I think it’s fair to say that we’ve pretty much all enjoyed the excitement of this World Cup... other than fans of Germany, Spain and Brazil, of course. (And those of us who invested heavily in those teams from a fantasy — or sports book — standpoint as well.) After an amazing month, the tournament now comes to a close with the final pair of games. If the last weekend is anywhere close to as amazing as this prior month’s action has been, be sure to have your fainting couch underneath with a big bottle of smelling salts at the ready!
THIRD PLACE GAME (SATURDAY)
The consolation game often features some line-up rotation, and sadly can often fall short of both teams playing hard to win. For the winning team, though, it can offer a springboard toward future competitions such as the 2020 Euros and the 2022 World Cup. Not only will fans of the Belgium and England national teams be watching closely, but this will almost feel like a Premier League all-star game with rosters including Toby Alderweireld, Dele Alli, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Raheem Sterling, Jan Vertonghen, and Kyle Walker.
Savvy fantasy managers will have waited until the starting XIs were posted before committing to their final transfers. Thankfully, this one looks like Roberto Martinez and Gareth Southgate are both going for it! Could a heretofore afterthought such as Youri Tielemans or Ruben Loftus-Cheek end up deciding the game? Or will the stars shine as Kane looks to secure the coveted Golden Boot award from a charge by Lukaku?
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (SUNDAY)
This is what we’ve all been waiting for, so rejoice and let out a loud yelp! After Antoine Griezmann, N’golo Kante, Hugo Lloris, and Kylian Mbappe led the charge through the rough and tumble left-hand side of the draw (dispatching Argentina, Uruguay, and Belgium in short order), a France team with a rich history of trophies enters as the strong favorite. Whether or not we remember this ultimately as the World Cup that belonged to Griezmann, Kante, Mbappe and Lloris, as long as France raises the trophy in the end, Les Blues won’t really care.
Meanwhile, Croatia struggled to vanquish the supposedly easier right side of the bracket, needing extra time to sneak by Denmark, Russia and England (going all the way to PKs for two of those). Having played significantly more minutes, constantly in pressure-filled situations, and entering with one day less of rest, Croatia should be at a disadvantage due to exhaustion. However, powered by midfielder Luka Modric and forward Ivan Perisic, Croatia shrugged its fatigue aside against England, finishing extremely strong in the second half and extra time while the supposedly fresher Three Lions wilted. Much as with Portugal’s 2016 Euros title run, perhaps there is something to be said for being battle-tested and filled with momentum, fortitude, and a feeling of destiny. (France, of course, would really hate a repeat of that scenario.)
As we know from this World Cup, you can’t always trust the favorite to win. So are you rooting for the team that many would call better and more deserving, or instead pulling for the plucky underdog that could turn the global football order on its head?
Those of you who are new to us for the World Cup this summer, Never Manage Alone will have plenty of coverage for Premier League and Champions League fantasy in advance of and throughout the 2018/19 season, so keep the fun going and be sure to check back with us regularly!
Join in the live chat below as the culminating weekend action unfolds. Share your minute-by-minute thoughts as we witness which teams grab the on-field glory, and what players deliver the fantasy prizes as well!