Our analysis of the Fantasy iTeam game continues now with a look at the player list.
After checking out the rule set ahead of Thursday’s World Cup 2018 opener between Russia and Saudi Arabia, we scour the market for differentials at both ends of the pitch in a two-part series of articles.
First up, then, we focus on defence, assessing the overlooked goalkeepers and defenders who could bring in big returns.
A trio of Premier League-based stoppers dominate the ownership between the posts, with David De Gea (23.2%), Hugo Lloris (12%) and Thibaut Courtois (11%) proving very popular picks for our starting XIs.
That leaves a host of low-owned options jostling for attention, with some differential picks among the group favourites.
Willy Caballero – owned by just 2%, Argentina’s back-up keeper is expected to deputise for the injured Sergio Romero.
Caballero started his nation’s recent friendly, a 4-0 win over Haiti, and now looks in the driving seat ahead of Group C encounters with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.
Priced at just £5.7m in FiT, Caballero is cheaper than the likes of defensive team-mates Nicolas Otamendi (£6.1m, 12.8% owned) and Javier Mascherano (£6.0m) as a route into a defence that conceded 16 times in 18 qualifying matches, the second most resilient record among the South American sides.
Fernando Muslera – the Uruguay number one offers a strong source of clean sheets for Group A showdowns with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
With Atletico Madrid centre-halves Diego Godin (£6.0m, 11.1% ownership) and Jose Giminez (£5.9m) stationed in front of him, Muslera looks set to continue a fine record that’s delivered four shutouts in five since the qualifiers ended.
Yet he’s owned by just 3.5% of FiT managers, despite boasting a price tag of £5.7m.
David Ospina – Group H fixtures with Japan, Poland and Senegal look encouraging for the Colombian number one.
The only player to start every match in qualifying, the Arsenal stopper (£5.8m) is a secure pick but has persuaded just 1.3% of managers to snap him up.
Colombia make their way to Russia 2018 in fine defensive form, too, with three clean sheets in their last four matches – only France have scored against them of late.
Again, there is significant scope for differentials in our defensive set-ups.
Brazil’s Marcelo (30%) and his Real Madrid team-mate, Spain’s Sergio Ramos 20%, are the most popular defenders in FiT, though just behind that duo, Germany trio Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich, along with France’s Raphael Varane, all sit between 14-15% ownership.
Victor Moses – the Chelsea wing-back hands us an intriguing out of position prospect for Group D matches with Croatia, Iceland and Argentina.
Listed as a defender in Fantasy iTeam, Moses is mainly utilised wide in a 4-2-3-1 for Nigeria but has recently been stationed up front in a 3-5-2 set-up.
With more goals (three) than any team-mate in the qualifying period, he comes in at £5.8m and has been drafted in by just 3.7% of managers.
Djibril Sidibe – priced at £5.8m, the right-back offers a budget-friendly route into France’s defence compared with team-mates Samuel Umtiti (£6.3m), Varane (£6.2m) and Benjamin Mendy (£6.1m).
Sidibe made more appearances (nine) and kept more clean sheets (six) than any other French defender in qualification and also chipped in with three assists.
A record of two goals and seven assists for Monaco in Ligue 1 last term showcases his attacking potential ahead of Group C matches with Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Yet just 4.1% have currently opted for the forward-thinking full-back.
Kieran Trippier – with Kyle Walker set to feature in central defence under Gareth Southgate, Trippier is expected to take up the right wing-back role.
Although he started just once during the qualifiers, the Spurs defender since appeared in five of England’s six friendlies and looks to have a share of set-pieces, having supplied an assist for Gary Cahill’s recent goal against Nigeria.
No defender supplied more assists than Trippier in the Premier League last season, though just 4.7% of FiT managers are currently on board for Group G showdowns with Tunisia, Panama and Belgium.
Ricardo Rodriguez – three goals, two assists and six clean sheets over nine qualifying appearances underlines the left-back’s potential for points at both ends of the pitch.
Two of those efforts arrived via the spot, with Rodriguez the number one penalty-taker for Switzerland.
He also shares corner kicks with Xherdan Shaqiri and was second only to the Stoke playmaker for chances created for the Swiss in qualifying.
Three clean sheet in four recent friendlies shows that Switzerland have maintained that resilience. Spain were the only side to score against them in that run, with Rodriguez scoring his nation’s goal in a 1-1 draw.
Priced at £5.8m, the AC Milan full-back sits in only 1.5% of FiT squads ahead of Group E matches against Brazil, Serbia and Costa Rica.
Andreas Granqvist – another defender with spot-kick duties, the Sweden centre-half scored three penalties during qualification.
Costing £5.5m, Granqvist is owned by mere 0.5% as he prepares for Group F encounters with South Korea, Germany and Mexico.
Also a big threat from set-pieces, he started all 12 of Sweden’s qualifying matches, helping them to seven clean sheets, including a pair of shutouts in the play-offs against Italy.
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.
World Cup Data
We’re delighted to offer World Cup data as an early addition to our regular season offering to help those playing Fantasy games over the summer.
We’ve secured Opta data, not only for the tournament itself, which begins on June 14 but also from the Qualifying Rounds for Europe and South America and for international friendlies involving the participating nations. This includes all the matches played right up to the tournament kick-off.
Just to stress, this World Cup offering comes packaged with the regular Fantasy Football Scout membership.
Check out this new trailer previewing the World Cup content below…