After a fair amount of tinkering, the site McDonald’s Official Fantasy World Cup team can be revealed!
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Before setting up the team, the rules were studied closely and the overall strategy decided.
With a number of key rules that can potentially maximise points, it’s important to plan things out properly first.
You can check out a handy ‘How to Play’ guide that we’ve written, over on Fantasy Football Pundits, to help you with this.
1. We decided to spread funds across the squad to maximise options for manual substitutions. It pays to be organised here, as forgetting to make these subs after each day of games, could result in leaving premium players on the bench.
2. With up to six days in each round and captain changes permitted, we’ve opted for five premium attacking players, to maximise captain returns.
3. With four of the big teams having their most difficult group game first, followed by their easier games, we’ve made the decision to build a team for Round 1, with a planned Wildcard for Round 2.
4. We plan to use Bench Boost in either the Round of 16 or Quarter Finals, where there’s a bigger budget, extra time could result in more minutes, and all teams are going all out for a winning result.
5. We hope to deploy the Maximum Captain booster in either the Quarter Finals, Semi Finals or Final. With these rounds played over less days, and results less predictable, it will be more challenging to exploit captain change rules and land on the best player.
With manual substitutions available, it’s important to have players that start here.
We decided to go with a couple of premium players for our World Cup team, alongside cheaper options who appear in the first days of each round.
The theory here is that no clean sheets will be left on the bench, if a cheaper player performs then he stays in, if not, he’s replaced with a premium option.
The young Nigerian keeper Uzoho (4.0), has emerged as a rare 4.0 million starter, so in an effort to keep funds tight, he was the first name on the team sheet. Appearing in Group D, we were then looking for a more premium keeper from Group F, G and H, since they all appear in the days after Nigeria play.
The key options were Neuer, Courtois and Ospina. It was felt that there are some question marks over Neuer’s fitness and whether he is the key starter. Courtois was a strong choice, but we felt that at 6.0 million, there were better options from Belgium defenders. Coming in slightly cheaper, in a strong Columbian defence, Ospina (5.5) was given the position.
For the five defenders in the World Cup team, we wanted a couple of premium options, plus some cheaper players capable of attacking returns. Belgium have a very easy opening game against Panama, plus they play in a 3-5-2 system with wing backs. Therefore, we’ve opted for Meunier (6.0) as a potential out of position prospect, who’s more than capable of attacking returns.
The other premium teams hotly tipped to have strong defensive outcomes are Germany, Spain, Brazil and France. Spain and Brazil were ruled out, due to the difficulty of their opener. We considered Umtiti for France, and may still swap to him, but right now it’s Hummels (6.0) who get’s the nod.
Elsewhere, we considered a number of options who are heavily involved in set pieces. Granqvist of Sweden and Rodriguez of Switzerland are both on penalties, which is always tempting. Granqvist (5.0) had the easier fixture, against South Korea, so we’ve put him in for the first game.
Completing the defence, we wanted a couple of cheaper options. Hegazi (4.5) and Pouraliganji (4.5) both pose an aerial threat. We don’t hold out much hope given the fixtures, but Egypt are in Group A and Iran in Group B, so they get an opportunity in the opening days, before being replaced by more premium players.
In the attacking positions, we wanted to get reasonable number of premium players for the World Cup team, to exploit the strong fixtures and give a range of captain options throughout Round 1.
There were specific fixtures that caught our eye, which we definitely wanted cover for. We decided to spend big for these games, given the lure of the captain armband.
Friday 15th June – Egypt vs Uruguay
Saturday 16th June – France vs Australia
Sunday 17th June – Germany v Mexico
Monday 18th June – Belgium v Panama
Tuesday 19th June – Columbia v Japan
For Uruguay, we were selecting between Suárez (10.5) and Cavani (9.5). There’s not a lot to split their statistics at domestic and international level. Suarez is on penalties, but Cavani takes direct free kicks. Suarez’s World Cup campaigns tend to be full of controversy, so in an attempt to save some vital funds, we went with the cheaper Cavani.
In the France squad, we considered Griezmann (10.0), Mbappe (9.0) and Giroud (9.0). This was another tricky one, but it was felt that Griezmann should get the greater minutes, even if he doesn’t play as centrally. He’s on penalties and indirect free kicks/corners, which was also a factor.
Another dilemma emerged for Germany assets, between Werner and Muller who are both pried at 9.5 million. Werner is a forward and should player higher up, whereas Muller is classed as a midfielder. Neither are on set pieces, plus Werner is the greater rotation risk. This decision is still subject to change, it is more of a gut feeling decision to select Werner (9.5).
There’s plenty of choice in Belgium attackers, with Hazard, Lukaku and De Bruyne all priced at 10 million. Hazard is classed as a forward, which slightly reduces his appeal. We felt that Lukaku could be rotated, and we didn’t trust Hazard enough for his price. Therefore, Kevin De Bruyne (10.0) get’s the place, with plenty of set piece responsibility.
Finally, we wanted a Columbian player, for their easy game against Japan on the final day of Round 1. Rodriguez (9.0) is the star here, plus he hogs all of the set pieces, so his inclusion was a no-brainer.
Elsewhere in the midfield, we had 16.5 million left to spend on the final 3 positions in our World Cup team.
We don’t hold massive hopes for these players, but if one of them manages a rare goal/assist, or is involved in a clean sheet, it should provide a solid 3+ points.
We wanted a Brazil player, so chose Casemiro (5.5) due to his high ownership and relatively cheap price. His statistics on a domestic and international level are reasonable.
Carrassco (6.5) becomes our third Belgium player, they do arguably have one of the easiest games on paper. He is the opposite wing back to Meunier, although classed as a midfielder. He should be able to chip in with some returns.
Lastly, Sanchez (4.5) takes the final place. He’s a nailed started for Columbia, but unlikely to return as a defensive midfielder. 2 or 3 points will do, he’s probably not going to be too useful for our team. These players may be changed.
Here’s how the World Cup team lines up for Round 1. We have a 3-4-3 formation, but this may change once manual substitutions are made.
Cavani takes the armband as the first premium attacker to feature: low returns would mean that Griezmann, Werner, De Bruyne are allowed future opportunities.
It’s likely that Uzoho, Casemiro, Hegazi & Pouraliganji will make up the substitutes bench by the end of the round.
The team is lacking any coverage from Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Croatia or Poland, who’s chances we rate highly. We wanted Messi, but his price tag of 12 million was just too high at this stage, with the fixture not tempting enough.
Portugal and Spain players are likely to be brought in on our wildcard, following their Round 1 matchup. Croatia should do well against Nigeria, but we didn’t have the room for their premium attackers.
Poland, with Lewandoskwki in particular, should perform well against Senegal. We will be looking to own him for their final group game against Japan, if qualification is still at stake.
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