World Cup 2018 Preview – Group F

Manuel Neuer wins the "Golden Glove"  | 140713-8736-jikatu
German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer catching the ball against Argentina during the last World Cup final” (CC by 4.0) by Jimmy Baikovicius

Over the two weeks building up to the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, we’re publishing a series of previews with a special focus on each team’s best players and any details that might be of interest to FPL managers. Today, it’s the turn of Group F with Germany, Mexico, South Korea, and Sweden. On June 17th, Germany are playing Mexico, and Sweden are facing off against South Korea the next day.

Germany

With Germany, the reigning World Champions are returning to the tournament and it doesn’t look like they’ve lost any quality. On the contrary, with a solid defensive basis and an exciting mix of talent up front, Die Mannschaft might well be stronger than the squad that won the title four years ago.

In midfield, Real Madrid maestro Toni Kroos is likely to be directing the game for the Germans. The midfielder is a vital link in Madrid and an invaluable piece of the puzzle that has won the Champions League three times in a row now. He’s easily one of the most complete midfielders in the world, with a great vision of the game, practically flawless passing, and a great right foot, both in play and from set pieces, just to name a few of his strong points.

Manuel Neuer is another key piece for national team coach Joachim Löw. His importance as goalkeeper and captain of the World Champions was underlined when it became clear that, despite a season dominated by injury, Neuer was still included in the final team sheet, with Löw stating that he is in fact his number one goalkeeper. The German number 1 combines cat-like reflexes with a great management of both his area and the entire back line. Add to this his excellent ability with his feet to keep the ball in play and start the build-up from the very back, even under pressure, and it’s not hard to see why he’s considered by many to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

After the victory in Brazil four years ago, captain Philip Lahm retired from professional football, which left many people with a big question mark: who would be filling the place at right-back, both for Bayern and Germany, that Lahm had occupied with fantastic results for the past decade? The answer came from Bayern, who bought a relatively unknown player by the name of Joshua Kimmich in the summer of 2016. Kimmich is probably one of the most versatile players in the world right now, being able to play anywhere from attacking midfielder to right-back and even central defender. With his endless energy, his tactical awareness both offensively and defensively, and his eye for the pass, he quickly turned into one of the world’s most complete right-backs.

Germany is part of a World Cup for the 18th time in history and they are, yet again, considered one of the big favourites for victory in the Final again. If concentration levels are up to scratch, the group shouldn’t pose too many problems for them. If you consider Germany to be the likely winner again then check out the VM odds at Nordic to see what backing them might win you.

Mexico

Mexico have participated in 7 World Cups since 1986 and every one of those participations has seen El Tri reaching the knock-out phase of the tournament. The Mexican squad always boast talent, and they’ll be hoping that their current mix of experience and talent is enough to go far in Russia.

One of Mexico’s very biggest talents at this moment is Hirving Lozano, who transferred from Pachuca to current Dutch champions PSV last summer. The 22-year old scored 17 goals and assisted 11 in 29 Eredivisie games in his first season in Holland, resulting in rumours of a transfer to one of Europe’s greats already. Lozano preferably plays deep on the left wing, from where he can cut inside and put his excellent right foot to use. He’s fast, he’s not afraid of the 1v1, and he has a nose for the goal. His 4 yellow cards and 2 red cards in the league last season show that he still has some work to do in terms of his temper, though.

In the midfield, Real Betis midfielder Andres Guardado is the one to watch for Mexico. He was vital in Betis’ more than surprising 5th-spot finish and he’ll be vital for Mexico in Russia this summer. Despite his small stature, the former Valencia, Leverkusen and PSV-man often leads the press and wins back many balls for his team. His 8 assists in LaLiga last season show that he also contributes in an attacking sense, which is thanks to his wonderful left foot. With Guardado, Mexico can’t only count on a warrior in the midfield, but on a set piece specialist as well.

We could’ve looked at Porto’s Hector Herrera or West Ham’s Chicharito, for example, but we want to mention Carlos Vela as well. The quick and small attacker was destined to become a star at Arsenal in the Premier League, but some initial issues with his license (due to his limited time playing for the national team at the time) caused him to never really take off at the Gunners. He went on to make a more than serious mark on LaLiga side Real Sociedad though, from where he transferred to Los Angeles during the last transfer window, for whom he scored 7 and assisted 2 in just 12 games. On a good day, Vela is nothing less than spectacular and in combination with Lozano and Chicharito, El Tri have an attack to fear.

Germany will most likely be out of their league, but Mexico should be able to keep Sweden and South Korea at bay. After that, it remains to be seen how far in the tournament they’ll get.

South Korea

Far from the favourite in Group F, South Korea still has some interesting things to offer. Despite many of their players outside of Europe, mostly at home and in Japan, some of their internationally experienced players are at great moments in their career, both age- and performance-wise.

The absolute star of South Korea is Tottenham Hotspurs attacker Son Heung-Min. The FPL managers among us will definitely know this name, as last season he again turned up as a must-have man at different points in the season. Basically the premium replacement of one of Tottenham’s front three (Kane, Eriksen, Alli), he still managed to get a whopping 12 goals and 6 assists in the PL last season. He’s quick, both with and without the ball, he’s technically gifted, and he can both score and set up a team mate. While South Korea might not stand out in Russia, Son definitely has the ability to do so.

Another name in the South Korean squad that might sound familiar to many FPL managers is Ki Sung-Yueng. The 29-year old midfielder player 25 games for Swansea in the Premier League last season, in which he scored 2 goals and assisted just as many. Despite the club’s relegation, Ki has shown on more than occasion, and not just last season, that he’s a complete midfielder who can keep a team running, even when the circumstances are not ideal. He passes the ball, is much stronger in the one v one’s than his appearance would suggest, and has a great work ethic on the pitch. He’ll form the South Korean engine this summer in Russia.

One of the biggest South Korean talents, if he can still be called that, is Hwang Hee-Chan, who plays for Austrian outfit FC Red Bull Salzburg. The 22-year old striker scored 13 goals and provided 4 assists in 37 games for Salzburg. Those include 2 goals in Champions League qualification games, and 2 goals and 2 assists in the Europa League to help the Austrians reach the semi-finals. He’s likely to get plenty of minutes during the World Cup, so it’ll be interesting to see if his goal instinct can serve his country as well.

South Korea will have to be on top of their game, especially against direct rivals Sweden and to a lesser extent Mexico, and hope for some favourable results in the other group games. If not, the group stage will probably be the final stage for them in Russia.

Sweden

Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedes managed one of the big surprises in the build-up to the World Cup by overcoming World Cup mainstays Italy in a direct, two-way confrontation for qualification. Sweden counts on some individual talent, but their great strength is and will have to be their solidity as a team.

Sweden’s best individual player at the moment is probably Emil Forsberg. The winger, who plays for Red Bull Salzburg and has 35 games for Sweden under his belt already, is an important of Sweden’s attacking plans. He provides speed and the ability to beat a man in a 1v1, which gives the team some much-needed unpredictability up front. On top of that, he can score as easily as he sets up his team mates, so he might shine in Russia.

John Guidetti is another one of Sweden’s best players, who some of the more dedicated FPL managers might recognize as an ex-Man City player. His stay there, though, was largely dominated by loan spells at clubs like Feyenoord, Celtic, and Celta de Vigo. During these spells, Guidetti did show some serious quality at times, like at Dutch giants Feyenoord where he scored 20 and assisted 6 in just 23 games. He will likely start up-front with Ola Toivonen (Toulouse) and Swedes all over will be hoping that he’s found his goal instinct again, in time for their first crucial game against South Korea.

