In this post, we'll take a closer look at Group F and try to determine which two sides are likely to prevail.
WORLD CUP 2018 GROUP F BETTING PREVIEW
GermanyLet's start with Germany. First seeds in Group F and the world's top ranked side according to FIFA. They’re also the defending world champions, following their superb and richly-deserved triumph in Brazil back in 2014.
What’s more, Germany have retained the same manager who masterminded their 2014 triumph, with Joachim Löw now in his 12th year as the nation's head coach. They bounced back impressively from a disappointing Euro 2016 campaign and qualified for the World Cup with a perfect 10 wins out of 10 while scoring a joint European-record 43 goals. Die Mannschaft also triumphed at the Confederations Cup last year. In the most recent friendlies, back in March, Germany were beaten by Brazil 1-0 and drew 1-1 against Spain.
Star keeper Manuel Neuer has also retained the captaincy, while Europe’s leading lights Mesut Özil, Mats Hummels and Toni Kroos have been joined in the squad by up-and-coming stars such as Julian Brandt, Leroy Sané and Timo Werner. Such consistency will surely stand Die Mannschaft in good stead, as will the outstanding individual quality and strength in depth that exists within the squad.
The Germans will be pursuing a fifth World Cup triumph in Russia this summer. As the nation has secured at least a third-place finish in every tournament since France in 1998, it’s hard to look past them.
MexicoNext up are CONCACAF group winners Mexico, who qualified for Russia as North and central America and Caribbean group winners. They are also the second-highest ranked side in the group, with FIFA considering El Tricolor to be the 17th best team in the world.
The Mexicans have played a bunch of International Friendlies this year, beating Bosnia Herzegovina (1-0), Iceland (3-0) and suffering a 1-0 defeat against Croatia between February and March. They also managed to drew 0-0 against Wales towards the end of May.
Manager Juan Carlos Osorio has certainly built an impressive side - crafting a team in his own, unorthodox image. The squad also boasts a tremendous mix of youth and experience, with skipper Andrés Guardado for instance having won an incredible 142 caps for his country by the tender age of 31. At the other end of the experience spectrum is PSV's 22-year old Hirving Lozano, who is held in high regard by pundits and has so far scored 7 goals in 25 appearances. West Ham's Javier Hernández is also a player to watch, with the poacher having scored 49 times in 100 outings for the team.
This summer will see Mexico make their 16th appearance out of 21 World Cups, while the side has also reached the round of 16 on six consecutive occasions since 1994 without once going further.
SwedenSweden is the third squad in Group F, placed just one place lower than Mexico in the FIFA world rankings (18th). The Blågult failed to qualify as convincingly as the Mexicans though, finishing second on goal difference ahead of a struggling Netherlands in Qualifying Group A which was headed by France before edging out giants Italy in a tense, 1-0 play-off win.
Actually, they surprisingly qualified for the World Cup as they were dominated both at home and away by four-time champions Italy in the play-offs. They also suffered back to back defeats in the following friendlies - 1:2 against Chile and 1-0 in Romania.
Manager Janne Andersson has also maximised the resources at his disposal, while helping the nation to get over the retirement of record goal-scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Unsurprisingly, he has built a side based on defensive strength and organisation, with captain and centre-back Andreas Granqvist crucial to Sweden's style of play. Target man and prolific central striker Marcus Berg is another who will surely catch the eye in Russia, with the former U-21 star having netted 208 club career goals to date and scored 18 times for his country in 53 outings.
This will represent the Swedes 12th outing at a World Cup, and their first appearance since 2006. They'll have to perform at their best to progress to the knockout stages though while their final group stage game against Mexico on 27th June could ultimately decide their fate.
South KoreaSouth Korea finished second in the Asian Group A, runner-up to Iran, to secure their ninth consecutive appearance at a World Cup. Their goalless draw against Uzbekistan was enough to qualify after a good campaign. The Asia-Pacific qualification process is one of the most complex and competitive in the world, as 46 teams compete for just five places at the World Cup. South Korea were one of this year's successful sides, with the world's 59th ranked team completing our list of Group F entrants.
The suffered two defeats last March against Nothern Ireland (2-1) and Poland (3-2) but returned to winning ways in May with a 2-0 victory over Honduras.
Manager Shin Tae-Yong's charges will certainly start as underdogs, with skipper and star centre-back Jang Hyun-Soo set to lead from the front as Korea start their campaign against Sweden on 17th June. If the Taegeuk Warriors are to make their mark in Group F, then Spurs' forward Son Heung-Min will certainly need to be at his sparkling best when the tournament commences. The crafty and energetic player was South Korea's top scorer with seven goals in qualifying and he has also found the net 20 times in 61 appearances for his country.
Interestingly, this will be the nation's 10th appearance at World Cup finals, while it's 16 years since they achieved a truly stunning fourth place finish in Japan in 2002.
WORLD CUP 2018 GROUP F BEST ODDS
The following are the highest odds on the World Cup Group F Winner market. Click on the 'Bet' button to require the highest available odds on your selected team.
WORLD CUP 2018 GROUP F PREDICTIONSWhile Germany will not find Group F easy, we'd back them to qualify with something to spare. Beyond this, Sweden appear to have a little more quality and fire-power than their nearest rivals, making them well-placed to claim second place in the group.
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