World Cup 2014 – The Race for the Golden Boot

With the World Cup now moving into it’s secondary stages and the last 16 phase having already started, we are well on the way to determining the new world champions following reigning champs Spain’s early exit. Fantasy managers will have used the recent transfer window to move eliminated players out and bring in the stars that remain, and with that in mind we will now be taking a look at one of the biggest races of the summer – the race for the Golden Boot.

This one is always a bit of a tasty one to look at, because there are several considerations to take into account – not only which strikers are lethal in front of the net, but which ones feature for a nation that one could reasonably expect to go the farthest – in other words, ideally, the final. These two considerations do not always go alongside one another, as a hattrick in the early stages can easily push a player ahead of one who appears in the final – but, generally, a lethal striker playing for one of the favourites should serve our fantasy managers well.

At the time of writing, Argentinian Lionel Messi and Germany star Thomas Müller are doing well in the ranks with four goals from three games each, but one of the stars of the tournament thus far, Neymar – who turns out for host nation Brazil – has four of his own, and the trend here is that the top three play for sides that you could see winning the cup – and indeed teams who have triumphed before.

Colombian midfielder James Rodríguez put in a star turn in the showing against Uruguay, and the South Americans have surpassed all expectations by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in their history at the expense of their continental rivals, who won their first two personal World Cups in 1930 (the first ever) and 1950.

Rodriguez himself showed the world just why Monaco forked out €45.00m with a brace, taking his tally to five from four games – top of the pops so far. While one may fancy Rodriguez to score in any game in which he features at the moment – his first against Uruguay was a sure contender for goal of the tournament, quite an achievement in itself given the number of top notch screamers we’ve seen in Brazil so far – it seems to be a question of how long Costa Rica can defy the odds. They face host nation Brazil on 4th July, and that is as tough a task as they are likely to face – Brazil on their own soil. Rodriguez might grab a goal or even two, but if the likes of Argentina and Germany can keep their own runs up surely Messi or Müller will still prove the better bets in the long term.

Brazil’s appearance in the final seems to be written in the stars at this stage, however, so of all prospects perhaps opt for Neymar if you haven’t done so already – the Barcelona star is top quality, and has surely earned the right to be mentioned in discussions alongside the likes of club team-mate Messi when it comes to the world’s elite.

If our fantasy managers are feeling particularly cheeky and are able to find a way to raise the funds, perhaps a two-man strikeforce including two of these three top scorers (Messi, Müller, Neymar) could be the difference between winning our fantasy tournament or ending with a runners-up medal at best.

Messi vs Ronaldo – The World Cup statistics comparison

With the group stages of the World Cup 2014 edition now almost entrenched in the history books with only a handful of games still to play, let’s take a break from naming some of the top players, most surprising packages and probably lineups and go in-depth about two very specific players. One is a 27-year-old from Argentina with the world at his feet, while the other is a 29-year-old Portuguese superstar with magic in his boots.

Lionel Messi is one of Argentina’s – and Barcelona’s – greatest players ever in many fans’ general opinion, and having just turned 27 on Tuesday he still has several years ahead of him at the top. He has spent his entire career thus far at Barcelona, all the way from the C team to the top tier – and continues to do the job for Argentina when he pulls on the famous shirt.

Ronaldo, on the other hand, has had a couple of transfers, with each being bigger than the last, and broke the world record transfer at the time when he moved to Real Madrid from Man Utd for £80m. He has been a regular feature in the Portugal side for years now, and is the incumbent captain. Despite some controversy on the field in the past he is regularly regarded right up there alongside Messi as one of the finest players in the world today.

These two are also the two most expensive players for our fantasy managers to get into their team, and at 21.00m each they do take up a hefty portion of the available budget – but that hasn’t stopped an impressive 22% of managers from taking Messi into their ranks, while only 8% have Ronaldo in there too – perhaps a somewhat wise decision at this stage, given Portugal’s precarious position at the bottom of Group G.