At the back, much Swedish hope will be placed on Manchester United’s centre back Victor Lindelof. The 23-year old is considered by many to be one of Europe’s most-promising defensive prospects and his chances of living up to those expectations have definitely not been hampered by playing under José Mourinho. Though far from becoming a long-term start for United, he did get up to 29 games last season, and he left a good impression overall in those games. The young central defender is tall and physically imposing, while his passing is usually immaculate, if somewhat risky at times. Combine this with his great tactical awareness during games and his lack of fear to build up from the back, and it’s clear why he’s a key asset for Sweden coach Janne Andersson.

Sweden will most likely have a tough time in Group F, but then again, people expected them to fail to qualify against Italy and here they are. If they can form the same hard-to-break-down block, then they might cause a surprise at some point, though the knock-out stages definitely seem out of reach.

World Cup 2018 Preview – Group E

Neymar Jr World Cup 2014

Brazil’s superstar Neymar Jr. tackled during the 2014 World Cup” (CC by 4.0) by Global Panorama

Over the two weeks building up to the 2018 World Cup, we’re publishing a series of previews with a special focus on each team’s best players and any details that might be of interest to FPL managers and fiso members playing Fantasy World Cup games. Today, we preview Group E with Brazil, Costa Rica, Serbia and Switzerland. On June 17th, Costa Rica are playing Serbia, and Brazil are facing off against Switzerland. Brazil are the bookmakers’ favourites to win the World Cup and it’s always a good idea when selecting your lineup to check out who the likely winners are from places such as Bet safe VM odds.

Brazil

This summer in Russia, it’ll be the 21st time that Brazil are present at a World Cup and as usual, they’re among the favourites to take the cup home. National team coach has an abundance of talent, quality and international experience all over the roster, but one man is counted on more than others. Neymar Jr, the world’s most expensive player by a long shot, injured himself halfway through last season and the Brazilian panic was immediately palpable. It looks like the PSG dribbler will be fit by the time the World Cup gets started, but how much effect will the lack of match fitness have, in combination with the unrelenting rumours about his unhappiness at PSG and a transfer to Real Madrid this summer?

Since a decade or so, the Ukrainian city of Donetsk has proven to be step toward a very promising career for young talents from Brazil. Just think of Willian, Fernandinho, and Douglas Costa. The latest one to cross over into one of Europe’s top leagues, the Premier League in this case, is Fred. The energetic box-to-box midfielder signed for Mourinho’s Man United this week for over £50 million and though he might not always start for Brazil this summer, due to the presence of Fernandinho, Paulinho, and Casemiro, he’ll surely want to show his worth in Russia. Fred tackles and defends hard but fair, he can set up a goal, and he lets other players shine, so keep an eye out for him.

Thiago Silva, Coutinho, Ederson, Marcelo, Gabriel Jesus. Those are just a few of the Brazilians we could focus on, but we’ll go for last season’s Champions League finalist, Roberto Firmino. The versatile Liverpool attacker, who scored 27 goals and assisted 17 in 54 games last season, has an invaluable role in Jurgen Klopp’s team, both as finisher and provider. He works tirelessly to create spaces for his team mates, his technique is close to perfect, and he combines as easily as he scores, so he might just make his mark in Russia.

A Seleçao are one of the top favourites for a World Cup triumph, but before thinking of that kind of glory, they’ll have to get out of their group. Not the easiest of tasks, but they should be up for it.

Costa Rica

Los Ticos are hoping to repeat their surprise performance at the last World Cup, when they came to a halt after penalties against the Netherlands. Oscar Ramirez’ team doesn’t contain an abundance of well-known players, but good performances by some of their top players might be enough for another great run but will fortune favour them again?

The Costa Rica roster boasts one real, international superstar, in the person of goalkeeper Keylor Navas. The Real Madrid shot stopper is already the most successful Costa Rican player in history, which is largely thanks to his considerable role in Real Madrid taking home the Champions League three seasons in a row. Navas is lightning quick on the line and he has the experience to lead his national team, so a lot will depend on him performing well for Los Ticos.

In the midfield, Costa Rica still largely counts on Bryan Ruiz to provide them with the necessary creativity and flair. The 32-year old attacking midfielder possesses a wonderful left foot with which he can create danger from both open play and set pieces, and after stints at FC Twente, Fulham, and most recently Sporting Lisbon, he’ll hopefully be able to produce some of his magic for his country this summer.

In the Costa Rican attack you’ll find a name that will probably sound more than familiar to long-time FPL managers: Joel Campbell. The explosive winger is still only 25 years of age, which make the 14 goals in no less than 74 appearances for Costa Rica all the more impressive. On club level though, Campbell has been loaned out six times by Arsenal since he joined them in 2011, the latest spell coming at last season’s La Liga surprise package Real Betis. Los Ticos will be hoping that 2 goals and an assist in just 9 games will be enough for him to be fit, ready, and in form in the build-up to the World Cup.

On paper, Costa Rica are the weakest team in this group. They have a world class goalkeeper, but the rest of the team is probably a few levels below the average level of fellow Group E outfits Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland.

Serbia

Ever since the collapse of Yugoslavia, the Serbians have had more than decent talents at their disposal. With that fact came expectations and, unfortunately for Serbia, also the disappointments of never really taking the opportunity of an international tournament to perform. The squad going to Russia will depend on a relatively old defence and a varied attack.

The star of the team is probably Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic. Considered by many to be one of the finest defensive midfielders in the world, it’s easy to understand why Mourinho splashed £40 million on the Serbian last summer. Matic is one of these players that seem to be everywhere at once and who can, on a very good day, control an entire midfield by himself. He’s tireless, he’s tactically very astute, and his left foot occasionally releases a thunderbolt into the back of the net. Serbia will be counting on him to excel this Summer.

Matic will most likely be joined on the midfield by the somewhat more attacking Sergej Milinkovic-Savic from Lazio Roma. The physically dominant midfielder is rumoured to become one of the hottest assets during the upcoming transfer window and it’s not hard to see why. Apart from his 14 goals and 9 assists in 48 games for Lazio last season, Milinkovic-Savic is a rather complete box-to-box midfielder with excellent aerial ability. Add a great right foot to that and it becomes clearer why a central midfield formed by him and Matic could be something to behold this World Cup.

Many FPL managers will hear a bell ring when they hear the name Aleksandar Mitrovic. His first season at Newcastle in the Premier League was not an undivided success story, though the still only 23-year old striker had plenty of good moments to show as well. He was loaned to Fulham in the Championship halfway through the season and this obviously did him some good, considering his 12 goals and 1 assists in just 17 league games. With his strength, both on the ground and in the air, he’ll probably be starting for Serbia in Russia this summer.

With the likes of Matic, Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, and Llajic, Serbia can count on a very talented pool of players to choose from. In defence though, most of the starting players are aged over 32 (like Kolarov and Ivanovic), which might turn out to be their Achilles heel during the World Cup. They’ll have to play top themselves and hope for Switzerland or Costa Rica slipping up if they want to look past the group stage.

Switzerland

Under coach Vladimir Petkovic, Switzerland is building up to the World Cup with quite some expectations. The core of the team consists of experienced players from the European top leagues, while the squad harbours a few considerably talented players as well.

One of the every best players in the team is defender Ricardo Rodriguez, who last summer moved from Wolfsburg to Seria A AC Milan for €15 million. He’s strong, quite fast, and defensively sound, while his 4 goals and 2 assists for Milan last season demonstrate that Rodriguez also supports the attack when possible, which can be a real weapon for Switzerland this summer.

