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Wednesday’s World Cup slate featured three large favorites that everyone built fantasy soccer lineups around, but Thursday will be more balanced with Denmark and Argentina only small favorites in their respective matches. That being the case, there are still a couple studs that most will have their eyes on, namely Lionel Messi.
Lionel Messi, Argentina vs. Croatia, $12,700 — Even at a high price, Messi likely will by highly owned, similar to Cristiano Ronaldo on Wednesday. Messi didn’t score last match, yet still reached 16.3 fantasy points from 11 shots and four fouls drawn. He’s a good play in every kind of game because those numbers always will be there — in addition to having the best odds to score. Compared to the other top forwards, Antoine Griezmann ($10,600) doesn’t have the same floor and Sergio Aguero ($8,600) is goal-dependent. Of course, those guys are much cheaper.
Other Options — Antoine Griezmann, France, $10,600; Kylian Mbappe, France, $9,200; Sergio Aguero, Argentina, $8,600
Ante Rebic, Croatia vs. Argentina, $4,400 — This is almost as cheap as it gets at forward, and according to the odds, the Croatians are undervalued as the smallest underdog. Argentina controlled possession in their first match, but that was more a result of how compact Iceland are in the back. Croatia play differently and will battle for possession all match with Luka Modric ($6,800) and Ivan Rakitic ($4,200) in the midfield. Rebic had four crosses last match and should be near that total again. If this match is tied in the second half, Argentina might be forced to press some, and that will leave the flanks open. Keep in mind Rebic isn’t guaranteed to start, so you might want to put him at the utility spot to minimize risk.
Other Options — Yussuf Poulsen, Denmark, $7,000; Ivan Perisic, Croatia, $6,300; Jefferson Farfan, Peru, $5,700
Christian Eriksen, Denmark vs. Australia, $10,800 — Eriksen has an easier matchup, yet his price isn’t much different from the Peru match, where he had 21.8 fantasy points with an assist and 11 crosses. Like the last slate, he is close to a must-play in cash-game lineups because of a high floor due to activity in open play, as well as taking almost every spot kick. Some will be turned off Eriksen because of Messi’s price, but the two together would be the ultimate cash-game play with such a high floor.
Other Options — Kylian Mbappe, France, $9,200; Paul Pogba, France, $8,100; Pione Sisto, Denmark, $7,400
Andre Carrillo, Peru vs. France, $4,300 — All the talk surrounding France has been of their talented roster, but they looked like a regular team against lowly Australia, and that was their problem in qualifying (18 goals in 10 matches). France are the biggest favorite of the day, yet Peru are a threat that held 53 percent possession against Denmark and had 17 shots (six on target). Yoshimar Yotun ($4,700) might be the more popular play as a corner taker, but like last match, Carrillo should have his share of possession out wide (five crosses last game). While there’s little upside, the floor is nice at this price.
Other Options — Luka Modric, Croatia, $6,800; Robbie Kruse, Australia, $5,100; Maximiliano Meza, Argentina, $4,900 (if he starts again)
Lucas Hernandez, France vs. Peru, $5,200 — Hernandez was a bright spot for France last match as he was all over the left wing, finishing with two shots, two crosses and six fouls drawn. If Peru go down, they likely will push forward with their World Cup lives on the line, giving Hernandez similar room on the flank. With better clean sheet odds, I’d rather take him over the Argentina full backs, as well.
Other Options — Eduardo Salvio, Argentina, $5,600; Henrik Dalsgaard, Denmark, $4,900; Sime Vrsaljko, Croatia, $4,500
Miguel Trauco, Peru vs. France, $3,800 — At this spot you usually are going for an underdog full back or favored center back. Trauco is a left back on the biggest underdog but still should be near the 5 fantasy points from last match, where he had four crosses. France gave up four crosses to the Australian full backs, and the Peruvians should get up the field even with Blaise Matuidi expected to start outside. Right back Luis Advincula ($4,000) is slightly more expensive, and that’s a little harder to back for an underdog.
Other Options — Josh Risdon, Australia, $3,800; Andreas Christensen, Denmark, $3,700; Marcos Rojo, Argentina, $3,500
Kasper Schmeichel, Denmark vs. Australia, $5,400 — Denmark won their first match 1-0 and now play as a bigger favorite with a lower over/under. Schmeichel might not have to make as many saves against Australia (six saves against Peru), but the win and clean sheet should be there for Schmeichel. His price also makes a lot more sense than the other two favorites.
Other Options — Hugo Lloris, France, $5,900; Willy Caballero, Argentina, $5,200
Mat Ryan, Australia vs. Denmark, $4,100 — It’s hard to see Argentina or France being held scoreless, while it’s at least possible against Denmark. Once again, Ryan will have multiple save opportunities, but after the Danish only had three shots on goal against Peru, Ryan has a better chance for a clean sheet than the other two underdogs.
Other Options — Danijel Subasic, Croatia, $4,300; Pedro Gallese, Peru, $3,800
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