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2018 FIFA McDonald’s World Cup Russia: Finals Player Picks

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Two games left for glory!

England v Croatia: Semi Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
The biggest fantasy points could come from the consolation match.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The final weekend of the World Cup finds me in position 515 of the Never Manage Alone BTB league. You don’t have to shed any tears for me, I’m actually proud of myself. I’ve refused to play World Cup and Champions League fantasy over the past ten or so years, sticking only to FPL. The job now is to see how much higher up the table I can finish, so join me as we try to find the players who will get the job done.

If your team, like many of ours, was savaged by the QF round, then you may still be looking to replace eliminated players, probably on your bench. There are two schools of thought in fantasy formats such as this:

One is to “burn the bench”, keeping / buying the absolute cheapest non-entities possible in order to jam as much of your money as you can into your starting XI. The other is to nail down 15 starters and possibly even play the bench boost that you strategically held all this time for when the same teams would play their best teams two rounds in a row.

Since we have two days of action and a chance to make subs between them, I lean toward having at least one decent player at each position each day so points can be maximized. Also, as was mentioned in Dream Team Strategy, the consolation match is more likely to produce goals. Gareth Southgate has stated his intention is to make minimal changes to the lineup. Even better, the consolation-match lineups will be announced about 45 minutes before this stage’s transfer deadline, so you can really gain an edge on the competition by being online then (and making good choices). It’s not fair to those who are asleep or at work, but those are the rules, and it’s our job to expose them to you — login to participate in the pre-deadline chat as we share news and make our last-second mistakes winning moves!

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Goalkeeper

Hugo Lloris: France 5.9

He’s not someone I rate highly, but the captain has played really well in Russia, and he has the best chance at a clean sheet in this round.

Danijel Subasic: Croatia 5.5

The only other keeper sure to start; you may keep him if you already have him, especially if playing your bench boost at the death. France vs Croatia is more likely to end 0-0 than either of the consolation teams are likely to keep a clean sheet.

Beyond that, keeper choice depends on your strategic position. Are you burning the bench? The you might still hold a 3rd-string Nigerian there (anyone willing to fess up?). If playing a belated bench boost, then you want Lloris + Subasic praying for that nil-nil shootout.

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Defenders

Sime Vrsaljko: Croatia 5.5

Has been a source of some of the best forward play for his team, capable of supplying assists from right back.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: England 4.8

Hobbled Kieran Trippier is almost certain to sit out the no-trophy match. The Liverpool youngster should get the minutes and some forward action.

Thomas Vermaelen: Belgium 5.4

Roberto Martinez will likely give the Barcelona man game time, and he’s been known to nick a goal.

Benjamin Pavard: France 4.6

Absolute steal for his price, and as we’ve seen he is capable of spectacular moments up front.

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Midfielders

Ruben Loftus-Cheek: England 5.7

A player many would expect to be competing for a start in Qatar, has done well when given a chance by Gareth Southgate.

Luka Modric: Croatia 9.1

The goals have dried up as expected, and it will also be very tough in the middle against N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba. The thing about this pick is that big players do big things when the lights shine brightest... and he will probably take any PK that France are foolish enough to grant.

Paul Pogba: France 8.8

Remember those Zidane headers in 98? Remember Pogba in the Manchester Derby? Hey, I’m just saying.

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Forwards

Antoine Griezmann: France 10.1, Kylian Mbappe: France 9.2

France will score in the final, these are the men likely to be running to the corner flag. On three goals each one can be an eternal hero in Paris. Griezman is more expensive, but he gets the PKs.

Mario Mandzukic: Croatia 8.9

I’ve gone for strikers in the final, the third place game has been known to offer more goals over the years but we’ve seen this man give his all and who would be surprised if he didn’t pop up on the score sheet.

Harry Kane: England 11.2

Expensive, but he’s playing for the golden boot in a game we expect to be more open. He plays on day-1 so he can be subbed, and he also takes PKs, and he’s probably already in your team, so keep him.

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Punts

Here are some picks for those who need to make up ground in their league, your “outside the box” picks.

Olivier Giroud, Michy Batshuayi, Jamie Vardy, Ivan Rakitic, Danny Rose, Simon Mignolet.

And remember that the consolation-match lineups should post about 45 minutes before the deadline, so the most goal-happy match gives us the goods before we must make decisions. We will have pre-deadline chat to share the news and reactions. It could be the most critical fantasy deadline of the whole tournament!

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So what chip are you playing now? What strategy lane are you in? Where do you think the fantasy points lie? What late news do you need to hear? Will you stay with us next month as we kickoff another season of fantasy Premier League action? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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