World Cup 2018 fantasy football: What games to play & the best players to pick

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The biggest sporting event in the world is set to get under way in June and so too will its fantasy football variants - we offer a helping hand

Fantasy football aficionados may be lamenting the end of the Premier League season, but they won't have long to wait before they can get stuck into a new game.

The 2018 World Cup takes centre stage this summer as 32 of the best teams from around the globe fight it out for the prestigious crown and there will be a few fantasy football games to play.

The action gets under way on June 14 and matches run for a month until the final on July 15, but the excitement is already building as the 23-man squads are finalised.

With under a month to go before the big kick-off, Goal takes a look at the World Cup fantasy football games out there, as well as some of the best players you should include in your team.


World Cup 2018 fantasy football games


A number of fantasy football games will be available to fans for the 2018 World Cup and while the premise for each is essentially the same, they all vary slightly in terms of detail, style, user-friendliness and, of course, prizes on offer.

You can see some of the World Cup fantasy football games below.

Goal World Cup fantasy football

Goal has its very own fantasy football game for the World Cup, which can be downloaded and played for free.

The new app is easy to play and prizes will be available to gamers during the tournament. You can get started on your team soon by clicking here.

Official FIFA World Cup 2018 fantasy football

In recent years, FIFA has launched its own official fantasy football game that can be played online on the federation's official website.

The 2018 version of the game has yet to be launched, but with squads set to be finalised at the start of June, we shouldn't have too long to wait.

Other World Cup fantasy football games

A number of newspapers have run World Cup fantasy football games over the years and that is likely to continue in 2018. 

The Sun runs a fantasy football game called 'Dream Team' and others may offer similar options to their readership in the run up to the tournament.  


Best World Cup fantasy football goalkeepers


David De Gea Spain 2018

The most effective and valuable goalkeepers in fantasy football terms are those who are likely to keep clean sheets. That not only means that the 'keepers themselves must be talented shot-stoppers, but their defences must be reliable too. Unlike the Premier League though, the World Cup is a knock-out tournament and gamers will be wise to choose players that are likely to reach the latter stages of the competition, thus increasing their chances of collecting points.

David de Gea (Spain)

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has really come of age for both the Red Devils and Spain over the course of the past few years. Having spent a number of years in the shadow of Iker Casillas, the 27-year-old is now firmly established as La Roja's number one and will be expected play a key role for his country in Russia. Spain conceded just three goals in qualification, which was the joint best record in the UEFA section, and De Gea was central to that.

Hugo Lloris (France)

France captain Hugo Lloris should surpass the 100-cap mark at this summer's World Cup and his importance to Les Bleus cannot be understated. A vastly experienced and confident netminder, Lloris is set to marshall a defence comprised of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti and they will be hoping to mount a challenge for the trophy. It will be the Tottenham shot-stopper's third World Cup as France's number one and he will be hoping it will be a case of 'third time lucky' after crashing out at the group stage in 2010 and losing to eventual champions Germany in the quarter-finals in 2014.

Alisson (Brazil)

Brazil are traditionally known for their attacking talent and, with Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus in their ranks, they bring an abundance of that to Russia. However, some of their best players in recent years have undoubtedly been at the other end of the field and Alisson is the man favoured by Tite to keep goal. The Brazilians topped the CONMEBOL qualification group with ease and not only did they score the most, they also conceded the least. As they eye a record sixth world title, Alisson is the kind of player that can rack up plenty of points.

Manuel Neuer (Germany)

Despite missing the majority of the season through injury Manuel Neuer has been named in the Germany squad and his quality is such that he should take his place between the posts come June ahead of Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The 32-year-old, who won the Golden Glove at the 2014 World Cup, is known as a 'sweeper-keeper' due to his tendency to play far off his line, but he boasts tremendous athleticism and is capable of making crucial interventions when required.

Sergio Romero (Argentina)

He may be David de Gea's understudy at Manchester United but Sergio Romero is the main man for Argentina and will be eager to help his country redress their 2014 final disappointment. Jorge Sampaoli's side may have staggered their way to the finals in Russia, but they remain one of the teams expected to reach the latter stages of the competition, if not challenge for glory. As such, Romero is the kind of addition to a fantasy football team that should see plenty of game time.


Best World Cup fantasy football defenders


Marcelo Brazil 2018

Generally speaking, the best defenders to choose in fantasy football games are those who contribute goals and assists as well as keep clean sheets. As such, full-backs tend to be a better choice than centre-backs, even if there are a few exceptions. Below is a selection of players who are likely to be a good addition to your World Cup fantasy football team.

Marcelo (Brazil)

Real Madrid left-back Marcelo is one of the more experienced members of the Brazil squad and he will be expected to show leadership as the team seek a sixth World Cup. A flying full-back in the traditional Brazilian style, the 30-year-old loves to get forward in support and has chipped in with plenty of assists, as well as scoring six times for his country. However, he is also an astute defensive player too, forming part of a formidable back line.

Joshua Kimmich (Germany)

Reigning champions Germany have undergone quite an alteration since winning the World Cup in Brazil four years ago, but the changeover in personnel has been seamless. The retirement of Phillip Lahm has barely been felt thanks to the emergence of Joshua Kimmich and the Bayern Munich man should provide an outlet on the right flank. Indeed, his contribution in qualification - nine assists and two goals in 10 appearances - speaks for itself, showing him to be exactly the kind of player who would boost a fantasy football team.

