(To win: 5.85; To win group: 1.42; To qualify: 1.07; Rock Bottom: 50.00)
Football is a simple game. 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win. This quote from Gary Lineker basically sums up Germany in competitive tournaments. 4 World Cup wins, 4 times Runner-up, 4 times 3rd, one time 4th, 3 times out in the Quarter-Finals, one time out in the 2nd group stage and just once out in the 1st round in 1938. An incredible record that keeps updating every edition of the World Cup.
This time they qualified from Group C, with 10 wins out of 10 games (30 points), 43 goals scored and just 4 conceded. In the friendlies since the quali they had three draws against England (0-0), France (2-2) and Spain (1-1), while they lost the last two against Brazil (1-0) and Austria (2-1). Although the last team to win all of their qualification games went on to win the cup (Spain in 2010), no other team have won back to back the cup since Brazil in 1962, and no other team have won while they were 1st in the FIFA ranking.
The last two former champions went on to big failures in the next cup (Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014). Unless the omen is repeated here, the Germans should be able to pass the group as 1st and face the 2nd from Group E (Switzerland, Serbia or Costa Rica). In the QF they should then face either the winner from Group H (Colombia, Poland or Senegal), or the 2nd from Group G (England or Belgium). In the Semi-Finals they should then face the heavyweight Spain. BEST BET: Highest scoring team in the tournament @ 6.00. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Runners-Up: 6.50; Semi-Finals: 5.50
(To win: 126.00; To win group: 7.00; To qualify: 2.10; Rock Bottom: 4.50)
Mexico are coming to this tournament after qualifying as 1st from the CONCACAF group above Costa Rica and Panama, with 21 points in 10 games (6-3-1), 16 goals scored and 7 conceded. They have passed the group stage in the last 6 consecutive World Cup played and look stronger than 4 years ago. They had good results in the friendlies with wins against Poland (1-0), Bosnia (1-0), Iceland (3-0), draws versus Belgium (3-3) and Wales (0-0) and a loss against Croatia (1-0).
This is one of their best squad in recent years with the likes of Guardado (31), Herrera (28), Layun (29), Chicharito Hernandez (30), Raul Jimenez (27). They will also feature two veterans like Rafa Marquez (39) and Ochoa (32) in goal.
In the group they will need to eliminate both Sweden and South Korea for the 2nd place, and it looks like they have all the quality and experience to do it. In the Last 16 they would be probably too weak for the giant Brazil. BEST BET: Eliminated in the Last 16 @ 3.00. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Last 16: 3.00; Group Stage: 1.75
(To win: 300.00; To win group: 8.00; To qualify: 2.30; Rock Bottom: 4.20)
Sweden have qualified to the World Cup after not participating in the last two editions, despite having their best player (Ibrahimovic) in his prime years. Now they are coming back without him for this tournament. They qualified as 2nd from Group A behind France, with 19 points out of 10 games (6-1-3), 26 goals scored and 9 conceded. In the playoffs they eliminated Italy thanks to a superlative defensive game both in 1st leg (1-0) and in the 2nd (0-0) in Milan. Since then they had results in line with their expectations and quality in friendlies, a win against Denmark (1-0), two draws against Estonia (1-1) and Denmark again (0-0), and two losses against Chile (2-1) and Romania (1-0). They don’t play the prettiest football on earth and most of the times lack quality and ideas going forward and it will be hard for them to even go through the group stage. Their defensive play though fits these types of tournaments, as we have seen Costa Rica and Chile doing well with a defensive approach. BEST BET: Regret not taking Zlatan to the World Cup. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.65; Last 16: 3.30
?? SOUTH KOREA
(To win: 751.00; To win group: 20.00; To qualify: 5.00; Rock Bottom: 1.89)
South Korea seems to be the weakest side in this group. They passed the group stages in just two occasions (2002, 2010) in the last 8 World Cup tournament played. They qualified this time as 2nd in Group A behind Iran, with 15 points out of 10 games (4-3-3), 11 goals scored and 10 conceded. Since the quali they proved once again in friendlies how much they concede defensively with 8 goals conceded just in the last 4 games played, with losses against Bosnia (3-1), Poland (3-2) and Northern Ireland (2-1). BEST BET: Rock bottom @ 1.89. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.32