Germany’s Win Against Sweden Puts Mexico’s World Cup Hopes in Jeopardy

hirving-lozano-mexicoMexico has by all accounts had a fantastic start to the 2018 World Cup. They began with a stunning 1-0 victory against defending champion Germany. Then they beat South Korea 2-1 to begin with a perfect record in two matches.

But Germany’s stoppage-time win over Sweden has thrown Group F into disarray. Toni Kroos netted a late winner to help the Germans beat Sweden 2-1.

You would think that El Tri would be in perfect shape with their 2-0 start. But Mexico could still theoretically be prevented from going to the knockout round. I’ll cover all of the possible scenarios. But first, take a look at the current standings.

group-f-standings

A Wild Finish to Group F?

germany-mexico-2018-world-cup-knockout-roundsMexico takes on Sweden to finish up group play, while Germany will face South Korea. All four teams are technically alive in an effort to reach the knockout rounds. This seems strange, especially when considering that South Korea (0-0-2) has yet to gain a single point.

Here are the scenarios in which each team could move on:

  • Germany advances if…
  • They beat South Korea; Mexico defeats or draws Sweden
  • (Or) Sweden defeats Mexico; Germany wins a three-way tiebreaker (goal differential, goals scored) with either team. Mexico currently holds a +2 goal differential over both teams.
  • (Or) Germany draws with South Korea; Mexico beats Sweden.
  • (Or) Germany and Sweden both tie in their final matches; Germany beats Sweden in a 2-way tiebreaker (both are tied in goal differential).
  • (Or) They lose to South Korea; Mexico beats Sweden; Germany wins 3-way tiebreaker with South Korea and Sweden.
  • Germany automatically fails to advance if…
    They lose to South Korea; Sweden beats or ties Mexico.
  • Mexico advances if…
  • They defeat or draw with Sweden.
  • (Or) German loses or draws with South Korea.
  • (Or) Sweden beats Mexico by one goal (El Tri is +2 on Swedes).
  • (Or) Mexico loses to Sweden; Germany only beats South Korea by one goal (Mexico up +2 on Germany).
  • (Or) Sweden beats Mexico by +2 goals: Germany loses or draws to South Korea.
  • Mexico automatically fails to advance if…
  • They lose to Sweden by +2 goals; Germany wins against South Korea.
  • Sweden advances if…
  • They beat Mexico by +2 goals.
  • They defeat Mexico; Germany loses or ties South Korea.
  • (Or) They draw with Mexico; South Korea beats Germany.
  • (Or) Germany ties South Korea; Sweden ties Mexico; they win tiebreaker against the Germans.
  • (Or) Sweden loses against Mexico; South Korea beats Germany; Sweden wins tiebreakers against Korea and Germany.
  • Sweden automatically fails to advance if…
  • They lose against Mexico; Germany defeats or ties South Korea.
  • South Korea advances if...
  • They win against Germany; Mexico beats Sweden; Korea finishes ahead of Germany and Sweden in a 3-way tiebreaker (they’re currently behind both in goal differential).
  • South Korea automatically fails to advance if…
  • South Korea loses or draws with Germany.

Chances of Each Team Advancing

son-heung-min-world-cupGermany is currently behind Mexico in the standings, and they even suffered a loss to El Tri. Nevertheless, they still have the best opportunity to advance out of the group.

Their chances of moving on to the knockout stage are 87%. Much of this has to do with how heavily favored Germany is against South Korea. You can see the odds here at GTBets.

Mexico currently has a 72% chances of advancing. This is strange when considering that they’re the only undefeated team in Group F. The biggest issue here is that they face a strong team in Sweden.

The Swedes have a 40% chance of getting to the knockout stage. Failing to draw against Germany has really hurt their case.

South Korea only has a 1% chance of moving on. They must beat a high-powered German team and get help in the form of tiebreakers.

Lionel Messi’s 2018 World Cup Window Is Closing

can-argentina-win-world-cup-1Lionel Messi came into his third 2018 World Cup hoping to lead Argentina to their third title. The team had a good chance, considering that they’re one of the favorites. But Argentina is off to a disastrous start, drawing in their first match and losing 3-0 reto Croatia in the second.

This now sets the stage for Messi — one of the world’s greatest players — to step up and save his team. The 31-year-old doesn’t have many more Cups left, meaning he can’t let this one slip by.

