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World Cup Futures: Choosing Germany Or Mexico In Group F

North America(1 team) @ Eurasia(3 teams)

  • Where: Luzhniki Stadium, Various. Moscow, Various
  • When: June 17, 2018 11:00 am EST
  • Moneyline: Germany (-300), Mexico (+500), Sweden (+750), South Korea (+2000)

The Mexico National Team is like that promising college basketball program that always makes the NCAA Tournament and loses early once it’s there.

For 6 straight World Cups, El Tri has made the knockout stage by finishing in the top half of its group. In 2014, the Mexicans fought Brazil to a clean-sheet draw in group play. Yet so many bids in the bracket of 16 have ended in disappointment that supporters, bookies and handicappers are left doubting the Tricolor.

It doesn’t help that Mexico is up against Germany in Group F. Nationalelf are the defending World Cup champions, and embarrassed the same Brazil squad 7-1. Since then, Manuel Neuer has begun to look like the finest goalkeeper in the world, and the Germans have flourished in UEFA matches.

But the odds at Bovada – with El Tricolor a 5-to-1 underdog to finish 1st in the group – seem like an overreaction to recent history. Especially considering that the North American side tends to fare so well in round-robin action. The futures lines for Group F serve as a secondary “money line” for Germany vs Mexico in an opening match which is likely to decide the group. Why are odds-makers so certain Nationalelf will begin hot?

When a snub is a “Löw” blow

Talented upstart winger Leroy Sane from Manchester City has been left off the German squad in a move that supporters, casual fans, and journalists are criticizing loudly.

Former captain Michael Ballack is also ripping the decision, mocking manager Joachim Löw for considering Julian Brandt of Bayer Leverkusen a better choice on the wing.

Ballack called the skipper’s opinion a “fantasy” and pointed out that Sane has played at a high level for an elite club, scoring 10 goals for Manchester City in his most recent campaign.

Supporters are hoping the controversy is a moot point. If the Germans play well, their overall skill level has the potential to overcome any slips in player management. The squad is powerful defensively and built from the goal outward, led by the incomparable GK Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich.

Striker Timo Werner will team with veterans Thomas Müller and Mario Gómez to fuel Germany’s well-balanced attack. Werner could potentially be the difference-maker offensively, having scored 7 times in Germany’s 10 qualifying matches last year.

This may be a different German squad than the one that claimed the World Cup title 4 years ago, but the firepower is there. One can hope the snub of Sane doesn’t have a ripple effect, and that the side’s recent winless streak in friendlies is only a fluke.

Mexico looking mispriced at (+500)

Sportsbook managers listen to experts, analyze 2-deep rosters and examine more trends than a fashion guru. But I can’t get it out of my head that this team is mispriced at more than 5/1 to win Group F. Mexico has reached the elimination bracket 6 times in a row. In 2014, Tricolor played in Group A alongside the host Brazilians and handled the pressure extremely well, winning twice and producing a scoreless draw with Seleção.

The 2018 squad is coming off a dominant performance in CONCACAF qualifying, nearly making it through undefeated. Javier Hernández, the formidable striker from West Ham and the nation’s all-time leading FIFA goal scorer, is making his 3rd appearance in the World Cup. Hirving Lozano is a speedy winger who looks to have a breakout performance.

As usual, though, goalkeeping will be key. Mexico does not have the depth at midfield or on the backline to prevent quality shots and set-piece execution by a strong opponent. Making a serious bid to upset Germany in the opener means getting a terrific performance between the posts.

Thankfully, the veteran Guillermo Ochoa will be back as the team’s trusted keeper, having just won a silver medal in the Champions League. He’s stolen more than a few FIFA matches for Mexico and is always a threat to stonewall an opposing forward line.

Wager on Mexico (+500) to win Group F and get a 3-figure sign-up bonus from Bovada.

Sweden and South Korea: Group F sleepers

The Swedes pulled off of one of the real shockers of UEFA qualifying by eliminating time-honored heavyweight Italy from competing in the 2018 World Cup.

Sweden lacks recent success at the World Cup – this is their first appearance since 2006. If not for narrowly edging Italy, Sweden would have missed the 2018 World Cup too. But knocking an opponent like Gli Azzurri out of the entire kit and caboodle is nothing to sniff at. The (+750) underdogs will at least be dangerous enough that Group F opponents cannot afford to take the side lightly.

The squad will take a balanced attack into Russia led by Red Bull Leipzig winger Emil Forsberg, one of the best passers in The Beautiful Game. Marcus Berg was the surprise for Sweden in the qualifying stage as he led all strikers in scoring in the qualifying group.

One major downer that could have a big impact – The Blue-Yellow will sorely miss all-time leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimović, who has decided not to have one final go-around despite Sweden’s surprise qualification for the World Cup.

Meanwhile a shaky performance in the qualifying stages leaves South Korea supporters anxious going into Russia. The previous 5 matches of FIFA World Cup action have produced only a lone victory.

There are a few bright spots to be sure. Son Heung-min has displayed promise for Tottenham, notching 47 goals for the club since 2015. Hwang Hee-chan is a young up-and-coming striker for Red Bull Salzburg. Kwon Chang-hoon and Lee Jae-sung are highly-regarded midfielders.

But the depth just isn’t there, and it’s easy to imagine the Koreans getting hemmed-in around their own goal often by all 3 opponents in Group F.

Germany vs Mexico: Recommended Group F Wager

My math is a little fuzzy, but a 1-to-3 vs 5-to-1 odds comparison means that bookies are giving Germany about 7 chances out of 8 to best El Tri in the opener. I believe the technical, scientific term for an analysis like that is “rubbish.”

Yes, if the match is a draw, the Germans have a better chance to finish in 1st place on points or goal differential thanks to superior firepower.

But a Mexican team full of fresh legs upsetting a debated roster from Germany is not hard to fathom.

The odds make a wager on the defending champs a bad risk-reward proposition. Mexico has at least a 30% to 35% chance to finish in 1st place, putting worlds of value in a (+550) futures line.

Take the North American side on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and the rest of the week for good measure. There’s an excellent payoff on a winning bet slip, and a proven stud in goal to help even-out any disadvantages along the way.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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