Mexico vs Sweden
You can’t do much more than win two games out of two.
Yet, amazingly, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a place in the knockout stages of FIFA 2018.
Mexico seemed an us cert after victories over South Korea and reigning world champions Germany—the 1-0 victory proving one of the shock FIFA 2018 results so far.
Yet, incredibly, there are several scenarios which mean El Tri still have work to do.
The main focus is not on Mexico, however.
After the brief spying row which was well documented in the build-up to their opening game, Sweden have now been rocked by race-hate threats.
Jimmy Durmaz became the target after he conceded the late free-kick which saw Germany see off the Swedes at the weekend.
The 29-year-old Toulouse player was made a scapegoat by some followers and received a stream of invective on his Instagram account, something that even led to death threats against him and his family.
Sweden fans support the nation ahead of their FIFA 2018 match against Germany at Fisht Stadium in Russia
Condemning the racial abuse, if anything Sweden have become an even stronger unit since the incident and delivered a powerful anti-racism message in response.
Now, the FIFA 2018 odds on them progressing may be enhanced as they travel to Ekaterinburg for the crucial Group F encounter.
After their late defeat to Germany—to which the winning goal celebrations irritated Swedish management and led to accusations of disrespect—Sweden know they must attack and cannot afford to be cautious as the reigning world champions are clear favourites to see off South Korea in the other group match.
In Emil Forsberg, Seb Larsson and Ola Toivonen, the scorer of a sumptuous goal against the Germans, they certainly have players who can take the attacking initiative.
Of course, if Sweden and Germany both win, there would then be a three-way tie on six points. In that event, it would come down to goal difference.
If that is identical, it would then be assessed by goals scored, head-to-head results and then fair play—unlikely, but not impossible given the position.
Unthinkably for a nation on six points, Mexico would be eliminated if they lose to Sweden by one goal and Germany win by two.
So El Tri know they must get a draw to be certain of a place in the last 16.
Ricardo Osorio’s side were assured of a place in the knockout phase until Germany’s late winner over Sweden. However, after the success of his tactics in the opening game, they may be set up to absorb Swedish pressure and use the counter-attack to deadly effect again.
With goal-getter Javier Hernandez in their ranks and Hirving Lozano on form, Sweden should certainly be kept on their toes. Osorio will also be aware that the two Hectors, Moreno and Herrera, are one booking away from a suspension.
The comments of defender Miguel Layun suggests an open game: “Against Sweden, it will be very intense. If they score first, they know how to defend. Hopefully, we can be the ones who score first.”
Despite his success, Osorio is not fully appreciated back in Mexico for his prickly relationship with media and tinkering with the national side. And perhaps, failure to qualify would lead some to call for his resignation.
Mexico against the Scandinavians will definitely be a contest worth watching with so many permutations.
Other than in 1958 when the Swedes saw off Mexico 3-0, the two nations have never met at a World Cup finals.
The last time they met was in a friendly in 2009 in Oakland when Sweden won 1-0 against opponents then managed by Sven Goran Eriksson.
Sweden certainly have the edge in previous meetings, winning four and drawing three of their nine encounters.
What are the odds?
Sweden manager Janne Andersson reacts during the team’s FIFA 2018 match against Germany
There are betting offers galore in this one.
Mexico are slight favourites, as shown by Asian Handicap odds -0.25 @ 2.09. Meanwhile, Sweden are at 1.85 for that start.
1X2 also back El Tri at 2.41 compared to the Scandinavians at 3.00, with odds on a 1X2 draw offered at 3.20.
In a match in which both sides are expected to attack, you can bet on Over 2.50 goals @ 2.33. Furthermore, Total Goal 4-6 would pay out @ 4.40.
The unlikely scenario of there being no goals is also available. Outright no goal pays out @ 8.00.
But realistically, will the Germans slip up and both Sweden and Mexico qualify?
Probably not if the Group F dual forecast bet of outright Mexico/Sweden bet @ 8.50 is anything to go by.
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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