By Sunday, the 2018 World Cup will be well underway in Russia and – with two days of matches already played – sees the current holders begin the defence of a trophy they won four years ago in Brazil. Taking on a Mexico side who perennially qualify for the second round, Joachim Löw’s men will need to shrug off their recent inconsistent form while also hoping Manuel Neuer is fit enough to perform at his best.
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper started the last two friendlies for Die Mannschaft after managing a total of just four club appearances in 2017/18 due to a broken foot. The Coach has other issues too, midfielders Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan booed by their own fans in recent outings after the duo met with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a public show of support.
Germany’s win over Saudi Arabia in their final warm up match marked their first win since qualifying ended, coming after a surprise loss to Austria and draws with England, France and Spain. Mexico have also struggled, winning just two of their past five matches. They beat Iceland 3-0 in the United States in March and Scotland at home earlier this month, but drew 0-0 with Wales, lost to 1-0 to Croatia and suffered a 2-0 defeat away to Denmark.
This fixture will mark the fourth time these two nations have gone head-to-head at the World Cup, with Germany currently undefeated against El Tri. They won 6-0 back in 1978 and then 2-1 in 1998, drawing 0-0 in 1986 before running out 4-1 winners in a penalty shootout, while Mexico have managed just one victory (in June 1985) in their 12 meetings against Germany overall.
Löw’s side also emerged with a 4-1 triumph when they faced off in last summer’s Confederations Cup, while Germany also boast a proud record of winning their opening game at each of the last seven World Cup tournaments.
Another victory here seems inevitable, and finding value in them doing so is quite difficult given that they are 1/2 favourites with a Mexico win as high as 13/2 with Bet365. However, the same bookmaker is offering 5/2 on a Germany win with both teams scoring, something which might well be worth a look.
While he might be expected to start this match, it is difficult to overlook Thomas Muller’s impact on Germany’s recent success. The versatile Bayern Munich man has scored more goals (10) and registered more assists (6) at World Cups than any other active player and he is still only 28 years old.
Muller is available at 23/5 to score the last goal of the game or 33/20 to find the net at any time with 888sport, something which is unquestionably likely given his performances in those previous competitions.
The same bookmaker is offering an excellent 30/1 on Muller to finish as the tournament’s leading goal scorer, but there may be even more value in backing him at 6/1 to simply be in the top four for that award. His previous record plus Germany’s relatively easy group – they will also face Sweden and South Korea) gives him every chance of doing just that.
Perhaps the other way to benefit from a Germany win is to back them to showcase their attacking qualities at the expense of Mexico. That previous meeting contained no fewer than five goals, and Löw has a plethora of attacking options available to him, so much so that he felt able to leave Manchester City star Leroy Sane and Mario Gotze – who scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup Final – out of his squad altogether.
Yet even without them, the Coach has no shortage of firepower, pushing Timo Werner, Marco Reus, Mesut Ozil and Julian Draxler all into the starting XI and many more options on a very powerful German bench. With that in mind, perhaps a look at Germany winning and over 2.5 goals is a better option. Available at 13/10 with Betway, it really does seem the most likely outcome and is certainly worth considering.