With the Premier League and Champions League finished for the season it is now time to look to the World Cup, and particular the fantasy football options in the biggest football competition in the world.
This article will look at Group A and the players you should be looking at to have in your fantasy teams from what people are saying is the easiest group in the competition. With the host nation in Group A, and two other fairly unknown teams in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, it may be hard to predict what is to come from these teams. But with the 2010 semi-finalists in Uruguay, this group may spring some surprises on us and could be one of the most exciting groups in the competition.
Now onto the players you should be looking at from each team, and how the team may fare in this group and throughout their time at the World Cup.
As the host nation, with no qualifying procedure and only a handful of friendly matches to their name, it is tough to predict who their key men might be, but a player who always features for Russia is CSKA Moscow’s Alan Dzagoev. With 9 goals in 53 international performances, you may be thinking why is he a key man? But from central midfield he is the playmaker for this team, and if Russia are to do well then they are going to need him to be performing throughout the tournament.
Another key man for Russia is the former Chelsea full back Yuri Zhirkov. The Zenit man is key to providing width to the Russian team, and can provide devastating crosses with that wicked left foot of his. With two goals in 84 games his goal threat may not be the greatest, but if Russia are to get out of this group, he will play a major part.
The final player for Russia is a fairly unheard of player, Fyodor Smolov. The Krasnador striker is fairly prolific for the national team, and with 12 goals in 30 games, he is the key man up front for Russia. If they are to win some games at the tournament, he will be key.
23-man squad: Igor Akinfeev, Vladimir Gabulov, Andrei Lunyov;: Mario Fernandes, Vladimir Granat, Sergei Ignashevich, Fyodor Kudryashov, Ilya Kutepov, Andrei Semyonov, Igor Smolnikov; Denis Cheryshev, Alan Dzagoev, Yuri Gazinsky, Alexander Golovin, Daler Kuzyaev, Anton Miranchuk, Alexander Samedov, Alexander Yerokhin, Yuri Zhirkov, Roman Zobnin; Artyom Dzyuba, Alexei Miranchuk, Fyodor Smolov
Next up is a team I have to admit I did not know much about at all, Saudi Arabia. After looking at their qualifying stats, what was most impressive was finishing second to only Japan in their qualifying group. The top scorer for Saudi Arabia in qualification was the Al-Hilal midfielder, Nawaf Al-Abed. Is is fairly impressive that he was the top scorer for the team from midfield in qualification, and he may be one to watch at the World Cup.
Another player to look out for is Mohammad Al-Sahlawi. As the sixth top scorer of all time for Saudi Arabia, he can cause a threat to any defence and may be the reason Saudi Arabia cause some shocks in this group.
23-man squad: Mohammed Al Owais, Yasser Al Mosailem, Abdullah Al Mayouf; Mansoor Al Harbi, Yasser Al Shahrani, Mohammed Al Breik, Motaz Hawsawi, Osama Hawsawi, Omar Hawsawi, Ali Al Bulaihi; Abdullah Al Khaibari, Abdulmalek Al Khaibri, Abdullah Otayf, Taiseer Al Jassim, Houssain Al Mogahwi, Salman Al Faraj, Mohamed Kanno, Hattan Bahebri, Salem Al Dawsari, Yahya Al Shehri, Fahad Al Muwallad; Mohammad Al Sahlawi, Muhannad Assiri
Next up is a team that many people will be looking at, Egypt. Their first World Cup since 1990, and their third appearance overall, this may be the year Egypt show the world why they have won seven African Cup of Nations.
The first player to speak of is a man who may or may not be there, but if he is, we know the damage he can do. Mo Salah, what to say about arguably the most in-form man on the planet? The hopes of this national team relies on his injured shoulders. With 33 goals in 57 appearances, his goal scoring prowess is for everyone to see. He should be a player you are definitely debating about putting in your fantasy team, like most of us did this season.
Next up is a defender who will feel unlucky to be relegated this season, Ahmed Hegazi. A player who Egypt will be relying on to keep the likes of Suarez and Cavani out, he is a player who we know can be influential in defence. Hegazi also provides an attacking threat from set-pieces, and may be wanting to show some Premier League teams what they could have next season. Finally, and due to me being a Wigan supporter, the last player being tipped is Mr. Captain fantastic himself, Sam Morsy. A player that loves a yellow card, he can be that midfielder to break up play for Egypt.
23-man squad: Sherif Ekramy, Essam El Hadary, Mohamed El Shennawy; Mohamed Abdel-Shafi, Ayman Ashraf, Ahmed Elmohamady, Ahmed Fathi, Omar Gaber, Ali Gabr, Mahmoud Hamdy, Ahmed Hegazi, Saad Samir; Mohamed Elneny, Abdallah El Said, Tarek Hamed, Mahmoud Kahraba, Sam Morsy, Shikabala, Ramadan Sobhi, Mahmoud Hassan, Amr Warda; Marwan Mohsen, Mohamed Salah
Last but not least is the ever unpredictable, Uruguay. With arguably the most deadly front two in world football, a lot is expected of the South Americans. Finishing second to only Brazil in qualification, La Celeste will be expecting to at least win this group, and a key player to this will be the Barcelona forward, Luis Suarez. With 50 goals in 97 games for Uruguay, it is clear he knows where the back of the net is, as Liverpool and Barcelona fans will tell you. What they will also tell you though is how he loves being controversial, as we saw at the last two World Cups with his infamous bite on Chiellini and his ‘save’ against Ghana. But, if Uruguay are to go far at this World Cup, they will be relying on Suarez to show the world his goal-scoring ability.
Another player that knows where the back of the net is the PSG forward, Edison Cavani. With 42 goals in 100 games, he is another prolific striker that they possess. A player that was unstoppable throughout qualification, it may be on his shoulders to score the goals for Uruguay if Suarez fails to.
Last but certainly not least is the Atletico centre back, Diego Godin. A player that knows how to stop teams getting through the backline, it will be on him to tighten up the defence and ensure Uruguay progress from group A.
23-man squad: Fernando Muslera, Martin Silva, Martin Campana; Diego Godin, Sebastian Coates, Jose Maria Gimenez, Maximiliano Pereira, Gaston Silva, Martin Caceres, Guillermo Varela; Nahitan Nandez, Lucas Torreira, Matias Vecino, Rodrigo Bentancur, Carlos Sanchez, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Cristian Rodriguez, Gaston Ramirez; Cristhian Stuani, Maximiliano Gomez, Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez
In my opinion, Uruguay should finish top of the group with three wins out of three, and then depending on whether Mo Salah is fit should decide who finishes second and third between Egypt and Russia. These are the teams I would be looking at getting players from for my fantasy team, as I personally do not think that Saudi Arabia will get any points from the group, but you never know if they are going to be the Costa Rica of this World Cup.
Written by Jack (@jack_hollinrake)