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World Cup 2018 Group F Preview: Holders to dominate otherwise tight group

Dean Smith 2 Feb 2018
  • We're looking ahead to this summer's World Cup with our Group F preview
  • Germany should dominate this one, but who will be heading through with them?
Hector Herrera of Mexico and Timo Werner of Germany battle for the ball

World Cup 2018 Group F Preview. Four years after lifting the trophy in Brazil, Germany have the chance to retain their trophy but who is most likely to progress alongside them from an otherwise well-matched group?

Group F fixtures

17 June 2018
15:00 BST
Germany v Mexico
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

18 June 2018
12:00 BST
Sweden v South Korea
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod

Match 28
23 June 2018
15:00 BST
South Korea v Mexico
Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don

Match 27
23 June 2018
18:00 BST
Germany v Sweden
Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi

Match 43
27 June 2018
14:00 BST
South Korea  Germany
Kazan Arena, Kazan

Match 44
27 June 2018
14:00 BST
Mexico v Sweden
Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

Germany 

A quick glance at Germany's squad should be enough to tell you why they're among the favourites to lift the World Cup again in Russia this summer. Even if Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng fail to recover from injury, the likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Joshua Kimmich and Mats Hummels make up a very strong defensive base that will allow a host of quality attack-minded players to strut their stuff to full effect with an effective blend of experienced stars such as Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller helping along the likes of Leroy Sane and Timo Werner.

Some of Die Mannschaft's key players decided to retire from international football after lifting the trophy in South America four years ago, but as Joachim Low decided to take a relatively inexperienced squad to the Confederations Cup last year and still managed to emerge victorious, the strength in depth of this squad was well demonstrated. They won all 10 games in qualifying - would you back against them winning all three of their Group Stage games in Russia or even going all the way? 

Key man: Timo Werner. In a squad that's packed with world class quality throughout, it may seem strange to choose a man who has played just 10 times for his country at the time of writing as the country's key man. However, centre forward is a key position for Germany, with Thomas Muller now occupying a deeper role in his time at Bayern Munich, Mario Gomez turning 33 during the tournament and Miroslav Klose now retired. The RB Leipzig marksman has the talent to fill those boots though and has already managed seven goals in those first 10 caps.

Mexico

Mexico have been consistent if nothing in their World Cup performances in the last 20 years. After being disqualified from the 1990 tournament due to fielding overage players in youth tournaments, El Tricolor have qualified for the last seven World Cups and have managed to make it through the group stages before being knocked out in the Round of 16, so the target for Juan Carlos Osorio and his side this summer has to be the quarter finals, something this nation hasn't managed since it last hosted the tournament in 1986.

As they often do, Mexico managed to dominate in qualifying from the CONCACAF region, finishing top of the Round Five group ahead of Panama and Costa Rica, who also managed to qualifying. Less encouragingly, their tournament performances have been less impressive as they only managed to reach the semi-finals of both the Gold Cup and the Confederations Cup in 2017. The real test, as always, will be how well this side performs on the biggest stage of all.

Key man: Javier Hernandez. We may not have seen the best of Chicharito this season in his performances for Premier League outfit West Ham United, but he remains the star attraction for his national side. With 49 goals to his name in 100 appearances, the ex-Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen man boasts a prolific record at international level and the raucous Mexican fans will be pinning their hopes on the forward's ability to finish any chances that come his way.

Sweden

After failing to qualify for the last two World Cups, Sweden will be back on the biggest stage of all this summer. The Scandinavian side actually boast a fine historical record in this tournament too, having reached the final four stage on no fewer than four occasions and even reaching the final in front of their own fans back in 1958. Those fans will now feel it is about time they started to recapture some of that form this summer and put in some altogether more inspiring performances.

It's a new-look Blagult outfit since the international retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and although they perhaps lack some experience on the tournament front, plenty of these players have actually been victorious in tournament football at youth level and there does seem to be a real togetherness that helped them beat France in qualification, finish above the Netherlands and then overcome a major superpower in the shape of Italy in the play-offs. Can they pull off any more shocks come the finals?

Key man: Emil Forsberg. Many pundits have suggested that Sweden's improved performances over the last couple of years have been down in some part to the fact that they no longer have a star man who attracts most of the headlines as Zlatan Ibrahimovic once did. Their team ethic is perhaps Blagult's biggest asset, but central midfielder Emil Forsberg of RB Leipzig has the quality to dictate the tempo from the centre of the park for his team-mates.

South Korea

South Korea have become regular competitors in World Cups over the last 30 years. Having only once managed to qualify for the finals before 1986, the Asian side have actually now qualified for the last consecutive nine World Cups, even managing to reach the final four when co-hosting the tournament with Japan back in 2002. In fact, they're now arguably the most consistent side in AFC Confederation having reached the final four in the last three AFC Asian Cups too.

It's tough to say how Shin Tae-yong and the rest of the coaching staff will view this group. While Germany are expected to pile the misery on all three sides with three victories, the rest of the group seems quite open. Sweden and Mexico are two teams that will provide stern tests to the Taeguk Warriors, but tests that they'll feel capable of overcoming on their day, but it's perhaps with good reason that they're favourites to finish bottom of the group.

Key Man: Heung-min Son. Tottenham Hotspur's forward has been in fine fettle this season, forcing himself into regular starting contention despite facing competition from the likes of Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela. There are some talented players in this squad and many that will be recognisable to European football fans, but there can be no doubt that Son is the creative force who can make something from nothing, particularly on the counter attack if the side find themselves on the back foot as expected for most of their group fixtures.

Group F betting tip

This is one of the toughest groups to call in our opinion and the bookmakers make it so as well. Clearly Germany have both the quality and the experience to really dominate this group, but all three of the other sides will feel confident of having enough in the tank to progress, with all three possessing some quality players. In the end, there's likely to be little between the other three, but for us Mexico and Sweden look slightly stronger than South Korea.

Perhaps due to the stronger nature of their qualifying and warm-up fixtures, the Central American and European sides are likely to have more experience going into these high-pressure fixtures and for us, the key match of the group will be when El Tri and Blagult face off. Both sides are favourites to take three points from South Korea, meaning it could be an ultimately disappointing trip to Russia for the Taeguk Warriors as they're odds-on to finish bottom of what is a very tough group.

South Korea to finish bottom @ 5/6 with BetVictor - bet £10 and get 20 in bonus bets today!


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World Cup 2018 Group F Preview: Holders to dominate otherwise tight group

World Cup 2018 Group F Preview. Four years after lifting the trophy in Brazil, Germany have the chance to retain their trophy but who is most likely to progress alongside them from an otherwise well-matched group?

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