Soccer

Germany looks to avoid Curse of Champions, as other three battle for second in this group

Mesut Ozil will try to lead Germany to back-to-back World Cup titles. No team has defended a World Cup title since Brazil in 1962.
Mesut Ozil will try to lead Germany to back-to-back World Cup titles. No team has defended a World Cup title since Brazil in 1962. AP

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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.

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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.

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Bayern's Thomas Mueller watches the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Moenchengladbach in Munich, Germany, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

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.

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In this image taken on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 Mexico forward Javier Hernandez jogs across the field talking to an official, not pictured, during a international friendly soccer match against Croatia in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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)

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Tottenham's Son Heung-min vies for the ball with Watford's Christian Kabasele during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford at Wembley stadium in London, Monday, April 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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).

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In this image taken on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 Sweden's Sebastian Larsson celebrates at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

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.

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