Matchday 7: The men in the middle

A midfielder who plays over 61 minutes, keeps a clean sheet and gets on the score-sheet for the winning team is an ideal pick for a manager in the McDonald's FIFA World Cup Fantasy. That is exactly what two-goal Michael Bradley achieved to become Matchday 6's highest-scoring player, and the USA youngster will now compete against his nearest challenger in the previous round, Osael Romero of El Salvador.

Fantasy tips
Midfielders return eight points per goal, while forwards only return six. Midfielders also get three points for a clean sheet, whereas forwards get just one. These are important facts to remember when deciding on a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 combination. Whatever formation you choose, it is important to select midfielders that are in peak condition and playing for winning teams.

Hot picks
Iran's Javad Nekounam, Israeli Yossi Benayoun and Bradley lead the midfielders' chart on goals scored, having been on target three times in four appearances apiece. American and Costa Rican midfielders dominate the overall leaderboard, although all that could change given the importance of some upcoming fixtures.

Few surprises are expected in African Zone qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ on Matchay 7, which makes midfield starters in Cameroon, Egypt and Nigeria safe bets. Trickier will be deciding on players from the North, Central America and Caribbean Zone, where results appear harder to predict.

European watch list: Daniele de Rossi (Italy), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Michael Ballack (Germany), Frank Ribery (France), Nani (Portugal), Libor Sionko (Czech Republic), Xavi Hernandez (Spain), Mark van Bommel (Netherlands).

North, Central America and the Caribbean watch list: Michael Bradley (USA), DaMarcus Beasley (USA), Celso Borges (Costa Rica), Osael Romero (El Salvador), Amado Guevara (Honduras), Keon Daniel (Trinidad and Tobago), Andres Guardado (Mexico).

South American watch list: Kaka (Brazil), Josue (Brazil), Ronaldinho (Brazil), Cristian Riveros (Paraguay), Victor Caceres (Paraguay), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Juan Sebastian Veron (Argentina).

African watch list: Mohamed Aboutrika (Egypt), Ahmed Hassan (Egypt), Jean Makoun (Cameroon), Kalu Uche (Nigeria).

Asian watch list: Javad Nekounam (Iran), Mun In Guk (Korea DPR), Makoto Hasebe (Japan).

Did you know? A coach's points are doubled if they beat a team positioned higher on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, which you can see by clicking the link to the right.