UEFA World Cup Qualifiers: Thursday Cheat Sheet

UEFA World Cup Qualifiers: Thursday Cheat Sheet

This article is part of our Daily Fantasy Soccer Cheat Sheet series.

MATCHES (EDT)

2:45 p.m: Italy v. Spain
2:45 p.m: Turkey v. Ukraine
2:45 p.m: Kosovo v Croatia
2:45 p.m: Austria v. Wales

ODDS REPORT

EXPECTED CORNER TAKERS

Austria: Marko Arnautovic, Zlatko Junuzovic
Wales: Chris Gunter, Joe Ledley, Neil Taylor
Spain: David Silva, Koke, Nolito
Italy: Antonio Candreva, Giacomo Bonaventura
Turkey: Sener Ozbayrakli, Emre Mor
Ukraine: Yevhen Konoplyanka, Oleksandr Zinchenko
Croatia: Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic, Domagoj Vida
Kosovo: Leart Paqarada

PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

GOALKEEPER

Lovre Kalinic, CRO at KOS: Kosovo must surely be ecstatic after taking a point from Finland in their first ever World Cup qualification match, but FIFA's new boys have a much more difficult task ahead of them. This is a slate where I will be avoiding the big-name goalkeepers because their combination of low price and game log appeal will drive ownership up, but the best play of the day is surely at the top of the board. Kalinic comes with a high price and poor result in their last match, but keen observers will see that he played well and fell victim to a deflection in the waning moments of the first half. This match features a 2.5 total, but those goals should all fall on the Croatian side here.

Volkan Babacan, TUR vs. UKR: Another way to pivot off of the big names is to look at the Turkish side. They were a bit lucky to hang on and receive a point in Zagreb,

MATCHES (EDT)

2:45 p.m: Italy v. Spain
2:45 p.m: Turkey v. Ukraine
2:45 p.m: Kosovo v Croatia
2:45 p.m: Austria v. Wales

ODDS REPORT

EXPECTED CORNER TAKERS

Austria: Marko Arnautovic, Zlatko Junuzovic
Wales: Chris Gunter, Joe Ledley, Neil Taylor
Spain: David Silva, Koke, Nolito
Italy: Antonio Candreva, Giacomo Bonaventura
Turkey: Sener Ozbayrakli, Emre Mor
Ukraine: Yevhen Konoplyanka, Oleksandr Zinchenko
Croatia: Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic, Domagoj Vida
Kosovo: Leart Paqarada

PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

GOALKEEPER

Lovre Kalinic, CRO at KOS: Kosovo must surely be ecstatic after taking a point from Finland in their first ever World Cup qualification match, but FIFA's new boys have a much more difficult task ahead of them. This is a slate where I will be avoiding the big-name goalkeepers because their combination of low price and game log appeal will drive ownership up, but the best play of the day is surely at the top of the board. Kalinic comes with a high price and poor result in their last match, but keen observers will see that he played well and fell victim to a deflection in the waning moments of the first half. This match features a 2.5 total, but those goals should all fall on the Croatian side here.

Volkan Babacan, TUR vs. UKR: Another way to pivot off of the big names is to look at the Turkish side. They were a bit lucky to hang on and receive a point in Zagreb, but the Ukraine attack has looked much better on paper than it actually has on the field since their poor result in the 2016 Euros. Goals are very hard to come by and teams are getting much better at shutting down Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko. Without them driving the attack, Babacan shouldn't be troubled too much at all.

DEFENDER

David Alaba, AUT vs. WAL: Unfortunately, the pricing on DraftKings for this round is absolutely spot on. Alaba is far and away the best defensive selection you can make, and his price reflects that. A full $600 more expensive than the next highest, it will take some creativity with your attack to fit him in, but if you want to spend up at this position there is a lot of what I would call 'fool's gold' sitting underneath him, which means you should spend all the way up. Players like Sergi Roberto, Dani Carvajal and Mattia de Sciglio all have inflated game logs (and therefore, prices) due to their work in league play. Sime Vrsaljko at $4,800 on DraftKings is probably the next best option near the top of the board.

Sener Ozbayrakli, TUR vs. UKR: Ozbayrakli gets a very envious position on the right side, where he is expected to continue to push forward and play into a shallow midfield role. This is excellent for fantasy production, as he should be taking a majority of corners (though Turkey were only awarded one in the previous game) and setting up most of the crosses. This is a role he employs with Fenerbahce and is trusted heavily with the ball in the attack.

