FIFA World Cup 2018 Preview - Group F
Group F delivers us yet another traditional International power as Germany headlines the group. The Germans lifted the trophy in 2014 during their time in Brazil and 'Die Mannschaft' will attempt to capture another major trophy in back to back tournaments.
North American representatives Mexico will arrive in Russia with huge expectations. After once again topping the Concacaf group, 'El Tri' feel primed to play spoiler to the larger counties in the field of 32.
Sweden pulled the ultimate shocker to place their names in the field, defeating Italy in the playoffs to make a return bid to the World Cup. Now the Swedes look to take that same momentum with them this summer, as they hope to keep getting over-looked as a true threat to the ultimate prize.
South Korea barely made a return to this massive event after struggling through qualifiers, but this talented side eventually did enough to make another appearance. With stars sprinkled through-out their roster, this nation should never be under-estimated on advancing out of the group stage.
Before World Cup action begins, I'll break down each of the Groups looking for value, betting angles and offering predictions for advancement. Group F features Germany, who are true favorites to collect silverware for a second straight tournament, along with a highly competitive assortment of nations, who can easily stake their claim to the second advancement spot in the table.
Group F - Preview
South Korea enter this format with the longest odds to advance to the Round of 16 (+1500). This squad has had issues on both the offense and defensive side of the ball. They must shore up their deficiencies in order to realistically compete with the firepower aligned in Group F.
The Red Devils have recently looked to Shin Tae-yong to lead the side into Russia after departing with former manager Uli Stielike due to a poor performance during qualifiers.
Tae-yong has been praised for his motivational skills, although he has been questioned about his tactical decisions from match to match, which could become an underlining issue against the knowledgeable opponents he will encounter inside this group.
The Koreans have played much of the time within a 5-4-1 formation, with Tottenham danger man Son Heung-min set to lead the line for the Red Devils.
Heung-min is a clear threat from the number nine role, possessing exceptional pace within counter attacking scenarios, but he will not have the same type of talent surrounding him as what he has with Spurs, and could allow for him to be taken out of certain matches.
Fellow Premier League man Sung-Yueng Ki is set to play behind Heung-min in attack. The Swansea City Midfielder has continued to find consistent playing time in England's top flight league, with the ability to place long shots in the back of the net. His presence on the pitch should help the production of his Spurs talisman.
South Korea have very little expectations of advancing out of the Group stage, which could make them a scary side to face. With no pressure to progress, they should play more freely than those nations with immense pressure on their shoulders. Even so, they would still be considered the ultimate long-shot to upset their fellow nations, and backing them seems to be a very risky proposition.
Odds To Advance Out Of (Round F) +1500 /16 / 15/1
Sweden come to this years versions of events with a real point to prove. After a Round of 16 appearance in 2006, 'Blågult' failed to qualify for the following two World Cups, giving them the desire to make another deep run while they have the opportunity to do so.
Janne Andersson was placed in the role as Manager in 2016 and he will forever be immortalized for leading his side past the mighty Italians in a European playoff.
Andersson has preferred an attacking 4-4-2 formation during his time in charge, electing to have two dedicated strikers at the top of the line. Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen have been the most proficient in those specific roles, with 9 combined goals scored throughout their International duties.
The true star on the squad resides in the Midfield, as RB Leipzig man Emil Forsberg is the field general while on the pitch. Forsberg is a genius at creating instant offense for the Swedish attack, his skillful dribbling techniques allows him to create space and deliver pin-point passes, and delicious crosses to his dangerous target men.
Forsberg also offers an added dimension from Set Pieces and Direct Free Kicks. He will be responsible for delivering service into the box, and placing balls in the back of the net from outside the box.
Viktor Claesson and John Guidetti should also be recognized as key components to the Sweden plan of attack. This combination has continued to raise their levels of play on the club level and being major contributors to this European side will come as no surprise to those who follow the team.
Sweden are a true contender to advance, as their main competition has to be Mexico with Germany surely to occupy the first spot through.
