Russia 2018: Group F Guide

Teams:

  • Germany
  • Mexico
  • South Korea
  • Sweden

Favourites to win group: Germany at 4/9 with Black Type
Crucial Fixture: Mexico v Sweden in Yekaterinburg, June 27th

Summary

The make up of this section looks very similar to that of Group E: Here we have a clear favourite to win it in Germany at that 4/9 price with Black Type and few would attempt to argue with that pricing.

The Germans are reigning champions, are joint favourites with some bookies to retain their trophy and while even they have endured World Cup upsets in the past, they should breeze through into the Round of 16.

It’s relatively tight behind the leaders although Mexico are clear in second place at best odds of 13/5 with both Unibet and 888Sport to win the section while Sweden follow at a top price of 41/5 with MarathonBet. Bringing up the rear are South Korea who reached the semi finals in 2002 but are given little hope this time around as they are listed at a best of 25/1 with Unibet and 888Sport once again.

Crucial Fixtures

If you agree with the assessments made by the bookmakers, the key game in this group comes on the final day when Mexico battle with Sweden in Yekaterinburg. The South Koreans could be underrated here and they may well pose a threat but with Germany expected to progress with maximum points, the battle is on for one team to join them in the knockout phase.

The Mexicans are favourites for the win at best odds of 8/5 with MarathonBet while victory for Sweden is fairly close behind at 21/10 with BetFred. The draw is available at a top price of 23/10 with MarathonBet but a share of the points won’t be enough for at least one of these sides.

South Korea versus Sweden may also be one to watch: As you’ll see as we assess the squads, there isn’t too much firepower in this Swedish squad so we should also look at the opening game between these two in Nizhny Novgorod on June 18. If Sweden fail to take maximum points from that match, they may have already been eliminated by the time they face Mexico.

Key Players

Germany’s Thomas Muller

Much of this German squad will be familiar to those who followed their progress at Brazil 2014 but there are some interesting new faces within the group. The player that has made a real breakthrough in the last four years is Timo Werner, who plays his football with RB Leipzig but may well be moving on to bigger and better things if he has a positive tournament.

Werner has been prolific at club level and has eight goals in his first 14 internationals so is clearly a man for opposing defences to keep an eye on. An attacking threat will also come from the more familiar figure of Thomas Muller while right at the back, keeper Manuel Neuer will be aiming to win the second Golden Glove award in succession.

Mexico arrive at Russia 2018 with another young talent who is widely tipped for a big-money move once the World Cup comes to its conclusion. Hirving Lozano is a 22 year old winger who has just enjoyed a stunning season in the Dutch Eredivisie with PSV. Lozano scored 17 goals in 29 league matches from the flanks and he is joined in the squad by the country’s all-time leading scorer Javier Hernandez.

There is no lack of potency in this Mexican unit but the same can’t be said about Sweden. There are four players listed as forwards in this squad but they have scored just 34 goals between them in 156 combined games.

Pressure will be on the likes of Ola Toivonen and John Guidetti, depending on who gets the nod in the final starting XI. There is more experience in midfield and in defence but between the posts, the three keepers named have just 31 caps between them and this Swedish side do look vulnerable in key areas.

For the South Koreans, fans of Premier League football will be very familiar with Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min who has enjoyed a productive period in England and has a decent record at international level with 21 goals in 67 games.

Captain and most experienced player Ki Sung-yueng is also employed in English football with Swansea City while the majority of this squad either plays in Japan or in their native country. It’s a competent squad but with one or two exceptions it lacks star quality and that’s why the bookmakers aren’t rating their chances.

Verdict

There’s always scope for a shock but very few punters would even consider betting against Germany to win group F at Russia 2018. They are the reigning World Champions, were completely dominant in qualifying and with some exceptional young talent, most notably Timo Werner, coming through, they are even better than they were four years ago.

If we accept that then the value lies in the remaining matches and, having looked at that Sweden squad, we think they are going to struggle and are unlikely to make it out of this section. There just isn’t enough quality in the 23-man unit and we could even look at South Korea to beat the Swedes when they meet in the opener.

As it is, we will simply get behind Mexico to do well and to progress to the Round of 16 behind the Germans. There is some flair and experience in the Mexican squad and we are looking forward to seeing Hirving Lozano who could enjoy a breakthrough on the world stage in the same way that Colombia’s James Rodriguez did four years ago.

Mexico to qualify is the main tip and the South Americans should also be too good for Sweden when the teams meet in the crucial game in this section.

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