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World Cup group previews
Miami Herald soccer writer Michelle Kaufman breaks down each group in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and selects her top two teams that will advance out of the group stage.
The 2018 World Cup is less than a month away. The opening game is June 14 in Moscow. Defending champion Germany looks just as strong as four years ago, and poised to win it all again. Here's a look at Group F.
Germany: The defending World Cup champions have some new faces, but Germany is still Germany and could become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Brazil in 1962. That is, if it can overcome the Curse of Champions. Three of the past four winners lost in the first round of the next Cup — France (2002), Italy (2010), Spain (2014). Mesut Ozil and Thomas Mueller will be key.
Mexico: The Mexicans are back for the seventh time in a row but have never gotten past the quarterfinals. They have a shot to advance from the group with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (West Ham) and Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC, formerly Arsenal and Real Sociedad)
South Korea: They finished fourth as co-hosts in 2002, but the South Koreans likely won’t get that far this time. Watch for English Premier League players Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) and Ki Sung-Yeung (Swansea).
Sweden: The Swedes, who knocked out Italy in a qualifying playoff, are back after a 12-year absence. Their best finish was third in 1994, but few expect them to make a deep run in Russia.
Prediction: Germany wins the group easily, Mexico edges Sweden and South Korea for second spot.