Where Rodriguez usually plays on the left flank, Stephan Lichtsteiner usually does so on the opposite side. The Juventus right-back, like Rodriguez, has an attacking style of play for a defender, as he’ll usually try to show himself on the opponent’s half to put pressure or to look for the pass. Besides that, he’s physically strong, internationally experienced, and tactically very aware, so it looks like the wing-backs are going to play a major role in the Swiss tactics this summer.

In attack, the Swiss can count on Breel Embolo to make an impact. The youngster was one of Europe’s most wanted signings last summer window and he eventually ended up signing for Bundesliga club Schalke 04, where the still only 21-year old striker scored 3 and assisted just as many in 21 games. Embolo is physically strong, explosive in terms of both his pace and his acceleration, and he has a liking for the goal. It remains to be seen if he’ll be starting for Switzerland this summer, but he’s definitely one to watch out for.

Switzerland, in theory, has enough quality in the side to make it through to the knock-out stages of the competition, but they’ll have to really turn up during the games. Brazil is probably out of their reach, but victories against Serbia and Costa Rica definitely are not.

World Cup 2018 Preview – Group D

LG전자, ‘50억 축구팬 心’ 사로잡는다
Lionel Messi in action for Argentina during the Copa America” (CC by 4.0) by LGE

Over the coming two weeks, we’re publishing a series of World Cup previews with a special focus on each team’s best players and any details that might be of interest to FPL managers. Today, group C with Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, and Nigeria. On June 16th, Argentina are playing Iceland, and Croatia are facing off against Nigeria. Argentina are generally the 4th favourites with the bookmakers to win the World Cup at odds of around 10/1. For comparison, England Odds are about 20/1 as the 6th favourites.

Argentina

If there’s one man carrying the hopes, dreams, and pressures of an entire nation this summer in Russia, it’s Lionel Messi. The two-time World Champions, led by Jorge Sampaoli, will be hoping that with a 30-year old at the height of his extraordinary career, they can avenge the lost World Cup final against Germany in 2014. Messi is considered by many to be the best player in the world, and probably in the entire history of football, to such an extent that his teams (Barcelona and Argentina) eventually all suffer from “Messi-pendence”. After 45 goals and 18 assists in 54 games last season, Argentina will be hoping that Messi can do the one thing that still separates him from the great Diego Armando Maradona: bringing home the World Cup, after a seemingly endless harvest of prizes and awards over the past decade.

It’s likely that Messi will be joined in attack by Juventus’ Paulo Dybala, who is considered by the Italians to be their own so-called franchise player, like Messi at Barcelona, Ronaldo at Real Madrid, and Neymar at PSG. The two of them haven’t always played together in the national team due to their seeminly similar styles of play. Dybala has the ability to both score and assist, which is what he does in abundance for Juve (26 goals and 7 assists in 46 games for the Italian giants). He’s already hard to stop at Juventus, imagine once he’s in the same team as Messi.

The Albiceleste attack is completed by another Juventus superstar, though one some years older than Dybala. After successful stints at Real Madrid and Napoli, Gonzalo Higuain joined Juve for €94 million in 2016, for whom he scored 23 goals and assisted 8 in 50 games last season. Less quick silvery than his fellow attackers, Higuain is one of the world’s most clinical finishers in the area. He combines well, plays the spaces, and scores goals, lots of them.

Despite the embarrassment of talent in offensive terms, La Albiceleste definitely lack quality in back to be considered an all-out favourite for the title. They should comfortably pass the group stage, though.

Croatia

It’s often said that football matches are won in midfield. If that’s the case, then Croatia should be considered serious contenders for a finish high up the board. The team going to Russia this summer is likely to be strongest since Davor Suker led the Croations to a bronze World Cup medal in 1998.

The crucial man on the midfield is and will be Real Madrid’s Luka Modric. At 32 years old, the midfield maestro seems better than ever, which is why he surely was one of the first names Madrid ex-coach Zidane wrote down when deciding the starting line-up for next match. Modric combines a tireless work ethic with sublime control of both ball and space, while his passing forms the engine of the teams he plays in.

He’s joined on the midfield by FC Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, one of Europe’s best all-round midfielders with a knack for scoring goals. He usually plays in a bit more advanced role in comparison to Modric, though after years of playing together on the Croatian midfield, the two of them interchange positions effortlessly during the game. His physical presence, nose for the goal, and excellent technique make him invaluable to the national team.

In attack, it might be worth keeping an eye on Eintracht Frankfurt striker Ante Rebic (on loan from Fiorentina). He scored 9 goals and assisted 3 in the Bundesliga last season, and he ended the season with a huge bang by scoring a hat trick against Bayern Munich in the cup final that gave Frankfurt the unlikely victory over the Bundesliga giants. With Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic, Inter’s Ivan Perisic, and Milan’s Nikola Kalinic going to Russia as well, Rebic’ minutes might be limited, but if he does get to play, tune in.

Expectations are high in Croatia building up to this summer and it looks like they should make it though the group without too much trouble. The question is whether they can finish above group favourite Argentina.

Iceland

Iceland were one of the surprise packages during the Euro Cup two years ago, when the National team surprised the World by qualifying and then reaching to the tournament’s quarter finals where they eventually lost 5-2 to host nation France.

Like back in France, Iceland’s best player this summer is Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson. Despite a disappointing last season, which saw him moving from Swansea to Everton and suffering from an injury to prevent him from settling in his new team, all eyes are still on him, and rightly so. On a good day, the creative midfielder can lead his team to great results. His vision of the game, his passing, and his set-pieces make him one of the Premier League’s most feared midfielders, and the Icelanders will be hoping he can become the same in Russia.

Another key piece for the Iceland national team is Johann Gudmundsson, who plays in the Premier League as well, for last season’s surprise Burnley. Gudmundsson is quick, has great technique, and has an eye for the assist. Under Sean Dyche, the young midfielder has grown into a tireless winger / midfielder with good tactical awareness, something that will be crucial if Iceland have any hope of booking some satisfying results this summer.

There’s not just Johann, though. Iceland counts on another Gudmundsson as well, though to a lesser extent, namely 20-year old PSV winger Albert Gudmundsson. Though he’s valued but brought slow at the Dutch champions, he’s already made more than his mark on the national team, by scoring 3 goals in just 4 games. Iceland are not the most inventive team in Russia and Gudmundsson might be the man to add some flair and creativity to the side. He probably won’t be starting, but have a look at him when he does play.

On paper, Iceland will be battling Nigeria for third place in Group D. That’s what was being said about them in 2016 though, and they reached the quarter finals, so it’ll be interesting to see what they can bring to the table in Russia this summer.

Nigeria

If different media are to be believed, Nigeria might well turn into one of the most entertaining sides to play during the World Cup in Russia. The combination of experienced top players and young-and-upcoming talents playing in Europe is always an interesting one.

Most FPL managers will know the name John Obi Mikel, but a lot less of them will be able to name the team he’s playing for nowadays. At still only 31 years of age, the ex-Chelsea midfielder is one of the biggest stars in the Chinese Super League, playing for Tianjin TEDA. He has experience at the highest level, which is not something that can be said for many other players in the squad, he knows how to balance out a midfield, and he can feed the attach when necessary.

