Group F at the World Cup in Russia continues on June 18th as Sweden and South Korea go head-to-head. In a group with Germany and Mexico, it would seem that second place is up for grabs behind the defending champions. That means Sweden and South Korea have to go for it in this opening match.
What To Know About Sweden
Sweden returns to the World Cup after failing to qualify for the last two editions, and they went out at the group stage of the European Championships in 2016. They had to beat Italy 1-0 over two legs to make it to Russia as Sweden put together a total team effort, led by midfielder Emil Forsberg. Who scored four goals. There was talk about Zlatan Ibrahimovich coming out of retirement, but both sides decided that wasn’t a smart move. Ibrahimovich would dominate the ball too much and that would take away from what Sweden did to get here. Andreas Granqvist was one of three defenders that played at least eight games during qualification in front of keeper Robin Olsen, so they’re pretty solid at the back. This is a well-drilled Swedish team that definitely has what it takes to get out of the group stage. After that, anything can happen.
What To Know About South Korea
South Korea went out in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup, and they finished second in their AFC group to qualify. Son Heung-min is coming off a fantastic season for Tottenham and he has scored 20 goals in 63 games for his country, while Koo-Ja-cheol and captain Ki Sung-yueng make up a decent midfield axis. The biggest issue could come at the back where Jang Hyun-soo is the most experienced defender with 49 appearances for South Korea, and next is Hong Jeong-ho with 42. Goalkeeper Seung-gyu has played 31 games for his country. Do they have the experience for this level? They can definitely score a goal or two, but South Korea has to keep the ball out of their own net. Recent friendly losses against Northern Ireland and Poland have shown that could be an issue.
Sweden comes into this World Cup Group F match as the favorites at 2.05, while South Korea are rated at 3.80 and a draw is rated at 3.20. These two drew 1-1 in a 2005 friendly, and then 2-2 later that year in another friendly. Sweden has the upper hand for a few reasons, one is that they’re simply more talented. They have a big edge at the back, and their midfield is slightly better. However, Heung-min could steal the game for South Korea if Sweden isn’t careful, but they do have the defense to keep him quiet. This is a massive game as Mexico, Sweden and South Korea are all in the running for second place behind Germany. Mexico plays Germany in their opener, so three points would be huge for either South Korea and Sweden and they can’t afford to settle for a draw in this opening match.
World Cup Betting Pick: Draw
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