After months of dedication to your Fantasy Premier League team - debating whether to include Mohamed Salah after a poor start or regretting not captaining the unstoppable Erling Haaland - it’s now time to turn your attention to the World Cup. With Qatar set to play Ecuador in the tournament’s opener, the excitement is building for highly anticipated 2022 edition.
While the Premier League may be absent for six weeks, FIFA have ensured you can still test your fantasy football skills with their own World Cup version. With hundreds of players from all across the world available, the FIFA Fantasy World Cup is arguably a lot harder than FPL - but equally just as fun.
With thousands of fans across the world beginning to select their squad ahead of Sunday’s opener, we have a handy guide for you to help you out with your team selections.
How to play
To first access FIFA’s Fantasy World Cup game you will have to register for a free Fifa+ account to be able to save your team and enter leagues. The rules are very similar to FPL, with a budget of $100m available to make up a squad of 15 players. The budget is set to increase to $105m for the knockout stage.
Like FPL, you can change your formation from a variety of options after you have selected your squad, however you need at least three defenders and one striker in your team at once. This means no 1-1-8 formation for those hoping to squeeze in all of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Harry Kane, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe!
One rule that differs from FPL is that you are able to make changes up until the end of the gameweek. So if a player at the start of the week gets a red card or scores an own goal then you can replace them with a player on your bench who is yet to play. However, once you have taken out a player, you will lose their points for that week and will get the sub’s points instead.
You will only be allowed three players per country in your team initially, however this will increase to four for the round of 16, five for the quarter-finals, six for the semi-finals and eight for the final. The number of transfers available increase during the tournament too - you have two free transfers before the start of a group game, unlimited transfers ahead of the round of 16, four changes before the quarters, five before the semis and six before the final. Any extra transfers made will cost you three points.
Scoring points is slightly different from FPL, with more points to be gained for the deeper positions. For example, midfielders will earn a point for every two key passes or three tackles made. FPL players would often fill their midfield with more attacking players, while this could give more of an opportunity to more defensive stars.
The entire scoring system can be found on the FIFA World Cup website, but here are some of the key points:
• Appearance (60 mins or more) = 1 pt
• Assist = 3 pts
• Goal (forwards/midfielders) = 5 pts
• Goal (defenders) = 7 pts
• Yellow card = -1 pt
• Red card = -2 pts
• Clean sheet (defenders/goalkeepers) = 5 pts
• Every 3 tackles (midfielders) = 1 pt
• Every 2 shots on target (forwards) = 1 pt
Like FPL, Fantasy World Cup allows you to choose your captain and wild card. However, there are also another two boosters - 12th man and power captain.
The 12th man allows you to select one additional player to score points for your team in a matchday, however once selected they can’t be substituted, captained or transferred. Meanwhile, the power captain allows you to get double points from whichever player scores the most points from your squad. Each booster can only be used once and you can’t use multiple boosters at the same time.
Who should I include in my 15-man squad?
There are quite a few players heading to the World Cup that everyone will have at least one of them in their fantasy squad. While there is a budget, it is guaranteed that you are going to splash the cash on some of the world’s biggest stars. Here are the ones that should definitely be considered for your team...
Lionel Messi (€10.5m)
Lionel Messi will be hoping for a fairytale ending this winter in what could be his final World Cup. The Argentina star has never lifted the World Cup trophy but is one of the hot favourites to do so this year. Messi has looked back to his best with Paris Saint-Germain this season and is expected to be on form in Qatar, while the likes of Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez will help him pick up plenty of points during the tournament.
Like Messi, Neymar has been in brilliant form for PSG and is always one of Brazil’s best players when he features for his country. Tite has arguably the best attack in the competition to choose from and Neymar will no doubt feature from the start in all of their matches.
With Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon to play in the group stages it’s fair to say we could see the PSG forward bang in the goals in Qatar. With Brazil favourites to win the World Cup, he could be a safe bet to remain in your team throughout the tournament.
Kevin de Bruyne (€11m)
While Belgium aren’t one of the favourites to even reach the World Cup final next month, it’s always safe to assume Kevin de Bruyne will have a very positive impact on their chances of success. The midfielder has scored one goal at both of his previous two World Cups, however he is arguably at his peak right now and is expected to have an impressive goal contribution tally throughout the tournament.
Steven Bergwijn (€7m)
For a forward that has been listed as a midfielder on the game, Steven Bergwijn is ridiculously cheap. The Dutchman can be incorporated into your starting line-up as well as your strikers, despite playing as part of a front two for the Netherlands. Bergwijn has netted 10 goals in 20 games for Ajax this season and will be eager to continue his superb form into the World Cup.
Aleksandr Mitrovic (€7m)
Aleksandr Mitrovic has become one of the Premier League’s best strikers this season after netting nine goals in his opening 12 games of the season, while he is also no stranger to scoring for Serbia too. The Fulham ace grabbed eight goals in eight during the World Cup qualifiers and could quite easily fire Serbia into the knockout stages with his ability. While Brazil will certainly be a tough challenge for Mitrovic, he will be very confident of netting against Switzerland and Cameroon and the team certainly have a very good chance of finishing second in that group.
Darwin Nunez (€8m)
Darwin Nunez has finally found his feet for Liverpool and heads into the World Cup with three goals in his last four matches. The striker hasn’t had a chance to shine for Uruguay yet after missing the 2021 Copa America tournament with an injury, however it is expected that Qatar could be the perfect opportunity for him to make an impact on his country.
With the likes of Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur around him, Nunez is in very good company and many are predicting him to help his team to an impressive campaign and potentially cause an upset.