Tips for building your World Cup fantasy team

DAN BILICKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:49 PM ET

Just seeing the World Cup come around after four years is fantasy enough for some people, but for others, it’s a chance to put together a team of the greatest footballers in the world and show the universe what they’re made of.

Like any fantasy game, there’s lot of skill, knowledge and dumb luck involved in even competing for the big prizes that sites like ESPN.com are offering.

Should you splurge on a superstar like Lionel Messi, or spread the wealth around? What formation will you play with? Will you buy up several strikers, or go heavy on defenders, who can rake in more points for their rare goals? Considering the players-per-team limit, who will your three Spaniards and/or Brazilians be? With a $100M salary cap, would you blow the bank for those nations, too?

All of those questions are up to you, but here’s how we at QMI Agency would build a winner:

Goalkeepers

* With points also doled out for saves, selecting a busy, but still good keeper will pull you in more points than the powerhouse keepers. Julio Cesar of Brazil and Iker Casillas of Spain are sure to go deep in the tournament, but they will face hardly any challenges behind stout defence.

* USA’s Tim Howard has shown good form, an ability to make saves and plays in a weak group. At $4M, he has great value as a backup at least.

Sleepers: Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama ($4.5M), Slovakia’s Jan Mucha (3.5) and Chile’s Claudio Bravo (3.5)

Defenders

* Defenders like England’s John Terry, Brazil’s Lucio and Spain’s Gerard Pique love to get on the end of set-piece situations and can rake in valuable points for scoring a goal or two. They’re also on teams with stout defences, capable of keeping clean sheets.

* Brazil’s Maicon and Spain’s Sergio Ramos are the best in the world at ranging forward in support and are priced that way. Germany’s Phillip Lahm will make plenty of runs too.

Sleepers: Serbia’s Branislav Ivanovic ($5M) and Nemanja Vidic (5), Denmark’s Daniel Agger (4.5), Slovakia’s Martin Skrtel (4).

Midfielders

* Cristiano Ronaldo is the most expensive midfielder, but he’ll be playing up front for Portugal. His price tag of $12M may be a bit expensive for a potential disappointment.

* If you’re choosing between England’s Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, the Chelsea man is the way to go. Lampard should have a bigger share of free kicks and showed better form during the recent EPL campaign.

*France’s Yoann Gourcuff has been tabbed by many to be a breakout star. If you think France will advance through Group A, he has good value.

* Dutch coach Bert Van Marwijk dropped a bomb on Wednesday when he stated he didn’t know who will be the starter at CAM, Wesley Sneijder or Rafael van der Vaart. It might be safer to stay away from either and go for Arjen Robben to fill your need for Oranje.

Sleepers: Mexico’s Giovani dos Santos (5.5) , South Africa’s Steven Pienaar (5.5), Australia’s Harry Kewell (5.5)

Forwards

* Up front, Messi may be a sure thing, but the rest of Argentina’s forwards are better avoided. They’re all world-class, but how much time on the pitch will they get with an erratic coach like Diego Maradona?

* Thierry Henry is one to be avoided. If you want a French forward, take his counterpart Nicolas Anelka for the same value.

* Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o will be key to their teams’ fates. They’ll be heavily counted on to produce and shouldn’t fail on their home continent.

* Fernando Torres will be healthy in time for Spain’s opener, but David Villa has better odds to win the Golden Boot.

* The best value in the game may be Chile’s Humberto Suazo at $6M. He led South American qualifying in goals and his nation has a very good chance to advance.

Sleepers: Uruguay’s Diego Forlan ($8M), Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner (7.5), Nigeria’s Ayegebeni Yakubu (7.5), USA’s Jozy Altidore (6.5), Ivory Coast’s Gervinho (6)


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