Mexico and South Korea take the stage in an 11 a.m. EST Saturday World Cup fixture. Group F has been the source of some of early surprises, as the number-one ranked German squad dropped a 1-0 decision to Mexico last Sunday, while Sweden scored their first international goal in over 400 minutes and won their first World Cup opener since 1958 over South Korea in a 1-0 decision on Monday. However, the favorite should prevail in this tilt.
South Korea, ranked 57th by FIFA, entered the World Cup on a dreadful run, winning just one of its last six friendlies. They’ve done well to make every World Cup since 1998, but they’ve won only one of their last nine tournament games. That effort, a 2-0 decision over Greece in 2010, is also South Korea’s only shutout in their last 12 World Cup matches.
South Korea’s lone notable player is 25-year-old Son Heung-min, the highest-scoring Asian-born player in Premier League history (20 goals), but he was held in check by the Swedes on Monday. In fact, South Korea failed to register a shot on goal in that loss. Their coach, Shin Tae-yong, resorted to strange tactics against Sweden, using an aggressive attack formation and starting third-string goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo.
Mexico began the World Cup ranked 15th and managed to notch an upset win over Germany on Sunday. They had an abundance of chances early on and hit pay dirt in the 35th minute with a Hirving Lozano goal. Germany battled back furiously in the second half, but goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was equal to the task. Appearing in his fourth career World Cup, Ochoa recorded a nine-save shutout over the defending World Cup champions. Mexico’s defense would appear to be a strength going into their match with South Korea. And Miguel Layun, Mexico’s lead striker who took five shots against the Germans (one on goal), should have plenty of chances against South Korea’s shoddy defense on Saturday.
The money line odds on Mexico are too low to make a hefty profit on, as they’re anywhere from -170 to -200, depending on where you look. That means, at best, that you would have to risk $170 to make a $100 profit. However, many oddsmakers are offering Mexico -1 at odds of just over even money. This means a one-goal ‘El Tri’ triumph would result in a push, but a two-goal or more victory, which is a great possibility, would net a much nicer profit.
Mexico should make light work of an overmatched South Korea squad, so don’t be afraid to back them on the goal line instead of the money line. Just keep in mind that soccer matches typically offer ‘three-way’ betting, meaning a draw is a separate outcome and does not result in refunds on either team.
The pick: Mexico -1 (+105)