Thomas Meunier (Belgium)

Belgium have been tipped as outside bets to win a major tournament over the last decade and, while they have not managed to live up to expectations, they will certainly be aiming to challenge again in Russia. Their defence is stacked with talent, but one player who may be able to accrue more points is full-back Thomas Meunier. The Paris Saint-Germain defender scored five goals in qualification and is an adept crosser of the ball, chipping in with seven assists.

Jordi Alba (Spain)

A key member of the Spain team, Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba is exactly the type of defender that will pick up points in World Cup fantasy football games. The 29-year-old's instinct to get foward and supplement attacking play has been a crucial asset for both club and country. Alba has scored eight goals for La Roja during his career and his tendency to tee up his team-mates is well known, with nine assists for Barca this season.

Raphael Guerreiro (Portugal)

Portugal may not be considered among the favourites to win the World Cup but they are the reigning European champions and cannot be discounted as potential challengers. In recent years their defence has been known for its ruthlessness but, in Raphael Guerreiro, they possess a full-back who likes to get forward and join in with attacks. The Borussia Dortmund man has been included in the Portugal squad for the tournament, despite a season that was blighted by injury, and he will be desperate to make an impact.


Best World Cup fantasy football midfielders


Paul Pogba France 2018

Midfielders can be excellent points-getters in fantasy football and that will be no different when it comes to World Cup editions. The position itself is so diverse, but those who are involved in goals - either scoring or setting them up - are usually the best types to go for.

Paul Pogba (France)

While he has come in for criticism at Manchester United, Paul Pogba remains one of France's star players and should pick up fantasy football points at the World Cup. The 25-year-old has a habit of scoring at major tournaments, having hit the back of the net at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, and he scored twice en route to Russia. If he is deployed in a more advanced, less shackled role, by Didier Deschamps, Pogba also has the ability to set up his compatriots.

Philippe Coutinho (Brazil)

Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho has emerged as one of Brazil's key players ahead of this summer's World Cup and his ability to cultivate goals, either for himself or others, means that he will be an asset to any fantasy football team. The attacking midfielder, who will be 26 by the time the tournament kicks off, has had to contend with a stop-start season, but that didn't prevent him from making an impact and he was involved in a total of 34 goals in 41 appearances*. 

*Includes games for Liverpool and Barcelona

David Silva (Spain)

Pep Guardiola recently hailed David Silva as 'a mixture of Xavi and Iniesta', which tells you exactly what you need to know about his worth to Spain's cause at the World Cup. The diminutive Manchester City midfielder is fourth in his country's all-time top scorers list, just three behind third-place Fernando Torres, and was involved in 10 goals (five goals, five assists) in qualification for Russia. The 32-year-old was a member of the 2010 World Cup-winning squad and since then he has established himself as one of La Roja's major creative forces.

Mesut Ozil (Germany)

A member of Germany's 2014 World Cup-winning team, Mesut Ozil has scored at the four major tourmanents he has played in and has been a mainstay for Joachim Low. The Arsenal playmaker has been frustrated at club level but inevitably thrives when he lines out for his country, linking up well with the likes of Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos.

Eden Hazard (Belgium)

If Belgium are to finally live up to expectations and challenge for major honours in Russia, they will need Eden Hazard to be on top of his game. The Chelsea star was involved in over a quarter (six goals, five assists) of his country's goals in qualifying and has forged a formidable undertstanding with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.


Best World Cup fantasy football forwards


Lionel Messi Argentina

When considering which forwards to choose in World Cup fantasy football, the best approach is to think of the players who will be challenging for the Golden Boot. The tournament in Russia will be graced by some of the best strikers in the world, but some of those players will inevitably end up going home early, so the logical approach is to use players who will be pushing for glory.

Lionel Messi (Argentina)

International glory is the one thing that has eluded Lionel Messi during his incredible career and the 2018 World Cup may be his last chance to correct that fact. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who was a beaten finalist in the 2014 tournament, is set to arrive in Russia as the season's top scorer in all of Europe and his record-breaking ability to find the back of the net needs no further elaboration. Simply put, Messi is likely to be the reason for any Argentina success.

Thomas Muller (Germany)

While he is not a forward in the traditional sense, Thomas Muller is undoubtedly one of Germany's greatest ever goalscorers and he seems to thrive most of all at the World Cup. The Bayern Munich man won the Golden Boot in 2010 and the Silver Boot in 2014, taking his tally to 10 goals in 13 World Cup appearances - which makes him the top scorer at the tournament among players still playing. He remains crucial to the reigning champions, scoring five goals and setting up seven in qualifying.

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Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Despite his status as one of the best players of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo's record at the World Cup has been nightmarish. Portugal's record holder for goals and appearances has struggled to score at three previous tournaments, hitting a total of just three goals in 13 appearances. However, he will be eager to rectify that in Russia. Now 33, it is likely to be his last World Cup, so he will hope to sign off in appropriate style - and he has hit form at just the right time.

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

An astonishing debut season for Liverpool has elevated Mohamed Salah's stock as one of the best goalscorers in the world and he will be the focal point of Egypt's attack at the World Cup. The African side are not among the favourites to lift the trophy but, with Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia to play they have a good chance of reaching the knockout stage, particularly if Salah is on form.

Neymar (Brazil)

He may arrive in Russia sorely lacking match practice but Neymar remains one of the players to watch at this summer's tournament. With 53 goals in 83 caps, the Paris Saint-Germain star is undoubtedly Brazil's talisman and will be key to any success they have at the tournament. He scored four goals at the 2014 tournament before suffering injury and will no doubt be desperate to spur his side on to a sixth world title.

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