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STS/TAP Fantasy World Cup Challenge: The Silence of the Lahms Draft Recap

2014 World Cup Fantasy Challenge

Logos Courtesy of FIFA / Stoppage Time Soccer / The American Pitch

It was one month ago when this idea was brought up by our colleague Baxter Colburn. His original suggestion was that “we do a World Cup ‘Draft’ where we select a starting XI based off the squads released for the WC.’ This idea eventually morphed into “why don’t we make this like fantasy football where we hold a live draft and everybody picks different players?” The idea was brilliant, we had never heard about this being done before so we decided to give it a shot and see if we liked it.

If you want to see more about the rules and regulations of the competition please check out our Stoppage Time Soccer and The American Pitch Fantasy World Cup Challenge original post here.

For the drafting process itself, we decided that the best way to make things as far as possible is if we did not do the typical “snake” draft like you see in Fantasy Football. Basically in our draft the person who drafted first in one round would drop to last in the next round while everybody else would move up a spot. I asked to be placed in fifth for the first round because I am always up for making these things more difficult for myself.

First Round

Whenever I enter a fantasy draft of any kind, I always look to draft my roster with a balanced mentality. I don’t always go for the “sexy” position from the beginning. I draft what I feel is the person that I want to build the team around.

Everybody has a different opinion about what the most important position in soccer is; I am a little biased because I played the position for a long time but I am a firm believer in having a very solid goalkeeper and building a team around them. In my eyes there was only one man for the job. Not only is this kid a stud in goal who nearly led his club to the promised land but he was blessed with having a fairly simple group.

The first pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from Atletico Madrid.

Second Round

As the second round began I had a plan in mind now to collect top-notch midfielders and defenders in the next few rounds. I liked the depth of quality strikers overall in the field of 32 so I found it more important to work on the other positional groups first considering I would need six of each in relation to the four forwards needed to complete the roster.

Our club was slotted in the fourth position for this round after selecting last in the first round. To my surprise, my other competitors selected goalkeepers and a midfielder who I didn’t even have on my draft board leaving me now with a decision that I did not think I would have to make with the ninth overall selection. Do I stick with my game-plan or take Lionel Messi?

There are times in the NFL draft when a team sitting in the fifth or sixth spot knows that there is a player projected to go first or second-overall that they would just love to get but know the odds are unlikely due to their draft position. This was one of those for me, I knew that I was going to take Courtois with my first pick but now Lionel Messi was sitting right there for me at ninth-overall.

The decision was a very easy one and the second pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge would be Argentina forward Lionel Messi from Barcelona.

Third Round

Going into the third round now it was time to get back to my plan. We have a solid goalkeeper and a very good scoring threat so now it would be time to build up that midfield. I found myself with another debate knowing that I had two of the next five picks (13th and 17th overall), which one of my top two midfielders should I take? There was no guarantee that the one I would choose not to take at 13 would be there at 17.

Both players were on nations that were in tough groups; nations that still had questions about their squads even as we were only a week away from the tournament. In the end though, I went with the player that I trusted just a little bit more.

The third pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge would be England midfielder Steven Gerrard from Liverpool.

Fourth Round

It was again my turn to pick and this was the second easiest decision that I made up to this point in the draft experience. The player that I was debating against Gerrard just four picks ago was still available!

Sorry Philipp Lahm and possibly injured Cristiano Ronaldo, the fourth pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Holland midfielder Wesley Sneijder from Galatasaray.

Fifth Round

Our club looked pretty good so far with a goalkeeper, a forward and two midfielders but now it was time for the defenders to join our squad. The top three defenders on my draft board had already been selected but I was still very confident in the defenders available. This pick would need to be taken very carefully as we were selecting first in this round at 21st overall so our next pick would not be 30th overall.

The next two men on my draft board on the defensive side were Thiago Silva and Gerard Pique. As with the midfield, I generally rank the central players higher than the wing players in both of these position groups. It came down to the flip of a coin and the prayer that this would not be where the big run of defensive players coming off the board would happen.

The fifth pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Spain defender Gerard Pique from Barcelona.

Sixth Round

Now came the hardest part that I was the last person to get to experience. That long wait from drafting first one round to last in the next. It was multiplied by the fact that there was one guy that I wanted at that point in Thiago Silva. For some reason it was really important to me to select two of my top five ranked defenders.

