World Cup 2018 Fantasy Football - Group G Preview & Tips

12:42pm Jun 11 2018

England and Belgium to do battle in Group G, where Kane and Lukaku are the two standout fantasy options

There’s a clear divide in this group for quality, with Belgium and England the clear favourites to progress to the knockout stages.

Tunisia have a reasonable FIFA ranking, but their chances have been dented by some key injuries.

Panama caused a stir to qualify ahead of the USA, but in their first World Cup, it looks like they’ll only be here to make up the numbers.

Belgium (3)

Belgium are one of the leading teams in the World Cup, and their FIFA ranking suggests big things; however, their odds of winning are around the same as England.

An emerging team from an international perspective, their lack of success in tournament football has dented their popularity.

This could be their time though, despite a lack of media hype.

Key Player: Lukaku
Differential Pick: Hazard
Set Piece Taker: De Bruyne
Nailed Starters: Courtois, Vertonghen, Meunier and Hazard

Lukaku is an outside bet for the golden boot in this tournament, and with relatively easy opening games against Tunisia and Panama, he could get off to a flier.

He scored 11 goals in qualifying and his form in recent friendlies has been strong: 6 goals and 1 assist.

He looks to have recovered from the injury which kept him out of the late season action for Manchester United, 27 goals and 9 assists for the season are decent statistics.

It remains to be seen whether he can step up in big games in a major tournament though.

Lukaku is likely to be popular, so Hazard could be a lower budget differential option and despite an up and down season for Chelsea, he’s still managed 17 goals and 13 assists.

He is known to be a big game player, with captain and penalty duties, and he’s likely to put a bigger shift in than he sometimes does for Chelsea. 6 goals and 5 assists during qualification shows his importance in this side.

Goals should be on the agenda with playmaker Kevin De Bruyne in the side, chipping in with vital assists, including dead balls from corners and free kicks.

He got five assists in qualifying, plus 21 assists for Manchester City this season, as well as 12 goals  – he should play a little further up the pitch for Belgium and will be a key creator.

There’s plenty of options to consider elsewhere in this squad, including some big names in a very stable defence.

Courtois kept six shut outs in qualifying, plus clean sheets in their last four friendlies. In front of him, Vertonghen is part of a strong back three and can provide an aerial threat, grabbing a couple of goals in qualifying.

The wing-backs present even better value, with Meunier looking like the best option – in their qualifying game against Gibralar, he scored a hat-trick and produced four assists in a 9-0 thrashing; plus 2 goals and 3 assists in the rest of the qualification stage.

He’s had a reasonable domestic season for PSG, grabbing 5 goals and 7 assists from relatively limited minutes. Watch out for him bombing down the wing.

Panama (55)

Panama’s chances of progressing to the knockout stages looks about as likely as Saudi Arabia’ no-hopers!

Their final game against Tunisia will be their biggest hope for points and may be the only time where you could consider one of their players an option. It’s slim pickings.

Key Player: Torres
Set Piece Takers: Torres
Nailed Starter: Barcenas

Striker Torres will be relied upon for a source of goals, although it will be tough to break down solid Belgium and England defences.

He got 2 goals in qualifying, which is the best goal scoring record for the entire squad (yes, it’s that bad!)

Nine goals and three assists from his domestic season looks sound, but little is known about the quality of the Chilean league.

He is on penalties too, which is a small positive.

Elsewhere, left-sided midfielder Barcenas is another player with a chance of snatching an unlikely goal. He’s scored four goals this season in the leading Mexican league.

I suggest looking elsewhere for fantasy assets though and the defence should be avoided, given games against Belgium and England.

Tunisia (21)

Those looking at the Tunisian FIFA ranking may be fooled into thinking they have a chance of progressing to the knockout rounds.

Their star player, Msakni, who contributed to the majority of their goals during qualifying, has been ruled out of the World Cup with injury, which makes it an uphill battle for this side.

Perhaps consider their players when they face Panama in the final group match for daily fantasy games.

Key Player: Khazri
Set Piece Taker: Khazri
Nailed Starter: Skhiri

Ex-Sunderland star Khazri will be heavily relied upon to provide goals for this Tunisian team.

He’s missed the last few weeks with a thigh injury, but is expected to be fit in time for the World Cup.

He’s the captain and is also on spot kick duties. He has 11 goals and 4 assists this season and a goal against Panama could be on the agenda.

Skhiri is a deep-lying midfield player who has a decent shot on him from distance. He’s new to the senior squad, but arguably one of their most talented players already.

4 goals and 1 assist this domestic season means he’s not destined for greatness, but fantasy games that favour defensive players who put in high pass numbers could provide an opening for points.

England (12)

English fans will remain cynical about their chance after 50 years of hurt, but, things do look fairly promising from the outset to progress from the group.

There’s no shortage of talent in Gareth Southgate’s squad, but England are known for making a mess of things and letting themselves (and us) down.

Joe Hart has been left at home and the 3 keepers in the squad are fighting it out for a starting berth, but Pickford looks to be the pick of the crop.

Key Player: Kane
Differential Pick: Sterling
Set Piece Taker: Trippier
Nailed Starters: Alli, Walker and Kane

The headline player is Harry Kane, who’s the star striker and captain. On penalties, he’s got the ability to deliver plenty of goals and is likely to feature in the starting 11 on a regular basis.

He got five goals in qualification and has had another excellent domestic season, scoring a massive 41 goals but it remains to be seen if he can deliver on the big international stage, when the pressure is on.

Sterling is a cheaper option to Kane on tournament-long games and with a lower ownership almost inevitable, he could be a bargain differential to those who cannot afford Harry.

The pressure may be off him, having already been made a scapegoat by the English media over his new tattoo.

Strerling has had his best ever season for City, amassing 23 goals and 17 assists and frequently featured in Pep’s starting lineup.

It’s likely Sterling will be playing in his favoured position, just behind Kane – if they link up well and click from the off, I expect goals against Tunisia and Panama (and plenty of them!)

England have been playing 3-5-2 in qualifying, with Trippier given the licence to roam down the right-wing. He’s been on corners in recent friendlies too and has a strong playing relationship with Kane at club level.

With 9 assists for Spurs this season and an advanced position likely, he could be the defensive differential option you’re looking for.

Elsewhere, Walker is another strong defensive option. Playing as the right sided centre back in the three, he should play every game.

England kept eight clean sheets in qualifying and Walker has seven assists this season, highlighting his creativity.

Alli will also have an important role in midfield, getting a goal and two assists in qualifying. His domestic season was criticised, but 14 goals and 17 assists are still reasonable totals.

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