Group F Preview & Tips: World Champions Germany to advance with Mexico or Sweden

Germany are expected to comfortably win Group F, but the battle to finish second could go down to the wire.
Germany's Thomas Muller, Andre Schurrle, Benedikt Hoewedes and Mario Goetze celebrate after Gotze scores the winner against Argentina in Brazil (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

2018 World Cup Group F Preview & Tips


Current World Champions Germany are clear favourites to win Group F, with Die Mannschaft manager Joachim Löw boasting an extremely talented, experienced and deep squad. Not much separates Mexico and Sweden in the battle for second place with little expected from South Korea.

Germany


Germany are aiming to become the first country since Brazil in 1962 to retain the World Cup trophy. Boasting a rich history in the tournament, Die Mannschaft have won four World Cups and will equal Brazil with five if they can triumph in Russia. Manager Joachim Löw has been in charge since 2006 and enjoyed tremendous success, having never failed to reach the semi-finals of every international tournament contested.  

Germany breezed through qualification, the only team to win every game and doing so by scoring 43 goals with just four conceded. The goals were scored by 21 different players which highlights the difficulty Löw has in selecting his squad. 2014 winners Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker have all retired but the players coming through have more than enough quality to compensate.

Joshua Kimmich, Antonio Rüdiger, Niklas Süle, Emre Can, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sané and Timo Werner are just some of the players emerging for Germany who have developed a production line of top class talent for many years to come. Werner has scored seven goals in his first 10 appearances for Die Mannschaft and at 22-years-old could potentially eclipse Miroslav Klose’s record of 16 World Cup goals.

With experienced campaigners in Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller, the Germans have only one thought heading to Russia, winning the World Cup. They should have little difficulty winning Group F before the serious business begins.
  

Mexico


Mexico have a long history at the World Cup and will be participating in their 7th consecutive tournament in Russia. El Tri have got past the group stage in each of their past six World Cups but never managed to go further than the round of 16. The Mexicans qualified for the World Cup top of their qualification group, losing the last match at Honduras with qualification assured.

Mexico's Javier Hernandez will be a key player for El Tri in Russia (Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images)

Colombian manager Juan Carlos Osorio has been at the helm since 2015 and should have enough talent at his disposal to reach the round of 16. Led by goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and captain Andrés Guardado, El Tri have an abundance of top quality attackers including Carlos Vela, Jesús Corona, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez and 22-year-old sensation Hirving Lozano who is set to announce himself on the world stage.

Chicharito has struggled since his move to West Ham this season, but Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer needs just two goals to become Mexico’s greatest ever goal scorer at the World Cup. The big query surrounding El Tri is their midfield, with little depth beyond Héctor Herrera and Guardado. Mexico are one of the most unpredictable teams at the World Cup and should provide plenty of entertainment one way or another.

Korea Republic


Korea Republic, also known as South Korea, qualified for their ninth consecutive World Cup in unconvincing fashion. Finishing nine points behind Iran, the Taegeuk Warriors qualified in second position by scoring 11 goals and conceding 10 with a record of four wins, three draws and three defeats from their 10 games. 

Manager Tae-Yong Shinhas been in charge since July 2017 and comes into the tournament with an unimpressive resume despite winning the AFC Champions League with Seongnam FC in 2010. Shin will be relying heavily on Heung-Min Son who is clearly Korea Republic’s most influential player. The 2017 Asian player of the year has excelled for Tottenham this season and will need to be at his best for Korea to reach the round of 16.

Swansea’s Sung-Yong Ki and Augsburg’s Ja-Cheol Koo are likely to be important players alongside Son while Red Bull Salzburg’s 22-year-old striker Hee-Chan Hwang is quietly making a name for himself and will have a chance to impress in Russia. The Koreans surprised many by finishing fourth on home soil in 2002 but will struggle to get out of Group F in Russia.

Sweden


Sweden boast a proud history in the World Cup having finished 3rd in 1994 after an agonising semi-final defeat against eventual champions Brazil. The Blue-Yellow haven’t appeared on football’s biggest stage since 2006 when they were knocked out in the round of 16 against Germany. Sweden’s road to Russia was particularly difficult, eventful and unlikely.

Will Zlatan Ibrahimovic be selected to represent Sweden in the World Cup? (Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Finishing second behind France and edging the Netherlands on goal difference, Sweden faced Italy in the play-offs with few giving them much hope. Jakob Johansson’s winner in the first leg was enough to get his nation through however, and the Swedes will go to Russia with an decent chance of reaching the knockout rounds alongside Germany.

Manager Janne Andersson has been in charge since 2016 and deserves much of the credit for guiding his nation to Russia. Emil Forsberg has emerged as the most influential player for Sweden while much will be expected from Victor Lindelöf. Striker Marcus Berg scored eight goals in qualification but the question about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s selection is likely to dominate the news until Andersson finalises his squad. 

Verdict


Germany should comfortably top the group with Mexico and Sweden battling it out for second place. Mexico have the pedigree to qualify but Sweden proved they are a tough and resilient side without Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

Qualify from Group E: Mexico at 2.08
Finish bottom of Group F: Korea Republic at 2.10

2018 FIFA World Cup Tips

Matthew Marshall 04 May 2018

2018 FIFA World Cup Previews & Tips