Argentina must beat Nigeria (1-0-1, 3 points) to have any shot at advancing out of Group D. This task becomes infinitely harder when considering that La Albiceleste reportedly tried getting their manager fired after the Croatia loss. But it’s still something that Messi must help his squad do from a legacy perspective.

Messi Hasn’t Done Much in 2018 World Cup

The case can be made for Lionel Messi being the world’s greatest footballer. However, this case becomes more difficult to push if he can’t step up on soccer’s biggest stage.

A look at his competition only makes matters worse. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, has scored four goals in group play. Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku has done the same. An injured Neymar has one goal for Brazil. Germany’s Toni Kroos scored a clutch goal when his team needed it most.

Messi, on the other hand, has yet to find the net. His team’s record so far doesn’t inspire much confidence either. If Argentina exits Russia without getting to the knockout rounds, it would mark a serious humiliation for both Messi and his team.

can-argentina-win-world-cupBeyond the embarrassment, it would only heighten opinions that his star fades in major international matches. Case in point: Messi’s only international medal came 10 years ago at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

He did help lead his team to the 2014 World Cup final four. But Messi was relatively quiet en route to a 1-0 loss to the eventual champion Germany.

Further misses include the Copa America finals in 2007, 2015, and 2016. The latter was especially painful, because Messi missed a penalty kick in a shootout against Chile.

Goal of Leading Argentina to Victory at 2018 Cup Is Fading

Lionel Messi stunned the football world after announcing his retirement following the penalty kick miss against Chile. However, he unretired with the goal of leading La Albiceleste to a World Cup title.

He made good on this dream leading up to the 2018 World Cup. Messi’s hat trick in the final qualifier against Ecuador sealed Argentina’s trip to Russia.

But sometimes fans only remember you for your latest exploits. And Messi missing a crucial penalty in a 1-1 draw against Iceland is a haunting memory. He also didn’t get anything going in the 3-0 defeat to Croatia.

Messi will be 35 when the 2022 World Cup takes place in Qatar. Therefore, this is likely the last chance that he has to be the best player on Argentina’s Cup roster.

The talent is still there right now. Messi is a five-time Golden Ball winner who’s scored 552 goals for Barcelona. He’s also found the net 64 times in international matches.

The entire team must step up against Nigeria. This much is clear from how easily Croatia found holes in the defense. But Messi also needs to put pressure on the Nigerians to ensure that his team has the best-possible chance to win.

Argentina vs Nigeria World Cup Odds

Here are the odds from GTBets on Argentina’s last group match against Nigeria:

  • June 26 at 2:00pm EST
  • Argentina -0.5 (-200); moneyline -200
  • Nigeria +0.5 (+155); moneyline +500
  • Draw +345
  • Over 2.5 (-143)
  • Under 2.5 (+110)

Argentina is favored to win this match. But they haven’t looked good against either Iceland and Croatia, both teams they were favored to beat. That said, it’ll be interesting to see what they do against Nigeria.

Can Argentina Win After Trying to Get Jorge Sampaoli Fired?

jorge-sampaoli-argentina-firedArgentina has had a rough start to the 2018 World Cup after coming in as one of the favorites. They drew against Iceland, then dropped a terrible 3-0 match to Croatia.

Everything has boiled over to the point where players tried to get manager Jorge Sampaoli fired after the game.

Sampaoli will stay on to manage the last Group D match against Nigeria. But one has to question what form the team will be in after this controversial event.

How did Argentina Players Try to Get Sampaoli Fired?

Argentina had a meeting at the team’s base camp, with the primary subject being whether Sampaoli should be sacked. The players’ plan involved Jorge Burruchaga taking over as manager against Nigeria.

However, Burruchaga dismissed the matter and had no plans to be part of the takeover. Reports didn’t confirm whether Sampaoli was involved in the meeting. But he did go straight to his room after arriving at base camp.

Firing Sampaoli Is a Difficult Decision

Considering that Jorge Sampaoli will continue coaching through Group D play, it’s likely that he’ll stay on if they’re able to advance.

One of the key issues here is Sampaoli’s contract. He’s only in the second year of a five-year deal. The contract buyout amount before the 2019 Copa America is $20 million. It’s highly unlikely that Argentina will fire him with such a huge buyout figure.

The only option here appears to be Sampaoli stepping down from the position. This is a possibility when considering that public pressure is mounting for him to quit as manager.

However, everything goes back to the money again. It would be better for the manager to continue his duties from a financial standpoint. And if he gets fired before the next Copa America, then he’s $20 million richer.

