Your final defence
© AFP

Machday 16 on the McDonald's FIFA World Cup Fantasy includes the first legs of a number of European play-offs. Elsewhere on 14 November, African nations will make a final surge for qualification, while New Zealand and Bahrain play out the last 90 minutes of their campaign in the hope of earning a place in South Africa. In the Americas, Costa Rica and Uruguay square off.

Matchday 17 is the final day of both South Africa 2010 qualification and the Fantasy game. Managers will have to pick their teams from the last five preliminaries.

Spicing things up for the final day
Matchday 17 will include two very important changes to the Fantasy format. Firstly, the team budgets for Matchday 17 will be increased from 100 to 110 units. You will also be able to have a maximum of three players from one team, as opposed to the usual two.

Best at the back
Topping the best defenders list at the moment is Sergei Ignashevich. The Russian has played every single minute of his country's ten qualifiers and will be key to their hopes of eliminating Slovenia.

On the whole, Slovenia's defence conceded only four goals in ten matches, giving them the second-best defence in the European Zone. This statistic is indebted to Marko Suler, who was the highest-scoring defender on Matchday 15 and is currently ranked fifth in the overall positional rankings.

Meanwhile, Portugal have not conceded a goal in their last four home qualifiers, making defenders such as Pepe and Bruno Alves attractive picks. Pepe is currently the second-highest returning defender on 94 points.

With the first leg of their play-off ending in a 0-0 draw, New Zealand and Bahrain will play one last match for qualification. Back defenders from the winning team in this fixture and you could get more than your money's worth. The All Whites carry just 2.5 units each, while the backline from Bahrain cost, on average, 5.5 units apiece.

Safest hands
The Russia-Slovenia first leg will pit the top two Fantasy goalkeepers against one another. Samir Handanovic holds the upper hand (98 points) with six clean sheets in ten games, while Russian counterpart Igor Akinfeev has five (92 points). Meanwhile, Portugal's Eduardo Dos Reis Carvalho enters Matchday 16 on a run of 270 minutes without conceding a goal.

Coaches
When it comes to your coaching selection, it's a clear case of underdogs up against favourites in Europe and Africa. Back an underdog coach and if his team wins you could earn 18 points. Visit the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking to view the latest rankings.

Of the best coaching performances in qualification, underdogs dominated the top ten with Slovenia's Matjaz Kek well ahead of the pack (102 points). Miroslav Blazevic (Bosnia-Herzegovina), and Alexei Mikhailichenko (Ukraine) also deserve special mentions. They currently carry 78 points apiece in joint-third place.