This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
2:00 pm: Argentina vs. Croatia
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CASH GAME STRATEGY
The cash discussion has to start with Lionel Messi ($12,800), who has the best floor and upside on the slate. He won't come off the field no matter how many minutes are played and is involved in almost everything Argentina do. After Messi the next guy into cash-game lineups would be the set man for Croatia, Luka Modric ($8,400). I didn't expect to see nearly 15 floor points from him against Brazil, but we saw a much more split possession game than expected and Modric played fantastically. After these two I think you have a bit of a tough decision with Angel Di Maria ($11,200). He has a major role on this team and is definitely the second-most fantasy friendly player behind Messi, but he carries a high price. You also don't know how many minutes he will be able to play and for that reason I lean toward saving the salary in cash games. The only route I see to get to Di Maria is to play Modric as captain over Messi, which in cash games I really don't want to do.
To me, the Croatian forwards and Argentina's Julian Alvarez ($10,000) are much too goal dependent to use in cash games. I instead prefer a decision between two mid-range midfield options in Rodrigo De Paul ($7,600) and Ivan Perisic ($8,800). Both have decent floors and we have seen De Paul have a bit of a role on set pieces. I lean to him over Perisic if picking from the two as he has been able to fill up the stat sheet in various ways throughout the tournament. He came off after 66 minutes against Netherlands, but he had gone 90 in every match before then and should be a little more fit for this contest.
The Argentina side has been difficult for DFS purposes in this tournament and even though they are the favorite, I lean toward having my lineups heavier on the Croatia side. This is especially true in the value range where I much prefer options at full-back and midfield for Croatia over any cheaper pieces for Argentina. Josip Juranovic ($5,800) looked spectacular against Brazil and has safe minutes, it seems. His scores in five games have ranged from 9.1 to 11.5, just to show you the consistency. Marcelo Brozovic ($4,400) and Mateo Kovacic ($4,000) have both shown solid floors in and are pretty clearly the best options under $5,000. Kovacic tends to get most of his points from defensive stats, while Brozovic is a bit more active in the attack giving him a bit more upside in my opinion.
Tournaments are where you can get as different as you want, especially if you are trying to take down a large-field GPP contest. I think we see possession end up fairly even so initially, I don't love a 5-1 build in either direction. It is possible there are goals from both sides and if I had a lean in this game it is toward Croatia knocking out Messi and company. This fits tournaments perfectly and gives me a natural direction to get different from the field. My favorite captains in tournaments are the Croatian duo of Modric and Perisic. We have already gone over Modric above, but Perisic is a guy who has big upside and has safer minutes than the other Croatian forwards. I don't love Andrej Kramaric ($6,400) or Bruno Petkovic ($5,200), mainly due to minutes, but they can certainly get there at these prices if you think Croatia score before they sub off around 65 minutes.
Staying on the Croatian side, Dominik Livakovic ($4,800) has been an absolute hero for this team and I have tons of interest with the script I like in this one. Even if he concedes one, he can get enough saves and the possible win to perform well for this price. If you build for Croatia to win 1-0 or 2-0 you will definitely want to pair Livakovic with Josip Juranovic or Borna Sosa ($7,000) for the clean sheet stack. Sosa played 110 minutes after missing the Japan game, so his minutes look secure. In solid matchups for this team, Sosa can get there via crosses and shots assisted. The price is a touch high making him a tournament play and likely less popular than Juranovic.
With the game script I like, I will likely limit my Argentina pieces to two or three per lineup. They aren't a fantasy friendly team in my opinion and outside of Messi, I don't like the floor for any of these guys. Julian Alvarez ($10,000) is too high priced and goal dependent for my game script, but if you like Argentina to win he makes sense as a less popular GPP pivot at captain. It could be one of those slates where you just play Messi as captain no matter the contest type and get different in the rest of your lineup whether that is by playing a less popular player or by lineup construction. Enzo Fernandez ($8,000) and Alexis Mac Allister ($6,200) are guys who have shown up with goals in this tournament but are clearly behind De Paul for me. Lastly, Emiliano Martinez ($7,400) is likely a fade for me in this script, unless I end up building some teams with 0-0 to penalties in mind, where I would want both goalies. He will probably be popular as the favorite here even in cash games.