
Croatia v Denmark
Croatia are looking very strong, and could really be the dark horse to win the whole thing. Luka Modric has been the best attacking pick, but their defense should not be overlooked either. With Denmark having the worst goal record amongst those who have made the Round of 16 with only two goals to their name, Croatia should emerge victorious in this match-up.
Brazil v Mexico
After a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their opening group match, Brazil appear to be clicking into form and have been showing what they are truly capable of. They might very well run Mexico ragged, making this encounter the goal-fest match of the Round of 16.
Japan v Belgium
Belgium should be too strong for Japan and Romelu Lukaku will be champing at the bit as he resumes his quest for the World Cup Golden Boot. Even though he is not in charge of penalty duty, it might not matter because not only have Japan not conceded a penalty, they have also committed the least fouls in the entire tournament, which also makes it less likely for opponents to score from free-kick goals.
Sweden v Switzerland
This relatively low-key match-up features Andreas Granqvist as an useful relatively cheap pick. Switzerland’s full-backs are supposed to be useful attacking defenders, but they have failed to fire. This could very well go to penalties, as both teams are likely to play a cautious gamedue to both having not made it to the quarterfinals since the 1950s.
Colombia v England
Like Lukaku, Harry Kane will be eager to continue scoring. As for the opposition, one could argue that Colombia’s defence has improved, with two clean sheets after their first group match, but for me, it was due to Poland misfiring and Japan not playing a full strength squad. Furthermore, their wayward passing could be their undoing.