Fanteam World Cup 2022 – Group stages: Best goalkeepers and defenders

As you are well aware, the 2022 World Cup is kicking off in a little over two weeks with the official opening game between hosts Qatar and Ecuador. FanTeam would not be Fanteam if they had not prepared yet another exciting fantasy game with unrivalled prices, so that’s exactly what they did. Just last week, the FanTeam World Cup 2022 Full Tournament was launched with both a single entry per person option (£50,000 guaranteed prize pool) as well as a multi entry option (guaranteed prize pool of £100,000), which means that you still have over 2 weeks to prepare. A budget of 90M, eleven team spots to fill, and 32 nations to choose from; get started on your own World Cup squad today. As always, do carefully go through all of the game’s rules and conditions before getting involved (min age 18).

We will be publishing a mini-series of articles featuring a selection of fantasy picks for the FanTeam World Cup 2022 Full Tournament that we feel could deliver big over at least the first rounds of the group stages. Like that, we hope to get you on your way with the selection of your own squad within the limits of the provided 90M budget. In our first part of the previews, we’re taking a look at potentially the best goalkeepers and defenders in the game all to help your enjoyment of watching the football action by playing fantasy sports or engaging in live betting.


Jordan PICKFORD (England)

At the moment, there is no 100% certainty yet over who will be between the sticks for England when they face Iran on November 16th at the Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan, one of the eight stadiums that were specially constructed for the tournament in Qatar and cost the lives of over 6,500 migrant workers. Based on the bookies’ odds though, it looks like it will be Jordan Pickford (7.0M) who will start for the Three Lions later this month, ahead of Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale and Newcastle’s Nick Pope. The Everton shot stopper is amongst the most expensive goalkeepers in the game, despite England’s last clean sheet in regular time dating back to June 11th, 2022, when Italy were held to a 0-0 draw after 90 minutes in the (postponed) Euro 2020 final. Having said that, we still think that Pickford is amongst the best options for those looking to bring in a premium goalkeeper, as England will be facing Iran, the United States and Wales in the group stages. The Three Lions are favourites to top this group after three games and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them do it with a clean sheet or two (or three).


Thibaut COURTOIS (Belgium)

OK, at 6.0M, he can’t really be considered a bargain, but we will admit that we were surprised to find Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois (6.0M) so far down the FanTeam World Cup 2022 Full Tournament list. Just a few weeks ago, the Real Madrid number one finished seventh in the prestigious Ballon d’Or ranking, making him the highest-ranked goalie on there this year, but FanTeam decided to price him a full million lower than a whole bunch of goalkeepers, including some who are not at all sure starters for their respective countries. Anyway, Courtois is the undisputed starter between the sticks for Belgium and the Red Devils were drawn into a group with potential, so we’re feeling good about including him in this list. Belgium are kicking off against Canada on November 23rd, followed by encounters with Morocco and Croatia. The final game against the Croatians is a cracker, but the Belgians are heavy favourites in the first two games. Despite an ageing defence, there could be a shut-outs on the cards for them against the minnows Canada and Morocco.


The Budget Pick – Edouard MENDY (Senegal)

Amongst the less expensive goalkeepers who are sure to start in game one of their group stage adventure, Senegal’s Edouard Mendy (5.5M) is one of the most appealing picks. The 30-year-old is going through a bit of a rough spell at Chelsea at the moment, in part as a result of Kepa Arrizabalaga’s return to form, but you can count on him defending the Senegalese goal when the Lions of Teranga will kick off their opener of the tournament against the Netherlands on November 21st. While that first game might not go the way of the reigning champions of Africa, the two games after that definitely might. After Holland, it’s Qatar followed by Ecuador, two games that we can see Senegal not only win, but book a clean sheet in as well. That would also mean that the country qualifies for the knock-out stages, which is a nice extra when picking Mendy for your squad. You won’t find many starters with a decent opening set of fixtures at Mendy’s price or less.


Denzel DUMFRIES (Netherlands)

With the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, Virgil van Dijk and Stefan de Vrij fighting for a starting spot in what is currently one of the best national selections of central defenders in the world, a lot is expected of Holland’s defence for the 2022 World Cup. That’s why we feel that spending 7.0M on Denzel Dumfries (7.0M) can be justified, especially when looking at the opponents the Dutch will be facing in the group stages. With Senegal, Ecuador and Qatar, the Netherlands are heavy favourites to qualify for the Round of 16 in which they will face either the winner or runner-up from Group B (England, Iran, United States, Wales). Dumfries is part of Louis van Gaal’s starting eleven and is given plenty of freedom to bomb forward as the right-most part of a five-men defence, much like he does at his club Inter Milan. In 37 games for the national team, he managed an impressive 5 goals and 6 assists, while the Dutch are still to lose their first game of the year. Only five defenders in FanTeam Fantasy World Cup are more expensive than Dumfries, but looking at the opposition in Group A, we see clean sheet and goal opportunity potential for the energetic right-wingback.


Joao CANCELO (Portugal)

Only a handful of teams from the European region managed to concede less goals during the qualifying rounds than Portugal. The 2016 Euro champions finished second in a group with Serbia and the Republic of Ireland, after which they overcame Turkey in the play-off semi-finals and North-Macedonia in the play-off final to make it to the main tournament. A majority of the Portuguese defence for the upcoming World Cup will especially familiar to followers of the Premier League, as three of their four expected starters (Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Diogo Dalot) are currently active in England. One of those, Joao Cancelo (6.5M), has made it into our stand-out picks for the FanTeam World Cup 2022 Full Tournament. Like Dumfries before, the Manchester City wing-back/all-rounder is quite expensive, but the attacking upside to his game justifies splashing the cash on him. The 28-year-old gets plenty of freedom to position himself higher up the pitch, both on the sides and in the middle of the park, which has led to his current 7 goals and 6 assists from 37 games with his national team. With Ghana, South Korea (now missing Son) and Uruguay, Portugal’s group is definitely not the easiest, but we feel Cancelo could become a set-and-forget option for many squads, albeit a slightly expensive one.


The Budget Pick – Ricardo RODRIGUEZ (Switzerland)

For Cancelo, we started his section by writing that “only a handful of teams from the European region managed to concede less” than Portugal, but that doesn’t fly for Ricardo Rodriguez (5.5M) and his Switzerland. Why not? Because NO other team in the European region managed to concede less goals than the Swiss. In a strong group with Italy, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania, Switzerland only let in two goals, one in the first game away against Bulgaria and one in the penultimate group match versus Italy in Rome. After a disappointing Euro 2020 where each of the three group games was lost, the Swiss have started building a new side and they have done so by starting with the foundations. As far as Rodriguez goes, he is a fixed feature on the left-most side of Switzerland’s typical four-men defensive setup and he is on plenty of set-piece duties as well, which is why we included him in our list. Switzerland’s World Cup 2022 group is far from easy, with Brazil as theoretical favourites leaving it to Cameroon and Serbia to fight with the Swiss for second place, but we see potential for Swiss qualification. On top of that, Rodriguez might get the chance to build on his current tallies (9 goals and 10 assists from 100 international appearances), especially versus Cameroon and Serbia.

For further tips and disccusion about FanTeam’s Fantasy World Cup game have a look at this fiso forum topic.