Hive Fantasy World Cup - Game Week 6 (Semi Finals) Review

For a World Cup that has served up a few surprises, the semi-final both saw the favourites return routine victories to set-up the final that many would have hoped to have seen including fantasy managers who have generally gone big on player selections from both France and Argentina in game week 5.

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It's worth remembering though that the final round of the fantasy game will also feature the 3rd place payoff match, the game that no player really wants to play in but which might still be worth a look at as managers jockey for position late on.

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It's beginning to look a lot like this will be Messi's World Cup and the Argentine maestro was given a helping hand in reaching the final by some very poor defending from a Croatian team that up until this point had looked rock solid.

Undone by a straight ball through the middle that left the hero of both previous knockout matches Dominik Livaković(GK) in no man's land, Croatia then conceded again following the break down of their own set piece as Julian Alvarez (FWD) walked through the powder puff challenges of a couple of defenders. Given Croatia's general lack of goal threat, it was never likely that they'd be able to come back from a 2 goal deficit and indeed it was Alvarez who sealed the win with his 4th goal of the tournament.

The little Argentine forward has been brilliant since being brought in to start his side's final group stage match against Poland scoring at all but a goal every 90 mins (0.99 goals per 90 mins to be exact). He might not always be heavily involved in the build up (he touched the ball just 25 times in this match) but he comes alive in the 18 yard box and has a goals - expected goals (non-penalty) return of +1.4 which puts him just a shade behind Mbappe who has 1.5.

Elsewhere Nicolas Tagliafico (DEF) has given the coach something to think about with his performance and Marcos Acuña's (DEF) return from suspension. The Lyon left-back made 4 interceptions, 4 blocks and generally got into to good attacking positions which in turn allowed Alexis Mac Allister (MID) to drift in from his starting position on the left and get involved in and around the penalty area. The Brighton man hasn't been putting up big numbers for fantasy managers but his stats suggest a decent haul could be just around the corner. He took a couple of shots at goal in this match and recorded expected goals of 0.3.

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without the ball Argentina collapse into a 4-4-2 but with it Mac Allister (number 20) plays in an inside left-position supporting Messi and Alvarez in what (ironically) becomes a Christmas tree formation

Attacking down the left was also key for Croatia in this match as they built 45% of their attacks down that flank compared to 25% through the middle. I would imagine given the congestion in the middle of the park that you can see from the positional map above that France will look to do something similar against Argentina especially given the attacking options they possess on the same flank.

Mateo Kovacic (MID) probably looked the most likely to make something happen for Croatia. He had 99 touches in all, made 4 successful dribbles (the same as Messi) and provided 3 key passes, more than any other player on either side.

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Morocco, much like Croatia, seemed to just run out of steam in what was their 6th game in 21 days. There had been injury concerns over a couple of their key players since they qualified for the knockout stages and those finally caught up with them as centre back Nayef Aguerd (DEF) who originally named in the starting XI was withdrawn at the last minute and Romain Saiss (DEF) hobbled off after just 21 minutes. It seems unlikely that either will be available on Saturday.

By then, France were already a goal up and any hopes that Morocco had of frustrating the reigning champions and pouncing on the break as they have done so effectively in this World Cup were gone. To be fair, Morocco had a couple of half chances and forced Hugo Lloris (GK) into some decent saves but over 0.5 of their total 0.9 expected goals in this match came after France had scored a 2nd goal in the 79th minute.

For France, Kylian Mbappe (FWD) only had 31 touches during the match but did engineer 8 shot creating actions, 2 of which ultimately lead to the goals. Mbappe's position, pushed high and to the left, garners such a lot of attention from opposition defenders that it creates a great deal of space elsewhere on the pitch. Antoine Griezmann (FWD) seems to be benefiting most from that fact and is afforded a free role in this French set-up often popping up in an inside right pocket and linking with Ousmane Dembélé (FWD)

In defence, it was not a great surprise to see Upamecano lose his spot and Ibrahima Konaté (DEF) gave a solid display in his place with 5 interceptions, 4 blocks and 2 tackles. Generally speaking, France kept a very tight back line with Theo Hernandez's (DEF) goal, the only touch that a French defender had in the box while the average position of the back 4 shows how deep the full-backs were in this game despite France being relatively comfortable across the 90mins.

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With the exception of the opening goal, France's full-backs rarely ventured over the half-way line. While fantasy managers might be tempted by Hernandez, there could be better attacking options in from the defenders on offer in game week 7

Game week 6 winners

Top scoring teams from week 6 get a share of the post profits.


@blockchainfpl consolidated his grip on top spot while it was another strong showing from @deniskj who has surely sown up 2nd spot. With 3rd place still to play for it'll be interesting to see if anyone decides to take a few risks and pick some of the less obvious choices in a last ditch attempt to close the gap...