World Cup 2018 Preview – Group F
The defending World Cup champions, Germany, have been drawn in Group F along with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.
This is not the easiest of groups, with each of these teams capable of given the Germans a good game. However, thanks to the strength of the German squad, there is likely to be one other place available in the top two for the other three teams to qualify.
Germany start the 2018 World Cup aiming to become the first country since Brazil in 1962 to successfully retain the trophy they won four years earlier.
There is little to suggest this group of German players cannot rise to the challenge and they qualified for Russia with ease from a group which offered little challenge.
Not only do Germany have a very talented team, they have incredible strength in depth and this is what could be the difference between them and the other nations at the 2018 World Cup.
Manager: Joachim Low took over from Jurgen Klinsmann following the 2006 World Cup and has led Germany on a steady incline of success, culminating in the World Cup win in Brazil. He has what it takes to do it again.
Key Player: Germany have so many great players but the presence of Toni Kroos in midfield cannot be underestimated. The Real Madrid man controls the tempo of the team and is crucial.
Mexico are a team who regularly appear at the World Cup but never seem to get themselves in a position to go far in the tournament.
They have twice reached the quarter-final, with the most recent being 1986 when Mexico hosted the event. The Tri made light work of a qualifying group containing Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras and United States to reach the 2018 World Cup and if they play to their maximum, can progress to the Round of 16.
Manager: Juan Carlos Osorio has enjoyed an interesting managerial career and employs plenty of pace in Mexico’s attack. However, his temperament is in question having been suspended for six games following aggressive touchline behaviour.
Key Player: Mexico have some quick players, none more so than young forward, Hirving Lozano. The PSV man could announce himself to the world stage in this tournament and in doing so take Mexico to the knockout stages.
The Swedes enjoyed great success in the early years of the World Cup, having finished second, third and fourth between 1938 and 1958.
Their greatest achievement in recent times has been reaching the semi-final of the 1994 World Cup and in their last two appearances at the 2002 and 2006 tournaments, Sweden reached the Round of 16.
Having knocked Italy out at the playoff stage of UEFA qualification, Sweden have a lot to live up to in Russia but may fall just short in a difficult group.
Manager: Janne Andersson has been manager of the Swedish team since 2016 and has done well to get the best from his players. Whether it will be enough to compete at the World Cup remains to be seen.
Key Player: Attacking midfielder, Emil Forsberg, holds the key to any success for Sweden this summer. The RB Leipzig player will need to score goals from midfield.
South Korea were involved in one of the most dramatic games in recent World Cup history when they came back from 1-0 down to defeat Italy in the Round of 16 at the 2002 World Cup.
They reached the semi-final of that tournament, which was hosted by themselves and Japan but they are outsiders to qualify from this group and repeat that performance.
During qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, South Korea were excellent in-front of their own fans but struggled when asked to play away and that could be their downfall in Russia.
Manager: Shin Tae-yong was appointed the coach of South Korea following defeats to Qatar and China in qualifying. He steadied the ship but his experience is limited to managing in South Korea and Australia.
Key Player: Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min is the main man for South Korea and if his teammates can get the ball to him in attacking areas, he has the pace and movement to hurt teams.