FIFA World Cup Fantasy: Semi-final dark horses

By Azmin Mohd Khalib 10 July 2018 178
FIFA World Cup Fantasy: Semi-final dark horses
We’re in the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup! With that, it is time to make changes to your FIFA World Cup Fantasy team.
Those of you familiar with tournament fantasy football (World Cup, Euros, etc) will know that the biggest challenge at this stage is that most fantasy teams really start looking alike. A look at the current pick statistics reveals that Luka Modric (47%) sits pretty at the top in almost half the teams. He’s followed closely by Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, and Kylian Mbappe.
So, you’ll need to find the key differentials to give yourself the edge over the rest. In the quarter-finals, those with Harry Maguire profited, which resulted in him rising to second in the transferred in charts. Above him is Kevin De Bruyne. As a result, both Maguire and De Bruyne are no longer differentials. Who will the difference makers be during the semi-finals? Here are my recommendations:


Olivier Giroud (1.1%): Far down the fantasy picking rungs below both Antoinne Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, he has been brilliant for Didier Deschamps’ side as he creates space for others to score. Unfortunately his fantasy output has been threadbare, but surely he’ll be looking to score in a tournament that France have every chance of winning.
Hugo Lloris (12.3%): Currently the least picked goalkeeper (Thibaut Courtois tops the charts at 26.2%), his points output tells you why. Those playing the Fantasy Premier League will know all about his relatively poor season for Tottenham, but to be fair, Thibault Courtois did not have a stellar season himself. Belgium should get a lot of shots in though, so if you fancy a lot of goalkeeping points, Lloris could be your man.
Marouane Fellaini (3.7%): The midfielder you love to hate, Fellaini was instrumental in the turnaround against Japan, and Roberto Martinez rewarded him with a return to the starting line-up against Brazil. Despite being likely to get carded, he can make a difference when needed.


Mario Mandzukic (3.2%): Croatia forwards aren’t exactly popular with fantasy managers. Their most popular forward, Ivan Perisic, is only in 3.5% of all teams and he plays more as an attacking winger anyway. However, Mandzukic, who has recorded one goal and one assist so far, might be just the right player to unsettle England’s defence, especially after he has issued a challenge to Jordan Pickford.
Ashley Young (3.4%): With the fixation on Kieran Trippier being England’s main set-piece taker, Ashley Young took the opportunity to remind us that he does take corners, firing in a pinpoint delivery against Sweden for Harry Maguire to take full advantage. Let’s not forget he is capable of scoring the odd long-range goal too! And, unlike in last season’s FPL, Ashley Young is listed as a defender at the World Cup.
Raheem Sterling (1.3%): With a miserly fantasy ownership, will Sterling finally live up to his potential against Croatia? His finishing has been atrocious at the World Cup, and his decision-making in the final third has really been questionable. The quarter-final match against Sweden was a textbook illustration of how frustrating he can be. However, it is very unlikely that Gareth Southgate will break up a winning team, so Sterling should still start. And with them facing a stubborn Croatia, his speed will be crucial.

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Azmin Mohd Khalib