They need a massive turnaround in goal difference to stand any chance of catching up with Germany and USA, who occupy first and second in the group respectively. Ghana are level on points with Ronaldo’s team, with a single one to date, but are only two goals behind the States – a two-goal win over Portugal would see them advance should Germany beat USA. Ronaldo, however, will be looking to bust a groove and help his boys grab two or three goals in that game – a 3-0 win for Portugal would see them advance if Germany can beat USA by at least the same margin.

At this stage, however, the Iberians sitting on the brink of elimination seems to be enough to keep Ronaldo out of
many fantasy manager’s sides – and indeed the 29-year-old’s form in the cup to date may not have inspired our gaffers to rush out and get him in their sides – he has accumulated 10 points so far. It’s not a bad total considering it’s from two appearances, but comes from a single assist.

Messi, meanwhile, has torn down the house with a great 80 points to prove 22% of players right to stump up the hefty fee – he scored two goals prior to the game against Nigeria the day after his 27th birthday, at which time he went on to steal the show with a further brace before leaving the field, being subbed off for Alvarez on the 63 minute mark.

So, given form and potential longevity in the tournament, Messi definitely seems the better bet at this stage, but things can of course change – both sides could advance, and Portugal could last longer, in which case Ronaldo could obviously be the better inclusion, but that would be impossible to say for certain without some hindsight – and with the hindsight we do already have, at this stage, those who went for Messi are reaping far more benefits. This could, of course, go exactly the other way and Messi could continue his great form in an Argentina side that lasts longer than their European counterparts.

There are players with more points so far, but Messi is not a player than will let anyone down too often – if you are going for one of these two footballing giants, the recommendation would be to go for the 27-year-old Barcelona man right now. Considering he plies his international trade for one of the world’s top teams in Argentina, a good cup run is certainly within the realms of possibility, if not likelihood – he has time to secure the spot at the top of the Euro Fantasy League World Cup game points scoring tally, and he certainly has the ability too.

The surprise packages of Brazil 2014 so far

With the first casualties now having fallen from their World Cup perch and had the hopes and aspirations nurtured and chased for the last four years dashed, there are some surprise names among the top of pundits’ “top praise” column. The likes of Costa Rica and Mexico have put in solid showings thus far while Spain – who have dominated the international scene for the last six years outright – have gone the way of Cameroon and group foes Australia in crashing out after only two games. They do still have a farewell appearance to come when the group fixtures round off over the next week or so, but for these teams the final game will be a sad formality before their respective journeys home.

We will here be taking a look more on the aforementioned surprises at the top of the list, rather than those regarded among the competition’s elite. As mentioned in a previous piece, Mexico have been the biggest surprises arguably, with their two clean sheets from two games ranking their defensive players in particular right up among the top points scorers – they do have a crunch game against Croatia coming up, and so Guillermo Ochoa (80 points – tied top points scorer in the tournament so far), Rafael Márquez, Francisco Javier Rodríguez, Miguel Layún (60 points each), Paul Aguilar and Héctor Moreno (both with 55) will have to repeat their heroics thus far if they are to ensure qualification alongside hosts Brazil from Group A.

Of those players mentioned, Layún and Aguilar look particularly tempting for fantasy managers, with values of only €2.50m and €3.50m respectively – that’s 115 points for an outlay of only €6.00m! Throw in goalkeeper Ochoa too, who is valued at €6.00m, you could have a whopping 195 points from only three players who cost a grand total of €12.00m, though you will have to consider the maximum number of players from a single nation rule – this would take up that quota for Mexico.

Colombia defender Pablo Armero has earned himself a great 50 points from his single appearance in South America thus far, scoring a goal and helping keep a clean sheet at the back during his 74 minute outing against Greece. He is a defender, and so could fit in nicely alongside the Mexican pairing – he is valued at only €6.00m himself, so why not make it 245 points for only €18.00m making up four fifths of your defensive line? There is also an added bonus that Colombia could still qualify before they next kick a ball competitively – should Japan and Greece draw, that would put the South Americans firmly out of reach inside the top two at least. This means Armero has definite potential for a longer run in the tournament, though he can only feature as long as his country are in there, so that may be a consideration.