Another key asset for the Super Eagles is Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi. He’s still only 22 years old, and with 5 goals in 18 games under his belt he’s considered the future of Nigerian football for the coming years. Playing as a forward or an attacking midfielder, Iwobi often manages to function as a connection between the midfield and the attack. He has the vision to create chances for his team mates and the drive to appear in front of the opposition’s goalkeeper as well. His form could be a big influence on Nigeria’s performances in Russia.

In goal for Nigeria will be one of the tournament’s youngest players and one of Europe’s most interesting goalkeeping talents. At just 19 years old, Deportivo la Coruña keeper Francis Uzoho is an exciting prospect. With a few LaLiga games under his belt already, as well as several games for the national team, Uzoho will be ready to show himself to the football world this summer. He’s an athletic player with great reflexes who’s not afraid to coach his team mates and show his authority in the area, despite his age. If you manage to catch a Nigeria game during the World Cup, he’s definitely one to watch.

Even though the mix of players and playing style of many of them is attractive, the group stage will likely be the final stage for Nigeria on the coming World Cup. Argentina and Croatia are a few levels above the Super Eagles, while Iceland will likely prove to be a tough nut to crack as well.

FPL Season 17/18 A summary

Watford vs Manchester City
Sunshine at the stadium of the Champions” (CC by 4.0) by Matt Churchill

After the 2018 FA Cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea, another roller coaster season of English football has come to its end. It was a record-breaking season in many aspects, both on team and individual level, and in the real world as well as in the wonderful parallel universe of the Fantasy Premier League. Before looking over the past FPL season, here are just a few of the records that have been broken this season in the English Premier League:

• Champions Man City are the first team to reach 100 points
• They also broke the record for goals scored in a season: 106
• For the first time since the PL has 38 games, 2 players have reached the 30-goal mark in the same season: Harry Kane with 30 and Mo Salah with 32
• Mo Salah has scored the most goals in a 38-game PL season: 32
• Burnley achieved European qualification and their highest-ever finish in the 21st century as true “best of the rest” (7th)

We could go on for a while, this season truly was remarkable, but we’re moving on to what really matters. Mo Salah didn’t only break records on the pitches, but also on our computers, tablets and phones. With a grand points total of 303, he broke Luis Suarez’ 295-point record for points in a single season, and that’s hardly surprising. The Egyptian EPL Player of the Year just didn’t stop scoring, assisting and winning. Unfortunately for him the Champions League Final on May 26th proved to be a let down due to a tangle of arms with Sergio Ramos and a fall that damaged Salah’s shoulder so much he was unable to continue.

We’ll go over some of the best Fantasy assets of the past season, including Mo Salah of course, but first we want to mention Yusuf Sheikh, FPL’s 2017/2018 champion. With his Yusuf’s Team he managed to hold off Paul Gee’s My Little Kone, beating him to the punch by just 8 points. With a triple captained Salah on the final day, he added another 93 points to end with a total of 2512 points. With a total team value of £105.6 and just 41 transfers made, this season got another deserved winner. Congratulations Yusuf! And if you want to be a winner then you do need to keep an eye on the betting odds when selecting your double points captain to help guide you on which player is most likely to score.

Now, for an overview of the past season’s best FPL players, we’ve mainly looked at the point totals in the official game and some of the underlying reasons for which the highest-scoring players reached their scored.

Goalkeepers

Before Ederson came to Man City, the former Benfica shot stopper was largely unknown to a majority of the English public. It just took him one season to change this situation. The City keeper has proven to be one of the world’s best goalkeepers, one who not prevents goals but actually contributes to City’s much-praised attacking kind of football.

He probably would’ve been the game’s best goalkeeper, if it hadn’t been for United’s PL veteran De Gea (172 points compared to Ederson’s 158). The Spaniard was a certainty in the United goal (18 clean sheets!) and he’s shown that he’s a true lock on the door for a Mourinho side that rarely impressed this season. De Gea is a goalie who wins points for his team, both in FPL and in real life.

An honourable mention goes out to Fabianski, the game’s third-best goalkeeper (157 points) who relegated with Swansea. Unlike many of his team mates, the Polish goalie consistently performed on a PL level and has shown that he belongs in the elite.

Defenders

Despite Chelsea’s disappointing run this season, the two highest-scoring defenders this FPL season are Blues. First is Cesar Azpilicueta (175 points), who barely missed a minute and accrued 15 clean sheets, 6 assists, and 2 goals. Second comes the Premier League’s most scoring (and the FPL’s most expensive) defender Marcos Alonso, with 13 clean sheets, 2 assists, and 7 goals. He had a bit of a dip towards the end of the season, but like his team mate and compatriot, can look back on an excellent season in terms of FPL performances.

Scoring defenders are FPL gold, something that is also confirmed by City’s Nicolas Otamendi. As one of the few mainstays in Pep’s sometimes heavily rotated footballing machine, the Argentine central defender accrued 156 points, 15 clean sheets, and 4 goals. His rotation risk after clinching the title was a bit of a headache for FPL managers, but Otamendi’s season has been nothing short of spectacular.

An honourable mention goes to Man United captain Antonio Valencia, who got 146 points this season. As part of the League’s sturdiest defence, he still managed to score 3 and assist 1, which confirmed his status as an FPL legend.

Midfielders

Salah. The man who scored 32 goals, assisted 15, and won 3 Player of the Month awards in a single season (another record, by the way) was registered as a midfielder this season, which only increased his already enormous FPL appeal. We’ve talked about him before, we’ve talked about him during the season, and we’ll be talking about him for a while. He was, simply put, this season’s best.

In second and third place, two City midfielders who’ve had more than impressive seasons. Raheem Sterling blossomed under Pep’s guidance and ended up scoring 18, assisting 17, and accruing a total of 229 points. It looks like he’s living up to the promise of his talent and all English eyes will be on him during this summer’s World Cup. With just 20 points less, City’s Kevin de Bruyne finished the season as arguably the best all-round footballer of arguably the best team to have played in the modern Premier League. The Belgian played anywhere on the midfield and even helped out at left-back a few times, showing that he’s the engine of the current champions. He’s scored just 8 goals, which could be better considering his quality and his team’s form, but he’s the PL’s assist king with 18 assists. This is a personal opinion, but had it not been for Salah, KDB would’ve probably racked up the individual awards this season.

The honourable mention goes to FPL legend Christian Eriksen. Season in, season out, the Danish creative genius performs at the highest level, making some people and pundits wonder whether it’s time move the absolute top in England and Europe. The former Ajax man is still only 26, so arguably his best years are still to come. If Spurs manage to keep him on board, medals might be on the horizon.

Attackers

21, 25, 29, 30. That’s the number of goals Harry Kane scored in the Premier League over the past 4 seasons, which is, quite frankly, crazy. He has his ups and downs during a season, but just like Pocchetino, FPL managers can count on him to deliver. He could improve still in the assist department (just 2 this season), but his points total of 217 is impressive. He had a bit of an injury scare towards the end of the season, but it now looks like he’s set to make his mark on the World Cup this summer.

Second is Jamie Vardy, who just keeps on scoring and proves that he’s not just a one-season man who guided Leicester to one of the most unlikely success stories in modern football two seasons ago. The Foxes finished at a respectable 9th position in the league and Vardy played a huge role in that result. With 20 goals and 2 assists, he finished 4th in the top scorer chart, behind Salah, Kane and Kun, but in front of big names from big teams like Sterling, Lukaku and Firmino.

