We finally made it through the group stage, with teams like Argentina, Brazil and Colombia unsurprisingly making it to the round of 16, while Costa Rica (winner of Group D), Nigeria and Greece headline the surprising entrants.
If watching multiple matches per day isn't enough for you, our friends over at StatClash.com
have been running daily fantasy soccer games during the World Cup.
This weekend they've got two big contests: the $7,500 World Cup Shootout
, which is a $100-entry contest, and the $1,000 World Cup Equalizer
, which is a $10-entry contest.
The first four matches of the knockout round make up the contest:
Chile vs. Brazil - Saturday, 12 p.m. EDT
Uruguay vs. Colombia - Saturday, 4 p.m. EDT
Mexico vs. Netherlands - Sunday, 12 p.m. EDT
Greece vs. Costa Rica - Sunday, 4 p.m. EDT
While season-long fantasy soccer games tend to allow for a number of different formations, StatClash makes it easier with 11 set positions using a $200 salary cap:
And here is how the scoring breaks down:
|Shots on Target
|Penalty Kicks Missed
|Match Winning Goal
|Clean Sheet (D only)
|Penalty Kicks Saved
Salary Cap Notes
The 11-player field and $200 salary cap leaves fantasy players with an average cost per player of $18.18. Upon initial review of the salary list, we see there are six forwards, four midfielders and three defenders who cost more than average. However, it's a false average, as the cheapest goalkeeper is Uruguay's Fernando Muslera at $21.00. So if you're looking for the cheapest goalkeeper to maximize your salary cap on outfield players, you're really looking at an average of $17.90 (for the record, I do not recommend that strategy).
Greece vs. Costa Rica appears to be the best game to target for defensive purposes. The Ticos came out on top of Group D thanks to a defensive effort that saw them allow just one goal, a penalty shot in the opener against Uruguay. After that, they blanked European powers Italy, 1-0, and finished in a scoreless draw with England. Facing a Greece side that scored just twice in the group stage, both of which came against the Ivory Coast (the latter a penalty), and this game is ripe for the Costa Rican defense.
Mexico vs. Netherlands pits a side that allowed just one goal during the group stage (Mexico) against the tournament leaders in goals. The Dutch were the only side to reach double-digit goals in three matches, so while the Europeans are favored in this one, there is no guarantee that it will be a high-scoring affair. Goal-scorers Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben are the highest-priced forwards after Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, so fantasy players will have to pay up for their services.
Uruguay vs. Colombia could be a high-scoring one, as Colombia finished with nine goals during Group C play, while Uruguay scored four times. However, Uruguay will be without forward Luis Suarez after he appeared to bite Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in their last group stage match. Uruguay scored only one goal against Costa Rica without Suarez and while Edinson Cavani is a force himself, he is not Suarez.
Chile vs. Brazil could be the best match of the round of 16, with the Chileans sporting one of the best team efforts in the World Cup, while Brazil has plenty of star power as host nation. Brazil is a tough defensive side, but the Chileans have enough talent to put the ball in the back of the net, so a clean sheet on either side would be surprising. Neymar is the highest-priced player in the contest, so you better be certain that he'll score at least once for that percentage of your salary cap.
Players to Target
Alexis Sanchez, F, Chile ($21.00): Sanchez is the motor that runs the Chilean attack, and while he hasn't scored or recorded an assist since he did both against Australia in the group stage opener, he was still a solid performer in its lone loss to the Netherlands, recording three crosses, seven corner kicks and winning nine fouls. The matchup is a tough one against a very strong Brazilian defense, but it can also be overly-physical, which could mean more fouls, and potentially more free kicks.
Edinson Cavani, F, Uruguay ($19.00): With teammate Luis Suarez leading the forward pricing at $23.50, Cavani seems like a bargain right off the bat. Add in that Suarez is suspended for the the rest of the World Cup, and Cavani gets even more shots for himself. It is certainly possible that the field isn't as open with Suarez out, but as we saw in the opener, if a penalty opportunity arises, it'll go to Cavani.
