After a hugely dramatic week of World Cup openers, today is the final day of the first round of matches. In what has felt like a strange start to the tournament as we near Christmas, the World Cup has already provided us with some excellent matches.
England got their tournament off to a stormer with a 6-2 thrashing of Iran, while Argentina and Germany both suffered shock defeats to Saudi Arabia and Japan respectively. Spain also earned their spot as one of the new favourites after a 7-0 annihilation of Costa Rica, while the bookies’ pick Brazil will open their account against Serbia this evening.
While fans have had some brilliant football to enjoy, there have been a number of injuries to dampen the mood. The World Cup being held in winter has unsurprisingly seen plenty of big names pull out of the tournament due to their busy schedule so far this season, with burnt out players struggling to keep up with the relentless workload.
With the likes of Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane already missing out on the flight to Qatar due to injury, FIFA World Cup Fantasy players have been forced to find other ways of bagging themselves as many points as possible
With the first round of fixtures almost complete, players will now have to mix up their teams even more with a number of players potentially facing spells on the sidelines in Qatar. Here is the latest updates on World Cup injuries and who you could replace each star with...
Enner Valencia - Ecuador
With Ecuador one of the long outsiders for the World Cup, you could be excused for including Enner Valencia in your team for the group stage.
The striker netted twice in their opener against Qatar and was a much cheaper option than even the likes of Mehdi Taremi and Eric Maxim Choupo-Mouting - who could have less chance of progressing to the knockout stages.
You may have even considered sticking Valencia in your squad after the Qatar victory, however the 33-year-old’s chances looked slim when he limped off with ankle and knee injuries in the second half. Valencia is hopeful of facing the Netherlands tomorrow afternoon, though it may be worth swapping him out just in case. Plus, their second group stage fixture is likely to be the hardest of the lot.
For the same price as Valencia ($6.5m), you can also purchase Belgium’s Michy Batshuayi. The striker could lead the line again when they take on Morocco with Romelu Lukaku sidelined, and he will be eager to add to his tally after scoring the only goal in their win over Canada.
Another option is Ismaila Sarr, who will be confident of scoring his first World Cup goal as they take on Qatar. The tournament hosts looked very poor against Ecuador and could let in even more goals against a handy Senegal side.
Lucas Hernandez - France
Lucas Hernandez featured in his second World Cup for France as they thrashed Australia 4-1 on Tuesday. The full-back picked up two assists in the tournament four years ago and could have been set for another positive campaign before picking up his latest injury. Hernandez was forced off after only 13 minutes with a knee injury and it was later confirmed that he would miss the rest of the World Cup after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.
At $5.5m, there are a number of great players that can replace the Frenchman in your starting line-up. Harry Maguire could be a good option at the back after bagging an assist against Iran and also hitting the bar, though could also be a risk given his poor form for Manchester United.
There are also the likes of Diogo Dalot (Portugal), Danilo (Brazil) and Kieran Trippier (England). The latter scored a memorable free-kick for the Three Lions in the previous tournament and will be looking to impress on set pieces once again.
Leroy Sane - Germany
Leroy Sane was expected to be one of the first names on the teamsheet for Germany in the World Cup until they were dealt a blow when it was confirmed he would miss the Japan match with a knee injury. Hansi Flick’s side went onto miss out on the three points against Japan who staged a surprising comeback to take second spot in Group E.
It is unclear whether Sane will return to the fold for their clash with Spain, however including any Germans in your line-up seems like a huge risk. Luis Enrique’s side looked exceptional in their opening match and it could be another humiliation for Germany if they don’t drastically improve.
Sane is the joint-third most expensive midfielder in the game ($9m) and could be replaced with plenty of brilliant players. If you want a direct replacement for the same price then Bernardo Silva could be good shout, having picked up four goal contributions in nine matches in Portugal’s World Cup qualifiers. However, matches against Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea certainly won’t be easy.
Bukayo Saka seems like a highly reliable option in your midfield given his stellar performance against Iran. The Arsenal star is clearly feeling no pressure after his penalty miss in the EURO 2020 final and could be one of the tournament’s best youngsters this winter. Federico Valverde, Jamal Musiala and Steven Bergwijn are just a few more options worth considering.