The opening ceremony will kick off the most watched and awaited competition in the world when host Qatar takes on Ecuador.
Most teams have arrived at Doha, and the remaining teams are in a neighbouring country applying the finishing touches to their tactics and starting lineups. I am as excited for the World Cup to kick off as any other fan, but in addition I’m gearing up to compete for fantasy glory. Time is running out — If you have not registered yet, make sure to join NMA’s mini league (you must register on the FIFA site and create your team first):
League code: K2QVR5ZB
We’ve also dropped previews of every World Cup group:
In addition, we’ve published a Group Stage fixture difficulty table and a MD-1 Player Picks piece to help you target the best matchups and the best players for your fantasy squad. We’ve also put out a Chip Strategy piece to help you formulate a plan for your boosters.
Finally, we’ll keep you abreast of team news, injuries, and suspensions as the competition unfolds. We’ll even post daily match reviews and a running table of important tournament statistics, so be sure to check in at www.nevermanagealone.com regularly!
MD-1 Featured Matches
All 64 World Cup ties are important, but some stand out. In MD-1, Senegal takes on Virgil Van Dijk’s Netherlands as part of Group A, and the Africans will have to make do without Sadio Mané.
Inter Milan and Netherlands right-wingback Denzel Dumfries was unfortunately injured in his last Serie-A match against Atalanta, but the defender has traveled with the squad, so hopefully his injury is minor.
Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada played a major role in the German club’s advancing to the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds, and he will be joining his national team Japan on MD-1 to face Germany. Most of the Japanese players playing outside of Japan are in the Bundesliga, so this match is expected to be one of the best in MD-1.
Belgium brings us arguably the tournament’s best goalkeeper and best creative playmaker in Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne, respectively. They’ll take on rising stars from Canada ,led by Bayern Munich left wingback Alphonso Davies.
All eyes will also be on Uruguay’s national team featuring recent breakthrough stars Federico Valverde and Darwin Nunez, and led by former Atletico Madrid and Villarreal captain Diego Godin as well as Luiz Suarez. The South American outfit will face Son Heung-Min’s South Korea, which also features Napoli’s center back Kim Min-jae. The Tottenham star has not yet trained but remains part of the squad for Qatar.
Last but not least, probably the strongest tie in MD-1 is Brazil vs Serbia. The Brazilian squad has top-notch stars in attack, midfield and goalkeeping. Center-backs Thiago Silva and Marquinhos expect to start, and they’re the best of the best, but the wingbacks are not on the same level. Alex Sandro, Alex Telles and Danilo are prone to mistakes against strong opponents.
This brings us to Serbia, which is certainly not as eye-catching an outfit as Brazil. But the Serbs do have a few shining gems scattered here and there, and that could be enough to produce results. The Serbian squad features Ajax’ Dusan Tadic, Lazio’s Milinkovic-Savic, Juventus’ in-form left winger Filip Kostic, former Real Madrid and current Fiorentina striker Luka Jovic, and Juventus’ striker Dusan Vlahovic.
MD-1 Difficulty Tables
If you need more clarity on how the difficulty table was developed, please refer to the Group Stage fixture difficulty table.
Here is the color code:
Senegal’s Sadio Mane has been ruled out of the opening fixture, remaining in Munich to receive treatment. It’s unclear if he can join his team later in the tournament. Dybala continues to be a doubt for Argentina while Angel Di Maria marked his return to fitness with two goals in Argentina’s friendly 5-0 win over United Arab Emirates.
Kyle Walker is training again, but his availability for England’s opening match is improbable. RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku was injured just days ago, so he was dropped from the French squad.
While still reportedly injured, German striker Muller is part of the squad and may only miss the opening match against Japan. Romelu Lukaku returned from injury a couple of weeks ago before once again relapsing back to the clinic. With luck, his hamstring injury will force him to miss only the opening match against Canada.
Barcelona defender Roland Araujo has started to train with Uruguay ahead of the opening match against South Korea. Serbia’s attacking duo Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic are racing to be fit enough to feature in the opening match against trophy-contenders Brazil.
Below is a comprehensive injury report for MD-1, courtesy of rotowire.com.
- Qatar: none
- Ecuador: Gruezo (doubt)
- England: Walker (out), Maddison (doubt)
- Iran: Azmoun (doubt)
- Senegal: Mané (out), Diallo (doubt)
- Netherlands: De Roon, Depay, Dumfries (all douts)
- USA: de la Torre, McKennie (doubts)
- Wales: none
- Argentina: Acuna, Gomez, Dybala, Romero (all doubts)
- Saudi Arabia: none
- Denmark: Wind, Ronnow (doubts)
- Tunisia: none
- Mexico: none
- Poland: none
- France: Benzema, Konate, Kounde, Varane (all doubts)
- Australia: Boyle (doubt)
- Morocco: Aboukhlal, Abde, Sabiri (all doubts)
- Croatia: none
- Germany: Muller, Klosterman, Rudiger, ter Stegen (all doubts)
- Japan: Endo, Mitoma, Morita, Tomiyasu (all doubts)
- Spain: Asensio, Guillamon, Llorente, Morata (all doubts)
- Costa Rica: none
- Belgium: Lukaku, Trossard (doubts)
- Canada: Davies (doubt)
- Switzerland: none
- Cameroon: none
- Uruguay: Araujo, Cavani (doubts)
- South Korea: Son, Hwang (doubts)
- Portugal: Ronaldo (doubt)
- Ghana: none
- Brazil: Marquinhos, Antony (doubts)
- Serbia: Mitrovic, Kostic, Lukic, Velkjovic (all doubts)