Against The Crowd

How a differential line-up came close to claiming the top World Cup fantasy football prize

As the dust settles on a fantastic World Cup, we reflect on a strategy that nearly paid off handsomely in McDonald’s FIFA World Cup Fantasy game.

The Fantasy Football Portal stable was represented by Wanderers and it is fair to say that they had a really good go at taking home the star prize package, which included a brand new Kia Sportage.

Going into the final round, which included the the 3rd place play-off game and the final, Wanderers had an 11 point deficit to make up on the leader, sitting 9th in the overall rankings.


A place in the top 5 looked well within their grasp but the top-heavy prize structure meant that there was a huge difference between finishing in the top 2 and the minor places.

However, since the France vs Croatia line-ups were very predictable, the opportunity to effectively know the line-ups for all 4 sides before the game round deadline closed, meant that a differential or two would probably not be sufficient to close the gap at the top.

A differential captaincy punt was an option but ditching France coverage altogether had to be the preferred choice of action.

This meant that it was possible to load up on players from the play-off game while also targeting Croatian ‘clean sheet’ prospects.

None of the other leaders would surely go with such a policy so the Wanderers said au revoir to Hugo Lloris, Benjamin Pavard, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann.

The reward was a green arrow, moving into the top 4, even though the deficit to first place increased to 15 points.


There was good news though.

As expected, none of the other leading managers were brave enough to abandon French players, so if Croatia could keep them out, there was a chance that Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida and Danijel Subašić could secure enough points to overturn the deficit, especially with the armband on the latter.

Croatia would need to win to nil and if they did, the Wanderers would be right in the mix due to the fact that none of the French outfield players would be scoring more than 2 points.

Vida did his bit, chipping in with what might have been a decisive assist but the Croatian goal was sandwiched in between an own goal and that controversial VAR decision for the penalty.

If Croatia had managed to go in 1-0 up at half time, the Wanderers would almost have had one hand on those car keys and the Baltic side certainly deserved to be ahead on the balance of play.

Of course, it wasn’t to be but a final ranking of 22 was a commendable effort and we would certainly recommend this type of strategy if the situation dictated in the future.

Selecting differentials doesn’t have to be limited to individual players so if you find yourself chasing down a lead in any future contest why not contemplate a contrarian team approach? Perhaps it’s something for Fantasy Premier League managers to consider as the new season draws ever closer?

After all, going against the crowd has proven itself as a successful strategy in many betting circles!