Concise World Cup team profiles, fixtures, kick-off times, group odds and novelty bets
Fixtures, Dates and KO Times
Germany vs Mexico, Monday, June 17, 1am (AEST), Moscow (Luzhniki)
Sweden vs South Korea, Monday, June 17, 10pm (AEST), Nizhny Novgorod
Germany vs Sweden, Sunday, June 24, 1am (AEST), Sochi
South Korea vs Mexico, Sunday, June 24, 4am (AEST), Rostov-on-Don
South Korea vs Germany, Thursday, June 28, 12am (AEST), Kazan
Mexico vs Sweden, Thursday, June 28, 12am (AEST), Ekaterinburg
Group Odds Summary
The holders are the star attraction in Group F and they are as short as () to win this group, something they should do in third gear.
They have arguably the strongest squad in the competition and have made it to at least the semis in the last four renewals.
The Mexicans qualified in impressive style, losing just one of their 10 matches and scoring the most goals and conceding the least in a dominant campaign.
Their last four appearances at the World Cup have seen them progress from the group stages and they are () to do so again in Russia.
A Zlatan-less Sweden will be disregarded by many this summer and it is understandable when you consider their reliance on their icon for so long.
However, it may prove a blessing, in that the team can now operate with more of an all-round game plan instead of fighting to resist the urge to give it to Ibrahimovic.
Their () to qualify for the last 16 may be worth some interest.
The final team in the mix is South Korea.
They will be hugely unfancied and understandably so, they lost three games in the final stage of qualifying, while only Qatar from their group conceded more goals.
A price of () on them finishing bottom looks fair.
Individual Team Summaries
Germany are well placed to defend the World Cup trophy in Russia.
Joachim Low’s squad is packed to the rafters with talent on all positions, with the possible exception of the fullbacks.
That weakness notwithstanding, die Nationalmannschaft should make it to the semis at a bare minimum.
It was the perfect qualifying campaign, with 10 wins in 10 matches, 43 goals and only four conceded.
Germany looked comfortable throughout, irrespective of formation and personnel, and enabled Low to experiment with the many options at his disposal.
Leroy Sane’s rapid progress at Manchester City will make him a bona fide candidate for the starting XI.
The 21-year-old’s explosive pace should cause plenty of problems for opposition sides next summer.
Alternative bet: Germany to take maximum points ().
Following a very successful run at the top of CONCACAF’s final qualifying stage, Mexico are heading into the summer with an immense amount of confidence.
With a good balance of experienced names and youth within the squad – which includes the very promising Hirving Lozano (pictured above); El Tri will easily be one of the teams to watch in Russia.
This is a squad that has the capabilities of sneaking into the quarter-final stage of the tournament.
Someone has to step up and take on the mantle from Ibrahimovic and that is likely to be RB Leipzig star Emil Forsberg (pictured above).
The 26-year-old is a classy operator and will carry much of the creative burden at the World Cup.
Any success will be built on their defence, as was shown in their play-off victory over Italy, a tie in which they were given little to no chance.
They plundered 26 goals in a group that was won by France, with Marcus Berg scoring eight, and they finished ahead of the Netherlands.
Mexico will have to be very wary of the Swedes and their clash will be pivotal.
Alternative bet: Emil Forsberg to make the most assists for Sweden ().
Qualification was a painful process for Asia’s most successful World Cup team.
Just four out of 10 games won in the final round and just one point out of a possible 15 picked up on the road were the results of woeful defensive organisation, constant individual mistakes and a lack of firepwer.
Such form cost Uli Stielike his job as head coach and the German was replaced with two games remaining by Shin Tae-yong.
Two 0-0 draws saw the team limp over the line.
Preparations started badly with comprehensive defeats against Russia and Morocco in October.
With his job not completely safe, Shin tightened things up for Colombia and Serbia in November and was rewarded with a 2-1 win and 1-1 draw.
Finally, some light at the end of a poor 2017.
Son Heung-min (pictured above) is the most exciting player in Asian football but does not always replicate his Tottenham form for his country.
Nevertheless, he has a wealth of talent and much will depend on him.
Alternative bet: South Korea to get zero points ()