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2018 World Cup Preview: Group F

Germany

Squad

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Paris St-Germain).

world cup
German National Team. Photo by FIFA.

Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich).

Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Paris St-Germain), Leon Goretska (Schalke), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich).

Forwards: Mario Gomez (Stuttgart), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig).

Manager – Joachim Löw

FIFA Ranking: 1

Odds to Win: 19/4

Preview

Germany is the defending champion of the World Cup. They are one of the most, if not the most talented, team in the competition and they will surely contend for the World Cup again in this tournament. In addition to an uber-talented team, they are coached well by Joachim Löw, who is one of the best coaches in the World Cup. Tactically they are extremely sound. Not only that, “Die Mannschaft“, as they are called are very versatile and able to gobble up possession.

In qualifying for the World Cup, they won all 10 matches scoring 43 goals and only conceding four. In addition, Germany sent an undermanned young squad to the 2016 Confederation’s Cup and managed to win the whole thing. Young contributors from the Confederation’s Cup could make the biggest difference in really pushing this German team back to the finals. Leon Goretzka, Timo Werner, Joshua Kimmich and somehow, Marco Reus, are all making their first appearances in the World Cup.

A battle to watch will between Julian Draxler and Marco Reus who both usually play in the same position. In a recent friendly, Mesut Ozil was the odd man out with Reus occupying his position as the attacking midfielder. That being said, friendly matches are not the most reliable in providing information so it could be nothing.

Mexico

Squad

Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul).

World Cup
Mexican National Team. Photo by FIFA.

Defenders: Carlos Salcedo (Eintracht Frankfurt), Diego Reyes (Porto), Hector Moreno (Real Sociedad), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Edson Alvarez (America), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey), Miguel Layun (Sevilla).

Midfielders: Rafael Marquez (Atlas), Hector Herrera (Porto), Jonathan dos Santos, Giovani dos Santos (both LA Galaxy), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Jesus Corona (Porto).

Forwards: Javier Hernandez (West Ham), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Oribe Peralta (America), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC), Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt).

Manager: Juan Carlos Osorio

FIFA Ranking: 15

Odds to Win: 100/1

Preview

Mexico is a strong team and has some good players in their prime right now. Javier Hernández, who plays for West Ham in the Premier League, is seen as the best of the bunch. His striking ability is clearly the best on this roster. Another player who could make a large impact for Mexico is Hirving Lozano. He has excellent pace and footwork. This will open up space for Mexico to play into as other teams start directing attention to Lozano.

First place in this group is probably out of reach for Mexico. However, second place is attainable. Unfortunately, second place would mean that Mexico would likely have to play Brazil in the first knockout game. Which is needless to say, bad. Manager Juan Carlos Osorio is known for his constant changing of formation and lineup. Many people dislike that, and it is not ideal, however, he is a pretty good game manager overall. That being said he is probably on his way out as being eliminated by Brazil seems like the likely result for Mexico. However, deep runs can happen. This Mexican team is talented enough to make it to the quarterfinals.

Sweden

Squad

Goalkeepers: Robin Olsen (Copenhagen), Karl-Johan Johnsson (Guingamp), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea).

World Cup
Swedish National Team. Photo by Sports Illustrated.

Defenders: Mikael Lustig (Celtic), Victor Lindelof (Manchester United), Andreas Granqvist (Krasnador), Martin Olsson (Swansea), Ludwig Augustinsson (Werder Bremen), Filip Helander, Emil Krafth (both Bologna), Pontus Jansson (Leeds United).

Midfielders: Sebastian Larsson (Hull), Albin Ekdal (Hamburg), Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig), Gustav Svensson (Seattle Sounders), Oscar Hiljemark (Genoa), Viktor Claesson (Krasnador), Marcus Rohden (Crotone), Jimmy Durmaz (Toulouse).

Forwards: Marcus Berg (Al Ain), John Guidetti (Alaves), Ola Toivonen (Toulouse), Isaac Kiese Thelin (Waasland-Beveren).

Manager: Janne Andersson

FIFA Ranking: 24

Odds to Win: 150/1

Preview

Sweden making it into the World Cup was a huge surprise. They had to play in the most difficult qualifying group in Europe which included both France and the Netherlands. Sweden then had to win a playoff with Italy which they did, surprising everyone and overcoming what seemed like impossible odds.

Sweden plays a team game with new coach Janne Andersson striving to make them play as a unit. Players that could impress for Sweden and lead them to second place in the group are Emil Forsberg and Viktor Claesson. Who are both precise passers, creative with the ball and capable of distributing the ball all over the field. Marcus Berg is the best striking option for the team as he has been in impeccable form recently. In his league in the UAE he has scored 32 goals in 29 games.

Sweden vs. Mexico will likely be the deciding match for second place in Group F. However, like Mexico, finishing in second place would likely mean matching up against Brazil in the first knockout stage.

South Korea

Squad

Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-gyu (Vissel Kobe), Kim Jin-hyeon (Cerezo Osaka), Cho Hyun-woo (Daegu FC).

World Cup
South Korea’s National Team. Photo by FIFA.

Defenders: Kim Young-gwon (Guangzhou Evergrande), Jang Hyun-soo (FC Tokyo), Jung Seung-hyun (Sagan Tosu), Yun Yong-sun (Seongnam FC), Oh Ban-suk (Jeju United), Kim Min-woo (Sangju Sangmu), Park Joo-ho (Ulsan Hyundai), Hong Chul (Sangju Sangmu), Go Yo-han (FC Seoul), Lee Yong (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors).

Midfielders: Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea), Jung Woo-young (Vissel Kobe), Ju Se-jong (Asan Mugunghwa), Koo Ja-cheol (Augsburg), Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Lee Seung-woo (Hellas Verona), Moon Seon-min (Incheon United).

Forwards: Kim Shin-wook (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Hwang Hee-chan (Red Bull Salzburg).

Manager: Shin Tae-Yong

FIFA Ranking: 57

Odds to Win: 500/1

Preview

South Korea has not been in good form recently. They only scored 11 goals in their 10 qualifying matches. Now they have been given a tough draw landing in possibly the toughest group in the competition. They have a new coach in Shin Tae-Yong after firing their old one. While Son Heung-min is a tremendous talent, other than him this team is pretty talent barren besides Lee Jae-sung and Ki Sung-yueng. South Korea just doesn’t seem to have a chance to make it out of their group this time.

Prediction

Germany will win Group F. Second place will be determined by a showdown between Mexico and Sweden. The most likely victor is Mexico. Germany will likely advance to at least the semi-finals, with a good shot to defend their title. Mexico could be a bit of a surprise if they manage to get on a run in the knockout stages, they have the quality to make a run for the semi-finals.

 

Featured image by FIFA

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