If you want to punt on some exciting, undervalued players, Group F might have a few bargains in store for you. The group promises to be one of the most interesting at Qatar 2022, with Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, and Canada.
Plenty of goals can be expected, such is the attacking talent on display. The star-studded but ageing squads of Belgium and Croatia are expected by bookies and punters alike to breeze through the group in first and second place respectfully.
But both Morocco and Canada come with youthful exuberance and dreams of killing giants. So they won’t fear anyone they come up against. Their stars are on the rise rather than on the wane. They must keep their feet on the ground if they hope to topple the two favourites.
Group F Teams
Must-have Qatar World Cup fantasy player from Group F
Kevin De Bruyne, MID ($11m)
Kevin De Bruyne isn’t cheap, but he is well worth the expense. He’s in hot form for Manchester City and is the talisman of this Belgium side. The national team score goals at will, and the midfield maestro is often involved. In the World Cup fantasy game, midfielders receive additional points for key passes, and if it’s one thing Kevin De Bruyne knows how to do, it’s to find his teammates in good positions.
Possibly harsh to say Belgium’s golden generation has failed to deliver on their promise, but with the quality of players they have, a tournament win has to be the expectation.
Having lost their position as the FIFA rankings number one, it would seem that the Red Devils fire is beginning to burn out. A disappointing Euros where they exited in the quarter-finals, this may be the last chance saloon for Roberto Martinez as manager. He’ll be hoping Lukaku can rediscover the form of his pre-Chelsea days.
With 25 goals scored and just eight conceded in an unbeaten UEFA qualifiers run, it would appear all is rosy. Still, tournament competition is a step up, and this is a more demanding group than it seems on paper.
Belgium are still expected to top their group comfortably, so backing their attack early on seems a good strategy for the group stages.
Best fantasy player from Belgium
Romelu Lukaku, FWD ($9.5m) — ★★★★★
Even with his disappointing last 18 months, Lukaku remained Belgium’s top scorer through qualifying and was a flat track bully in the group stages of last year’s Euros. As a result, he’s a standout pick in the premium price bracket. However, he is nursing a hamstring injury and should only be considered for the later stages of the tournament.
Kevin De Bruyne, MID ($11m) — ★★★★★
Manchester City magician Kevin De Bruyne oozes quality in every game he’s involved in. He has routes to points through goals, assists, set pieces and key passes. He’s another excellent pick for premium midfielders.
Thorgan Hazard, MID ($6.5m) — ★★★★☆
Thorgan is a shrewd pick and a cheap way into a formidable Belgium attack, offering better value and more durability than his older brother Eden at $1.5m cheaper.
Thibaut Courtois, GK ($6m) — ★★★★☆
Courtois remains an elite goalkeeper in world football after winning man of the match in the Champions League final last year. He can do it against the very best strikers in the world.
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Morocco to qualify from the group — 3.00
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Morocco to qualify from the group — 2/1
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Differential/budget player from Belgium
Timothy Castagne, DEF ($5.5m)
Playing at right wing-back for club and country, the Leicester man is known to pop up with a goal or assist. With plenty of quality to aim at in the centre, his crossing ability could make him a great pick at €5.5m.
Another team that has impressed in the recent past but who are showing signs they may be on their way down after an underwhelming Euros campaign where they scraped through their group before being eliminated by Spain in the round of 16.
Finishing top of their group in qualifying with only four goals conceded, it would appear they have stabilised. However, they had a kind group.
In last year’s Champions League campaign with Real Madrid, Luka Modric showed that he can still do it at the highest level even at the age of 37. In addition, Croatia topped their Nations League group, which included France, Denmark and Austria. They ended the campaign with four wins in a row.
Ultimately it’s hard to pin down what Croatia are, and their prospects in this group, but backing their midfielders to score goals seems a good bet.
Best fantasy players from Croatia
Luka Modric, MID ($8.5m) — ★★★★☆
Luka Modric is proving he’s still his country’s talisman with three goals and two assists in seven qualifying games for Croatia. Instrumental to everything his team do, he’s a safe pick at €XRm.
