In the second of our McDonald's FIFA World Cup Fantasy previews for the two upcoming matchdays, FIFA.com focuses on midfield and forward selections.
The majority of top scoring midfielders are available for Matchdays' 14 and 15. The top ten overall midfielder rankings remain dominated by CONCACAF players, of which the most impressive have been Celso Borges (Costa Rica), USA's Clint Dempsey and Amado Guevara (Honduras). Borges is, however, injured and will not participate in Costa Rica's two upcoming matchdays. Dempsey and Guevara were set to clash in a crucial Matchday 14 qualifier, but the USA forward will not feature in 14 due to a shoulder sprain. Dempsey could yet make Matchday 15 though, so be sure to keep an eye on the FIFA.com news centre.
European midfielders are currently best represented by England's Frank Lampard, Russia's Konstantin Zyrianov and German duo Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Ballack. Germany face Russia in a critical qualifier on Matchday 14, while already-qualified England have academic encounters with Ukraine and Belarus.
African midfielders burst into the points in Matchday 13. With two matches left and only one place up for grabs per group in African qualification, there's no doubt that we will see some strong performances from the CAF region. Among those to watch on the mother continent are Ahmed Hassan (Egypt), Jean Makoun (Cameroon) and Yaya Toure (Cote d'Ivoire).
The current striker dream team of Wayne Rooney, David Villa and Carlos Costly is sure to face some heavy contention in the days to come. England and Spain have already qualified, making fantasy managers unsure as to how much impact their strike forces will have. David Villa, it seems, will miss out on the last two qualifiers after tearing his right thigh muscle. Meanwhile, Honduran Costly will fight to retain his dream team place as he attempts to lead Honduras through their crucial upcoming qualifiers against USA and El Salvador.
Strikers on fire
Matchday 13's best strikers included the likes of Milan Baros, Brazilian Nilmar and Israel's Elyaniv Barda. Baros scored four goals against San Marino, while Nilmar and Barda enjoyed hat tricks in their respective fixtures.
For many teams, qualification for South Africa 2010 will be decided by the close of Matchday 15. Here are just some of the many questions managers must ask themselves before choosing their offense for 14 and 15: Can Baros turn things around for Czech Republic? Should I back Russian or German forwards? Will Portugal's stars pull something out of the bag? Who will clinch Africa's Groups A, B and C? Who will get the chop in CONCACAF? With two spots already filled, who will the lucky three be in South America?
Crucial matches: Russia-Germany, Slovakia-Slovenia, Uruguay-Argentina, Ukraine-England, Honduras-USA, Ecuador-Uruguay, USA-Costa Rica, Denmark-Sweden, France-Austria, Greece-Latvia, Cameroon-Togo, Zambia-Egypt.
LAST UPDATE: Thursday 08 January 2015