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2018 World Cup: Group F Primer, TV Scheules - Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden

Germany are the defending champs and are seemingly a lock for the knockout rounds. But who will survive between Mexico, Korea and Sweden to join them there?

Germany v France - Semi Final: UEFA Euro 2016
It’s a shame Basti won’t be able to win the World Cup with both Germany and Chicago.
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Group F, where you come for Germany but stay for the solid team play of Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.

The defending champs have a tricky but not overpowering group and face Mexico right out of the gate in their first match. A result for Mexico in that game could take a lot of pressure off their remaining games but it will still take a lot to break down a tough defensive team like Sweden and avoid an upset against Korea.

Why do we call this a “primer” and not a preview? Because this is more a lot of key information in one place that I think is a handy reference for viewers rather than a ton of specific analysis on what each team can or could do at the World Cup.

TV SCHEDULE

June 17

Germany vs. Mexico, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow (11 am ET, FS1, Telemundo)

June 18

Sweden vs. South Korea, Nizhny Novgorod (8 am ET, FS1, Telemundo)

June 23

South Korea vs. Mexico, Rostov (11 am ET, Fox, Telemundo)

Germany vs. Sweden, Sochi (2 pm ET, Fox, Telemundo)

June 27

South Korea vs. Germany, Kazan (10 am ET, *FS1, Universo)

Mexico vs. Sweden, Ekaterinburg (10 am ET, *Fox, Telemundo)

GERMANY [GER/F1]

Head Coach: Joachim Low (GER)

Rankings: FIFA 1 / ELO 1

Nickname: Die Mannschaft

Qualification: UEFA (Europe) Group C Winners

Appearance: 19th / Best Finish: Champions (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)

Roster Breakdown: 15 Domestic, 3 England, 2 France, 2 Spain, 1 Italy

Recent Results: June 2, at Austria, L 1-2; June 8, vs. Saudi Arabia, W 2-0

Players You Should Know: Everyone

Player You Should Watch: GK Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich (GER), 76 caps - Neuer is a brilliant shot stopper, but you should watch him for the times he comes off his line and does amazing and often times absolutely filthy skill moves while on the ball away from goal.

TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK

Germany basically showed up last summer to the Confederations Cup with a “B” side and won that tournament handily. When this machine is running at anything close to peak effectiveness, which is most of the time, Germany are a dominant force. The group overall might be a bit tricky since they face Mexico first, but it’s a favorable draw at the bottom of the bracket if they win the group. Anything less than the semifinals would be a tremendous shock.

MEXICO [MEX/F2]

Head Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio (COL), shout out to a Southern Connecticut State Univ. graduate

Rankings: FIFA 15 / ELO 18

Nickname: El Tri

Qualification: CONCACAF (N America) “The Hex” Champions

Appearance: 16th / Best Finish: Quarterfinals (1970, 1986)

Roster Breakdown: 9 Domestic, 3 USA/MLS, 3 Spain, 2 Germany, 2 England, 2 Portugal, 1 Belgium, 1 Netherlands

Recent Results: 28 May, vs Wales (in USA), D 0-0; June 2, vs Scotland, W 1-0; June 9, at Denmark, L 0-2

Player You Should Know: FW Javier Hernandez, West Ham Utd (ENG), 102 caps / 49 goals - Already Mexico’s all-time leading international scorer, Chicharito has a chance to become El Tri’s all-time World Cup scorer. He has three career goals at the tournament, one behind countryman Luis Hernandez, who scored four times in the 1998 edition.

Player You Should Watch: DF Miguel Layun, Sevilla (ESP), 64 caps / 6 goals - Had a breakout Gold Cup a few years ago and never looked back, an attack minded fullback/wingback who has bounced around in his club career recently.

TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK

Since 1994, Mexico has qualified for every World Cup and been eliminated in the Round of 16. Their only two previous appearances in the quarterfinals were as hosts and I don’t expect that to chance. They can make it out of the group, but it will likely be as runners up and that likely means Brazil in the knockout stages.

SOUTH KOREA [KOR/F4]

Head Coach: Shin Tae-Yong (KOR)

Rankings: FIFA 57 / ELO 39

Nickname: Taegeuk Warriors

Qualification: AFC (Asia) Third Round Group A Runners-up

Appearance: 10th / Best Finish: Fourth Place (2002)

Roster Breakdown: 12 Domestic, 5 Japan, 2 EPL (ENG/WAL), 1 China, 1 Italy, 1 Germany, 1 Austria

Recent Results: May 28, vs Honduras, W 2-0; June 1, vs Bosnia and Herzegovina, L 1-3; June 7, vs Bolivia (in Austria), D 0-0; June 11, at Senegal (in Austria), L 0-2

Players You Should Know/Watch: MF Ki Sung-yueng and FW Son Heung-min, combined 169 caps / 31 goals - The EPL duo from Swansea (just relegated) and Tottenham are the stars on an otherwise largely domestic/regional roster. Son has scored double digit goals for Spurs in each of the last two seasons.

TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK

Their run to the semifinals as hosts in 2002 remains one of my fondest World Cup memories, but aside from qualifying for nine straight tournaments, they have only one other knockout stage appearance in 2010. They gave up 10 goals in their qualifying group enroute to a 4-3-3 record which seems very mediocre given the overall strength of the group. Son could be great and it might not be enough to get Korea out of the group.

SWEDEN [SWE/F3]

Head Coach: Janne Andersson (SWE)

Rankings: FIFA 24/ ELO 21

Nickname: Blagult (The Blue-Yellow)

Qualification: UEFA (Europe) Aggregate Playoff Winners vs. Italy 1-0

Appearance: 12th / Best Finish: Runners-up (1958)

Roster Breakdown: 0 Domestic, 4 Italy, 3 France, 3 England, 3 Germany, 2 Wales, 2 Russia, 1 Denmark, 1 Scotland, 1 USA/MLS, 1 UAE, 1 Belgium, 1 Spain

Recent Results: June 2, vs. Denmark, D 0-0; June 9, vs Peru, D 0-0

Player You Should Know: MF Sebastian Larsson, Hull City (ENG), 100 caps / 6 goals - Only Swedish player on the roster with a century mark of international games, Larsson has been a solid holding mid in the English Championship mostly with Sunderland and Hull.

Players You Should Watch: FWs Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen, combined 116 caps / 31 goals - Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t walking through that door, which means these two are going to have to do some heavy lifting up top to get Sweden into the knockout rounds.

TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK

The mantra of defense wins championships is largely true, and it’s defense that got Sweden to the World Cup by shutting out Italy over two legs in the UEFA playoffs, I don’t know if they have enough attacking power to advance. They will absolutely be able to frustrate just about everyone in the group, including Germany, but we’ll have to see if there’s enough offense to steal a win in this group and get into the knockout stages.

GROUP OVERVIEW

I have hopes that a lot of these games will be entertaining, and not because Germany is in them. There’s a lot of good team soccer to be had in these games and that should make up for some of the lack in star power. It’s Germany’s group to lose but I see them going through but needing a result against Korea on the final day to clinch it. Mexico has the edge on second but it wouldn’t shock me to see Sweden there either.

PREDICTIONS

1 - Germany (7 pts); 2 - Mexico (4 pts); 3 - Sweden (2 pts); 4 - South Korea (1 pt)