Will Argentina’s Players Quit?

argentina-world-cup-sampaoli-firedThe good news for Argentina is that their players plan to continue competing, especially since they still have a chance to advance. But everything is up in the air after the 2018 World Cup is over.

Reports indicate that several key players will retire from international play after the Cup. These include Marcos Rojo, Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria.

Additionally, Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi are considering international retirement.

Argentina vs Nigeria Odds

Here are the GTBets odds on the match between Argentina and Nigeria:

  • June 26 at 2:00pm EST
  • Argentina -0.5 (-200); moneyline -200
  • Nigeria +0.5 (+155); moneyline +500
  • Draw +345
  • Over 2.5 (-143)
  • Under 2.5 (+110)

You can see from the odds that Argentina is favored in betting circles. But given the turmoil going on here, Nigeria could be a nice value pick.

Cavs Look for Kemba Walker Trade in Effort to Keep LeBron

kemba-walker-to-cavsThe Cleveland Cavaliers are working on a trade that would bring Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker to the team. This move is seen as a last-ditch effort to keep LeBron James from leaving in free agency.

LeBron led Cleveland to the 2018 NBA Finals. But the team was swept by a far more-talented Golden State Warriors squad. James’ lack of supporting cast is largely seen as a reason why the Cavs couldn’t compete with Golden State.

Bringing Walker in could help LeBron compete for another championship if he decides to stay in Cleveland. Walker averaged 22.1 PPG and 5.5 APG last year for the Hornets.

What are the Chances of the Cavs Pulling off the Walker Trade?

One roadblock working against Cleveland is their lack of assets. They drafted Alabama guard Collin Sexton with the eighth overall pick. But beyond him, it’s unclear what the Cavs could really offer Charlotte in a potential rebuilding effort.

Packaging Kevin Love in the trade would hurt Cleveland’s chances of playing for a title again. Ultimately, this may come down to sending Sexton and expiring contracts to the Hornets.

Here’s more from Bleacher Report’s Ken Berger on what the team hopes to accomplish:

“The Cavs continue to explore the possibility of working a deal with the Charlotte Hornets for two-time All-Star Kemba Walker, two league sources told B/R on Thursday night. Their best chance at such a deal would seem to have involved the eighth pick in the draft, which didn’t happen. One person close to Walker said Thursday night that he still believes such a deal is “possible.”

Another league source pushed the notion of a trade for Walker one step further when it comes to the Cavs’ chances of keeping LeBron: Acquiring Walker, the person said, “is the only way LeBron stays.”

Hornets GM Wants to Keep Walker Around

It also doesn’t help the Cavs’ chances of completing a Kemba Walker trade when considering that new Charlotte GM Mitch Kupchak likes what he sees in the 2-time All-Star.

Kupchak said that he believes Walker is “the focal point of this franchise going forward.” He expanded on these comments by telling ESPN the following:

“I don’t think it is anybody’s goal to lose him in free agency. But going forward, in the community, in the franchise, this is a player that we hope is with us. Not only for the next couple of years, but ends his career here.”

Dan Gilbert Issue Looms Large

LeBron James has shown love for his home state of Ohio. But it’s hard telling how far this love goes when considering that he’s had issues with Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

The beef started when James originally left Cleveland in 2010, prompting Gilbert to write a scathing letter while addressing fans about the team’s future. LeBron still came back to the Cavs in the 2014 offseason, because he wanted to win a championship for Ohio. However, he hasn’t enjoyed the greatest relationship with Gilbert ever since.

NJ.com’s Chris Sheridan reports that the two even have strong differences of opinion on politics. James isn’t a Trump fan, while Gilbert avidly supports the President.

Taking everything into account, it makes perfect sense why the Cavs need a miracle trade to keep James in Cleveland.

Neymar Dealing with Injuries in 2018 World Cup

neymar-world-cup-injuryBrazil is one the favorites to dethrone Germany and take the 2018 World Cup. We recently covered how AI from Goldman Sachs ran through 1 million simulations of the tournament and found that Brazil will win. But it’s unclear how many of these simulations included Neymar being injured.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward was spotted wincing in pain after kicking a fooball during training drills. Neymar was fouled multiple times just three days earlier, during a 1-1 draw with Switzerland.

It’s highly possible that this is why he’s in pain now. He left Rostov Arena limping, but told the Independent that there’s nothing to worry about.

Brazilian fans have to be are worried, because the 26-year-old was injured in the 2014 Cup. This week, he was led off the pitch by medical staff after he looked in pain during training.