Ivan Perisic, MID ($7.5m) — ★★★☆☆
Flying down the wing for club and country, Perisic also notched three goals and two assists in qualifying. He’s also proved capable of playing at the highest level after a decent start to his life at Spurs.
Mario Pašalić, MID ($5m) — ★★★☆☆
The right winger has an eye for goal and isn’t afraid to pull the trigger. Three goals and one assist make the ever-present Mario Pasalic a compelling buy at the low price of $5m.
Differential/budget player from Croatia
Lovro Majer, MID ($5m)
Two goals in two games in qualifying make 24-year-old Lavro Majer a decent pick. The attacking midfielder scored six goals and managed eight assists for Rennes last year in Ligue 1 and is steadily becoming a key player in this Croatia side.
Morocco are considered one of the strongest teams on the African continent, and it’s easy to see why. With names like Hakimi, Ziyech and En-Nesyri, they boast a host of tried and tested talent at the very top of European football.
They breezed through qualifying, winning six of six in the second round group stage, scoring 20 and conceding just one, before blowing past DR Congo 5-2 on aggregate in the third round playoff.
They play a very attacking brand of football, setting up in a 4-1-4-1 system that includes the full-backs bombing forward. They favour the right side to get their best player, Hakimi, on the ball as much as possible.
Morocco were one of many victims of Egypt’s agricultural style as they were knocked out at the quarter-finals of AFCON, but with a bit of luck, they could be a surprise challenger to make it to the knockout stages.
Best fantasy players from Morocco
Hakim Ziyech, MID ($7m) — ★★★☆☆
A change of coach has seen Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech come back into the fold for his country after being out of the team since 2019. He’s the current top scorer in the squad, even with a two-year absence. However, he’s slightly too expensive at $7m to be a clear-cut recommendation.
Achraf Hakimi, DEF ($5m) — ★★★☆☆
Two goals in five games at AFCON and two in seven qualifying games make the PSG defender an exciting choice. Morocco’s defensive record is decent, too, making him even more appealing.
Differential/budget player from Morocco
Ayoub El Kaabi, FWD ($5.5m)
Plying his trade in the Turkish Super Lig, Ayoub El Kaabi scored five goals in seven games in qualifying. The versatile forward is Morocco’s surest route to goal.
Coming through all three stages of the CONCACAF qualifying rounds to take the top spot in the third round, the Canadian men’s national team are the surprise package of international football these last two years.
With a spate of young talent coming through the ranks, Canada have made the World Cup for only the second time in their history. Scoring 23 goals and conceding seven in qualifying, Canada play an attacking brand of football, setting up in a 4-2-3-1 where the full-backs are given license to bomb forward and get crosses into the box.
However, it must be said they are heavily reliant on Alphonso Davies for his electric pace and good ball progression, as well as Cyle Larin and Johnathan David for their immense finishing abilities. If all stay fit and firing, Canada could well have themselves a fairytale this Winter in Qatar.
Best fantasy players from Canada
Alphonso Davies, DEF ($5m) — ★★☆☆☆
Bayern Munich superstar Alphonso Davies is Canada’s first Champions League winner. The left-back plays further forward for his country as an attacking midfielder or striker. Five goals in 13 qualifying games show his potential.
Cyle Larin, FWD ($5.5m) — ★☆☆☆☆
A part of an impressive Club Brugge team, Larin is Canada’s most likely route to goal. 13 goals in 16 matches made him Canada’s top goalscorer in CONCACAF qualifying.
Differential/budget player from Canada
Jonathan David, FWD ($6m)
An exciting young prospect, David plies his trade in Ligue 1 for Lille. Nine goals in 18 games of qualifying, as well as seven goals and two assists in 10 games for his club, show that David is a man in form and a potential brilliant outside-pick.
Continue to GROUP G
Odhrán Brennan is a data journalist for a sports data company, living in Finland. He’s been playing FPL since the 06/07 season and is a long-suffering fan of both Arsenal and the Republic of Ireland national team. You can follow him on Twitter here