It feels like just yesterday that I was writing the first preview for the 32 nations in the 2014 World Cup, and this weekend will bring the tournament to a close. The past four weeks have flown by and provided us with some incredible entertainment from the first match to the last.
While it will be sad to see the tournament come to a close, there's good news on the horizon as we've got plenty of transfer window action to talk about, and only a few short weeks until we'll have to start selecting our Premier League fantasy teams again.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, we've got two more matches to go, kicking off with the third-place match between Louis Van Gaal's Netherlands squad and Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil. Van Gaal has criticized the need for a third-place match, and as such may run out a starting 11 comprised of players who had been consigned to bench roles throughout the matches leading up to this point. Scolari, on the other hand, will be desperate to give the host nation a much more positive sending off than their 7-1 defeat at the hands of Die Mannschaft in the semi-final. I think we can expect a much more lively performance from the Brazilians, so there may actually be some merit in selecting a few of them for your team, along with some of the bargain options from the Dutch side, depending on who starts. Thankfully, we'll have the lineups for this one ahead of the deadline, so we can wait to finalize our teams until then.
We won't, however, have the lineups for the final match between the Germans and the Argentines. There are a few questions marks over the fitness of Mats Hummels, who is reportedly carrying a knee injury, as well as Javier Mascherano who...*ahem*..."tore the anus" in the game-saving tackle he made against Arjen Robben in the semi-final. That he may also be suffering the ill effects of a concussion further complicates his potential involvement in the final.
With these two key players potentially missing, there will be some uncertainties over who will start for the sides in action on Sunday. Therefore, it's important to have some options playing today if possible and only selecting sure starters for the final. Hopefully you all are doing better than I am with regard to fantasy and have a shot at achieving whatever goal you set out for yourself at the beginning of the tournament. I'll continue picking some alternative choices to have some fun, but I've long since given up on any dream of finishing near the top.
What are your predictions for the remaining games? Who will make your team for the final round? Will you load up on a single team or spread the wealth over the remaining teams? As always, good luck, and be sure to check in regularly after the World Cup ends for our transition into the next season in YFF!