Neymar’s Injury would be Huge Concern for Brazil

The injuries seems to be piling up for Neymar. He just returned recently after fracturing a metatarsal while playing for PSG in last February’s Champions League.

This fracture forced Neymar to miss the remainder of the season. Seeing him holding the same right foot during practice in Sochi re-ignites the injury concerns.

Brazil Trying to Ease Fears Over Neymar

The Brazilian Football Association [CFB] has stated that Neymar “complained of ankle pains due to the number of fouls suffered against Switzerland.” They believe that he’ll continue his training again on Wednesday.

Of course, the CFB probably wants to put rumors to rest about any potential long-term injury. But it’s worth questioning when considering the rough time he had against Switzerland in the opener.

The Swiss set out to foul him whenever he had the chance to do anything. Neymar actually became the most-fouled player in the World Cup afterward.

Brazil’s 2018 World Cup Odds

Brazil’s next match is a Group E clash with Costa Rica on June 22 (Friday). They’ll be heavily favored against their lesser-talented CONCACAF opponent. But the gap could narrow without a healthy Neymar.

Here’s a look at our GTBets odds right now:

  • June 22, 2018 at 8:00am EST
  • Costa Rica +1.5 (+120); +1500 moneyline
  • Brazil -1.5 (-154); -500 moneyline
  • Draw +525
  • Over 2.5 (-133)
  • Under 2.5 (+105)

Brazil is currently favored to win Group E, despite drawing with Switzerland in their first match. Our GTBets futures currently offer the following Group E odds:

  • Brazil -190
  • Serbia +330
  • Switzerland +330
  • Costa Rica +5000

Again, it’s tough to bet on Brazil at the moment when considering that their star forward is hurt. But if Neymar is right and his injury is nothing to worry about, then they should have little trouble advancing to the knockout rounds.

Clippers Trade Package for Kawhi Leonard Revealed

kawhi-leonard-clippersSan Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard wants to return to his hometown Los Angeles after requesting a trade. Many initial rumors centered on the Lakers, which have plenty of young players to offer. But the L.A. Clippers have also jumped into the mix and are already offering a trade package.

According to the L.A. Times’ Tania Ganguli, the Clippers are willing to give Tobias Harris and either the 12th or 13th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

It’s unclear if this is enough to land a player of Leonard’s caliber. He was the 2014 NBA Finals MVP and is arguably the league’s best two-way player when healthy. Meanwhile, the Clippers are only offering a quality starter and a late lottery selection for an elite player.

Reports have suggested that San Antonio doesn’t want to trade Leonard to a Western Conference team. But odds are that they’ll take the best deal, especially if it’s to a (currently) non-contending team like the Clippers or Lakers.

Clippers Concerned about Leonard’s Injury

Kawhi Leonard only played in nine games last season due to a mysterious quadriceps injury. San Antonio and their medical staff’s handling of the injury is why he wants to leave.

But according to CBS Sports, neither the Clippers nor Lakers are convinced that Leonard is over the injury. He suffered a deep thigh bruise in the 2016-17 season, which has had complications ever since. One medical opinion suggests that the bruise may have atrophied and is affecting other tendons in the leg.

Here’s more from CBS:

kawhi-leonard-clippers-3“Neither the Lakers nor Clippers have had trade discussions with the Spurs, as both teams have concerns about the severity of Leonard’s injury. He spent several months away from the team while rehabbing, which led to public barbs from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich about Leonard’s absence — an unusual move for the Spurs.

“While the Lakers are open to trading any player on their roster, how much they are willing to give up depends on their confidence in his health.”

The Lakers have attractive young pieces like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. But San Antonio would likely want two of these players in the Leonard trade. Making such a deal would signal the Spurs’ desire for a rebuild.

The Clippers don’t have the same caliber of young players as L.A. But they potentially have more to offer when looking at their roster and the 12th and 13th first-round picks.

Clippers could Immediately Become Title Contenders

kawhi-leonard-clippers-2The Clippers were surprisingly competitive last season after trading Chris Paul (offseason) and Blake Griffin (mid-season). They finished 42-40 and were in the playoff mix until the last couple weeks of the season.

Barring a trade, the team returns DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams, Patrick Beverly, Avery Bradley, and Harris. Adding a piece like Leonard could instantly make L.A. a top team in the West.

The same could be true of the Lakers. Although they don’t have as many good veteran players, a year of improvement and adding Leonard could make them significantly better. Plus, the Lakers have enough cap space to make a future deal with Leonard work.