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Of course, you have to read this preview first.
There are four games in total on Thursday; let me break down the odds.
Ghana vs. Portugal is expected to have the most goals. Germany is the biggest favorite of the day against the United States, followed by Belgium against South Korea. And Russia is favored against Algeria, but between you and me, I think Algeria is the better team.
Here’s what all of that means. We want plenty of Belgians and Germans. We want players from Ghana and Portugal in our midfield and forward positions. And personally, I’m going to include an Algerian because they are extremely cheap, and like I said, I think they are better than Russia, who has only scored one goal through two games.
G, Thibaut Courtois, BEL, $17,502
Belgium is a solid favorite and has the best shot at a clean sheet, so that’s why I’m going with Courtois. While the Russia-Algeria game is expected to have fewer goals, the winner of that game is close to a toss-up.
D, Vincent Kompany, BEL, $6,834
I’m not a huge fan of the defender stats since there aren’t many ways they can get points, but that’s why they are so cheap. I filled out my other positions first and had enough money to spend on the best defenders. You can easily save some money by getting cheaper defenders on these teams. I like Kompany because his size is going to be a problem for Korea on corners.
D, Madjid Bouguerra, ALG, $5,263
Algeria can advance if they draw in this game and that may be the route they take. And so far, Russia has had tons of issues putting the ball in the back of the net. Maybe the Algerians can get the clean sheet.
M, Dries Mertens, BEL, $12,423
South Korea doesn’t have much of a defense and that’s where Mertens comes in. He didn’t start in Belgium’s first game, but did in the last one and set up more than one opportunity due to his speed. He’s cheaper and should find plenty of open space against Korea.
M, Andre Ayew, GHA, $14,837
Ayew has two of Ghana’s three goals in the World Cup and he’s still reasonably priced. In this game, both teams will be pushing because both need to win to advance, a draw won’t cut it. Ayew and Asamoah Gyan are the most likely to score for Ghana.
F, Nani, POR, $16,320
On the other end of the field, Nani is going to cause real problems for the Ghana back line. Cristiano Ronaldo is a good play as well, but I’m not spending that much on a player who is clearly not 100 percent healthy. Nani’s speed is going to cause loads of trouble and it wouldn’t be surprising if he scored again.
F, Mario Gotze, GER, $15,993
I was also contemplating Thomas Muller and Asamoah Gyan for this spot, but decided on Mario Gotze mainly due to price so I could improve other positions. The USA defense was exposed in their last match, and against a more precise German team you can expect even more goals. Gotze is young, but skilled, smart and crafty in the attacking third.
M, Graham Zusi, USA, $10,384
I basically had to choose between Zusi and a bunch of defensive midfielders or bench players in the same price range. I had to go with Zusi. He has an assist in each game so far, and while he didn’t look the greatest against Portugal, he can always redeem himself with precision crosses. And I haven’t said this yet, but Germany’s defense can be beat.