World Cup group stage preview24th Jun 2018 |
Serbia vs Brazil (Group E)
Serbia’s late concession in their last match against Switzerland changed the complexion of Group E, knocking them from second spot to third with one game left to play. Mladen Krstajic’s men will now probably need to beat Brazil to stand a chance of progressing to the knockout phase, with the Swiss widely expected to overcome Costa Rica in the other game taking place at the same time. Serbia’s predicament means they will have to take the game to Brazil, which could open up plenty of space on the counter-attack for Tite’s side – a major plus point after their struggles against the deep defence of Costa Rica last time out. Back the Selecao to turn on the style and win both halves – a wager which can be found in the sportsbook at 13/5 – to send Serbia home.
South Korea vs Germany (Group F)
Germany produced the most dramatic moment of the 2018 World Cup so far when Toni Kroos curled home the winning goal deep into second-half stoppage time against Sweden on Saturday night. It was a crucial goal from the Real Madrid man; with the scores locked at 1-1 and just seconds left to play, the reigning world champions were on the brink of an early exit, knowing that a convenient draw between Mexico and Sweden on the final day would send them home. Belief was restored thanks to Kroos’ brilliant effort, and South Korea will struggle to halt a side who have admittedly shown signs of vulnerability so far in Russia. Regardless of that fact, back Germany to win to nil at 9/10.
Mexico vs Sweden (Group F)
Mexico have one foot in the round of 16 following their 2-1 victory over South Korea last time out, with a point here sufficient to send them through in top spot. Sweden, meanwhile, will still be downhearted following Kroos’ heroics at the weekend – had they held on for a point, Janne Andersson’s men would also be a draw away from the knockout phase. A Swedish triumph here could send El Tri home, so there is still plenty to play for, but it would take a great effort for the Scandinavians to bounce back from that late heartbreak to pick up maximum points in this one. I fancy Mexico to win, but my leading tip is Javier Hernandez to score anytime at 8/5.
England vs Belgium (Group G)
England’s 6-1 victory over Panama and Belgium’s 5-2 win against Tunisia means the two teams are neck and neck at the top of Group G ahead of this showdown on Thursday: not only do the Three Lions and the Red Devils both have six points, they have also scored (eight) and conceded (two) an identical number of goals. A draw here would therefore see first and second place in Group G decided by the sides’ disciplinary records, while lots will be drawn if they cannot be separated in that regard either. This is a tough match to predict given suggestions that Gareth Southgate and Roberto Martinez may heavily rotate their starting XIs, but both teams to score looks like decent value at 3/4.
Panama vs Tunisia (Group G)
This match may be a dead rubber in terms of who will qualify from Group G, but both teams will be desperate to record a victory – Panama have never won a World Cup match, while Tunisia have not emerged victorious on the biggest stage of all since their sole triumph in 1978. The Eagles of Carthage have looked slightly stronger than Panama so far in Russia, so I would advise putting some money on them scoring more than 1.5 goals at odds of 17/20.