George Pitts and Jake Pearson preview Saturday's World Cup action across groups F and G.
Saturday's recommended bets
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, our transparent tipping record
- Belgium 3-1 Tunisia
- South Korea 0-2 Mexico
- Germany 4-0 Sweden
Belgium v Tunisia (Group G, 1300 BST, BBC One)
Belgium will be hoping to book their place in the knockout stages and bolster their chances of finishing top of Group G when they face Tunisia in Moscow.
They hardly broke sweat as they beat World Cup debutants Panama 3-0 in their opener, scoring all their goals in just over 30 second-half minutes.
Eden Hazard admits he gave Romelu Lukaku a frank talking to at half time after 'hiding' in the first 45 and the Manchester United striker went on to net a double to get off the mark in the tournament.
The 25-year-old has a great chance to add to his tally again on Saturday and, at 5/1, he is a great price to net another brace. He can expect tough treatment though, as Harry Kane endured in England's win over Tunisia but he should be well supplied with the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and attacking-minded full-back Thomas Meunier behind him.
Lukaku, around 9/1 general price for the Golden Boot, has scored a brace in his last two Belgium appearances and, going on Tunisia's defending first time out, this is a great opportunity for him to add a couple again.
Tunisia were fortunate not to give a penalty away v the Three Lions after questionable marking from set pieces, so referee Jair Marrufo could be on alert and a best price of 9/2 for Belgium to score a penalty is tempting as an alternative option.
Score prediction: Belgium 3-1 Tunisia (Sky Bet odds: 12/1) (George Pitts)
Best bet: Romelu Lukaku to score a brace v Tunisia
- This will be the fourth meeting between Belgium and Tunisia, with both nations winning one game and sharing one draw.
- The most recent meeting between Belgium and Tunisia was a friendly in 2014, with Dries Mertens scoring a late winner for Belgium in a 1-0 win in Brussels.
- Belgium are unbeaten in their last 10 World Cup group games, winning the last five in a row (W5 D5 L0).
- Each of Belgium’s last 11 World Cup goals have come after half-time.
- Tunisia have scored with their only shot on target so far at this World Cup.
- Only Jan Ceulemans (6) has scored more goals in major tournaments for Belgium (World Cup and European Championships) than Romelu Lukaku (5, level with Marc Wilmots).
South Korea v Mexico (Group F, 1600 BST, ITV)
Mexico caused undoubtedly the upset of the tournament so far beating reigning champions Germany 1-0 in their World Cup opener on Sunday.
South Korea, on the other hand, played in a much dourer affair with them losing 1-0 to a Sweden penalty in what was perhaps the least entertaining game of the World Cup up to this point.
A major theme of the tournament so far has been the ever controversial VAR and the vast amount of penalties awarded. At the time of writing, there have been 10 penalties awarded in just 17 matches and, while 13/8 for a penalty awarded in the match looks a little short, Mexico to score a penalty at 5/1 is much more appealing.
Mexico pressed the German players impressively in their opening game and executed manager Juan Carlos Osorio’s tactics perfectly. South Korea will need to be much sharper on the ball than they were on Monday or this could turn into a comfortable victory that would see an electric Mexico team progress from Group F with a game to spare.
South Korea’s chances of scoring revolve around Son Heung-Min. The Tottenham man (19/5 anytime) was forced to play very deep against Sweden and with Mexico expected to have the lion’s share of possession, it looks unlikely that the Son will be able to influence proceedings enough to provide South Korea with any goal threat.
Score prediction: South Korea 0-2 Mexico (Sky Bet odds: 6/1) (Jake Pearson)
Best bet: Mexico to score a penalty at 5/1
- The only previous World Cup meeting between South Korea and Mexico was in 1998, with the Central Americans running out 3-1 winners in the group stages.
- Mexico have lost just two of their last 18 World Cup group stage matches (W9 D7).
- South Korea are winless in their last seven World Cup matches (D2 L5), losing their last three in a row.
- Mexico have not won back to back matches at the World Cup since 2002, when they beat Croatia and Ecuador in their first two group matches that year.
- South Korea have failed to keep a clean sheet in 12 of their last 13 World Cup matches, conceding in each of the last seven games in a row.
- Rafael Marquez appeared in the opening match for Mexico, making him the third player to play in five separate World Cup tournaments (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018) after Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal and Germany’s Lothar Matthäus.
- Rafael Marquez was aged 39 years and 124 days in his substitute appearance against Germany – he was the oldest outfield player to appear in a World Cup match since Roger Milla (42 years, 38 days) played for Cameroon versus Russia in 1994.
Germany v Sweden (Group G, 1900 BST, ITV)
Germany’s shock defeat to Mexico and Sweden’s narrow 1-0 victory over South Korea in the first round of matches means that the current world champions face an early exit should they lose to the Scandinavians.
However, despite a laboured performance against an inspired Mexico team, underestimate Germany at your own peril.
This could be a bad time for Sweden to meet Germany and while it is difficult to justify backing the four-time champions in a straight win at 4/9, considering they averaged 4.3 goals per game during their qualifying campaign, Germany to win both halves at a top price of 3/1 looks undeniable value.
Toni Kroos was targeted by the Mexican’s high press and was not allowed to play his usual game which had a massive effect of the team’s performance. It is hard to envisage the Swedes adopting the same tactic however which means the Real Madrid metronome should be back to his best and dictating the tempo of this match.
Sweden’s main attacking threats will arguably be coming from former Wigan centre-half Andreas Granqvist and set-piece specialist Sebastian Larsson. With that in mind, 13/10 for Germany to win to nil looks difficult to argue against.
Score prediction: Germany 4-0 Sweden (Sky Bet odds: 18/1) (Jake Pearson)
Best bet: Germany to win both halves at 3/1
- Germany are unbeaten in their last 11 games against Sweden (W6 D5), with the Scandinavians’ last win coming 40 years ago in April 1978 (3-1).
- Sweden’s only previous competitive win against Germany came in the 1958 World Cup (D3 L8), with their other 11 victories against them coming in friendlies.
- Germany lost their opening match against Mexico, only the second time they’d lost their opener at a World Cup, also losing against Algeria in 1982. However, they reached the final of the competition that year.
- Sweden have faced the reigning World Cup champion at the World Cup twice before and won both times – in 1950 against Italy and 1958 against Germany.
- Germany’s Thomas Müller has scored 10 goals from just 14 shots on target at the World Cup – however, Müller was the only outfield Germany player to not register a single shot in their defeat to Mexico and he hasn’t had a shot in his last 239 minutes of World Cup football.
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Preview posted at 1125 BST (22/06/18)
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