As discussed in our last article, it is easy to fall back on a players reputation or club success when trying to build your World Cup team.
While those things certainly should be considered, the most telling statistics are those that players pick up with their international teams. Now, finding stats from all of the qualifiers is a long arduous task, but we have simplified things here and picked out a La Liga based player from each position who put in the best statistical performances en route to Russia.
As always, we will be focusing on the Goal World Cup Fantasy Football game where there are £10,000 in prizes to be won this summer. It's available on desktop or mobile (both Android and iOS) so download it here and pick your team.
GK: Keylor Navas - Costa Rica, £5.9m
It’s not exactly as though Navas needed any more praise having helped Real Madrid to their third consecutive Champions League title. That level of performance and success certainly bled into his appearances for his national side where he averaged three saves per game.
His five clean sheets also led all La Liga goalkeepers during qualifying though he did have an extra match in which to do so. The 31-year-old will not exactly have an easy time of things once he lands in Russia though, as every opponent in Costa Rica's group (Serbia, Brazil, Switzerland) boasts an attack that sits in the top half of World Cup teams.
DEF: Diego Godin - Uruguay, £6.0m
Followers of La Liga will certainly not be surprised by Godin’s inclusion on this list. For Atletico Madrid he helped them both keep the most clean sheets and concede the fewest goals in the league.
While Uruguay lack the preeminent defensive talent on offer at Atleti, Godin did still manage seven clean sheets, most among players from the Spanish league.
The 32-year-old also had a decent time in front of goal during qualifying as the only defender to score more goals than the centre back during qualifying was Belgium’s Thomas Meunier. Godin would be a fantastic own even if he was in a difficult group, and he’s not.
MID: Paulinho - Brazil, £6.7m
His move to Barcelona was a shock to many in the football community but, like Spurs before them, the Catalan side hoped that the national team edition of Paulinho would be the one to show up at the Camp Nou.
While not a fixture of their best XI, the Brazilian did start more matches than not and did contribute with nine goals, which is nothing to scoff at.
There’s just something different about Paulinho when he pulls on a yellow shirt though. The Barca man scored an impressive six goals in qualifying, with Christian Eriksen being the only midfielder to score more. Whether or not he can continue his form at the World Cup remains to be seen but, at just 6.7m, he’s definitely worth the gamble in the Goal game.
FOR: Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal, £8.2m
As we said during our coverage of our Champions League game, Cristiano Ronaldo is the most expensive player for a reason. The Real Madrid forward was a part of more goals (17) than any other player in that competition and repeated the feat during World Cup qualifying (18).
Also, while the matches against Andorra and Faroe Islands padded his stats a little, the fact that Ronaldo failed to score in just one of his nine starts for Portugal is further evidence that he is the best Fantasy option in the Goal game. Group B will likely be tougher than people realise, but the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has never shrunk from a challenge before and it’s unlikely he will start now.