Joel Campbell, F, Costa Rica ($16.50): Campbell burst onto the World Cup scene in Costa Rica's opening match against Uruguay, where he scored a goal and assisted on another in a shocking 3-1 win. While he's been a bit limited since, it shouldn't be overly surprising given his next two matches were against Italy and England. Against a Greece side that had a -2 goal differential, giving up four goals in three games, Campbell could be an upside play at a below-average cost.
James Rodriguez, M, Colombia ($23.00): The high price tag may push people to look at other options, but Rodriguez is worth every penny. He had three goals and two assists in the group stage, putting up an average of 17.1 StatClash points per game (SCPPG). Even without the goals and assists, Rodriguez has sent nine crosses in, taken nine corner kicks and he's won six fouls.
Juan Cuadrado, M, Colombia ($18.75): Cuadrado has recorded at least one goal or one assist in every game in Brazil, with his best effort coming against Ivory Coast when he finished with one assist, two shots on target, five crosses and five fouls won.
Junior Diaz, D, Costa Rica ($16.50): Diaz averaged 7.4 SCPPG in the group stage thanks to his one assist and seven crosses, while also winning an impressive seven fouls. With a matchup against a low-scoring Greek side on tap, Diaz has a solid shot at adding clean-sheet points to his other statistics.
Marcelo, D, Brazil ($18.00): If you think Brazil can get by Chile, then Marcelo is the defender you want to own. He had eight crosses in three games, including an assist and a shot on target in the last match against Cameroon. Dani Alves and David Luiz are both priced above Marcelo, but his 6.1 SCPPG out-averages his compatriots (Alves 4.6 SCPPG, Luiz 3.5 SCPPG).
Christian Gamboa, D, Costa Rica ($16.25): Gamboa averaged 6.17 SCPPG over the three group stage matches, including six crosses and one assist. Like Diaz, he gets a matchup against a Greece squad that scored only two goals in three games, one of which was a penalty.
Keylor Navas, G, Costa Rica ($23.00): It already been mentioned that the Greece vs. Costa Rica match is a good one to exploit for defenses purposes, so Navas is the clear goalkeeper to consider. He gave up an early penalty shot to Uruguay's Edinson Cavani in Costa Rica's World Cup opener, then posted clean sheets against Italy and England. Greece is no Italy or England, regardless of its inclusion in the round of 16.
Players to Avoid
Luis Suarez, F, Uruguay ($23.50): Suarez was held out of Uruguay's opening World Cup match against Costa Rica while he finished his recovery from May knee surgery, but he came back with a bang against England, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win. He would normally be an easy pick, but after appearing to bite Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's final group stage match, Suarez will be nowhere near the pitch for the match against Colombia, nor Uruguay's eight matches after Saturday.
Arturo Vidal, M, Chile ($17.00): The Chilean midfielder is one of the best in the world at his position, but he's been a marginal fantasy player during the first three games in Brazil. Vidal was dealing with a knee injury ahead of the tournament, and it has clearly continued to bother him. He lasted 60 minutes against Australia in the opener, 88 minutes in the win over Spain and then sat out the final group stage match against the Netherlands, which would have pitted Chile against Mexico in this round instead of Brazil had it won. At $17.00, he's the sixth-highest priced midfielder and has contributed -4.25 points so far.
Fred, F, Brazil ($20.00): Fred had a tough first two games in Brazil, but he finally found the back of the net against Cameroon in Brazil's group stage finale. However, Cameroon shared the lead for allowing the most goals in Brazil, so it’s difficult to take Fred's recent score as a sign that he can do it again versus Chile, a team that allowed a third of the goals as Cameroon. It's not that Fred is incapable of scoring, but he's not worth the $20.00 investment with guys like Edinson Cavani a full dollar below him.
And here's the team I'm going with: