FanDuel World Cup Semifinal Single-Game Helper: Croatia vs. Argentina (12/13/22)
We're at the business end of the World Cup, and the first semifinal kicks off on Tuesday at 2 p.m. EST with a match between Croatia and Argentina.
FanDuel is offering single-game contests for the matchup. In single-game contests, the scoring settings are the same as FanDuel's normal soccer offerings, but roster requirements are different. You have $50 to work with, and you need to roster four forwards/midfielders -- one in a captain slot, where the player's points are multiplied by 1.5 -- along with a defender. Goalies are not part of the player pool.
Quick Match Overview
Argentina are the favorite over Croatia, priced at -260 to advance and -120 on the moneyline. But Croatia have found a way to survive and advance time and time again at the last two World Cups, including beating Brazil on penalties in the quarterfinals last time out.
The match is just +146 to go over 2.5 goals.
Our model projects a 1.44-0.85 win for Argentina.
Lionel Messi ($16), Argentina
Here are Messi's FanDuel point totals in this World Cup: 39.0, 31.3, 36.3, 38.3 and 41.0.
He's been amazing, and he's showcased why he's such a terrifying fade in DFS as he's doing it all. He's got four goals and two assists in the tourney and has a goal or assist in all but one game. And in said one game without a goal or assist, he still scored 36.3 FanDuel points. In two knockout matches, Messi has created seven total chances, put four shots on goal, scored twice and assisted once. Whew.
Messi is a slate-best +145 to score and -160 to score or assist. He's clearly the best captain pick.
With that said, Messi will be mega chalk at captain, and this game is expected to be a low-scoring affair. If we get just one goal and it's not from Messi, he probably won't be the highest-scoring player -- emphasis on probably. If someone else paces the slate in scoring and you hit on that someone at captain, it'll give you a huge leg up on the field. I lean toward fading Messi at captain, but if Argentina go with a three-at-the-back formation again and start just one other forward, I may just swallow the Messi chalk.
Julian Alvarez ($13), Argentina
Alvarez has become Argentina's starting striker as the tourney has gone on. While he's been very quiet fantasy-wise in the knockout rounds outside of being gifted a goal by Australia's keeper, Alvarez is +260 to score and +145 to score/assist, both of which are the second-best odds among this match's expected starters. I don't mind him as a pivot off Messi.
Angel Di Maria ($11), Argentina
If Di Maria starts, which hasn't been the case in either of the past two matches, he's my favorite captain pivot off Messi. He's Argentina's next-best creator outside of Messi, and at +380 to score and +150 to score/assist, Di Maria should totally slip through the cracks at captain -- although every non-Messi player is going to be a contrarian captain.
Di Maria came on as a sub in the quarterfinals and looked sharp in limited action. I'm just not sure he'll crack the starting XI.
Andrej Kramaric ($8), Croatia
Kramaric has been starting at striker for Croatia, and he is tied with Bruno Petkovic ($7) for the team's best goal odds (+460). Petkovic came off the bench and scored the pivotal goal against Brazil, so he may start over Kramaric, who hasn't put a shot on target in three straight matches. Whoever gets the nod has to be on our radar, as is the case for any starting striker on a single-game slate.
Luka Modric ($9), Croatia
Modric has been excellent, per usual, for Croatia, and he played brilliantly against Brazil. Unfortunately, Modric's role is way more valuable in real life than it is in fantasy. With that said, he has more DFS value when he's playing with Croatia than he does when he's with Real Madrid.
The last time Croatia got a penalty in a competitive match, Modric took it, and he has taken 9 of Croatia's 10 corners in the World Cup. Modric's +250 score/assist odds are tied for a team-best mark. If Croatia are chasing the game, he will likely push forward more than usual.
Ivan Perisic ($12), Croatia
Perisic has scored exactly 30.6 FanDuel points twice in the World Cup, but he's failed to break 6.9 points in any of his other three matches. He's tied with Modric and Kramaric at +250 to score or assist. On a slate where we need $16 for Messi, Perisic might get passed over by most in favor of Kramaric and Modric, who come in at lower salaries. That makes Perisic a fun leverage play.
Alexis Mac Allister ($7), Argentina
We need to save salary somewhere, and I like Mac Allister as a way to do just that. I think there's a chance Croatia has the upper hand in midfield and has more of the ball in this match. While that would hurt Mac Allister's opportunities to push forward, it would also give him a chance to rack up defensive actions. On what could be a low-scoring slate, Mac Allister might not need to do much to be worth using at this salary, and the defensive actions could be enough.
Dejan Lovren ($10) and Josko Gvardiol ($9), Croatia
Lovren and Gvardiol have been solid at the back for Croatia, and they've been good in DFS, too, averaging 17.0 and 15.3 FanDuel points per game, respectively.
Lovren posted 15.6 FanDuel points against Brazil, all from defensive actions. Gvardiol had 14.3 FanDuel points in that one, also all from defensive work. They might not be quite that busy against Argentina, but they'll absorb some pressure and should also be a threat on setpieces against an Argentine side that struggled mightily with size when the Netherlands went that route late in their quarterfinal match.
Cristian Romero ($5), Argentina
Romero is a dart throw who saves salary. He hasn't done that much DFS-wise, failing to top 8.9 FanDuel points in any match. But he doesn't need to do too much to pay off this $5 salary, and the cap relief he offers can be very helpful.