FPL Returns: Is it Worth Adding Moroccan Players after World Cup Heroics?
Posted by FFPundits
5:21pm Dec 14 2022
On 26 December, the Premier League and fantasy football come roaring back to action. With players being given as little as eight days between the World Cup Final and the first game, Brentford vs Tottenham Hotspur, the hope is that they’ll carry momentum from Qatar to club football. On the flip side, many will almost certainly tire before the season ends.
Perhaps the story of the 2022 FIFA World Cup was Morocco making it further than any other African team in the history of the tournament. However, will becoming national heroes make either of the two Atlas Lions playing in the Premier League viable options in FPL?
Morocco’s incredible World Cup
What a feeling to wake-up to this dream qualification to the semi-finals 🤩 pic.twitter.com/5I9JojX4lb
— Équipe du Maroc (@EnMaroc) December 11, 2022
By beating Portugal 1-0, Morocco went beyond the quarter-finals as the first nation to do so from their continent. A true team effort, at this point of making history, the football World Cup odds had the Atlas Lions at 10/1 to win the tournament and 9/2 to land as runners-up, with France leading the way.
While Morocco’s incredibly well-drilled defensive structure has been the driving force of their run, individual honours were also on the table. The record-setters have Hakim Ziyech at 25/1 to win the FIFA Golden Ball, while the goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou – otherwise known as “Bono” – is right in the mix for the FIFA Golden Glove at 15/8.
Walid Regragui may not have been in the job for long, but he’s done exactly what was asked of him: get the best out of the nation’s star players. Sofyan Amrabat has been one of the standout performers and has attracted plenty of attention for his mature performances so far.
Further to Amrabat, Youssef En-Nesyri has been a menace up top, former Wolverhampton Wanderers centre-back Romain Saïss has been dominant along the back line, and Hakim Ziyech has played a true 200-yard game, holding firm at the back and bursting away up the field with speed. All will return to their clubs knowing that they’ve done better than any African side ever has on the biggest stage of the sport.
Moroccans to consider in the Premier League
Morocco making history at the World Cup is being celebrated all over the world 🇲🇦 pic.twitter.com/0MaKQVojId
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 11, 2022
Prior to the return of the Premier League, and the opening of the transfer window on 1 January, there were only two Moroccans in the division, both of whom went to Qatar. New arrival Nayef Aguerd has endured a troublesome start to life with West Ham United, while Hakim Ziyech is vying for a revival under Graham Potter, who’s had the Chelsea job for 14 games to date.
Costing 4.8 in FPL, Aguerd looks to have the best shot of being a worthy fantasy pick. West Ham have been rather good at the back, only allowing 17 in 15 games, but they struggle to find the net at the other end. Aguerd started in the only game that he’s been fit, the last of the first phase, but Football London reports he has suffered a thigh injury.
Aguerd has time to recover, and will be looking set to grab a starting place in post-Boxing Day fixtures against the likes of Brentford, Leeds, and Wolves. His teammate, Ziyech, faces an uphill battle at Chelsea. In an article for the Chelsea FC website, Pat Nevin praised the Moroccan’s work rate, and he was right to do so.
Ziyech works the whole pitch, often sitting in as the right-back to allow others to settle a little close to the box or pounce on attempted one-twos from the byline. Potter loves his wing-back formations, but doesn’t look to have found the formula at Chelsea yet. After his World Cup showing, perhaps he’ll look at Ziyech as a viable right-mid or right-wing-back option.
Still, at 5.5 and without much faith given to him so far, Ziyech is a risky grab in FPL. Of the Moroccans, Aguerd offers the more clear-cut path to value.