By Neil Leverett
- World Cup Group F preview and predictions
- Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – In the build up to the World Cup, Britwatch Sports will look at every group and give our predictions on who will finish where. Today we look at Group F which features Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.
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June 17th: Germany vs Mexico (19:00)
June 18th: Sweden vs South Korea (13:00)
June 23rd: South Korea vs Mexico (16:00)
June 23rd: Germany vs Sweden (19:00)
June 27th: South Korea vs Germany (15:00)
June 27th: Mexico vs Sweden (15:00)
Fifa World Ranking: 1
World Cup Appearance: 19th
Previous Best: Winners (1954, 1974, 1990, and 2014)
Qualifying: Top in UEFA Group C
Into the arena walk the defending champions Germany. As four-time winners and the number one ranked side, Die Mannschaft are once again amongst the hot favourites to lift the trophy on July 15 in Moscow. Should they achieve it, they would be the first nation in over 50 years to retain the trophy since Brazil won back to back tournaments in 1958 and 1962.
It is obvious to see why Joachim Loew’s men are regarded as candidates. Having left out Manchester City’s Leroy Sane and Bayer Leverkusen stopper Bernd Leno, the Germans boast a unit to strike fear into the opposition. Timo Werner, World Cup goal machine Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez are their options in the striking department alone, but with the likes of Leon Goretzka, Marco Reus, Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil and Julian Brandt, Loew’s option and plentiful.
The German defence will again play a big part in the tournament and Joshua Kimmich is set to be a force at both ends of the field, with central defensive duo Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels still one of the best partnerships around in world football.
Group F is not what one could say weak – far from it – but with the tournament nouse and know-how of getting through to the knockout stages as they always do, I see no reason that they wont finish as top dogs despite a rather surprising warm-up loss to Austria. If both parties reach that far, we could be presented with another meeting of old foes in the quarter-finals against England. Germany for me could well be in Moscow on finals day however.
Fifa World Ranking: 15
World Cup Appearance: 17th
Previous Best: QFs (1970 and 1986)
2014: Last 16
Qualifying: Top in CONCACAF
Mexico are the World Cup’s perennial underachievers. Group F will represent another challenge in El Tri’s quest to replicate their performances of the seventies and late eighties.
Again finishing top of qualifying in Central America, Juan Carlos Osorio’s men have the players to impress and take Mexico through the group stages, but their record in recent years mean there can be no repeat of mistakes and wasted chances versus their capable group opponents.
Hirving Lozano is arguably their marquee player and the PSV forward could light up Russia with his pace and goals. Miguel Layun has proved an adequate goal-getter for his country in Brazil four years ago, whilst Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez could also bring firepower to the Mexican attack.
This issus may lie in a rather creaky back line, as veteran Rafa Marquez prepares to play a remarkable fifth World Cup this summer, having notched 145 caps. Hector Herrera is one Europe’s most underrated midfielders however and will be well organised.
Mexico face off with Germany first up and after an opening loss to them – as many would predict – it might become a psychological battle from thereon in. Whilst I cannot see them touching the Germans, they should however reach another last 16 stage, but looking further than that is probably fanciful.
Fifa World Ranking: 24
World Cup Appearance: 13th
Previous Best: Runners-up (1958)
2014: Did not qualify
Qualifying: Through UEFA play-offs
The Swedes return to the big stage after a 12-year exodus from the World Cup. Having knocked out Italy in the play-offs Sweden are no mugs but could find the going tricky in Group F.
Hopes will be pinned on Emil Forsberg from a creative point of view, but Toulouse’s Jimmy Durmaz could also be one to watch and the Swede’s will be led in attack by Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen.
Defensively, the Blue-Yellow have proved to be a decent side and the pairing of Victor Lindelof and Andreas Granqvist will be no pushover to breakthrough. However, the others teams they will face are on paper purely better than them and I think that will show, Could be a battle to not finish bottom.
Fifa World Ranking: 57
World Cup Appearance: 11th
Previous Best: Fourth (2002)
2014: Group stage
Qualifying: Second in AFC
Finishing second to Iran in Asian qualifying, South Korea will be looking to erase memories of a forgettable competition four years ago, when the Taegeuk Warriors failed to win a single game for the first time since 1998.
Despite the undeniable talents of Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min and skipper Ki-Sung-yueng of Swansea City, the Koreans may lack any the players to even make an impact in Group F.
The Koreans know how to get the job done in the World Cup as their stunning fourth placed showed on home soil, but in truth the Asian side have gone backwards and their ranking does not lie. Progressing to the knockout stages seems like a tall task. Must beat Mexico to stand a chance.
The XXI FIFA World Cup Starts on June 14, as Russia host Saudi Arabia in the tournament’s curtain-raiser in Moscow at 4pm UK time.
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