On Monday, 18 June, Group F will see its second match, Sweden v South Korea, kickoff. Both countries are in the same group as reigning world champions Germany, as well as Mexico. A victory for either side would be precious, as Group F is a daunting prospect for both.
Sweden v South Korea
With Germany playing Mexico in Group F‘s opening game, the opportunity for Sweden or South Korea to enhance their chances of progressing to the knockouts is there. However, both sides are essentially of the same calibre, especially in their respective group, so it could be a tight affair.
Sweden Back on the World Stage
This is Sweden’s first World Cup campaign since 2006. After failing to qualify for the past two, the Swedes finally return to the grandest stage of world football.
The last time they played at the World Cup, they were knocked out by Germany, who they shall face on 23 June.
On their road to Russia, they finished second in their qualification group. Managing to beat France 2-1 in June 2017, Sweden progressed to the second round. Then they went on to face and monumentally beat Italy 1-0 over two legs to qualify.
Star player Emil Forsberg will be one to watch for Sweden. The winger has been highly spoken of within the past season and even been a reported target for Arsenal. Likely to be spearheading the Swedes forward, he shall provide some power down the wing.
In recent times, they have also displayed a stern defence, which showed in their qualifying group, as they only conceded nine goals.
Most notably, this is their first major tournament without Zlatan Ibrahimovic following his retirement from international football in 2016.
South Korea Back to Business
Now in their ninth successive World Cup, South Korea are no strangers to the biggest stage in world football.
Despite qualifying for the World Cup, South Korea endured a rocky qualification campaign. Finishing second in their group, manager Uli Stielike was sacked and replaced by Shin Tae-Yong, following a run of poor results.
However, the Reds still managed to finish second in their group despite a somewhat poor campaign, thus qualifying for their ninth consecutive World Cup.
It goes without saying than Son Heung-Min will be the player they look to for goals. The Spurs player can be a match-winner and has the potential cause problems for oppositions. Additionally, he shall likely be operating as a striker during the tournament.
Captain Ki Sung-Yeung could also provide so much needed experience, in what is a relatively young side. Aged 29, the Swansea City player has made over 100 caps for South Korea.
Sweden v South Korea is a huge chance for both sides to gain half a chance of progressing to the knockout stages. With Germany and Mexico to play, Group F is a daunting prospect for both.
While it may not be the most exhilarating game of the tournament, it is likely that one side will find a breakthrough. Defensively Sweden have proven to be tough opposition. Whereas South Korea can be effective on the counter with Son on the break.
The ability of Son Heung-Min can be a handful, which might be enough for South Korea to just about see off Sweden.
Prediction: Sweden 0-2 South Korea
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images