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KNOCKOUT BLOWS

3 players who could rack up double-digit hauls in the round of 16

The knockout stage is where it gets tense for Dream Team World Cup managers

With teams set to be eliminated on a daily basis, gaffers will need to use their transfers wisely to ensure their XI is made up of active players for as long as possible.

Saying that, some round of 16 match-ups look potentially ripe with points and it may be worth targeting specific players in hope of building an insurmountable lead at the top of your mini-league.

With that in mind, we’ve identified three assets who could rack up double-digit hauls in the coming days…

Antoine Griezmann

How many France forwards is too many?

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How many France forwards is too many?

There’s no need for us to recommend Kylian Mbappe as the prolific 23-year-old is the most-popular player in the game.

But it may be worth doubling up on France forwards with the defending champions set to take on a passive Poland side on Sunday.

Griezmann has actually been playing as an attacking midfielder but don’t let that put you off, he’s pulled the strings for Les Bleus in their wins over Australia and Denmark.

Two 7+ match ratings, an assist and a Star Man award add up to 13 points which he essentially achieved in just two fixtures because he was one of many players benched by Didier Deschamps against Tunisia when qualification was already assured.

Everyone is expecting one-way traffic in France’s favour against a Polish side who have struggled for fluidity and that will mean plenty of attacks going through their technically-gifted No7.

Mbappe is the primary goal threat, that much is clear, but Griezmann is a Star Man candidate and will probably be the most likely assist-provider on the pitch.

Andrej Kramaric

A differential option

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A differential option

An out-of-the-box option here.

Croatia’s No9 appears in just 1.7% of teams right now but showed what he’s capable of with a brace against Canada for an 18-point haul in the second round of fixtures.

It could be argued that Group E’s dramatic conclusion played into Kramaric and co’s hands because they’ll now face Japan in the round of 16 and while Hajime Mariyasu’s side are evidently not to be underestimated, most Croats would probably have chosen them over Spain if given the choice.

Importantly, Japan are yet to keep a clean sheet in Qatar, a statistic that favours Kramaric and his attack-minded team-mates.

There should always be some level of temptation to back the striker on the end of Luka Modric’s service.

Harry Maguire

Dream Team World Cup’s best defender!

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Dream Team World Cup’s best defender!

Believe it or not, this suggestion is a logical one rather than one stemming from patriotic optimism.

England’s No6 is the outright best defender in Dream Team World Cup at the time of writing with 25 points to his name.

The centre-back once affectionately dubbed ‘slab head’ by Jamie Vardy provided an assist for Bukayo Saka against Iran, headed his way to a Star Man award in that stalemate with USA, before contributing to another clean sheet against Wales in the final group game.

Many fans are frustrated by Gareth Southgate’s risk-adverse approach but it does tend to ensure the Three Lions are relatively tight at the back.

And Maguire backers may feel particularly hopeful of a clean sheet against Senegal because the African Cup of Nations holders are without Sadio Mane in Qatar.

The Lions of Teranga have other attacking talents of course but the Euro 2020 finalists will be favourites and on current form, Maguire has to be considered a Star Man candidate – he’s a goal threat at set-pieces too.