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2018 World Cup Fantasy: Transfers to Make Between Rounds 2 & 3 of the Group Stage

My best transfer ideas ahead of Round 3 of the Group Stages

Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal - Group B - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Cristiano Ronaldo’s form in this World Cup has been amazing. Can he keep it up against Iran and see his team through to the Round of 16? (And by the way, how do you like his GOATee?)
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Holy cow! What a ride this tournament has been so far. From unexpected upsets to last-gasp winning goals, 2018 World Cup Russia has delivered fun and excitement in spades. But as we come to the end of Round 2, it’s time to look up from the action on our TV screens and start planning our fantasy moves for Round 3. To help you do that, I’ve compiled my best transfer ideas in the article below.

But first let’s review the rules. I can’t say it any better than Chris did in his article on moves to make after Round 1, so I’ll just copy and paste from his piece:

“In FIFA’s official McDonald’s fantasy game, you are allowed one free transfer in each round, so go ahead and use it unless your team is immaculate and changing anything would upset its perfect beauty. (If you need to make more changes, you can take a -4 penalty for each additional one.)

The transfer window for the next round can be opened by clicking that round’s number (“MANAGE TEAM”) above your live team display, so don’t delay if you know what move to make. This is also where you reinitialize your captain choice and substitutions — You want to rewind toward early-group players, returning late-group players to reserve.

In the Dream Team platform, you are allowed 20 swaps for the entire competition, so you won’t want to go overboard at the moment, but using one or two (or three or four) now is a good idea if your squad is in need of refreshing.”

Remember that the McDonalds game allows unlimited transfers during the period between Round 3 and the Round of 16, so don’t feel like you need to absorb transfer penalties to assemble a perfect team right now. Consider whether you can wait one more round in order to make those extra transfers without taking a hit.

That said, player prices will change after each stage, so you want to lean more toward highly productive players advancing (hopefully deep) into the knockout stages so you can grab one with this round’s free transfer.

Prices quoted below are for the McDonalds game.


Group A

Russia and Uruguay are already in, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia are already out. On the surface it might seem like there is little for the Egyptians and Saudis to play for anymore, but I don’t see it that way. Round 3 represents a chance for them to salvage something from the tournament. Neither will want to go home winless, both will view this game as winnable, and the low pressure could open their tactics.

Denis Cheryshev - Russia -Group A - 2018 FIFA World Cup
Only Kane, C-Ron and Lukaku have scored more goals in World Cup 2018 than Russia’s Denis Cheryshev.
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Players to Consider Buying

Denis Cheryshev (M, RUS, €5.5M): With three goals in his first two games, the left winger has been a revelation. Twenty points so far, through to knockout stages and playing with host-country mojo.

Artem Dzyuba (F, RUS, €8.0): The striker has a scored in both games, earning eight points in game 1, and six points in game two. Also cruising with Russia (so far).

Mohamed Elshenaway (GK, EGY, €4.5): Saudi Arabia haven’t scored yet, and to be honest, they really are not a very good football team. That makes Elshenaway a good budget option for Round 3.

Ahmed Hegazy (D, EGY, €4.5M): Same story as Elshenaway.


Players to Consider Dropping

Mo Salah (F, EGY, €8.5M): Despite being passed fit to feature in Round 2, he looked only a shadow of his usual self against Russia. And with Egypt’s fate already sealed, Liverpool’s hitman could even be rested.

Fernando Muslera (G, URU, €5.5M): He has been money so far, returning 14 points over 2 games for the modest price of €5.5M. But I think the streak of clean sheets will end against Russia, so it could be time to get rid (unless you have a strong GK on your bench who plays later).

All Uruguayan defenders: Jose Gimenez netted in Round 1, but otherwise Diego Godin and his mates at the back have only returned clean sheet points. Since I think Russia will breach them, the Uruguayan defense has less fantasy value in Round 3.


Group B

Morocco are out, and with Spain expected to prevail over them in Round 3, the Furia Roja are nearly certain to go through to the Round of 16. The Portugal vs Iran match could be a real firecracker then: It’ll likely be win or go home for those two teams.

Portugal v Spain: Group B - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Did anyone think that Diego Costa would be sitting on three goals after two games? He should get plenty of chances for more against Morocco, too.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Players to Consider Buying

David De Gea (GK, SPN, €6.5M): Morocco has yet to score, so the Spanish netminder has excellent clean sheet potential for this Round.

