Each World Cup team's key player based on Sky Sports Fantasy Six-a-Side stats
By By Cameron Hogwood and Amee Ruszkai
Last Updated: 14/06/18 9:25am
We run through each nation's most important player at the World Cup based on the Opta stats used to power Sky Sports Fantasy Six-a-Side.
Fantasy Six-a-Side returns for Friday night's clash between Spain and Portugal and the game's database provides us with an insight into which players have been making the biggest contribution to their sides.
The results are based on international data running back to the start of the 2017/18 season, here is each side's key man...
Russia - Igor Akinfeev
Captain Igor Akinfeev's recent form for his country defies his error-prone reputation, with three clean sheets kept and 24 saves made in his last five outings.
Saudi Arabia - Yasser Al-Shahrani
Defender Yasser Al-Shahrani made an abundance of tackles, interceptions and clearances in recent narrow losses against Italy and Germany and is the organiser of a Saudi Arabia side.
Egypt - Tarek Hamed
Mohamed Salah is the man of the moment but, with Egypt scoring just twice in their last five fixtures, midfielder Tarek Hamed provides a consistent source of points in midfield through tackles, interceptions, clearances and passes made.
Uruguay - Jose Gimenez
Heading to his second World Cup finals at just 23-years-old, Jose Gimenez helped Uruguay keep eight clean sheets in qualifying, while also making 60 passes per game.
Portugal - Joao Mario
With Cristiano Ronaldo failing to score in Portugal's last four, Joao Mario - who spent last season on loan at West Ham - has been their most creative player, setting up 17 chances to tot up a ton of Fantasy Six-a-Side points.
Spain - Sergio Ramos
In Spain's final five qualifiers, Sergio Ramos scored three goals, kept two clean sheets and averaged 64 passes per game. The perfect Fantasy Six-a-Side player? Discipline aside, maybe so.
Morocco - Mbark Boussoufa
Veteran midfielder Mbark Boussoufa makes things tick for Morocco, averaging 70 passes per game in qualifying, many of which were teasing crosses or defence-splitting through balls.
Iran - Alireza Beiranvand
Goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand will be a busy man in Group B, but he made four impressive saves last time out against Turkey and has unfinished business at the World Cup after being left out of Carlos Queiroz's final squad four years ago.
France - Samuel Umtiti
The focus will be on France's attacking talents this summer, but in qualifying Samuel Umtiti starred, winning 2.5 aerial duels per game, making 3.3 clearances but also completing 57 passes per game.
Australia - Aziz Behich
Left-back Aziz Behich has all the makings of a great Fantasy Six-a-Side selection - creating plenty of chances, winning plenty of tackles and completing plenty of passes, while also getting those big clean-sheet bonuses.
Peru - Christian Ramos
Centre-back Christian Ramos is one big reason why Peru have not been defeated since November 2016 and arrive in Russia on the back of three successive clean sheets - averaging more than one aerial duel won and interception made per game, on top of four clearances.
Denmark - Christian Eriksen
Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski scored more goals in qualifying than Christian Eriksen, whose hat-trick against the Republic of Ireland secured Denmark's place in Russia.
Argentina - Nicolas Otamendi
Lionel Messi holds the headlines, but Nicolas Otamendi heads to the World Cup as their defensive linchpin, averaging 3.2 interceptions and 2.6 aerial duels won per game in Argentina's last five outings, helping them keep three clean sheets, while also averaging over 75 passes.
Iceland - Johann Berg Gudmundsson
Johann Berg Gudmundsson has stepped up in Gylfi Sigurdsson's absence to be key for Iceland, scoring twice and creating 14 chances in his last five games to follow a superb season for Burnley.
Croatia - Luka Modric
One of the best midfielders in the world, Luka Modric makes things tick in the middle of the park with his passes completed, chances created, tackles won, interceptions made and fouls drawn all rewarded handsomely in Fantasy Six-a-Side.
Nigeria - Alex Iwobi
Arsenal's Alex Iwobi may struggle to make a big impact in the Premier League but has scored three goals in his last three international matches, while also averaging more than a tackle and an interception per game.
Brazil - Marcelo
Real Madrid's flying left-back defies Neymar's talismanic role for Brazil by leading his nation with a team-high Fantasy Six-a-Side points haul. Besides boosting his tally with a goal in a March 2017 qualifier against Paraguay, he also enters the World Cup level with Neymar on eight chances created.
Switzerland - Fabian Schar
Centre-back Fabian Schar's prominent role in the Swiss side has benefited hugely from a favourable World Cup build-up in helping him register five clean sheets. A shortage of goals from key attacking contributors in Xherdan Shaqiri and Haris Seferovic has consequently paved the way for Schar's additional 16 interceptions, 37 clearances and 331 successful to propel him as the top points scorer.
