2018 World Cup – Group F preview: Germany, Mexico, Sweden & South Korea

2018 World Cup – Group F preview: Germany, Mexico, Sweden & South Korea
Germany's team reacts after the international friendly soccer match between Germany and Saudi Arabia in Leverkusen, Germany

by Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Jun 12, 2018. 14:30

2018 World Cup, Group F

Dates – 17-27 June, 2018

Venues – Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi, Kazan, Yekaterinburg

Reigning and four-time World Cup champions Germany face a tricky challenge from Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in Group F at Russia 2018, but Joachim Low’s side will still be expected to advance emphatically into the last 16.

Germany, who returned to the top of world football four years in ago in Brazil, are arguably even stronger now, with their depth aptly demonstrated in 2017 when they sent a second-string team to the Confederation Cup (a dress rehearsal for the World Cup) and still claimed the trophy relatively comfortably.

‘Der Mannschaft’ can still call on players in their prime such as Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller, but their side is evolving into an even more exciting line-up with the emergence of youngsters such as Timo Werner and Joshua Kimmich. Their 100 percent record in their UEFA qualifying group underlines the class and power of this German team.

Their fellow Europeans Sweden will fancy their chances of joining the world champions in the knockout rounds. The ‘Blue-Yellow’ finished behind France (but ahead of the Netherlands) in their qualifying group and went on to defeat Italy in the playoffs – they have had plenty of tough matches in the past 18 months and will be battle hardened for the challenge which awaits them in Russia. However, they can no longer call on ‘X-factor’ player Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose retirement from international football leaves this team looking for a leader and talisman.

Mexico are also a team to be reckoned with, having dominated the CONCACAF qualifiers. Yet ‘El Tri’ have never really lived up to their potential when it comes to the World Cup, and their ageing team may struggle to match their Group F opponents for pace and energy. They will look to Javier Hernandez to continue his excellent scoring record at international level and hope it makes up for their shortcomings.

South Korea didn’t enjoy the most prosperous qualification campaign, as they finished well off the pace of Iran in their AFC group, and can be regarded as the outsiders in this foursome. Yet they still boast some talented players, especially forward Son Heung-min. The Tottenham Hotspur man is hard-working, versatile and has a keen eye for goal. If he can set the bar high enough for his teammates, the ‘Taegeuk Warriors’ may just spring a surprise or two.

Group F fixtures (all times CAT)

17 June 2018, 17h00 – Germany v Mexico – Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
18 June 2018, 14h00 – Sweden v South Korea – Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
23 June 2018, 17h00 – South Korea v Mexico – Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don
23 June 2018, 20h00 – Germany v Sweden – Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
27 June 2018, 16h00 – South Korea v Germany – Kazan Arena, Kazan
27 June 2018, 16h00 – Mexico v Sweden – Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

Group F head-to-heads (as per FIFA stats database, in reference to ‘home’ team)

Germany v Mexico – P11 W5 D5 L1 GF24 GA10
Sweden v South Korea – P4 W2 D2 L0 GF17 GA3
South Korea v Mexico – P12 W4 D2 L6 GF15 GA24
Germany v Sweden – P36 W15 D9 L12 GF70 GA60
South Korea v Germany – P3 W1 D0 L2 GF5 GA5
Mexico v Sweden – P9 W2 D3 L4 GF5 GA8

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