Third is Roberto Firmino, the tireless Liverpool nr9 who runs, assists and scores as if it was his last day on the pitch. The Brazilian has proven to be the perfect striker for Jurgen Klopp’s so-called heavy metal football, and the perfect partner for Man of the Season Mo Salah. With 15 goals, 8 assists, and 181 FPL points, it looks like Firmino is ready to shine one last time this season, come May 26th against back-to-back European champions Real Madrid.

World Cup 2018 Preview – Group C

France's Paul Pogba (2nd L) celebrates with team mates after scoring against Portugal during their friendly soccer match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis near Paris October 11, 2014.   REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE  - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)   - RTR49T
France’s Pogba celebrating a goal with the rest of the team” (CC by 4.0) by Ajith Kumar

Over the coming two weeks, we’re publishing a series of World Cup previews with a special focus on each team’s best players and any details that might be of interest to FPL managers. Today, Group C with Australia, Denmark, France and Peru. Group C starts on June 16th, France are playing Australia, and Peru are facing off against Denmark. The bookmakers favourites to qualify from Group C are France and Denmark. Checking out the top online bookies odds before you select your best team is a good thing to do to ensure you don’t overlook one of the favourites.

Australia

Despite football not being the country’s number one sport, Australia still manages to qualify regularly for international tournaments like the World Cup. On paper, they’re considered the underdog in Group C, but on the pitch the Socceroos can never be underestimated, thanks to their intensity and often physical approach of important games.

As was the case during previous World Cups, most Australian eyes will be on living legend and captain Tim Cahill. The midfielder will be 38 years old going into this summer’s World Cup, but he’s still considered invaluable to this Australia squad. With his experience, both overall and specifically at World Cups (the fourth of his career!), he’s expected to play an important role, both on and off the field.

Another attack-minded midfielder in the Australian team is Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy. The creative attacking midfielder with the tireless work ethic has had a great season in the Premier League and he will be counted on to provide the National team with some much-needed footballing creativity in Russia. In goal there is a Premier League player with a very successful last season as well, in the person of Mat Ryan. The Brighton goalkeeper had an overall excellent season as he managed to help the Seagulls stay in the PL in their first season there. He’s got great reflexes, is good with his feet, and gained a lot of authority in the area over the past 12 months.

Like we said before, Australia is on paper the weakest team in this group. If they want to have any chance of progressing to the knock-out stage, they’ll have to rise above themselves and hope for some favourable results elsewhere.

Denmark

The Danish are bringing a team to the World Cup this summer that shouldn’t be underestimated by any account. On a good day, Denmark can combine defensive solidity with a crafty midfield and a dangerous offense. The team’s undoubted star is Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen, who’s confirmed (once again) last season that he belongs to the very best attacking midfielders in the world. He runs, he creates and he scores, with both his left and right foot, and his value to both club and country is enormous.

In defence, the Danes will be hoping that this season’s break-through of Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen will be assuring them of a world-class central defender for years to come. Despite still being prone to an error here and there, the young defender is solid in the air, quick, and not afraid to aid in the build-up. Speaking of talents, at the other end of the pitch, Denmark can play Ajax Amsterdam’s Kasper Dolberg, who is considered one of the world’s most talented youngsters at the moment. His break-through came last year, when he played an important role, at only 18 years old, in helping the club reach the Europa League finals. He’s strong, agile and technically-gifted, and he has a real killer instinct in front of goal. Last season was partly ruined by injury, but if he can display even a whiff of his class in Russia, he’ll be one to watch.

Denmark will be aiming at qualification in this group. France should normally have too much class for Denmark but Peru and especially Australia are teams that they should beat, in theory.

France

The French national team is one of the favourites for the World Cup in Russia, that much is clear. When you can leave the likes of Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Aymeric Laporte (Man City), and Nabil Fekir (Lyon) without weakening the selection, it means you’ve got an exceptionally talented group at your disposal.

Antoine Griezmann
is already one of the most talked about players in Europe after another spectacular season at Atletico Madrid and the alleged serious interest from FC Barcelona, but his star might just rise a bit higher still this summer. The small attacker is one of the most lethal offensive players in the world at the moment and he seems to link up well with any player partnering him up front. The 2018 World Cup might just become Antoine Griezmann’s tournament.

Of course, it might just as well become Kylian Mbappé‘s tournament, as the French teenager continued his meteoric rise to football super stardom last season by scoring 21 and assisting 16 in 46 games for PSG. He’s lightning quick, physically strong, and a dribbler pur sang, and what’s even better, his still only 19 years of age. The World Cup is the next step in the career of one of the world’s biggest talents.

It’s easy to pick another 10 players from the French squad to put an emphasis on and we’ve chosen goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The French national goalie has been a mainstay in goal for years now, both for Spurs and France, and his importance is sometimes somewhat understated. Lloris has grown into one of the most reliable goalies in the world, becoming one of that valuable breed of goalkeepers who win points for their teams. For France, he’ll have a crucial role in guiding the many young talents to World Cup glory in Russia.

The French have as good a selection as any country and are definitely considered favourites for the end victory. Their group shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for them.

Peru

The Peruvian build-up to the World Cup has been stressful. They reached the tournament by winning a double play-off against New Zealand, and their supposed star striker and best player was still suspended for international football due to a failed drug test.

Eventually though, 34-year Paolo Guerrero was granted permission to go to Russia after all, where he will be taking on his usual role leading the Peruvian attack. In the autumn of his career he’s still scoring goals at high level, namely at Brazil’s Flamengo. With stints at clubs like Hamburg, Bayern Munich and Corinthians under his belt, his goal instinct as well as his experience will be of great value to a Peru team that’s considered an underdog in this group.

FPL managers might hear a bell ring when they hear the name André Carrillo. The Watford winger, on loan from Portugese top club Benfica last season, showed glimpses of his qualities over the past season. Despite not being able to cement a starting spot in the team, he did display great technical ability, dazzling speed and a tireless work rate. Peru will hope that it’ll all come together for him in Russia.

Another interesting piece of the Peruvian puzzle is Renato Tapia, the defensive midfielder who usually plays as a central defender for Dutch giants Feyenoord. As a defender who possesses the skills to join in midfield and is not afraid to do so, he played an important role in the club’s championship in 16/17. For Peru, he usually gets the role of playing in front of the back line. Strong in the duels, with good vision, and not afraid to make a forward pass, Tapia is important to the overall balance of the Peruvian national team

As with Australia, the World Cup’s group phase will likely also be the last phase for Peru. The stars are all at the end of their career and the team overall just doesn’t seem up to the task of finishing above Denmark.

World Cup 2018 Preview – Group B

Cristiano Ronaldo 1
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Portugal” (CC by 4.0) by Themeplus

Over the coming two weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of World Cup previews with a special focus on each team’s best players and any details that might be of interest to FPL managers. Today, group B with Iran, Morocco, Portugal, and Spain.

On June 15th, Morocco are playing Iran, and Spain are facing off against Iberian rivals and reigning champions of Europe, Portugal, which arguably is the highlight of all the World Cup group matches. Despite Portugal being European Champions, Spain are favourites with the bookmakers to win this group. Keeping an eye on the odds and World Cup betting offers can help you pick the best players for your team and increase the fun of watching the football matches.

