November has come

There is no room for cautious football tactics on the pitch or in your fantasy team as the last two matchdays of 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers - and consequently McDonald's FIFA World Cup Fantasy - approach.

Fantasy Managers, please be advised that there are two important changes to the fantasy format for Matchday 17 only! First, team budgets for Matchday 17 will be increased from 100 to 110 units. Second, you will be allowed to select a maximum of three players from one team, as opposed to the usual two.

Best strikers
Big teams like Portugal, Russia and France may enjoy a better seeding going into the European playoffs, but, when it comes to fantasy points, it is players from Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia and Republic of Ireland that are leading the way. Greek striker Theofanis Gekas is currently the leading fantasy player (108 points) and is displaying scintillating form (six goals in his last three qualifiers). On 106 points, Edin Dzeko (Bosnia-Herzegovina) has proved the second-highest-scoring fantasy player. Slovenia's Milivoje Novakovic is third best (83 points), followed closely by Robbie Keane (Ireland) and Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine).

In the Americas, Costa Rica enjoy three representatives in the Top 20, while Uruguay have two. Leading the race for Los Ticos is Brian Ruiz (82 points) with top Uruguayan scorer Luis Suarez well behind (67 points).

Do not get too Euro-centric in your striker selection. Remember, African giants like Nigeria, Egypt, and Cameroon need outright wins to potentially qualify. Could this be the fantasy day for high-scoring heroes in CAF?

Leading midfielders
Costa Rican pair Celso Borges (103) and Walter Centeno (95 points) have been leading the midfielders' ranking for some time now. Will the Los Ticos midfielders survive their playoff with Uruguay, or is this the end of the road for the Central Americans?

Greece may have the top striker, but Ukraine have midfield dynamo Serhiy Nazarenko. The Ukrainian's form has been somewhat erratic and he has only played 170 of the past 360 match minutes, but when he does hit form, watch out. Nazarenko hit the solitary goal that helped Ukraine beat England and subsequently qualify for the playoffs. Elsewhere in the midfield top ten, Portugal trio Simao, Nani and Raul Meireles will look to terrify Bosnian-Herzegovina's defence.

The only African player in the Top Ten, Jean Makoun (Cameroon) will be looking to cement a place at South Africa 2010 with a win in Morocco. Do not forget the likes of Mohamed Aboutrika and Ahmed Hassan. The Egyptians must lead their side to a 3-0 win at home to Algeria to ensure qualification.

Useful Statistics:

  • Portugal have not conceded a goal in their last four home qualifiers.
  • Of the eight UEFA teams involved in playoffs, Bosnia-Herzegovina have scored the most goals in the group stage (25 goals).
  • Slovenia have not conceded a goal in their past four qualifiers.
  • Among the teams involved in European playoffs, Republic of Ireland are the only nation unbeaten after the ten group matches.
  • Egypt have scored three or more goals in 16 out of 38 home FIFA World Cup qualifying matches (42.1%). The Pharaohs must beat Algeria by three clear goal to qualify. Should Egypt win by two goals, the rivals will meet for one final playoff match on neutral ground.
  • Costa Rica have the second best goal scoring record in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification. (40 goals; two goals behind leaders USA)
Matchday 16: 01:00 (GMT), 14 November 2009
Matchday 17: 00:00 (GMT), 18 November 2009