After a month of scintillating football and storylines, the 2018 World Cup has now come to a close. According to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, “It’s been the best World Cup” in history.
One of the most interesting developments in Russia this summer was the implementation of VAR. This addition had a decided impact both on the pitch and in the Fantasy sphere as more penalties were given in this tournament (29) than the previous two World Cup’s combined.
The impact of this is evident as England and France were awarded and scored the most penalty goals (3) while their forwards, Harry Kane and Antoine Griezmann respectively, finished one-two in both the Golden Boot race and points in the Goal game . Unsurprisingly, those penalty goals also helped propel both players to the semi-finals.
Speaking of semi-finalists, eight of the 11 highest scoring players in the Goal game made it to that stage. It’s not exactly a shock that players that played more matches scored more points, but it’s still a little surprising that players that had big performances in the early stages (Cristiano Ronaldo, Artem Dzyuba, Philippe Coutinho, etc) failed to make the cut.
The Premier League edition of Goal Fantasy Football is now available so select your team ahead of the new campaign.
GK: Thibaut Courtois - Belgium - 7 Starts, 27 Saves, 3 Clean Sheets, 6 Goals Conceded = 34 Points
The Belgian arguably had his worst campaign at Chelsea this season but, fortunately for his national team, he was back at his best this summer. Courtois ended up capturing the Golden Glove as he finished with the most clean sheets at his position (three) while also topping the heap in saves as well (27). With an ageing defence in front of him, it’s hard to not think that Belgium’s window is closing quickly, but Courtois should yet have another two World Cups in him.
DEF: Yerry Mina - Colombia - 3 Starts, 3 Goals, 2 Clean Sheets, 1 Goal Conceded = 36 Points
DEF: Raphael Varane - France - 7 Starts, 1 Goal, 4 Clean Sheets, 6 Goals Conceded = 35 Points
The past few months have gone about as perfectly as possible for Varane who has now won both the Champions League and the World Cup in 2018. In fact, the majority of his career has been like that as the Real Madrid defender has already won 16 trophies despite being just 25 years old. As for this tournament, Varane was tied for first in clean sheets (four) which, along with his goal, made him the best Fantasy defender in Russia.
DEF: Andreas Granqvist - Sweden - 5 Starts, 2 Goals, 4 Goals Conceded, 3 Clean Sheets = 35 Points
DEF: Lucas Hernandez - France - 7 Starts, 2 Assists, 4 Clean Sheets, 6 Goals Conceded = 34 Points
MID: Eden Hazard - Belgium - 6 Starts, 3 Goals, 2 Assists = 36 Points
Hazard was both fantastic and consistent at this tournament and helped guide Belgium to a respectable third-place finish. Individually he took part in more goals (five) than any other midfielder and finished the World Cup top five in both chances created and touches in the box. Still just 27 years old, we should get to see Hazard at at least one more World Cup and he should be just as good of a Fantasy option than as he was this year.
MID: Ivan Perisic - Croatia - 7 Starts, 3 Goals, 1 Assist = 35 Points
MF: Denis Cheryshev - Russia - 3 Starts, 4 Goals = 32 Points
FOR: Antoine Griezmann - France - 7 Starts, 4 Goals, 3 Assists = 43 Points
He started the tournament having just confirmed that he would stay at Atletico Madrid and ended it as a world champion. As for the Goal Fantasy game , Griezmann’s 43 points were enough for him to be crowned our Fantasy Player of the Tournament. The forward actually scored two fewer goals than Golden Boot Winner Harry Kane, but the Frenchman’s creativity made enough of a difference to see him finish with the most combined goals (goals + assists) and therefore the most Fantasy points.
FOR: Harry Kane - England - 6 Starts, 6 Goals = 42 Points
FOR: Mario Mandzukic - Croatia - 6 Starts, 3 Goals, 3 Assists = 36 Points