Iran

Former Portugal and Real Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz would’ve probably wished for an easier group for his Iran team, but Team Melli has improved over the last decade. It’s particularly in attack where the Iranians boast some interesting prospects. First of all, there’s AZ Alkmaar’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who last season became top scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie and was voted Player of the Season as well. Pacy, a good dribbler, and eye for goal, the winger is ready for a step up and Napoli is reported to be interested in his services. Alireza’s striking partner is called Reza Ghoochannejhad, who also plays in Holland, for SC Heerenveen, where he’s scored 32 goals spread over the past two seasons. He’s also Iran seventh-highest top scorer with 17 goals for the national team. Finally, there is Sardar Azmoun, who plays for Rubin Kazan in the Russian Premjer Liga. Though his past season wasn’t his most prolific (5 goals in 26 league games), he’s generally known for his killer instinct and ability to lean on defenses. At only 23 years old, he’s already bagged 23 goals in 32 games for Iran, so it’ll be interesting to see what he’ll do in Russia this summer.

Despite the presence of some attacking talent, our hopes aren’t high for Iran. Spain and Portugal are definitely our of their league, while Morocco should be better as well, so it looks like an exit in the group stage for Team Melli.

Morocco

Morocco might be another surprise package this year, if coach Hervé Renard manages to keep all of his players motivated. The Eagles of the Atlas combine a powerful defense with an energetic midfield and a creative attack, with 6 players raised in Holland.

One of the most important players in the team is without a doubt Medhi Benatia. The tall and strong central defender has been at the European top for years already, first at Roma and Bayern Munich and currently at Juventus, and his quality and experience will be a decisive factor for Morocco. He’s both a defensive rock and an attacking threat at the same time, thanks to his excellent heading abilities.

Hakim Ziyech is probably the most talented player Morocco currently has, but the Ajax midfield maestro hasn’t always been in great relations with coach Renard. The two have made up though, and it certainly has paid out for the national team. Ziyech has a fantastic left foot, great vision, and at Ajax he’s improved enormously in terms of intensity and concentration. The Moroccans have a technical team, but most attacks will probably still pass through him.

An exciting, but less-known prospect in this team is the 24-year old forward Ayoub el Kaabi. The young attacker still plays in Morocco, for RS Berkane, where he’s scored 22 goals in 38 league games over the past two seasons. With 10 goals in 8 games, his record for the national team is even more impressive, so it’ll be interesting to see how he presents himself during his first World Cup.

Morocco has an interesting team with a lot of technically gifted players, but Spain and Portugal will probably fend them off in the group. A surprise could never be far off, though.

Portugal

As the reigning champions of Europe, the Portuguese, under Fernando Santos, are considered an outsider for the title. Of course, what’s also true is that any team that counts on Cristiano Ronaldo can probably be considered an outsider, at the least. The Real Madrid superstar has just come off a third Champions League victory in a row (the fourth in five years!) and confidence couldn’t be higher. He scored 44 goals in 44 games last season and carries the hope of the entire nation in Russia. Can he lead them to deep into the knock-out stages?

In terms of talent, especially in attack, Portugal has one of the richest squads, and two players in particular stand out: Bernardo Silva and Gonçalo Guedes. The former crowned himself champions in England with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, while the latter quite literally teared it up in LaLiga for Valencia (on loan from PSG) last season. Both are quick, agile, and technically-gifted attacking midfielders who could be the perfect companions for Ronaldo up front. Silva missed some minutes this season due to Pep’s rotational tactics, but the City man more than showed what he’s got in the games he did get time (9 goals, 11 assists). Guedes had a spectacular season at Valencia, where he scored 6 and assisted 11, playing mainly as a winger or an attacking midfielder. Fast as lightning and fearless, the Portuguese super talent is one to look out for during the World Cup in Russia.

The Portuguese attack is world class, but the defense isn’t… anymore. Big names like Pepe, Bruno Alves, and Jose Fonte, are all older than 34, and the next defensive generation is not (yet) at top level. It’s probably enough to pass the group stage, but it’ll become difficult for them after that.

Spain

The favorites in Group B are Spain, who, under Julen Lopetegui, are looking for a new period of international success after most of the players from the successful 2006-2012 generation have retired. The Spanish squad is one of the strongest in the tournament, as only the likes of Germany and Brazil can match their individual quality. In goal, La Furia Roja counts on Man United’s David de Gea, who’s showing that he’s among the world’s best season after season in England. The defense is led by Spain, Real Madrid and Champions League living legend Sergio Ramos, but he’s not the only with some serious football credentials. What to think of Chelsea’s marathon man Cesar Azpilicueta, Real Madrid’s starting right-back Dani Carvajal, or FC Barcelona’s Gerard Pique?

Where it gets really crowded though, is on the Spanish midfield. Instead of commenting, just take a look at the roster: Saul Ñiguez (Atletico), Koke (Atletico), Iniesta (Barcelona), Busquets (Barcelona), Thiago (Bayern), David Silva (Man City), and Isco (Real Madrid). The likes of Cesc Fabregas and Javi Martinez were left home by Lopetegui.

In attack, Chelsea’s Diego Costa will probably be the big man for Spain, flanked by either some of the previously mentioned midfielders, or by fellow attackers Asensio and Vazquez (both Real Madrid). Costa will go to war every game and if he can combine that attitude with some goals, then the Spanish might just take it to the very end in Russia.

Spain is not only the favorite in Group B, but also one of the favorites for the World Championship. The team is bursting with quality, most players have known each other and played together at the highest level for years, and their group might be the perfect start.

World Cup 2018 Preview – Group A

Here is Luis! - Aquí esta Luis! | Uruguay 2 - England 1 | 140619-6454-jikatu
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez during the 2014 World Cup against England” (CC by 4.0) by Jimmy Baikovicius

Over the coming two weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of World Cup previews with a special focus on each team’s best players and any details that might be of interest to FPL managers as well as those playing TFF World Cup 2018 or Dream Team World Cup 2018. We’re starting with group A with Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uruguay. As the tradition goes, the World Cup is kicked off by the tournament’s host. On June 14th, Russia will be opening the ball with a match against Saudi Arabia, followed by Egypt against Uruguay the day after. If you are planning on having a bet as well then look around for good odds on the World Cup in Russia. Banking the best odds on the bet you want means you get a better return if your football bet is a winner.

Egypt

At the time of writing, Egypt coach Héctor Cúper is still working with a preliminary squad of 29 players, but the core of the team that’s going to Russia isn’t too hard to guess. Obviously, all Egyptian eyes will be on star man Mo Salah, after his impressive first season at Champions League finalists Liverpool. The Premier League’s Player of the Season had to leave the final against Real Madrid after half an hour due to injury, but he’s reported to be back well in time for the start of the World Cup. If his form continues into the summer, we might be talking about one of the tournament’s superstars here.

Two of Egypt’s other most experienced players also earn their wages in the Premier League. At West Brom, there is defensive strongman Ahmed Hegazi, who, despite the Potter’s relegation, can look back at a decent season. He’ll be leading the Egyptian defense for which Aston Villa’s El Mohamady usually starts as well. The other one to watch is Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny, who doesn’t always start for the Gunners, but whose a mainstay on the Egyptian midfield. He’s crucial for the team’s balance, as well as in connecting the sturdy Egypt defense with Salah and co in attack.

In a group with Saudi Arabia and Russia, Egypt might just turn out to be one of the World Cup’s surprise packages this summer.

Russia

At the time of writing, Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov is still working with a preliminary squad of 29 players, but like Egypt, some players are already certain of a spot among the final 23. The Russian national team hasn’t been performing great over the past few years, something that is in part due to very few Russian players being active in Europe’s top leagues at the moment.

CSKA Moscow legend Igor Akinfeev is definitely one of Russia’s best players, and probably the most important one as well. He’s been providing reliable hands in goal for more than 10 years already, and at still only 32 years old, he’ll probably do so again this summer. He’s also one of the few players with previous World Cup experience (2014) in this Russian squad.

