Gustav Svensson

World Cup Group F Preview: What Gustav Svensson and Sweden can expect

Gustav Svensson and Sweden needed plenty of drama to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, finishing second in UEFA qualifying on goal difference to knock out the Netherlands before staving off Italy 1-0 on aggregate in a two-leg playoff. The Blågult will need to replicate that form in a formidable Group F with Germany, Mexico and South Korea. Here’s what you need to know about Sweden:


FIFA ranking: 24
Players to watch: Gustav Svensson, Marcus Berg, Emil Forsberg
Schedule:


  • Monday, June 18: Sweden vs. South Korea, Nizhny Novgorod, 5 a.m. PT
  • Saturday, June 23: Sweden vs. Germany, Sochi, 11 a.m. PT
  • Wednesday, June 27: Sweden vs. Mexico, Ekaterinburg, 7 a.m. PT


Sweden conceded just nine goals in 12 UEFA qualifying matches and will need to be just as stalwart defensively against the offensive firepower opposite them. This is Sweden’s first World Cup since 2006, and one notably without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but this is an experienced team-first squad that has the capability to sneak out of the group with a convincing win over South Korea and at least a draw with Mexico.



Here’s a quick breakdown of what Svensson & Co. are up against:




Germany:


FIFA ranking: 1
Players to watch: Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil, Timo Werner

World Cup Group F Preview: What Gustav Svensson and Sweden can expect -



Timo Werner celebrates his goal in a friendly vs. France | Reuters

Germany are the defending World Cup champions and enter as one of the favorites yet again. The No. 1 team in the FIFA rankings, Die Mannschaft manager Joachim Löw is spoiled for choice with the amount of talent at his disposal. Bayern Munich star Thomas Müller and 22-year-old Red Bull Leipzig phenom Timo Werner are goal machines while Arsenal attacker Mesut Özil will pull the strings underneath.


Mexico:


FIFA ranking: 15
Players to watch: Chicarito Hernández, Hirving Lozano, Carlos Vela

World Cup Group F Preview: What Gustav Svensson and Sweden can expect -



Chicharito celebrates his goal against Portugal in the 2017 Confederations Cup | Reuters

Mexico bring another strong and talented team and they’ll be hoping to get past the Round of 16, something they haven’t accomplished in the last six World Cups. Chicharito is still the star of the Mexican attack, but Hirving Lozano and Carlos Vela each figure to play important roles. El Tri haven’t had the most successful tune-up friendlies either, just barely beating Scotland and drawing Wales, neither of which qualified for Russia.


South Korea:


FIFA ranking: 57
Players to watch: Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan

World Cup Group F Preview: What Gustav Svensson and Sweden can expect -



Son (13) celebrates his goal in a friendly against Honduras | Reuters

South Korea are led by English Premier League star Son, the Tottenham attacker who is South Korea’s best chance at creating offensively. Twenty-two-year Red Bull Salzburg forward Hwang Hee-chan is an up-and-coming force in the making, but it likely won’t be enough in one of the strongest groups in the tournament. South Korea have only advanced to the Knockout Rounds once in the last three World Cups.

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