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WORLD CUP 2018 - Group F Preview: Can Mexico, Sweden & South Korea prevent Germany domination?

Up until the first ball is kicked in the Luzhniki Stadium Stadium in Moscow, Tribal will be providing you with in-depth analysis of all the 32 teams that will compete for the Jules Rimet Trophy.

Here are the previews for:

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group E

Now let's continue with Group F, which features Germany, Mexico, Sweden & South Korea


How did they get here?

Joachim Low's side breezed through qualifying with a perfect record and looked primed to challenge for their fifth title. Die Mannschaft will try and become just the second country to defend their World Cup crown.

Who are they?

Germany have maintained, if not slightly improved, the quality of their squad from four years ago. Gone are Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Klose and replaced with the likes of Kimmich, Goretzka and Werner. The European superpower has made every major semi-final since Low was appointed in 2006 and credit must go to the 58-year-old for learning from his mistakes and tailoring a system to suit his talented squad. After losing to Spain in the final of Euro 2008, Low went back to the drawing board to try and emulate La Roja's possession football. Now the Germans not only thrive with the ball, they are perhaps more physical, organised and talented than the Spaniards. The key men remain from that fateful night in Brazil and will be looked upon to lead their younger teammates. Manuel Neuer will start if he is fit, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen isn't a half bad replacement either. Leroy Sane's omission came as a surprise to everyone, but Low has earned the right to be trusted on such a decision. From top to bottom, Germany are stacked with every necessary tool needed to go all the way in Russia.

The young player to watch…

Julian Brandt. Low chose Brandt over Sane, which tells you how much the Germans rate him. Bayer Leverkusen could be swamped with offers if the 23-year-old gets a chance to shine.

How will they advance?

Group stage fixtures: Germany (June 17 - Moscow), Sweden (June 23 - Sochi), South Korea (June 27 - Kazan)


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

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

Midfielders: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich), Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen)

Forwards: Mario Gomez (Stuttgart), Timo Werner (Leipzig)


How did they get here?

Los Tri topped their CONCACAF qualifying group, finishing five points ahead of Costa Rica. The Mexicans will be hoping to break their knockout round curse in Russia, having been knocked out at the last-16 for the last six straight World Cup's.

Who are they?

For the first time in their history, the vast majority of Mexico's squad is encompassed by players plying their trade outside of their own borders. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, their record top goalscorer, has a young and talented supporting cast around him. Manager Juan Carlos Osorio will use a flexible 4-3-3, with Hirving "Chucky" Lozano - who enjoyed a breakout season with PSV - and Jesus "Tecatito" Corona joining Hernandez in attack. Porto star Hector Herrera will be the general in midfield. At the back, experience and tenacity make up for a defence that isn't blessed with immense talent. The Dos Santos brothers can provide a spark and Andres Guardado has proved his quality again this season with Betis. However, fitness concerns could derail Mexico's tournamen. Osorio confirmed recently that five players - including Guardado and the dos Santos brothers - would miss the tournament if it started in May.

The young player to watch…

Hirving "Chucky" Lozano. The 22-year-old is wanted by a host of top European clubs and will earn PSV even more money with a top showing in Russia.

How will they advance?

The Mexico medical staff must work tirelessly to get their best players on the pitch or else it will be much a tougher avenue to the knockout rounds.

Group stage fixtures: Germany (June 17 - Moscow), South Korea (June 23 - Rostov-on-Don), Sweden (June 27 - Ekaterinburg)


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

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

Midfielders: Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Hector Herrera (Porto), Rafa Marquez (Atlas)

Forwards: Javier Aquino (Tigres), Jesus Corona (Porto), Javier Hernandez (West Ham United), Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Oribe Peralta (Club America), Carlos Vela (LAFC)


How did they get here?

Beating Italy in the European play-off was no mean feat from the Zlatan-less Swedes. This is the first time the Blagult have qualified for the tournament since 2006.

Who are they?

The loss of Ibrahimovic has actually helped Sweden develop a more balanced and concise tactical approach. The football won't be entertaining, but at least manager Janne Andersson has got his players on the same page. Victor Lindelof will be central to organising a solid back four within Andersson's 4-4-2 system. With Ola Toivonen and Marcus Berg forming a towering strike partnership, Sweden will play no nonsense, direct football in Russia, which could be exactly what they need to advance past their more aesthetically pleasing Group F opponents. The downside of losing Ibrahimovic is their lack of cutting edge, something that now rests on the shoulders of Emil Forsberg.

The young player to watch…

Emil Forsberg. While not necessarily young at 26 years of age, the RB Leipzig midfielder, who is being pursued by the likes of Arsenal and Barcelona, could catapult himself into the big time with an impressive tournament.

How will they advance?

Sweden must be efficient at both ends. The defence will be under pressure constantly, while their attackers must be clinical as chances will be few and far between.

Group stage fixtures: South Korea (June 17 - Samara), Germany (June 22 - St. Petersburg), Mexico June 27 - Nizhny Novgorod)


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

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)

South Korea

How did they get here?

The Red Devils finished second behind Iran in their AFC qualification group. It is their ninth straight trip to the World Cup finals, but they have only advanced past the group stage twice.

Who are they?

Despite deficiencies all over the ground, Heung-min Son's presence and a sprinkling of quality makes South Korea tough opponents in Group F. Captain and Swansea midfielder Ki Sung-yueng will lead the midfield in Shin Tae-yong's 4-4-2 system. Son undoubtedly holds the key for his country. But that doesn't mean he'll be alone up front. Emerging youngster Hwang Hee-chan scored 13 goals in 36 appearances for Red Bull Salzburg and is capable of bearing some of the responsibility. It is at the back where the Koreans will struggle and could decide their fate in the tournament.

The young player to watch…

Hwang Hee-chan. The 22-year-old has been linked with Spurs and could well earn a big move if he fires his country into the last-16.

How will they advance?

It the South Korean defence can kept tight, then Son may have a chance to win the game for his country. If not, it'll be an early exit for the 2002 semi-finalists.

Group stage fixtures: Sweden (June 17 - Samara), Mexico (June 22 - Rostov-on-Don), Germany (June 27 - Moscow)


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

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 City), Jung Woo-young (Vissel Kobe), Ju Se-jong (Asan Mugunghwa FC), Koo Ja-cheol (FC 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 Hotspur), Hwang Hee-chan (FC Red Bull Salzburg)

Andrew Maclean
About the author

Andrew Maclean

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