World Cup 2018 – Group F preview
When it is Germany at a World Cup, you can expect them to make a run. They’ve made at least the quarterfinals in every tournament since 1982, and they’ve been in the semi-finals in every tournament since 2002.
This team no longer has Schweinsteiger, Podolski, Lahm or Klose, but you can argue squad is even better and has more potential. Expect Joachim Low’s team to make it at least to the semi-finals and possibly go back-to-back.
Key Man – Toni Kroos
Keeping the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires his team-mates.
Coach – Joachim Low
Low took over after the 2006 tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title.
Similar to how Germany always seems to make it to the semi-finals, Mexico always seems to make it at least to the Round of 16.
One has to wonder what 39-year-old Rafa Marquez’s role will be, and if it is anything other than locker room leader, he’ll be an easy, slow target for attackers. This Mexican team has some serious quality, especially in the final third, but a tricky group could mean a group stage exit.
Key Man – Hirving Lozano
“Chucky” may be just 22, but he’s an established budding star who has the potential to score a big summer move.
Coach – Juan Carlos Osorio
Known for his detailed planning, but struggles with self-control and was suspended after being sent off at the Confederations Cup.
Not as talented as in the past, especially with no Ibra, it’s hard seeing a way this team can get out of the group.
Having to face Germany and Mexico is a daunting task, so it’s likely the Swedes play three matches and head home. But if they can get three points in the opener against South Korea, anything can happen. The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team.
Key Man – Emil Forsberg
The 26-year-old winger is an impressive, speedy and clinical player who will see the ball plenty. He’s been at RB Leipzig since 2013.
Coach – Janne Andersson
Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic.
This team is good enough to get out of this group, but it’s going to be tough having to face two countries that are clearly better in Germany and Mexico.
The most likely scenario is they crash out in the group stage, but if they can beat Sweden in the opener and hold Mexico to a draw, they’ll be in great shape. Much will depend on a trio of Premier League players – Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, Swansea’s Ki Sung-yeung and Crystal Palace’s Lee Chung-yong
Key Man – Son Heung-min
Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers.
Coach – Shin Tae-yong
Defeats to Qatar & China threw South Korea’s qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach came to steady the ship.