32 teams coming into the World Cup have been halved and halved again following the group stages and the first knockout round to leave us with the eight quarter finalists.
There’s been some big shocks along the way, namely Germany falling at the group stages and Spain crashing out to Russia. Plenty of drama too, with three of the eight games in the round of 16 going all the way to spot kicks. All of the knockout games were tight too, with Brazil’s 2-0 win over Mexico the only game that was settled by more than the single goal.
A big weekend ahead with the four games and plenty of questions to be answered. Can the hosts continue this run? Will Belgium be afforded another comeback against Brazil? Is football finally coming home?
As all those questions are answered, PlayON is here with competitions throughout. I’ve gone through the games and picked out my Guns and Value Player picks from a DFS perspective.
Uruguay v France
The Friday games are both massive matchups, but this one is the standout for me. Uruguay made it through the group stages without conceding a goal before dispatching Portugal 2-1 last out.
France seemed to make it through the group without getting out of first gear, but then steeped up to hold off Argentina in a seven-goal thriller containing possibly the goal of the tournament from full-back Pavard.
I think this will be a tight game, but France just have the edge in depth. Cavani in doubt will also hurt the South Americans massively, as he likely has missed some training coming into this.
Edinson Cavani (13.2m) has three goals and an average score of 1690. The only problem is his limping off in the last match leaves him in doubt. If named, he’s probably worth the outlay. By comparison, Suarez (13.5m) seems to have been a little quieter, but he has still managed two goals and an assist and averages 1560. His class is undoubtable and if he manages not to bite anyone this time, he should be in your thoughts.
France have one of the best squads at the World Cup. The players they didn’t take to the tournament would walk into most other teams. We all knew about Griezmann coming into this and he’s scored at a 1330 average, but is yet to score from open play. He’s top dollar at 14.1m as well and probably a bit pricey for me at that average. On the other hand, 19 year-old Kylian Mbappe staked his claim for the Golden Ball last round by scoring two of the goals as the French beat Argentina. His average score sits at 1500+ and he’s better priced than Griezmann at 12.7m.
Uruguay have been defensively solid at this tournament, so it’s no surprise that their value comes in the form of their back line players. Giminez at the back has averaged over 1600 despite costing just 7.8m, courtesy of the three clean sheets. Goalkeeper Muslera costs just 0.4m more than Lloris at 7.7m despite boasting an average better by over 300. There’s also real value in Diego Laxalt, who costs just 4.8m for an average of over 700.
For the French, Benjamin Pavard (5.6m) presents the best average for price ratio of the likely starting 11, although that is likely boosted by his screamer in the last game. Lucas at left back is also scoring well for his 5.1m price tag.
Brazil v Belgium
Brazil started slowly with a draw against the Swiss and a late win over Costa Rica, but they hit their straps in the knockout stages, overcoming Mexico 2-0 with a huge ten shots to one on target.
Belgium have gone almost the opposite. Two big wins to start before scraping past Japan in stoppage time after going 2-0 down. Lucky perhaps, but the good teams seem to find a way to win sometimes.
Can Belgium lift for this one and finally live up to the potential this squad has had for a few years now? I think they might, but wouldn’t put my house on it. Either way, this should be a cracker.
Belgium and Brazil boast three of the top six averages for the tournament so far, and three of the top four from teams remaining. Romelu Lukaku (13.8m, 2190 average) sits behind only Harry Kane and teammate Eden Hazard (12.4m, 2240) in the averages. Lukaku has four goals from three matches while the older Hazard brother has two goals and two assists in the same time (and has made almost 100 completed passes in those three games). It’s a coin toss which one you’d play. I’d lean towards Hazard based on the cheaper price and better average.
For the Samba boys, despite spending over 14 minutes of the tournament on the floor, Neymar (15.7m) has still managed to average over 2000 points per game, including as 2850 last out. Two goals and an assist in four games and you sense there’s more to come as Brazil start to hit their stride. Despite a relatively low score against Argentina, the class of Coutinho (12.5m) also can’t be ignored here.
No doubt aided by shutouts in three of four matches, Brazil’s back line present value for money, with Fagner (6.2m), Felipe Luis (5.5m) and Thiago Silva (8.5m) all averaging over 1000 per game.
Boosted by his winner against Japan, Nacer Chadli (6.8m) also flags as a value for average pick, however he is likely to remain as a super-sub option, but keep an eye on the final teams.
Sweden v England
In my preview before the start of the tournament, I didn’t give Sweden any chance of progressing, never mind topping the group, but they’ve certainly shown me. Ending the group stage strong with a big win over Mexico, they’ve carried that into the knockouts holding off Switzerland to advance to the quarters for the first time since 1994, where they finished third.
England were home against Colombia before a stoppage time heartbreak took the match to extra time and penalties. However, they managed to break the duck and win a shootout for the first time at a World Cup and only a second time at a major tournament. They haven’t gone past this stage since 1990, but when you look at the two sides of the draw it’s likely the best opportunity they will get. Sweden have been something of a bogey side over the years though, so this won’t be easy by any means.
Have to go with the heart and the motherland here, Sir Gareth’s bringing it home!
Who cares if they’re all penalties, Harry Kane (14.4m) has scored six in three games and is the only player to average over 3000. Rumours he’s battling some soreness, but is almost certain to be out there against the Swedes
Kane is actually the only player on either side values above 10m, which supports the underdog status of the teams and the lack of expectation around the English coming into this which has seen them play without the pressure of expectation.
Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist (8.5m) has their highest average, courtesy of two goals from the spot in his four games. With a fair few penalties being awarded, he’s not a bad shout at that price.
Priced at just 6.1m, Kieran Trippier has an average of over 1200 and represents great value for money. He’s taken his good form for Spurs into this tournament and looks dangerous pushing on the wing. He also seems to have been given corners and free kicks so is a good chance to add to his one assist so far.
The value picks for Sweden are goalkeeper Robin Olsen (6.9m) who averages nearly 1200 and scored 1595 against Switzerland and midfielder Viktor Claesson (7m) who averages 1260 and has grabbed a couple of assists in the first four games. Gustav Svensson (4.8m) also came into the starting side for Seb Larsson against the Swiss and scored a handy 750. If he retains his spot for this game, he’s almost a must-have at the price.
Russia v Croatia
I had this one pencilled in as Spain v Argentina pre-tournament, but Croatia topped the Argies’ group and the Russians triumphed over the Spaniards on penalties in the last round.
Russia have less of the household names they have had in recent times, but never underestimate the value of a home crowd and a team playing together for each other. That said, Croatia have one of the best midfields in the tournament and I think they’ll come out on top here.
What a midfield the Croatians have! Modric (10.9m, 1650 average); Rakitic (10.1, 1170) and Perisic (9.8m, 1020) are all class players and offer a potential discount to some of the big players in other teams at their pricing.
For the Russians, Artem Dzyuba (8.9m) also has three goals, an assist and an average of 1470, while midfielder Aleksandr Golovin (9m) has a goal two assists and a 1725.
As just 6.8m Denis Cheryshev boasts the best average for a Russian player with 1780 after three goals in four games. Roman Zobnin (5.7m) is also pretty cheap for a 1130 average, although he did have a quieter game against the Spanish. Russia have said the tactics won’t be as defensive here, so he may find himself back among the points.
Forward Ante Rebic offers possibly the best value for the Croatians, averaging over 1000 for his 6.6m price tag and playing in three of the four games so far. Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic (6.6m) is also averaging more than his counterpart, but Akinfeev (6.9m) did score a massive 2150 against the Spanish.
That’s all for the quarterfinals. Now be sure to get your lineups in!