Dani Carvahal (D, SPN, €5.5): Any of the Spanish defenders are a good choice for Round 3. But Carvahal is the least expensive and should be set to retain his start.

Diego Costa (F, SPN, €9.0M): With two goals in Round 1 and another in Round 2, the striker who supposedly lacked team chemistry certainly seems to have settled in.

Cristiano Ronaldo (F, POR, €12.0M): CRon’s fourth World Cup has been epic. He’s bursting with confidence after netting four goals in two games, and he’s ravenous for more in order to cement his legacy as the GOAT. That’s the kind of player fantasy managers drool over, but he is expensive. If you can’t afford him right now without taking a penalty, then maybe wait. If Portugal advance, then you can use your unlimited substitutions to pick him up prior to the Round of 16.


Players to Consider Dropping

Hakim Ziyach (M, MOR, €7.0M): So far all he’s done is get points for showing up and playing more than 60 minutes. There is no reason to believe he’ll do any better against Spain. Ditch him and put his €7.0M to work for you elsewhere.

Mehdi Benatia (D, MOR, €5.0M): The center back has been a popular budget option in defense, but there’s no way Morocco will keep Spain out tomorrow.


Group C

France is through, and Peru is out, so one of Denmark and Australia will advance. If Australia defeat Peru and France defeat Denmark, then it will come down to goal differential between the Aussies and the Danes. Expect the Socceroos to come out firing.

Denmark v Australia: Group C - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Mile Jedinak is flying high after scoring in each of Australia’s first two games.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Players to Consider Buying

Mathew Ryan (GK, AUS, €4.5M): Peru have yet to score, so Ryan looks a great value for Round 3.

Mile Jedinak (M, AUS, €6.0M): A goal from the spot in each of the first two games. With his team pushing for goals and pressuring the Peruvian defense, his string of PK goals could continue in Round 3.


Players to Consider Dropping

Christian Eriksen (M, DEN, €9.0): He’s done well so far, but against France I’d think about cashing him out and investing elsewhere.

Yurary Poulsen (F, DEN, €6.5M): He’s only 0.9% owned, so you probably don’t have him. But if you do, get rid. He’s suspended for the game with France due to yellow card accumulation.


Group D

Croatia are through, but beyond that this group is wide open. Nigeria, Iceland, and Argentina will all be desperate for full points in Round 3.

Ahmed Musa - Nigeria - Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Ahmed Musa’s brace against Iceland kept Nigeria’s hopes alive. Can he lead them to victory in Round 3 too?
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Players to Consider Buying

Ahmed Musa (F, NIG, €7.5M): His brace against Iceland won him Man of the Match honors and lifted his team to victory. He’ll be looking to continue his scoring ways against an Argentinian side that has so far shown no signs of life.


Players to Consider Dropping

Johan Gudmundsson (M, ICE, €6.0M): The blog favorite is struggling with a muscle injury and is a doubt for the clash with Croatia.

Wilfredo Caballero (GK, ARG, €5.0M): He’s been a hot mess. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets benched for Round 3. If he doesn’t he’ll be squaring up to an inspired Nigerian side who will be looking to force the Argentinians onto their back foot. If you don’t have strong cover, get rid of him.

Lionel Messi (F, ARG, €12.0M): Leo is arguably the GOAT, but he’s done zilch in this tournament, and all indications suggest that he has checked out. Drop him and use the cash to pick up his rival, CRon7.


Group E

Costa Rica have been mathematically eliminated after finishing the first two rounds with losses, and the Swiss will be expected to hand them a third. That would put Switzerland through and turn the Round 3 fixture between Brazil and Serbia into a do-or-die affair.

Serbia v Switzerland: Group E - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Xherdan Shaqiri will be key to Switzerland’s chances against Costa Rica.
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Players to Consider Buying

Xherdan Shaqiri (M, SUI €8.5M): Switzerland’s talisman scored a late winner over Serbia, earning 5 points in round-1 and 6 in round-2. Against Costa Rica, the good times should continue to roll.

Coutinho (M, BRA, €9.0M): Two goals in two games. Serbia won’t be easy, but Brazil can’t afford to lose to them. You can bet Coutinho will be working hard to make sure they don’t.