Now that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has decided he will not be attending this years contest, the National team can concentrate on the squad that will make the trip to Russia.
Expect a strong performance from 'Blågult', as they are stacked with plenty of high-profiled, European club players throughout the squad who are accustomed to performing at the highest of levels on a weekly basis.
Odds To Advance Out Of (Round F) +600 / 7 / 6/1
'El Tri' make the trip back to Russia after a warm up session in the Confederations Cup this past Summer. Now, the Mexicans return with the weight of the nation fully on their backs to succeed.
Juan Carlos Osorio has been heavily scrutinized for every move he has made since taking over for Miguel Herrera in 2015. The Colombian has failed to convince the Mexican people he can truly get his tactical adjustments correct and he will have one of the larger shadows hoovering over him this Summer, as he is expected to progress out of the Group with no excuses.
Osorio has inserted his own version of a 3-4-3 formation, leaning own National team veterans Javier 'Chicharito' Hernández, Carlos Vela, Oribe Peralta, Miguel Layún and Hector Herrera as the main core players on the squad.
El Tri have also looked for an infusion of youth into the starting eleven, as Hirving Lozano and Carlos Salcedo look to make impacts on the old guard.
This Mexico national team seems to be at a crossroads at the worst possible time, with key injuries to their back-line and still an unclear plan of attack or consistent rotation from one match to the next. After several tournaments of high level success, this could be the shortest stint the mighty Mexican side have seen in a World Cup event in years.
Odds To Advance Out Of (Round F) +500 / 6 / 5/1
The Germans are considered the overwhelming favorites to breeze through the Group Stage. With a loaded roster of world class talent, 'Die Mannschaft' must not get complacent with the lack of opposition within the table.
Joachim Löw is considered the elder statesman in the International managerial ranks. The German head man has been in charge of the squad since 2006, and has in turn guided his Nation too two Major Trophies during his tenure with the National team.
Löw has been rumored to leave his post for several high profile club positions, but to date he has remained loyal to his country's call of duty.
The Germans are technically the best team in the tournament. With every position filled with super-stars, getting ample playing time and keeping everyone happy is often the largest challenge of their manager.
'Die Mannschaft' are a true attacking side, often allowing their opponents very few spells of possession during each match. Their creative 4-2-3-1 formation allows for each player on the pitch to express themselves in a positive manner.
Leroy Sane, Julian Draxler, Leon Goretzka, Thomas Müller, Mario Gomez, Timo Werner and Sandro Wagner will be the main scoring threats in the German attacking half, their individual eye for goals increases while wearing the country crest.
Tony Kroos, Mesut Özil, Sebastian Rudy, Emre Can and IIkay Gündogan have flourished as creative distributors from their Midfield roles and the Germans possess pure quality in converting defense to offense with this array of players.
Defenders will have a nightmare trying to single in on just one component of this high-powered attack - it seems almost unfair at times when this team starts going forward and are clicking on all cylinders.
Germany are currently getting +400 / 5 / 4/1 to win the whole tournament, which is worth an initial investment as this team will no doubt go far in Russia.
The Germans should not see to much resistance from this group, as their main challenge is staying focused and not overlooking any of their fellow opponents. Even so, they are so technically gifted they can often win even on a bad day.
Odds To Advance Out Of (Round F) -250 / 1.4
Group F - Prediction
It is always advised to not place any team into the Round of 16 until the games are played, but Germany just gives each side too many match-ups problems, to where it is hard to imagine them not advancing out of the Group.
Much like many of the other foursomes, it comes down to two teams battling it out for the second spot in the table.
Sweden would seem to have the inside track of securing that secondary spot, as Mexico have looked lost at times the closer the World Cup gets.
El Tri often look confused in their tactics, which has continued to be an issue over the last few years. It is hard to think they will get to Russia and suddenly correct those glaring deficiencies.
South Korea could possibly play spoiler, but it is difficult to think they could win multiple games in this group, this side seems to just be happy being part of the party.