Following my previous article on which defenders (you can read here) should be on your radar for the World Cup I now move my focus onto midfielders.
Midfielders, as we know, can be a great source of points for your team as they pick up extra points for a clean sheet and goal. An important part of selecting your team is to make sure you have at least one if not two highly valued midfielders who can bring home big points. It’s always best to put more of a focus on players who contribute more to a teams attacks than the more defensive minded players.
As with the defender article with the slight difference in scoring for our game that the winner is awarded an extra 2 points for a win the focus of this piece is on players who are expected to win at least two if not all three group games.
Paul Pogba (France)
France have arguably been placed in one of the easiest groups of the tournament facing up to Australia, Peru and Denmark. There is no reason why Les Bleus cannot take 9 points from this group meaning each France player in your team collects an extra 6 points over three matches.
If Deschamps’ men are to perform to the standard that everyone knows they can they will be relying heavily on midfield powerhouse Paul Pogba.
The United man hasn’t enjoyed the best of seasons this year and has yet to light up the Premier League like many expected but for his national side it is a different story.
With 9 goals scored and 7 assists in 52 caps Pogba has performed very ably as the main man in the middle of the park. Expected to play every minute of every necessary game Pogba should be a good source of points for this tournament.
Mesut Ozil (Germany)
The enigma that is Mesut Ozil. Everyone knows this man’s quality as we’ve seen it at times for Arsenal but for Germany, he is the main man.
Playing in his preferred attacking central midfield position Ozil runs the show for Low’s team and is the creative outlet.
Alongside his 23 goals, the Turkish born playmaker has also contributed an incredible 40 assists in 90 matches.
Germany are heavily fancied to lift the Jules Rimet so should cruise through the opponents in their group of Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.
Philippe Coutinho (Brazil)
When Liverpool’s superstar playmaker left the club for Barcelona in January many wondered if he would have the quality to step up and perform at the highest level. Any fears were soon allayed though as Coutinho fit in as though he had been there for years.
Lined up as the natural successor to Barca legend Andres Iniesta, Coutinho has had a very impressive first season having scored 8 and made 5 in just 18 matches in the league.
For Brazil Coutinho is also the main man. Tasked with being the centre of all creativity any attacking moves is likely to come through Coutinho and with him on the pitch the likelihood of goals is always high.
With some doubts over the fitness of Neymar right now then Coutinho seems an excellent alternate option for your fantasy sides as he has 9 goals in 36 matches for his country.
Brazil have been placed in a group with Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia and are expected to comfortably win out all three matches.
Jesse Lingard (England)
It’s surprising to have more than one Manchester United player on this list as Mourinho’s team for the majority of the season have not exactly been recognised for their attacking prowess. This is probably more down to the Portuguese man’s tactics than the qualities his players possess.
One player who has had a breakout season is Jesse Lingard. Already at 25 years of age Lingard’s career has started slow but it appears that things are coming together at the right time.
It looks likely that the attacking midfielder will be stationed alongside Sterling and Dele Alli behind Harry Kane’s for Gareth Southgate’s team and if given a chance to produce could turn out to be one star players of the competition.
With only 11 caps to his name and 1 goal, history is not on his side but the World Cup is a place to make history. The outspoken Lingard has already vowed to take his entire kit off if he scores in the World Cup Final but England have to get there first for him to do that.
Their group opponents are Tunisia, Panama and Belgium of which the first two are very ‘winnable’ games. If you believe that Southgate’s men will struggle against Belgium in the final group game then you can always hop off Lingard before that match.
Fantasy World Cup 2018
Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)
My final selection is a player who is a little less known but could be one of the surprises of the tournament. Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech is a number 10 midfielder who plays his club football for Ajax.
Last season Ziyech scored 9 and assisted 17 goals in 34 matches in the league and was a driving force for his team. He has an impressive record for his national team too where he has scored 6 goals and 4 assists in just 16 games.
Morocco may well not be the most attractive of propositions available but to enable the purchase of more expensive assets like the rest of this list then you need enablers and Ziyech fits the bill.
The African nation cannot be underestimated either though having come through their qualifying campaign without conceding a goal and winning all six matches without conceding a single goal in a group which included Ivory Coast.
Morocco kick off their tournament with a match vs Iran which they will be earmarking as a must win with matches vs Portugal and Spain to follow.
They may well be looking at that Portugal match also as a team who sometimes struggle to put the final ball in the net. With such resilient defence there is every possibility that Spain and Morocco could well progress from this group.