Baxter’s turn came up at 24th overall and I held my breath as I saw him type DEF into the position cell but then up came a player who I had not ranked. My heart started to beat a little faster at pick 27 as well when Phil put DEF into the position cell but once again it was not my guy.

Finally after what seemed like hours, it was time and pick 30 was upon us. The sixth pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Brazil defender Thiago Silva from Paris Saint-Germain.

Seventh Round

We were right where we wanted to be now after six picks. Balanced with a goalkeeper, a forward, two defenders and two midfielders. The plan for this round was to find a second forward unless there was a midfielder or defender that we couldn’t wait four picks for.

It came to be our turn and I felt very confident heading into the pick that we would be able to snag a pretty good second forward to pair up with Lionel Messi. The decision came down to which forward of the two best remaining on the draft board would be better? I had answered my question though later I would be surprised to see the man I didn’t select still on the board.

The seventh pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was England forward Daniel Sturridge from Liverpool.

Eighth Round

The eighth round make me panic a bit as I had planned to pick up another defender at this point. That plan went out the window when I saw my next two midfield targets go off of the board with picks 36 and 37.

There were three players whom I had a really difficult time deciding which one was better when ranking the midfield. Andrea Pirlo, Mesut Ozil and Miralem Pjanic were all neck-and-neck in my opinion. When Pirlo went at 36 and Ozil went at 37, I decided not to risk losing another player that I wanted.

The eighth pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Bosnia and Herzegovina midfielder Miralem Pjanic of AS Roma.

Ninth Round

It was back to the defense after deciding to snatch up Pjanic before somebody else did. This pick was a perfect one for me as I looked to try and get as many players from the teams that I thought would go the furthest. On top of that, he is another tall center-back who will be difficult to cover on set pieces.

The ninth pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Germany defender Per Mertesacker from Arsenal.

Tenth Round

Looking back on the draft, this may be the pick that I regret in the end. I knew that a midfielder was who I wanted at this stage of the draft but I made an impulse decision to go with somebody who was not even on my draft board.

I had my doubts about some of the players (Luke Modric, Yaya Toure) and did not feel comfortable picking anybody in the German midfield due to their wide variety of options. This player was somebody that played in a key position for a team that I think will go far.

The tenth pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne from VfL Wolfsburg.

Eleventh Round

My pick for this round again fell into the “how the heck is he still available” category. This player was high on my draft board for the available forwards and when he was still available four rounds after I originally considered picking him, I took as a sign from the soccer gods.

The eleventh pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Italy forward Mario Balotelli from AC Milan.

Twelfth Round

It was at this point in the draft that I started looking for my depth players with the strategy that I may not select the best player available at that point; that I would look for players with a favorable match-up during the group stage.

I was in need of defenders now with three available slots with seven picks to go. Now seemed like a good time to pick up a defender as well with Baxter and Taylor having selected players from that position grouping right before me.

The twelfth pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was England defender Phil Jagielka from Everton.

Thirteenth Round

I felt very comfortable with the make-up of my squad so far; we were not reaching for players that did not fit. We were also maintaining the balance that I try to strive for during the draft process. I had narrowed my draft board down to eight names that I felt would fit my depth role with a favorable match-up requirement.

Originally my plan was to pick another defender in this spot but when midfielders had been taken with the three previous picks, I decided that I needed to get my guys before they were gone.

The thirteenth pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Netherlands midfielder Arjen Robben from Bayern Munich.

Fourteenth Round

The group D match-up with Costa Rica influenced most of my late-round selections including this one. The fourteen pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi from AS Roma.

Fifteenth Round

We were down to the final four rounds with none of us having selected a back-up keeper yet. Once again, I looked for a favorable match-up to decide who my selection would be.

Belgium’s second match of the group stage is their toughest as they face off against Russia. I looked around to see who would have the easiest match in week two in my opinion. Thankfully for me, there was a clear winner.

The fifteenth pick for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge was Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen from Ajax.

The Final Rounds

Three rounds to go and we needed two defenders along with a forward. At this point, we had three names on the list and they turned out to be our final three selections.

The final sections for The Silence of the Lahms in the Fantasy World Cup Challenge were England defender Gary Cahill, Ecuador defender Walter Ayovi and Mexico forward Giovani dos Santos.

Make sure to check in periodically with Stoppage Time Soccer and The American Pitch for updates on our Fantasy World Cup Challenge clubs.

Matthew Evans is a soccer writer for Stoppage Time Soccer. “Like” him on Facebook, Follow him on Twitter, or add him to your network on Google

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