Ex-Real Madrid talent Denis Cheryshev is one of the few players in the Russian national team who play for a team in the European top leagues, in this case Spanish side Villareal. The creative midfielder has had some injury issues over the past years, but when fit he’s one of Russia’s most decisive assets. The team’s performance will depend for a large part on his creativity. Ex-Feyenoord recruit Fyodor Smolov (currently Krasnodar) is the one who’ll have to be putting the balls in the back of the net for the Russians. The tall striker came in second in the Russian Premier League’s top scorer ranking last season, with 14 goals in 22 games.

If Russia wants to advance through the group stage for the first time, then they’ll have to make sure to take points against Egypt and especially Saudi Arabia, as Uruguay will probably be a bridge too far.

Saudi Arabia

Group A’s weakest team, on paper at least, is Juan Antonio Pizzi’s Saudi Arabia. The entire squad plays in the national competition, even though, through a collaboration with Spain’s LaLiga, a group of players was loaned to a few Primera División teams to prepare for the World Cup. Considering their general lack of playing minutes though, this arrangement is unlikely to have a real effect on the team.
The 31-year old striker Mohammad El-Sahlawi, who plays for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia, is one of the better-known players in the national team. He scored 10 goals in 19 games for his club last season and he’ll be training with Manchester United in the weeks working up to the World Cup, so it might be interesting to keep an eye out for him. Salem El-Dawsari is one of the players who were loaned to LaLiga last season. In the case of El-Dawsari, this club was Villareal, Spain’s current number 5. Despite limited playing minutes, the midfielder did spend a considerable amount of time in the ranks of one of Spain’s best clubs, so the Saudis will be hoping he’ll make a difference in Russia. Another young player who spent last season in Spain, at Levante, is winger Fahad Al-Muwallad. Short and quick, he’ll be looking to provide the Saudis with some much-needed speed and creativity in the front. Any attacking Saudi danger will probably involve Al-Muwallad.

The chances of success in Russia this summer are slim for Saudi Arabia. Group A is definitely not The World Cup’s strongest group, but we still rate the other teams considerably higher than the Saudis.

Uruguay

If football was played on paper, Uruguay would be qualifying for the knock-out phase without a problem. Of the four teams in Group A, La Celeste have the bigger names and the more experienced players by quite a long shot. In attack, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani team up to provide the goals. Though both strikers have well passed the age of 30 by now, they’re still lethal at the highest level, which is underlined by their performances for respectively Barcelona (25 goals in 33 LaLiga games) and PSG (28 goals in 32 Lige 1 games). They’ve been forming one of the most feared attacking partnerships in international football for years, so they know each others’ style inside and out. Uruguay’s performance will largely depend on the form and accuracy of these two.

Though the Uruguay squad boasts plenty of other quality players, like Inter Milan’s Matías Vecino and ex-Boro man Gastón Ramírez, we find another world class duo at the back. Diego Godín and José María Giménez form the central block at Simeone’s Atletico de Madrid as well, which is a blessing for the national team. With 9 years of age between them (32 for Godín and 23 for Giménez), they represent the past, present, and future foundation of the team, and they’ll be forming one of the most unrelenting defensive duos of the World Cup this summer.

You should never underestimate the Uruguayans. They combine world class players with a win-or-die mentality, so don’t be surprised if they reach the higher end of the knock-out stage.

Fantasy sports and traditional betting – a common ground

There really is not much difference when it comes to daily fantasy sports and the practice of traditional betting. For example, both of these involve different forms of gambling. The former is just an accelerated form of fantasy sports. Now these are sports where players make up teams with pre-ordained value and within a certain salary cap. Points are earned based on how the teams and players perform in the real world. It’s all about the statistics involved here.

Whether you are betting on fantasy sports or traditional sports, the aim is always to win. In case of the latter, there is a great event coming up – the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It’s slated to be the greatest tournament when it comes to international football and will offer all kinds of betting opportunities, and fantastic chances to make good money. Furthermore, you’d need expert tips to make the most of these offers (here’s where you can get World Cup tips online). Any kind of sports betting is all about knowing the sport (much like fantasy football) to ensure that bets aren’t just random gambling but is about making the smartest, most strategic bets possible.

To come back to our discussion, the similarities in both the genres are striking. Let’s look at a few.

The ability to profit

In both the genres fortune to a large extent depends on the skills of the player. A skilled person in the capacity of a professional gambler has the potential to make an extremely decent sum of money consistently in both formats. Both of them bank on the player’s knowledge of the sport and how it is used to place required bets. Slowly but surely the realm of fantasy sports is syncing in with the traditional world we know so well – here’s an article to that point.

They’re both legal and safe

In continuation with our earlier point and the article in question, we can see that legality is not really a big hurdle in these two genres. Both of them are considered to be completely safe and legal in many parts of the world. A bit of a sticky situation arises if you are in the US. But even that can be got around. Simply use the Las Vegas book. That way your dealings stay legal and you have nothing to worry about. That’s because these books operate well within the law and are prompt in their pay outs. Online may be a little trickier sometimes so try to look for books that are unlikely to be affected by the US laws.

A commissions game

Both these genres depend on commissions for the bookers to stay in the game. That’s how they make their money. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there? After all the players are making money and the ones who provide a platform for the players to make that money should be making money too. Otherwise, why provide the service in the first place. Generally speaking the commission in daily fantasy sports arena touches about 10%, in the traditional scheme of things the rate is a little lower. The question of legalization has brought in another interesting angle into all this – it seems that now official sports bodies wants a cut of the profits from legalized betting.

There also exist a few dissimilarities between these two genres, but that’s a topic for another time. Right now if you are into traditional betting, delve right into the fantasy sports world.

Let’s hear from the FPL Cup Finalist for 2017/18

FISO member, Joshhhua, beat off millions of other entrants (over 5 million people entered FPL in 2017/18) to reach the final of the FPL Cup where heart-breakingly he lost by the finest of margins (a 78 to 78 draw but he had fewer goals scored so finished 2nd on the tie-breaker). Here in his own words is how his season went:

‘Hi guys, after having a bit of time to look back at last season, wanted to write a summary of my run in the Cup, hoping it could be useful for someone in the next seasons.

What can I say about this crazy run in the FPL Cup? As Jürgen Klopp once said: “Giving your best will not guarantee success, but it is the only way to achieve it.” Ok, maybe I shouldn`t have listened to someone who lost 5 of his 6 finals, but think he does have a point with that one. Brendan Rodgers, with all his flaws, said: ”I only concentrate on the things I can influence and not wasting my energy on the things I can`t change.” Don`t worry, this was the last quote from managers, but quoting them like they are some brilliant minds of humanity would be disrespectful to somebody like Nelson Mandela, who said: “I never lose. I either win or learn”. Now I`m done with quoting, really. The reason I`m risking being seen as a philosophical nerd with too much spare time on his hands is that those three statements were the foundation of my approach of playing FPL and crucial part of that FPL Cup run.

I`m sure some will say I was extremely lucky and they wouldn`t be wrong. In one round I had a GW rank of 3.9 million and was lucky enough that my opponent was worse than me that round and there is absolutely no question about it that luck is needed to win so many H2H matches in a row, but you give your best shot and hope for the best.

Although my rank was not that bad in the previous seasons I still felt it was not good enough and tried to find out what other managers do better and what things I have to change so I found Fiso and read some very interesting theories supported by plain facts and what I liked the most about Fiso was there were often questions how and why and not only talk about which player from which team as it is on every other FPL related site. It was clear this is the place where I could become better manager, but what surprised me the most was how people were friendly and helpful which is such a rarity nowadays where abuse on internet became almost a normal thing.

