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.

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.

Germany’s Loss to Mexico Shows Difficulty of Repeating as World Cup Champs

germany-mexico-world-cupGermany comes into the 2018 World Cup looking to defend their title. But they’ve gotten off to a rocky start in their quest to do so.

The Germans lost to Mexico 1-0 in Sunday’s match. This puts Germany last in their group, and they’ll need at least a win and a draw in their next two matches.

Many expect the Germans to still make it out of Group F — despite it being considered the 2018 Cup’s “Group of Death.” But if they don’t advance far in the World Cup, then they won’t be the first defending champion to do so.

Let’s look at how poorly some recent champions have fared in trying to repeat as champs. Also keep in mind that you can bet on World Cup matches and futures here at GTBets.

No World Cup Champ has Defended Their Title in 56 Years

germany-mexico-world-cup-1Pele’s Brazilian team beat Czechoslovakia in the 1962 World Cup, thus defending their title from 1958. Little did Pele know that his squad would be the last to do so for the next five-plus decades.

Defending champs haven’t just failed to repeat since then —they’ve actually done badly. This is especially the case in recent years, with the 2010 and 2014 champions going out in the group stage.

Germany coach Joachim Low believes that his team is different, saying, “That shouldn’t happen to us.” But recent history doesn’t inspire much confidence in this statement.

Their loss to Mexico puts Germany’s backs to the wall. They play a tough Sweden squad, which is leading Group F after a victory over South Korea. And the South Koreans don’t have a bad team either, ranking 57th in the world.

A Look Back at Previous Defending Champs

Here’s the history on how defending World Cup winners have done in their repeat attempts since Brazil defended in 1962:

1966, Brazil – Pele and the Brazilians tried for no. 3 in a row. But their star was hurt in an opening win over Bulgaria. They lost their next two matches against Hungary and Portugal to go out in the group stage.

1970, England – After defeating West Germany to win the 1966 World Cup, England once again faced their nemesis in the 1970 Cup final. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but lost 3-2 in overtime.

1974, Brazil – The Brazilians barely made it out of the group round. Their World Cup ended in the second round (four-team round robin) with a defining 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands.

1978, West Germany – The West Germans made it out of the first group stage. But they lost all of their second-round group matches against Austria, Italy, and the Netherlands.

1982, Argentina – Diego Maradona’s debut at the World Cup didn’t necessarily mark success. Argentina advanced out of the group stage. However, they lost in the second round group stage with defeats to Brazil and Italy.

1986, Italy – This year marked the World Cup’s switch to a single-elimination format after first-round group play. Italy finished second in their group and were defeated by France in the Round of 16.

1990, Argentina – Maradona led his team to the 1986 Cup title. He nearly did it again in 1990, but was denied with a 1-0 loss to Germany in the final.

1994, Germany – This German team lost 2-1 in the quarterfinals to Bulgaria. Later, coach Berti Vogts would say his squad “wasn’t a true team.”

1998, Brazil – The Brazilians made it to the final against host country France. But Ronaldo got sick before the match and played poorly en route to a 3-0 loss.

2002, France – After the upset victory over Brazil on their home soil, the French were a huge letdown four years later. They failed to score a single goal in group play and were bounced with losses to Denmark and Senegal.

2006, Brazil – This year marked a replay of the 1998 Cup Final. France’s Thierry Henry netted the winner that stopped Brazil short on yet another repeat attempt.

2010, Italy – A loss to Slovakia, and draws to Paraguay and South Africa ensured that Italy didn’t make it out of group play.

2014, Spain – La Roja had a horrible start after losing 5-1 to the Netherlands. A 2-0 loss to Chile in the next match sealed their fate. The Spaniards at least went out with a 3-0 victory over Australia.

Goldman Sachs AI Predicts Brazil will Win World Cup – Uses 1 Million Simulations

brazil-world-cup-2018Several countries enter the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a good chance to win. And this makes it tough to predict a winner when looking at World Cup futures. But if you’re looking for help when betting on the future champ, then consider the results from Goldman Sachs’ artificial intelligence program.

The investment firm’s AI used machine learning to create 200,000 models, which come from mining data on players and teams to predict match scores. After going through 1 million variations of the World Cup, Goldman Sachs has determined that Brazil will win the tournament.

AI Shows Match Scores in 2018 World Cup Bracket

The picture shown below features the match results predicted by Goldman Sachs. The numbers listed next to each country dictate whether each team beats its opponent. These numbers also predict the unrounded number of goals scored in each potential iteration of the event.

goldman-sachs-brazil-champ-world-cup

An unnamed member of Goldman Sachs’ research team wrote about the interesting model that they used to predict the World Cup matches and final results.

“We are drawn to machine learning models because they can sift through a large number of possible explanatory variables to produce more accurate forecasts than conventional alternatives,” wrote the employee.

More World Cup Findings from Goldman Sachs

You can see some of the other interesting findings from Goldman Sachs below:

  • Brazil is expected to win its sixth World Cup. The AI predicts that they’ll beat Germany in the championship by an unrounded score of 1.70 to 1.41.
  • France actually maintains the second-highest odds of winning. But their semi-final meeting with Brazil gives them less of a chance to win than Germany, which wouldn’t face the Brazilians until the final.
  • Argentina and Spain — two of the world’s best teams — are expected to fall short of expectations and lose in the quarterfinals.
  • England — one of the most-publicized teams — should have a strong World Cup run. But they’re predicted to lose to Germany in the quarterfinals.
  • Saudi Arabia could be the Cup’s biggest Cinderella, advancing out of their group stage in spite of their lowish world ranking.
  • Russia, the host country, isn’t predicted to make it past the group stage. They’re expected to be upset by Saudi Arabia.

Anything can Happen

Using data from Goldman Sachs’ AI is definitely an interesting way to look at the 2018 World Cup. But you can’t guarantee anything from a betting standpoint just by using results from the program. An author from the study cautions this with the following statement:

“We capture the stochastic nature of the tournament carefully using state-of-the-art statistical methods and we consider a lot of information in doing so. But the forecasts remain highly uncertain, even with the fanciest statistical techniques, simply because football is quite an unpredictable game. This is, of course, precisely why the World Cup will be so exciting to watch.”

2018 World Cup Futures

As covered above, Brazil is expected to take home the World Cup crown this year. And if you’re confident in the Goldman Sachs AI, then you can bet on Brazil through our GTBets World Cup futures.

Also note that you can wager on any of the other favorites too, including Germany, France, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, and England.