Group F of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ contains holders Germany and could provide some fascinating encounters. Yet while the world champions are favourites to progress and top the group, there is little to separate the remaining three teams at first glance.
Mexico – Sweden (17 June 2018, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow)
While nothing can be taken for granted at the World Cup, four-time world champions and current FIFA Confederations Cup holders Germany are widely expected to top this group. That means that this duel between Mexico and Sweden could play a vital role in determining who secures the second Round of 16 spot – although Korea Republic will also be keen to have a say in the matter.
What you need to know
• Germany and Mexico met in the semi-final of the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia in June 2017. Although the Europeans were 4-1 winners on that occasion, Marco Fabian scored the most spectacular goal of the tournament during the match.
• In an unexpected twist, Korea Republic have played Germany on three previous occasions and Sweden four times, but have contested a scarcely believable 12 games against Mexico. El Tri emerged victorious in six of these matches, including a 3-1 win in their only previous World Cup meeting at France 1998.
• Having already overcome three former World Cup finalists in their bid to qualify for Russia 2018, Sweden now face a team with a record eight World Cup Final appearances – Germany. Many football fans may not remember that Sweden are also former finalists, having lost 5-2 to Pele’s Brazil on home turf in 1958.
16 – The number of goals scored in the two matches between Sweden and Germany during 2014 FIFA World Cup™ qualification. Joachim Low’s side threw away a 4-0 lead in an incredible game in Berlin in October 2012 that ultimately ended 4-4. A year later in Solna, the Germans turned a 2-0 deficit into a 5-3 win.