I should probably say right away that I didn`t care for the Cup at all when it started. I think there were rounds when I even forgot to look at my opponent`s team before the deadline as I was just concentrated on getting as much points as possible every GW (was aiming for those 66 points per gw on average) and getting into the top 10K and later top 1K. Two rounds I even did -8 as that was better for my team overall. Maybe that is important to note, as if I was making transfers with H2H in mind, maybe my team wouldn`t be in that good position for almost every GW during this long run. What also helped is that I found reasonable the theory about not letting less powerful chips (TC and especially BB) influence the decision when the most powerful chip (WC) should be played and wildcarded in GW28 when I thought it was the best time for my team looking at form and fixtures as I made 12 or 13 changes what ensured continuity in H2H match-ups.

I only started looking at the Cup games in more detail in the last couple of GWs, but that still didn`t influence my transfers and strategy until QF. Even in QF, the only different thing I did because of H2H is captaining Salah who my opponent didn`t have as I was sure it was the only way to beat him as he had his BB chip left, but didn`t use it in the end.

In the SF, I took a look at the other teams still in the Cup and saw that the team that eventually won the Cup, was favorite in the SF and in much better shape for the final round than my team and that I got the easiest opponent in the SF, so after going through many ideas and lot of tinkering decided that not playing TC chip will give my team the best chance of winning the Cup. I knew it would raise a few eyebrows, but the idea looked so good I just had to go with it. It worked out perfectly with double United CS on the last day of DGW handing me the ticket to the final.

The final day was a proper emotional roller-coaster. It started very well with Kane and Salah scoring early, but in the end Arnie`s goal and Robertson scoring late sealed it and I went down on the goals scored. The bonus points system also didn`t help as although Kane scored two goals, the same as Vardy, with the second one being the winning goal, it still wasn`t enough for the 3 BPs and also the story of this season with Salah not getting any BPS for a goal and an assist, but I don`t want to moan.

What I learned from the final is that I should have been more proactive, but after I kept my cool in the SF by not getting Sterling nor Jesus in and not using the TC chip, it was very difficult for me to change the approach that got me there in the first place and that was a mistake. You get to play in the final once in a lifetime and after it is finished you shouldn`t have any regrets. My approach to the final match-up would be sensible for every other GW, but not for this one. I knew which transfers my opponent made and saw he spent 4 points and I didn`t react. Funnily, all the transfers I had in mind would have gotten me the title: Maguire to TAA, Maguire to PVA, Pogba to Arnautovic. I was 99% sure he got Arnautovic in, so if I did the Pogba to Arnautovic transfer, we would both start with -4 and it would be my Kane, Salah against his Alli and better defence.

So, if someone who reads this happens to reach the finals, forget all you know and just go for it. It is one-time opportunity so don`t let it slip because you were too cautious. We can talk about me being unlucky, Zanka`s yellow card in the last minute, Arnie`s “assist” or Pogba coming on for the last 5 minutes preventing Milivojevic to be subbed in, but it is a fact I didn`t rise to the occasion as I should have. One holy man once said “luck is nothing more than a manifestation of your spiritual frame of mind” (literary translation would be “manifestation of your inner spiritual state”) and I forgot that for a moment and was too cautious and too fearful to have luck on my side.

I assume someone will think I want to present myself as know-it-all or elite FPL manager, but I just wanted to share my experience as it is pretty rare to go this far, hoping maybe this would help better managers than myself to win it if they reach final rounds of the Cup. The thing is, the moment you start to think you are great at something is the moment you will stop getting better at that very thing and the regression will kick in.

So, in the end, none of this would be possible without great people here on Fiso. There is no other place for FPL where it is possible to hear so many original ideas and so sensible at the same time. Talk about transfers, captain decisions and game strategy was the most important part of this Cup run as only when I wrote down my ideas and talked about that to someone who knew what he was doing, only then I had a feeling I “gave my best shot” and after the first feeling of disappointment because loss in the final, I felt very happy I had an opportunity to be part of such a great community which helped me realize my flaws and made me a better manager and I would like to think, better person in the end.

I would like to say thanks to all the people here as even if I didn`t directly talk to a lot of you, I was reading your blogs and your comments which also influenced my decision-making. Also, if I offended or upset anybody, please forgive me!

Thank you Fiso!’

World Cup Golden Boot Winner Predictions

Frontrunners

Antoine Griezmann – 14/1

France have an abundance of talent in their squad going into the World Cup and their attacking options are second to none, upfront alone they have Lacazette, Giroud, Mbappe and of course, Griezmann. Whilst his club future is uncertain he’s likely to start for France in the majority of their games and with his return of 19 goals in 51 games so far for his country he’s likely to add a fair few more.

Thomas Muller – 20/1

Thomas Muller is an interesting one, on one hand he always seems to pop up with a goal, on the other he’s having a pretty barren goal scoring run. At 20/1 he’s likely to provide some value but don’t be surprised if he either scores 15 goals or none. Germany will probably go far in the tournament and whilst they have other goal scorers Muller is the golden boy of German football and will probably be their #1 choice.

Lionel Messi – 9/1

Lionel Messi is down as favourite with most bookies and it’s a bit of strange one to say the least. Argentina struggled to qualify and it took a hat trick from the G.O.A.T to see them through to the finals but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to repeat his heroics at the finals due to their mismatched squad, if Argentina finally put it all together he might be able to notch a few though.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 12/1

Football’s other golden boy is vying for the golden boot too and being in a group with Iran and Morocco, he could reach a reputable total before even getting out of the group. Whilst he had a lean spell at the start of the La Liga season he still finished with a goal every 89 minutes, better than most strikers the world over. Whilst you shouldn’t count him out, Cristiano is another player hoping the rest of his squad can pull their weight.

Neymar – 10/1

Neymar is spearheading a nation trying to right the wrongs of the 2014 World Cup on home soil and they’re likely to be a different proposition to the team thrashed 7-1 by Germany. With a youthful team full of attacking threat they’re looking to go all the way and with the world cup odds paddy power have given its not unlikely and Neymar will likely reap the rewards. Games against Costa Rica, Serbia and the Swiss will likely add to his tally early and he will surely build on it over the course of the tournament.

Outsiders

Timo Werner – 14/1

The heir to Germany’s #1 striker spot, Timo Werner has come on leaps and bounds in the last two seasons, scoring 42 goals in 77 appearances for RB Leipzig. He’s managed 7 goals in 12 internationals too so don’t be surprised if he notches a few more.

Mohamed Salah – 33/1

Whilst his goal scoring exploits with Liverpool this season have been extraordinary, he’s unlikely to match that at the World Cup. Egypt are likely to be one of the whipping boys of the finals and won’t go far. His odds are more in homage to his club form rather than his likelihood.

Jamie Vardy 66/1

Whilst Jamie Vardy feels as though he’s been around forever now, this will be his first World Cup and England Fans should be pretty hopeful of his contribution. Finishing the Premier League season with 20 goals in a team that massively underperformed, he can probably score a few goals in an England side that’s likely to underperform.

Kylian Mbappe – 33/1

At 19 years old, Mbappe is the youngest player on this list and it’s a surprise he’s even being considered for the crown but should he start the tournament well, he could take the place of someone in the France starting 11 and will get plenty of chances to score.

Odds correct as at 10 May 2018.