2018 World Cup Soccer Odds and Expert Picks: Group F
In the last two decades there has been no team as good as Germany when it comes to World Cup performance. They won it all in 2014 and had two thirds and a second in the three prior tournaments. They are every bit as competent and reliable as any car the Germans would make for us, which seems fitting. And they again come into this tournament in a good place, joining Brazil as co-favorites at the time that I write this. They are well positioned to advance, and it would be a massive shock if they didn't. Heck, it would be a very large shock if they didn't win the group. But beyond that things are completely wide open to see who joins Germany in the knockout rounds from Group F. All three teams have big things going for them, and all three have flaws that could easily get in their way. It's a dogfight.
Group F at a glance
Best team: Germany is the best team in the tournament, so it only makes sense that they are the best team in the group. They can't be too disappointed in the group they wound up in, either. It's not the easiest group of the eight, but it's close.
Worst team: South Korea found a pretty smooth path into the World Cup field this year, but they are far from being a good team. Their form has faltered, and they have been exposed as a team lacking depth and confidence. It should be a short stay in Russia for the Koreans.
Best game: The first game in the group is also the best, as Germany and Mexico open things up in a game that could really set the tone. Germany is very talented, but Mexico is deep and consistent. This one could get interesting, and it's an amazing opportunity for Mexico to shake things up right out of the gate.
Predicted order of finish: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea.
Team-by-team Breakdown (odds to win Group and tournament from BetOnline.com )
Germany (+450 to win tournament, -330 to win Group F): The last team to win the World Cup twice in a row was Brazil back in 1958 and 1962. Now, 56 years later, Germany has a shot to repeat - and they are well positioned to do so. But this team isn't as good as they were last time around. They look much the same, but they are older and not quite as dominant. Don't get me wrong - they are still the best team in the tournament. It's just that the gap is much smaller than it was. Of note here is that Thomas Muller, Mr. World Cup, who led the World Cup in scoring in 2010 and was second in 2014, is back again, and despite all of his success he's still only 28. He will help the Germans advance easily, and they are fully capable of winning it all. It would just be less surprising than four years ago if they were knocked out a game or two before the final.
Mexico (+8000, +550): The Mexicans have been very consistent - they have made it into the knockout round the last six World Cups and have lost in the round of 16 all six times. And after showing some decent form - they won the Gold Cup in 2015 since the last World Cup - they are completely capable of making yet another brief playoff appearance. There are more talented teams in the tournament for sure, but there are few that are more balanced. They have solid contributors in all phases of the field and don't have to overly rely on one player or one aspect of the game. I like this team. I don't love them, but I like them enough to advance.
Sweden (+8000, +600): The distraction leading up to this tournament for Sweden has been legendary former captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He has been named the second most important athlete ever in Sweden, behind only Bjorn Borg. But he retired from international play after Euro 2016. Many assumed he would come back at some point, but he hasn't and remains determined that he won't. It's still possible that he could decide to play in his country's first World Cup since 2006, but likely not. And despite his prowess, they don't really need him. Led by Emil Forsberg, they have a young, deep and creative team. They were good enough to beat Italy in qualifying and knock them out of the tournament, so they are dangerous. But they are far from a sure thing here.
South Korea (+50,000, +1600): Enjoy Son Heung-Min. The Tottenham Hotspur wing is a world-class player who could find a spot on most teams in this tournament. But you likely won't get too many chances to see him, because this team isn't likely to stick around long. They have really struggled since the latter portion of qualifying, losing four of five friendlies and going through a coaching change. This just doesn't feel like their time.
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