After my Official Bundesliga Fantasy side’s slowish start to the campaign, I’m finally starting to make up ground on James and Flo at the top. If only Thomas Tuchel hadn’t rested Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Javier ‘Chicharito‘ Hernandez hadn’t slammed his penalty against the post on Matchday 3, I’d be in an even healthier position in the standings!
About Matt: Official Fantasy Bundesliga Expert Matt has always been a bit of a numbers geek. As a kid he had a giant poster of Sesame Street’s The Count above his bed, while his current ringtone is Hip To Be Square by Huey Lewis and the News. Our resident number cruncher will provide you with key facts and stats throughout the season.
Last week, I gave you some useful hints about which defenders to sign up for your own XI. This time around, I’m taking a closer look at the midfielders in the Official Fantasy Bundesliga…
Ribery leads the way
FC Bayern München winger Franck Ribery is currently the highest-scoring midfielder in the game with 45 points. Ribery’s team-mates Xabi Alonso (35) and Thiago Alcantara (34), Borussia Dortmund’s Gonzalo Castro, SC Freiburg’s Vincenzo Grifo and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Sebastian Rudy (all on 33) complete the top six.
Ribery, Alonso, Castro and Thiago have all found the net at least once this season, while each of the top half-dozen Fantasy midfielders apart from Alonso has registered at least one assist (Ribery has set up an astonishing four goals already, earning him an extra eight points).
So, is it simply a question of assembling a midfield full of goals and creative flair? Well, not quite. Most of you will be surprised to hear that the two main sources of points for Official Fantasy Bundesliga midfielders are neither goals, nor assists.
Duels, duels, duels
Apologies if I’m beginning to sound like a broken record after last week, but ‘won duels’ are a real gold mine for official Fantasy Bundesliga managers. Indeed, if you add up all the points of the top 20 highest-scoring midfielders in the game, 38 per cent of those points have come from successful challenges.
Even those in the top 20 who aren’t generally regarded as defensively-minded, such as Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Ibrahima Traore (14 out of 28) and Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s Kevin Kampl (18 out of 30) have earned a high percentage of their points by coming off best in challenges.
Clocking up the miles - and minutes
Perhaps even more surprisingly, the second highest source of points for Official Bundesliga Fantasy midfielders are - wait for it - yes, minutes played. An astonishing 34 per cent of the top 20 midfielders’ combined points tally has been earned just by being on the pitch. You may laugh at this at first, but the more you think about it, the more sense it makes.
Take the Bundesliga’s UEFA Champions League participants, for example: There aren’t many players in those squads who are guaranteed to start each week - if any. If a player is handed a prolonged run in the team and plays the full 90 minutes on each occasion, he deserves all the Fantasy points coming his way (that’s three if he completes the full 90)!
As a case in point, ’minutes played’ accounts for over a third of Baier’s (12 out of 27), BVB starlet Julian Weigl’s (10 out of 24) and Eintracht Frankfurt winger Mijat Gacinovic’s (10 out of 26) points, and almost a quarter of Ribery’s (10 out of 45 - more than his goals and assists).
So, to summarise: For a steady stream of points from midfield, keep your eyes peeled for players who are likely to win the majority of their challenges and play at least 80 minutes on a regular basis. If they can grab a few goals and assists along the way, so much the better!