That pretty much sums up most of the more surprising – or, perhaps more appropriately considered lesser known – names towards the top of the points scorers charts so far in the competition. It is no coincidence that these players are all defensive, and while there have been big hitting attackers those accolades tend to stay with some of the sides more fancied to travel much further in the tournament.

One big consideration, however, is that the players mentioned here are all turning out for South American nations – they have performed so well thus far, and their experience playing in the climates will surely continue to serve them well ahead of their European counterparts. That said, that is not to take away any credit to them – they have done fantastically well, with Chile – another South American side – the team responsible for ensuring reigning champions Spain would be travelling home early. They put in a great performance – so fantasy managers should not be afraid to go for players that they may be a bit less familiar with – the flair is in making the fine selections, and the devil is in the detail – this defensive line should be able to give our fantasy managers something of a start in shaping their squads for the next phase of the competition.

Who leads the World Cup on Fantasy Football points?

With the World Cup now a week old, our World Cup fantasy game is starting to take shape as far as early points-winners go. Germany and the Netherlands have enjoyed big opening wins against Iberian opposition, while Mexico have surprised most pundits by providing the best defensive displays so far in the competition with two clean sheets from their opening two games including one against hosts – and hot favourites to capture the trophy – Brazil. Continue reading

Where the Fantasy Football points were won in England vs Italy

England and Italy did battle in one of the highest profile matches so far in the 2014 World Cup in Manaus on Saturday night, and fantasy managers throughout the game will have been watching keenly to see whether the likes of Rooney, Sturridge and co. could overturn four-time Champions Italy, who had been dealt a blow in the run-up to the game with veteran custodian Gianluigi Buffon ruled out through injury. Continue reading

Attacking options leave Argentina among World Cup favourites

Next up in our series of predicted lineups, we will take a look at a South American team for the first time, with Argentina’s starting lineup against Bosnia on Sunday the focus of today’s look forward. The Argentinians have proven more than capable of attaining glory at the highest stage of world football, with World Cup wins in 1978 and 1986 to complement their Confederations Cup glory in 1992 and a whopping fourteen Copa America titles between 1921 – 1993. Continue reading

How should Germany line-up against Portugal?

Next in our series looking ahead to World Cup starting lineups, we are focusing on a nation that has enjoyed arguably the greatest strides in club level in recent years, and whose Champions League clubs occupies three of the four finalist spots in the two years prior to this year’s all-Madrid final, and that nation is Germany. It would seem highly unlikely that any fantasy football managers would not look at Joachin Low’s squad for at least some of the spine to their team in our new World Cup game, and so let’s see which players look likely to start when their Brazil campaign kicks off against Portugal on Monday 16th June. Continue reading

Can Spain mirror La Liga’s dominance in 2014?

For the next chapter in our look forward to the World Cup 2014, we are going to be taking a look at the world champions, Spain. The Spaniards have won the last three major tournaments in a row, and will be hoping to make it a record breaking fourth in Brazil. With an impressive mix of youth and experience Vincente del Bosque has a flourish of talent in his final squad – and so could our fantasy managers when the new game launches on 3rd June. Continue reading

EuroFantasyLeague to Introduce Exciting Updates for the 2014-15 season

We are excited to share with you the news regarding some of the major changes we will be introducing to EFL’s main website. Our new updates will make our Game even more competitive. It will also give our Users the opportunity to try out the new Draft Game which will be first implemented in our World Cup Fantasy Football game during Brazil 2014.  Continue reading

Which Italy players should be feared based on season Fantasy Football points?

Next up in our look forward to the World Cup to help fantasy managers select their squads for our fast approaching new game, we will take a look at England’s opponents in their first game in Manaus on 14th June, the four-time world champions Italy. Coach Cesare Prandelli has thus far named a provisional 30-man squad, and so there will be some second guessing as to which players will actually make the arduous journey across the pond to feature in this year’s edition of football’s biggest spectacle, and it is easy to suspect that one or two of these players will feature in many a manager’s fantasy team when the new game launches on 3rd June. Continue reading