Germany v South Korea: Germany -2 – 6/4
The defending champs were delivered from an almost inevitable early exit by Toni Kroos’ injury time wonder strike against Sweden, but they’re not out of the woods yet. A result against Korea is required if they’re to guarantee progression to the next round.
It shouldn’t pose a major obstacle though, as the Asian side must rank as one of the most disappointing sides at this year’s competition. Hyeung Min Son’s 93rd minute consolation goal against Mexico is their solitary strike in Russia. The opening game against Sweden even saw them fail to register a single effort on target.
That’s a real head-scratcher when they’ve been lumped in a group with Germany, so were always likely playing for second spot at best.
It’s not panned out that way though, with the Germans rattled by Mexico in the round one fixtures. That result makes it difficult to see a way for Die Mannschaft to top the group, but the euphoric celebrations following their Kroos missile in Sochi suggests that this team may rally for a spirited title defence.
A win over Korea is essential. If Germany win by two clear goals they can guarantee their place in the next round. We’d expect Teutonic efficiency to get the job done after a rough few weeks, so Germany -2 looks a very solid prospect at 6/4.
Serbia v Brazil: Over 2.5 Goals – 10/11
Brazil’s aspirations were also teetering as the 90th minute ticked by in their previous game. Costa Rican resistance to Neymar, Coutinho et al was finally breached, allowing the Selecao to climb to the top of Group E and avoid a must-win final game against the Serbs.
Serbia’s fortunes ran in the opposite direction in their second game, where an Aleksandar Mitrović opener – his 17 goal in 39 caps – was pegged back by a Granit Xhaka blast before Xerdan Shaqiri stole all three points with a swift counter-attack at the death.
The Balkan side were impressive in their first game, beating Costa Rica, and should pose a challenge to the pre-tournament favourites here. That the Serbians need to win to progress points to goals in this one, and with the side in yellow-and-blue capable of exploiting any lapses we think the over 2.5 goals at 10/11 should be sound.
Mexico v Sweden Anytime Goalscorer: Chicarito – 2/1
For the Swedes, recovering after their cruel loss in the previous game will be crucial to their hopes of moving on to the next stage. They don’t have Ibra any more, but the attacking options of Forsberg, Berg and Toivanen put them in a position to beat the Germans, and could’ve earned a penalty or two prior to the late reversal.
The CONCACAF side won admirers for their devastating counters against the same opponents, and managed to hang to their advantage to claim a famous victory. They avoided the possible emotional comedown against Korea with ease, winning 2-1 to give them six points and a likely slot as top seeds from Group F in the round of 16. Their reward could be a tie with Brazil, though Switzerland and Serbia are also options.
Sweden’s proposition at this year World Cup has been founded on hard work, flinty defence and making the most of limited attacking options. That formula is unlikely to work here, where Mexico only need a point to guarantee top spot. The Scandinavians will need to take more risks, which could leave them exposed to Mexico’s lightning fast breaks.
Javier Hernandez has built a career on exploiting such scenarios, and we’d back him to nab his 51st international goal at 2/1 here.
*All odds correct at time of posting