Leart Paqarada, KOS vs. CRO: Even though the clean sheet is probably out of the question for Kosovo, they are a team with nothing to lose and looking like they're having fun in the process. They played some very entertaining, risky football in their opener and now get a home match to keep the party going. It's going to be tough sledding against the Croat defense, but at this price point it is hard to ignore the floor that Paqarada brings with his crosses and corners. Kosovo actually pressed the issue in Finland and earned a fair amount of corners as well, so look for more of the same.

MIDFIELDER

Antonio Candreva, ITA vs. ESP: It is very much a love/hate relationship that I have with Candreva; his minutes as a member of Inter are spotty, at best, and that continues into his national team duties where he is often the first player subbed off. However, in the time he is on the field, his selfishness with the ball leads to a lot of fantasy goodness. I'm sorry Inter fans, I know you hate him, but when a guy is willing to shoot from anywhere on the field and take 15-20 crosses per match it almost doesn't matter that none of them are accurate because the fantasy points do not discriminate. Maybe he won't get back to the form he showed in the 2016 Euros but that's okay, he is the perfect combination of wild on the field but productive on the fantasy scoresheet. Also, he got the nod on Italy's penalty kick against Israel, so that is something to watch.

Ivan Rakitic, CRO at KOS: Highest total of the slate. Biggest favorite. Load up on Croatia here. You could certainly make a case for either Ivan here (Rakitic or Perisic), but given the $400 saving and slightly higher floor, I am opting to go with Rakitic in cash games. In my tournament lineups, I am sure I will run a Croatia "stack" with both players, but for now let's focus on that floor. Rakitic is such a creative distributor of the ball that he is indispensable in these situations, and by having a lot of possession he tends to draw a lot. He is also not afraid to shoot, and in a match where Croatia should have most of the possession anyways, all roads to the Kosovo net will lead through him.

Joe Allen, WAL at AUT: I'll just sit here while you look up 'recency bias' on the Internet. I'm guilty but so what, recency bias is not a terrible thing, especially to those that watched Allen knock in a juicy David de Gea rebound against Manchester United on Sunday. That's two goals in his last two games heading into the international break, though I really like Allen as a pivot off the more-than-twice-as-expensive Gareth Bale. This game is going to be dominated by the defense, and in a spot where it is so hard to predict the goalscorer I am always happy to go with the cheapest guy who has a shot. I like where he usually lines up behind Bale and Sam Vokes, and if he is medically good to go for this match I will have interest. Do pay attention to news though as he has been playing through a hamstring injury and that may keep him out of the lineup.

FORWARD

Diego Costa, ESP at ITA: Costa is interesting to me because when dealing with forwards that are strictly forward-eligible I always talk about removing goals from the equation and looking at floors when they aren't scoring. In Costa's case, it's so rare that he doesn't score that you almost have to take his goals into consideration when predicting his floor. Costa scored in five of Chelsea's seven games this season, and while I am discounting everything Spain did against Liechtenstein, Costa does tend to draw a ton of fouls, which adds a little bit of value if he doesn't score. This should be a tight match between the group's top two teams, so Costa is more of a tournament option for me.

Ivan Perisic, CRO at KOS: From the time it took me to move from the midfielders to the forwards I've convinced myself that 'Team Ivan' could be a great strategy this slate. This is the highest total on the board and again, I think Croatia will own all of these goals so it's not a matter of Rakitic taking goals away from Perisic or vice versa, as they will both have plenty of opportunities. This has the eerie feeling of an MLB lineup, but there is a legitimate possibility that Rakitic could score and also assist on a Perisic goal given the way Croatia structure their attack. Perisic is M/F dual eligible too, which is a nice bonus.

Michael Gregoritsch, AUT vs. WAL: On a small slate like this there is just no value to be had at the forward slot, so while $6,600 is a lot to recommend for a player with questionable minutes, it's a pretty decent roll of the dice. It looks like Marc Janko will be unavailable for this game and Gregoritsch was the player that came on to replace him in Austria's first match. Gregoritsch has been mainly used as a second-half substitute for Hamburger SV, getting roughly 15-20 minutes per match, but he is a spark plug when he does play, and given his price should be a must play if he is in the starting lineup.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Henne
Chris is a former soccer player turned soccer handicapper and daily fantasy sports player. He's currently pursuing a PhD.
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