Why you should pay special attention to tonight’s high profile international friendlies
As the season draws to a close, the majority of Fantasy Premier League managers are currently pre-occupied with how they are to go about deploying those remaining chips, with the ‘wildcard’ and the anxious wait for the announcement of those remaining double gameweek fixtures dominating their thoughts.
While this is all well and good, Friday’s high profile international friendlies look like the ideal time to take a breather and do some constructive analysis that will stand you in good stead for this summer’s World Cup finals.
We’re expecting the leading fantasy football operators to pull out all the stops when it comes to contest creation for Russia 2018, so why not put yourself one step ahead of rival managers by doing a bit of groundwork now?
Understanding the importance of playing time is one of the key ingredients to a successful fantasy football strategy and this applies equally to international football, where a whole host of top stars often find themselves kicking their heels on the bench.
However, fortunately, we have some mouth-watering clashes to look forward to this evening that might give a few pointers as to who will start in key positions for their respective nations once the World Cup group matches get under way, so here are a few things to keep an eye on.
England take on the Netherlands at the Amsterdam Arena on Friday evening and Gareth Southgate will be hoping that a number of his players impress.
Jordan Pickford is expected to start in goal as he looks to stake a claim for that highly contentious number one jersey, while another Jordan, Liverpool’s Henderson, has been handed the captain’s armband.
However, in the absence of Harry Kane, Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard are expected to feature in the Three Lions’ attack against the Dutch, so, with Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling all looking like certain starters for the opening group game (if available), the United duo will be keen to impress & convince the England boss that they deserve the remaining spot.
A full house is expected at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow when Russia entertain Brazil.
Host nations tend to do well at major tournament finals but Russia will surely have their work cut out and progress to the quarter-final stage might be seen as a successful campaign.
Zenit striker Aleksandr Kokorin has ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments so this leaves the door open for Fedor Smolov to stake a claim for a starting spot up front.
The FC Krasnodar is the leading scorer in the Russian Premier League this season.
With Lionel Messi almost certain to play as a number 10 behind a sole striker, Gonzalo Higuain may well get the chance to oust Sergio Agüero from that role when Argentina take on Italy at the Etihad on Friday.
The latter is struggling with a knee injury, so a good showing from the Juventus striker may be sufficient to encourage national coach Jorge Sampaoli to start him against Iceland in June.
Germany and Spain
The last 2 winners of the World Cup meet at the ESPRIT Arena on Friday and this clash could be the most informative.
For Germany, Leroy Sané and Timo Werner, will be out to impress. The World Cup holders have an abundance of attacking talent at their disposal but these two look the most likely, based on their outstanding seasons domestically.
There is also a question mark about who will spearhead the Spanish attack.
Álvaro Morata’s exclusion from the squad has opened the door for Diego Costa to establish himself as the number 9 for La Roja and you can bank on the former Chelsea striker putting in a combative performance as he looks to make the most of the opportunity.
The countdown to this summer’s World Cup finals is well and truly on – take note of what happens tonight!
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