Bundesliga Fantasy Manager: Full-backs or centre-backs?

With the Official Fantasy Bundesliga season really hitting top gear after the international break, Matt ‘The Expert’ Howarth has carefully examined the balance sheets at the back to reveal whether you should plump for full-backs or centre-backs in your defensive line-up.

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I had a big decision to make at around 17:00 CEST on Sunday afternoon. Should I name Fabian Schär as captain ahead of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s trip to 1. FSV Mainz 05, or should I go with Pablo De Blasis? I opted for the former.

What happened next? Well, Schär was taken off after 35 minutes having conceded three first-half goals, while De Blasis scored two and set up another in Sunday’s thrilling 4-4 draw. The pair got me nine points overall (Schär got -4 as captain!). If I’d named the diminutive De Blasis as skipper, I’d be 16 points better off! Even The Expert is human, folks…

Thankfully you don’t have to listen to my advice on choosing your captain – James is your man for that! I’m here to talk about numbers. On Sunday evening I was contemplating which new defenders to bring into my team (sorry, Fabian!) and began to wonder whether I would be better off with a defence made up predominantly of full-backs or central defenders. So I did a little digging…

At first glance, it would appear that the Bundesliga’s full-backs have made the better start to the campaign. Five of the six highest-scoring defenders in the game played at either right- or left-back on Matchdays 1 and 2: Philipp Lahm leads the way on 25 points, followed closely by Marvin Plattenhardt and Ricardo Rodriguez on 21 points each. Frederik Sörensen and Konstantinos Stafylidis, meanwhile, join FC Bayern München stalwart Mats Hummels on 20 points.

Centre-backs begin to outnumber their fellow defenders the further down the list you go, however. Of the remaining 14 players among the top 20 highest-scoring defenders, ten play in the centre: John Anthony Brooks (18), Sebastian Langkamp, Fabian Lustenberger (both 15), Jeffrey Bruma (19), Robin Knoche and Mergim Mavraj (both 17), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (13), Marc Bartra, Jonathan Tah (both 12) and Willy Orban (9). Full-backs Jonas Hector (17), Peter Pekarik (15), Mitchell Weiser (14), David Alaba (11) and Marcel Schmelzer (10) complete the top 20.

Get to the point, Howarth, I hear you cry! Well, Lahm, Rodriguez and Stafylidis are where they are thanks largely to their goalscoring exploits on Matchdays 1 and 2. Indeed, they are also the only players among the top 20 highest-scoring defenders to have found the net this season. Had they not made the score sheet, though, there would be little to choose between the two positions. In fact, if you delve a little deeper into the numbers, it would appear the central defenders have a slight edge over the wide men.

On average, the centre-backs have earned 7.4 points from successful duels, while the full-backs have averaged just 6.3 – a significant difference, even at this early stage of the campaign. Assuming the centre-backs find their shooting boots sooner rather than later – and there are plenty in the Bundesliga with a keen eye for goal, particularly from set-pieces – their better record in the challenges department may eventually tilt the scales in their favour.

On that basis, I will make sure I have at least three centre-backs – preferably ones with decent goalscoring records – in my starting XI on Matchday 3. But, after Sunday’s faux pas, please heed my advice with a pinch of salt!

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.

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