2018 FIFA World Cup football – Group F preview and betting odds
- Germany and Mexico will compete for top spot in Group F.
- The two teams collide on 17 June in a rematch of the Confederations Cup final last summer.
- Joachim Lowe’s men were victorious that day, but Mexico will want revenge.
- Meanwhile, Sweden and South Korea will also fancy their chances of progressing.
Germany – The current World Cup champions are back to defend their title, and they will aim on becoming the first team since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 to win back-to-back trophies. Germany are the second most successful nation in the tournament, winning it four times. They also look well equipped to match Brazil’s tally of five if their qualification process is anything to go by. Joachim Lowe’s men were the only side with a 100% record, winning 10 games, and scoring an average of 4.3 goals per match.
In truth, Germany do look a completely different outfit to that which competed in Brazil four years ago. A lot of their influential players have retired, including captain Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, and Per Mertesacker. They still possess class, however, and anything less than a semi-final berth would be regarded as a disappointment. If goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is fit in time for the tournament, it will be a major boost for his nation.
Germany are strong favourites at 3/10 with Unibet to finish top of Group E, while they are a very short 1/16 to qualify with Betway. The champions are, quite rightly, joint favourites with Paddy Power at 9/2 to lift the World Cup.
Key Player: Timo Werner – The 22-year-old has been incredible for RB Leipzig during the past two seasons and has scored seven goals in 10 appearances for Germany. If Lowe’s men progress far in the competition, he has potential to win the Golden Boot.
Mexico – History suggests that Mexico should have a decent tournament in Russia. They’ve managed to progress from the group stage in every World Cup since 1986. Juan Carlos Osorio’s men also confidently qualified without losing a single match, and conceded just one goal.
It’s definitely a team that should be brimming with confidence, especially considering they’re one of America’s most successful sides, winning the CONCACAF an incredible 10 times. They have plenty of players who have been in major tournaments and have the experience, including the likes of Carlos Vela, Oribe Peralta, and Giovanni Dos Santos. Their lack of a true superstar may just be their downfall, however. And with a strong group to compete with, their proud record at finals could certainly be in jeopardy.
Key Player: Hirving Lozano – The PSV winger has scored seven goals for Mexico already, despite only making his debut in 2016. Now 22 years of age, Lozano is perhaps one of the most exciting prospects of the World Cup due to his creativity and skill on the ball.
Sweden – This year’s tournament in Russia will be the first time Sweden have qualified for a World Cup since 2006. During the past decade, the Scandinavian team have been guilty of playing a slow game due to ageing players. There are no accusations of that now, however.
Janne Andersson’s men have evolved into a young, hungry side with players capable of beating anyone. This was certainly demonstrable in their qualifying group in which they pipped Holland into second place on goal difference. They also beat France along the way, who eventually finished first.
The Swedes can compete with anybody on their day, and even though their lack of quality is evident, they pride themselves on organisation and desire. Sweden are 13/2 to finish top of Group F with Betway, while they are 1/1 with Paddy Power to qualify. Boylesports are offering 150/1 for them to lift the prestigious trophy.
Key Player: Emil Forsberg – The RB Leipzig player is a talented individual who will make the difference to Sweden with his creativity, skill, and set-piece ability. The 26-year-old was voted Swedish Midfielder of the Year for the last three seasons.
South Korea – If South Korea’s heroics of 2002 are to be repeated in Russia, they’ll have to perform a small miracle. They qualified for the tournament after finishing second behind Iran. Admittedly, all the other teams were of pretty poor standard, and South Korea was the best of a bad bunch with a goal difference of just +1.
Their priority has to be improving the defence with the World Cup fast approaching. Tae-Yong Shin’s men conceded 10 goals in as many matches, and the coach is yet to find any real consistency since taking over the club in 2017. Shin was promoted from the Under-20s and then the Under 23s, however, so he will definitely be familiar with his squad. South Korea have always possessed a great work ethic, but whether that is enough to get them out of the group remains to be seen.
Key Player: Son Heung-Min – The 25-year-old possess great skill, pace, and the ability to score with both feet. Son, who won 2017 Asian Player of the Year, has also scored 33 goals in 104 matches for Tottenham.