Players to Consider Dropping

Keylor Navas (GK, CRC, €5.0M): He is pure class. But he’ll probably lose to Switzerland, and either way he’s going home afterwards. If you don’t have quality cover for Round 3, you might as well move on now.


Group F

South Korea have been eliminated, and if not for a dramatic come-from-behind victory capped by the last-second FK goal from Toni Kroos, Germany would have been too. Mexico sit atop the group with 6 points, but they could still fail to advance if they fall to Sweden and Germany defeats South Korea. All three teams would then end the Round on 6 points, and it would come down to goal differential. Wednesday morning’s games should be very entertaining affairs then.

Toni Kroos - Germany - Group F - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Toni Kroos celebrates after his electrifying free kick goal snatched all three points from Sweden in the final seconds of stoppage time.
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Players to Consider Buying

Toni Kroos (M, GER, €9.0M): Germany need to win big, and they must be licking their chops at the idea of facing South Korea. Kroos should prosper.

Marco Reus (F, GER, €8.0M): Same as Kroos, but in a striker slot.

Players to Consider Dropping

Jerome Boateng (D, GER, €6.0M): Shown red for two yellows against Sweden, he will miss out against South Korea.


Group G

Belgium and England are through to the Round of 16 after demolishing their opponents in Round-2. Panama and Tunisia will be going home early.

Players to Consider Buying

With Lukaku and Hazard major doubts due to injury, and Roberto Martinez promising major rotation for Round 3 anyway, I wouldn’t bring in any players from Belgium right now. Neither would I opt to use this Round’s free transfer for any Englishmen. The match against Belgium won’t be easy, and since the Three Lions are now safe we could see rest and rotation from Gareth Southgate as well.

Players to Consider Dropping

Lukaku (F, BEL, €10.0M): Injury doubt. Don’t take a chance with an investment that big.

Eden Hazard (F, BEL, €10.0M): Same as Lukaku


Group H

This article was written prior to today’s Group H matches, without the benefit of observing the teams’ performances in their second games, and without knowledge of the standings after Round 2. But based on the overall quality of the performances we saw in Round 1, I wouldn’t burn my free transfer on anyone here.

That includes the great Robert Lewandowski, who was AWOL for large portions of the game against Senegal, and who appears set to continue his poor scoring record in major tournaments. Neither was Senegal’s Sadio Mane able to put much of a stamp on the game.

In the group’s other Round 1 match, Japan could only muster a one goal margin over a Colombian side that played with 10 men for essentially the entire game.

Perhaps someone in Group H will emerge as a viable transfer option after today’s action, but at the moment I can find no names in Group H that interest me.

Poland v Senegal: Group H - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
So far Polish striker Robert Lewandowski hasn’t done enough to warrant fantasy investment.


Keep in mind that player prices will adjust after the completion of Round 3. You’ll be granted an additional €5M to supplement your budget at that point, but if you trade now for players who have performed well, you can pick them up before their prices increase.


Dream Team Format

Also, Chris pointed out an interesting wrinkle that he discovered in the Dream Team rules that you should be aware of:

“In Dream Team, even though there’s no bench, you can actually make changes to your team during a period, and you can get credit for multiple players in the same spot. So if anybody is looking to drop a player who plays early in a period (say, in the first or second day of game 3) for someone who plays later in a period (say, in the third or fourth day of game 4), it’s better to wait to do it after the first player plays. In Dream Team, you can then get credit for both players’ scores. So while you have to make your changes before game 3 in McDonald’s, you can wait until during game 3 in Dream Team if so desired.”

I recommend reading the full article on Dream Team Transfer Rules and Strategy.


Yellow Card Accumulation

Finally, more than 80 players have been shown yellow cards so far. A second yellow awarded prior to the semifinals results in suspension for the next game. Players get a yellow card reset at the start of the semis — FIFA does not want to have to suspend major stars for the World Cup final for yellow card accumulation.

However, a player who suffers a second yellow in round-3 would be suspended in the knockout round of 16. Even before that, some teams that are already safely through may rotate some 1-card players in round-3 to protect them. Check the FIFA discipline page to see if any players you own are vulnerable.


How will you spend your free transfer for Round 3? Will you take a -4 hit to make additional transfers? Will you use any chips in this round? Please share your Round 3 plans and questions with us in the comments below.