Costa Rica - Celso Borges
Joel Campbell's injury woes last season opened the door for Celso Borges to lead his side. The 30-year-old was part of the side that toppled England, Italy and Uruguay in their group at the 2014 World Cup and will travel to Russia as arguably his team's most industrious technician on the back of his five chances created and 182 successful passes.
Serbia - Aleksandar Mitrovic
A hat-trick in a recent 5-1 friendly win over Bolivia extended Aleksander Mitrovic's fine scoring form by bringing up his eighth goal in 10 games for Serbia. A lacklustre contribution of five goals prior to 2017, having made his debut in 2013, reflects his surge in productivity heading to Russia.
Germany - Joshua Kimmich
Joshua Kimmich's attacking prowess from right-back has been the root of his Fantasy Six-a-Side dominance with the Germany squad. His 12 chances created are complemented by 12 tackles, while his five clean sheets typify his versatility in Joachim Low's setup.
Mexico - Hugo Ayala
The tendency for Mexico to sacrifice their defensive shape in favour of their high-intensity attacking football leaves centre-back Hugo Ayala as a potentially defining figure to their World Cup journey. A goal and three clean sheets equate to a healthy tally alone, with 313 completed passes supplementing his productivity.
Sweden - Andreas Granqvist
The towering presence of Swedish captain Andreas Granqvist has been the foundation to his nation's six clean sheets in seven games since October 2017. Two goals and 49 clearances have hoisted his value at both ends of the field against physically and mentally demanding opponents in Germany, Mexico and South Korea.
South Korea - Heung-Min Son
Three goals, 14 chances created and six shots on target have asserted Tottenham's Heung-Min Son as South Korea's undisputed jewel this summer. South Korea's primary attacking outlet is unlikely to be burdened with the defensive responsibilities he is perhaps used to in Spurs' system.
Belgium - Jan Vertonghen
Belgium's star-studded attacking cohort often makes for a comfortable day at the back for the likes of Jan Vertonghen. Not even Romelu Lukaku's nine goals or Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard's respective 20 and 18 chances created can catapult them above Vertonghen's points tally over the last nine months. The Spurs defender's six clean sheets are glittered with a goal, 16 interceptions and 20 clearances to evidence his reliability behind Belgium's headline performers.
Panama - Fidel Escobar
The enigmatic Panama squad entails few standout commodities on the back of their shock World Cup qualification. As far as the statistics are concerned, Fidel Escobar has been Panama's most active contributor over an uninspiring run of recent results with 20 clearances and 10 interceptions.
Tunisia - Anice Badri
Auditions are open for a new star figure in Tunisia after Youssef Msakni was ruled out of the World Cup with a knee ligament injury. With two goals in his last three in his side's Russia warmup, Anice Badri has emerged as a new attacking option for his Group G rivals to contend with.
England - John Stones
Behind Harry Kane's five goals and Marcus Rashford's 16 chances created, defender John Stones has racked up England's highest individual Fantasy Six-a-Side points tally heading into the World Cup. His 506 successful passes fulfil Gareth Southgate's desire to distribute from the back, while five clean sheets help show the team's defensive improvement. Kane's potency in the final third will count for nothing if Stones and co are unable to maintain such stability.
Poland - Robert Lewandowski
Look no further than Robert Lewandowski for the man carrying the hopes of Poland on his shoulders. Seven goals and five chances created over the season make him his country's leading Fantasy Six-a-Side scorer by more than 100 points.
Senegal - Keita Balde Diao
Though Sadio Mane prevails as Senegal's prized asset, the onus will be on the Liverpool man to step up as his side's playmaker. With that in mind, an avenue could be carved open for Keita Balde Diao to build on his eight-goal debut season with Monaco as a supplier in the final third in Russia.
Colombia - James Rodriguez
The 2018 World Cup marks the four-year anniversary of James Rodriguez's burst onto the scene during Colombia's sterling 2014 World Cup effort. Six goals and four assists en route to the finals have outlined his role as the nation's focal point. The playmaker will this time be granted a welcome boost in the form of Radamel Falcao, who was absent in Brazil in 2014 due to injury.
Japan - Tomoaki Makino
Two goals and three clean sheets, combined with 236 completed passes, see Tomoaki Makino occupy pole position as Japan's top Fantasy Six-a-Side scorer. That being said, former Manchester United man Shinji Kagawa looms as a less-coveted creator having missed games for his country across the season due to various injuries. The Borussia Dortmund star scored and provided two assists as Japan beat Paraguay 4-2 in a recent warm-up friendly.
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