Paul Higham warns never count out the Germans as he sees the defending champions making the knockout stages in the final Group F fixtures.
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Scenario: Another complicated group where even bottom side South Korea could still go through. Mexico need only a draw against Sweden while a win would see them top the group with maximum points. Germany need to at least match Sweden's result. Draws in both games would see qualification determined by goals scored. Identical records would then see qualification decided by the better result when the teams met, which would see Germany go through courtesy of their 2-1 win.
- South Korea 1-3 Germany
- Mexico 2-1 Sweden
South Korea v Germany (1500 BST - BBC One)
That late, late Toni Kroos winner has not only brought Germany back from the brink but now leaves them in a decent position and actually the shortest-priced team to qualify from the group – even ahead of Mexico who are three points clear.
Germany’s win over Sweden may yet see them through, but goal difference could be the deciding factor before it even gets to that so the defending champions need to bang a few in against a poor Korean side to take all the guesswork out of the equation.
And the Germans should have plenty of opportunity to score given they’ve averaged about 70 percent possession in their two games and had 15 shots on target altogether in two outings.
A Germany win and over 2.5 goals is at best 4/6 and that represents how this game should go as Germany rarely need a second chance – they’re not going to let this one slip away.
I’ve got the Germans having plenty of the ball again, and since Kroos should be pulling the strings 11/2 on him being Man of the Match is of interest, while penalties are flying around this World Cup so 15/8 on there being a spot kick in this one is worth a dabble – especially as Korea have conceded one in every game so far.
Marco Reus looks in the best form for goalscorers but at 11/10 anytime and 5/4 for him to score in a Germany win there’s not too much value to be had.
While fancying a Germany win but still having doubts over their defence, Germany and both teams to score at 17/10 sounds good, but I’d be looking at the group betting of 3-0, 3-1 and 3-2 for a few added points at 3/1 – as the chorus of ‘never write off the Germans’ echoes around every TV broadcast in Russia.
Prediction: South Korea 1-3 Germany (Sky Bet odds: 10/1)
Best Bet: Germany to win 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2 at 3/1
- The most recent World Cup meeting between South Korea and Germany was at the Koreans’ home World Cup in 2002, with the hosts losing 1-0 in the semi-finals.
- Germany have won all five of their World Cup games against Asian opponents, scoring 19 goals in total and keeping clean sheets in each of their last three.
- South Korea have lost their last four World Cup matches in a row, their joint-worst run – they also lost four in a row between 1986 and 1990.
- Germany’s victory over Sweden was their first at the World Cup when conceding first since 1998, a 2-1 win over Mexico.
- Son Heung-Min attempted eight shots in South Korea’s defeat to Mexico – three more than South Korea managed in their opening match against Sweden (five shots).
- Germany have won 15 of their last 17 competitive matches (D1 L1) since losing 2-0 to France at Euro 2016.
- South Korea have conceded a penalty goal in each of their last two World Cup matches – they had conceded just one goal via a penalty in their previous 29 World Cup games combined.
- Toni Kroos’ goal against Sweden was the latest goal scored by Germany in normal time at the World Cup (94:42) – Kroos has been involved in five goals in his last five World Cup games (3 goals, 2 assists).
Mexico v Sweden (1500 BST - BBC Two)
That last minute Kroos strike may well have been a fatal blow to Sweden’s World Cup hopes, as they now need to beat group leaders Mexico more convincingly than Germany can beat Korea. Even getting the first part of that deal won’t be easy.
Sweden have been dangerous from set plays and had some decent spells in both games, but they don’t look cut out to pile the pressure on and break down a team – they’re more of a counter-attacking side but that very same method could be their undoing in this one.
Mexico are not mathematically safe but knowing they can draw gives them a level of comfort and on the break they have the tools required to pick off the Swedes, so it may just pay to take the 29/20 best price on a Mexico victory.
The 11/2 for draw/Mexico in the HT/FT market plays into my thinking that Sweden will struggle to break down the Mexicans and could well get picked off on the break later on in the game.
Paddy Power’s 21/10 on a penalty is a standout price for me for what is as short as 6/4 elsewhere and, as mentioned, the penalties are flowing like vodka in Russia.
Given that, there might still be some value in Andreas Granqvist anytime scorer at 15/2 top price as Sweden’s penalty taker and also a sizeable target at set plays – although ultimately any goal he scores will probably come in vain.
Prediction: Mexico 2-1 Sweden (Sky Bet odds: 9/1)
Best Bet: Mexico to win 29/20 (Bet Stars, Betfred)
- Mexico and Sweden have faced each other on nine occasions but only once at a World Cup, Sweden winning 3-0 in their opening group stage match in 1958.
- Mexico have never won three consecutive matches at the World Cup and could become the first CONCACAF team to achieve this feat in World Cup history.
- Sweden’s defeat to Germany was their first in the group stage of the World Cup since 1990, when they lost 2-1 to Costa Rica.
- Mexico have lost just two of their last 19 World Cup group stage matches (W10 D7).
- Sweden have won only four of their last 13 World Cup games when they’ve scored first (D5 L4).
- Javier Hernandez’s goal in Mexico’s 2-0 win over South Korea was his fourth at the World Cup – only Luis Hernandez has scored as many for Mexico in World Cup history (also four).
- Sweden’s Ola Toivonen didn’t score in 23 matches for Toulouse in Ligue 1 in the 2017-18, failing with all 19 of his shots – at the 2018 World Cup, Toivonen has scored one goal from just two shots.
- Sweden registered just 24% possession in their 2-1 defeat to Germany, their lowest figure in a World Cup match since 1966.
Preview posted at 1400 BST on 26/06/18
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