Germany’s ability to share goals around their midfield and rotated strikers means that the best source of Fantasy returns in their squad is actually in defence.
Full-backs Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector look almost essential investments for World Cup Fantasy managers this summer.
Meanwhile, the positional classification of the experienced Thomas Muller demands our attention too.
ROAD TO QUALIFICATION
It is hard not to expect Germany to put up a strong defence of their World Cup title earned in Brazil four years ago. Joachim Low’s men won every single qualifying match and ended that campaign with a goal difference of +39. In ten fixtures they found the net a whopping 43 times, averaging 4.3 goals scored per game and they conceded just four. In the middle of qualifying, a mostly second-string squad was sent to Russia to contest the 2017 Confederations Cup and won the tournament at a canter.
Everything Germany needs to become the first nation since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups is at Low’s disposal. Those who have retired from international duty since the last finals have been replaced by players at their peak, the current squad has a healthy contingent of former winners and Low now has quality cover in virtually every position. Such is Germany’s strength in depth, Low was able to leave behind Leroy Sane who had his best ever club season in 2017/18 scoring 10 goals and assisting another 15 with Manchester City.
Low has alternated between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3 formations of late and has his team operate with a high-press, quick counter-attack, accurate passing and good movement off the ball. The defence is comfortable in possession too while his wide players are very good at cutting inside. As ever, Germany look a well-oiled machine ready to do the business in Russia.
The only blotches on an otherwise perfect pre-World Cup report card are the fitness and form of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and the team’s record in recent friendlies. Neuer missed nearly all of the 2017/18 season campaign with a broken foot and only returned to international duty this month. The 32-year-old shot-stopper couldn’t stop Die Mannshaft suffering a 2-1 defeat to Austria in his first game back, and in five 2018 friendlies they’ve drawn three times and been beaten twice. If history has taught us anything, though, it’s that these results will mean nothing by the time Germany kick off against Mexico on June 17. They know exactly how to get mistakes out of their game before it really matters.
Most starts: Joshua Kimmich (10), Thomas Muller (9), Jonas Hector, Mats Hummels (both 8), Julian Draxler, Toni Kroos (both 7).
Most goals: Muller (5), Draxler, Leon Goretzka, Timo Werner (all 3), Kimmich, Hector, Sami Khedira, Mario Gomez (all 2).
Most assists: Kimmich (9), Muller (7), Hector, Mesut Ozil (both 4).
THE KEY TARGETS
In a squad where goals are very much shared around the team, it can be hard to find clear-cut Fantasy options. That’s where defender Joshua Kimmich (£6.5m on McDonald’s FIFA World Cup Fantasy) comes in to show off his involvement in a whopping 11 goals during qualifying. The Bayern Munich full-back’s marauding runs and advanced positions saw him score twice and assist nine times. No player from any position was the provider for more goals in Europe during qualifying. Add into the equation the strong clean sheet potential from six shut-outs in UEFA Group C and Kimmich really is an essential Fantasy asset for the World Cup.
Kimmich’s importance is matched by compatriot Thomas Muller (£9.5m) who involved himself in 12 of Germany’s qualifying goals, more than any other team-mate. Five were scored himself with another seven contributions coming in the form of assists. Not only is the Bayern Munich forward priced relatively modestly, he has also been classified as a midfielder on McDonalds, allowing him to earn extra points for goals and also receive clean sheet bonuses too. For a player with such World Cup pedigree, he scored five times at both the 2010 and 2014 tournaments, it would be remiss of Fantasy managers not to consider including Muller in their squads given his classification and price.
On the opposite flank to Kimmich is Jonas Hector (£6.5m) who also offers excellent Fantasy potential. The attacking Cologne left-back netted twice in qualifying and assisted four goals, the same number as creative midfielder Mesut Ozil (£9.0m). Hector has only started two of the last five friendlies but was an important player in qualification and should hold onto his place for the opener against Mexico.
The aforementioned Ozil has found his way back into Joachim’ Low’s favour since qualification ended, making him another key target. The Arsenal man has started four of the last five friendlies, scoring and assisting across those appearances. During qualification he was only named in the first XI five times but was still able to score once and assist four goals in 434 minutes of football. That’s a goal involvement every 86.8 minutes, so with Ozil’s increased chance of game-time at the World Cup and his role as the set-piece taker, he could be a steady source of Fantasy points.
THE LONG SHOTS
With five goals in qualifying not enough to earn Sandro Wagner a place in the squad, it is difficult to predict who will start up front for Germany. Timo Werner (£9.5m) and Mario Gomez (£8.5m) have been competing for the position and both offer vastly different attributes. The quicker and more mobile Werner scored three goals from two qualifying starts and featured from the beginning in three of the last five friendlies, adding another goal. The 22-year-old forward is in fantastic club form having scored 34 times in 63 Bundesliga appearances for RB Leipzig too. Gomez is the more experienced of the two and offers strength and height instead, netting twice from two qualifying starts and on the scoresheet eight times in 16 league appearances since joining Stuttgart in January. Werner’s spell in the side between November and March might suggest he has the upper hand although he’s not started since then, while Gomez was given the nod against Brazil.
Julian Draxler (£8.5m) is an important player having started seven qualifiers and four of the friendlies since a place in Russia was booked. The Paris Saint Germain midfielder scored three times in UEFA Group C and assisted once. What makes him more of a ‘long shot’ than a ‘key target’ is the fact that Draxler hasn’t contributed to a goal since qualifying ended and even then he was substituted off in five matches during that stage of the competition.
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (£5.5m) is highly thought of by Low and could easily start ahead of Manuel Neuer (£6.0m), who has made just one start for the national team this season. Should the Barcelona man get the nod he is a slightly cheaper way of investing in Germany’s defence.
Rotation at centre-back makes Mats Hummels (£6.0m) the only one certain of a start in Russia. Both Antonio Rudiger (£5.5m) and Niklas Sule (£5.0m) have started games while Jerome Boateng (£6.0m) has been out injured, but the latter has started two friendlies and is pushing for a return to regular appearances in time for Russia.
Fantasy Football Scout is supporting Fantasy iTeam, a free World Cup game available on a number of mobile devices, including iPhone, iPad, iPodTouch and Android. We have an official Fantasy Football Scout League open to UK users only, with a £1000 of Amazon vouchers to give out, split between the top three performers. There’s also the small matter of £10k worth of prizes available in the main competitions: Overall World Championship and Manager of the Gameround.
Click here for details and here to sign up.
Our League name is Fantasy Football Scout and the pin is 1887.
Please note, users must be over 18 and based in the UK to join our league.