When concocting a 15-man side of all-Premier League players for World Cup fantasy, we are hamstrung by several factors:
- Many Premier League stars not surprisingly play for England (and several other national teams have no shortage of great EPL players, perhaps most notably Belgium), but there is a limit to three players per national side for the group stage
- As much as we would love to overload our team with all of the elite Premier League superstars, they will naturally tend to be pricey, and there is a budget of €100, so we can’t fit in everybody
- Several stars who we’re used to seeing classified at midfielder (and even defender) are instead listed at forward (such as Eden Hazard, Alex Iwobi, Sadio Mane, Victor Moses, David Silva, and Son Heung-Min), which makes them difficult to squeeze in, as it inflates their price and there are fewer forward spots than midfield
- Unfortunately, several of our favorite EPL stars have ended up missing out on the fun as their national teams failed to qualify for Russia this summer
Thankfully, the Premier League is chock full of worldwide talent that will be present across many of the 32 teams who are at Russia this summer, and they span a variety of price points. So we should be able to craft an exciting and dangerous World Cup fantasy squad featuring the Premiership’s finest!
Let’s go with the 4-4-2. Not only is that a well-trodden formation from the Premier League, it avoids bankruptcy from putting too much money into more expensive forwards and midfielders, while also allowing for at least one bench player at every position which is always nice and tidy for rotation/injury purposes.
Thibaut Courtois (Belgium / Chelsea, €6.0)
I’d love to go with the Premier League’s best keeper, David De Gea of Spain/Manchester United. Unfortunately, Premier League stars tend to be expensive (and not just at keeper!), so I’m going to start out cutting corners with my #1 backstop. Every half-euro counts! Courtois was solid if unspectacular for a disappointing Chelsea side last season, but with two titles in four seasons, he has proven himself. Belgium will be expected to win its group with a good chance at several clean sheets. Hugo Lloris (France / Tottenham) is also a nice option at the same price point as Courtois.
There are loads of great defenders at €6.0 (such as Toby Alderweireld, Nicolas Otamendi, Jan Vertonghen, and Kyle Walker), but as with the keeper position, I don’t mind saving some money by starting at €5.5, where there are also many excellent choices.
Portugal boasts an elite defense, so clean sheets should be plentiful. Cedric also doesn’t mind getting forward, so he may be able to contribute on the offensive end here and there as well.
Kieran Trippier (England / Tottenham, €5.5)
Amazingly, Trippier seems to have locked down a starting wing back role with the England national team, whereas his more-heralded (but injury-prone) Spurs teammate Danny Rose looks to sit on the bench. Like Tottenham, the Three Lions also have a stout defense, and Trippier will have plenty of chances to pick out assists from his pinpoint crosses.
Andreas Christensen (Denmark / Chelsea, €5.0)
The young Dane had a fine season with Chelsea, and Denmark has a good chance to tally clean sheets against Australia and Peru, while France looms as a tougher task.
Lovren offers the chance at clean sheets against Iceland and Nigeria, but Argentina could prove more difficult. While he is far from an offensive powerhouse, he has scored six times with three assists in his Premier League career.
Christian Eriksen (Denmark / Tottenham, €9.0)
As brilliant as Eriksen has been in the Premier League (41 goals and 52 assists in the past five seasons), he’s been even better as the centerpiece of his national side, notching eight goals and four helpers in the 10 European qualifying games for this World Cup. In other words, Australia, France and Peru, beware!
Shaqiri enjoyed a breakout campaign for Stoke with eight goals and seven assists, but it wasn’t enough to save the Potters from relegation. He will look to take that magic to the group stage, where Brazil, Costa Rica and Serbia will attempt the tough task of containing him.
Willian (Brazil / Chelsea, €8.5)
It’s never a bad idea to have representation from the Samba Kings’ explosive offense, right? If you’re worried (as I was before) that Willian may not be able to crack the starting XI, he was part of the quartet up front with Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, and Philippe Coutinho in the 3-0 friendly win against Austria earlier today, and it would be a surprise to see a different line-up to begin the World Cup. Chelsea’s brilliant winger has 19 each of goals and assists in the past three Premiership seasons, and he contributed four goals and five helpers in qualification.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Iceland / Burnley, €6.0)
Iceland plays extremely defensively, but can’t you say the same about Burnley? After all, the Clarets’ playmaker returned two goals plus eight assists last season in the Premier League, and he has six goals with four helpers across 67 career caps. Not quite TNT, but not at all weak tea for the price!
Harry Kane (England / Spurs, €11.0)
I’d love to go with Egypt’s Mo Salah, who took the Premier League by storm with a season for the ages for Liverpool. But he’s an injury risk. On top of that, England is a safer bet to perform well in its group. So I’m willing to pay more for the Spurs talisman who has scored 105 goals with 16 assists across the past four seasons in the Premiership.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium / Manchester United, €10.0)
Belgium has a wealth of talent spread around the Premier League. This is true particularly on the offensive end, with Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne. I need to pick at least one of them, don’t I? (The answer is yes.) KDB had no goals with five assists in qualifying, so I’m lukewarm on him. Hazard was brilliant in qualifying (six goals, five assists), but Lukaku was even more lethal (11 goals, one helper). If Hazard were listed as a midfielder, he would be a pick there. But at forward, Lukaku wins for his finishing.
Mat Ryan (Australia / Brighton, €4.5)
Ryan is a fine keeper. He was third in the league in saves (124) while also returning 10 clean sheets in Brighton’s impressive first ever season in the Premier League. Unfortunately, Australia is expected to lose its group, and things could get ugly. Then again, it wouldn’t be a total shock for the Socceroos to get a clean sheet against Peru, and he may rack up some save points, so he’s a fine cheap back-up option.
Ahmed Hegazi (Egypt / West Brom, €4.5)
While Hegazi played in the EPL last season, unfortunately he was relegated to the Championship with West Brom. That said, as with Shaqiri, I don’t mind looking past that minor technicality! The Pharaohs are a defensive-minded team, so Hegazi has a chance at a clean sheet or two while also offering an occasional offensive threat from set pieces.
Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal / West Ham, €5.0)
With good midfielder players difficult to come by at a cheap price in the starting XI, it’s time to go with another enabler here on the bench. The West Ham defensive midfielder has 11 goals and 9 assists across his past three Premier League seasons, but only two scores and one helper in 40 caps, so you won’t expect much from him.
Alex Iwobi (Nigeria / Arsenal, €6.0)
Alex Iwobi is not what most of us would consider a true forward, but at the money-saving 6.0 price point, he is probably the best option. Nigeria should be able to find some offensive joy, and while the action will probably be fairly spread around, hopefully the young Gunners’ talent will have some involvement.
Left over in Bank: €0.0 (a.k.a. zip/zilch/nada. Did I mention that every half-euro is precious?)
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Well that was a fun exercise, wasn’t it? Be sure to check out our other World Cup coverage past, present and future, complete with group previews, player picks, live chats and more!
How do you think a side like the above would fare against a team comprised entirely of players from either La Liga, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A, or another league? Is there anybody else I left out of my all-Premier League side whom you would have made sure to fit into yours? And just how many Premiership players are you putting in your World Cup fantasy team after all? Let us know in the comments!