FIFA World Cup 2018 | Group F: Germany & The ‘Champions Curse’
Not exactly a ‘Group of Death’ but Group F in the World Cup is certainly the closest you can get. With defending champions Germany, CONCACAF champions Mexico, Sweden and South Korea it looks like a tricky and uncertain group.
Germany will look to overcome the ‘Champions Curse’ and become the first team after Brazil to win back-to-back World Cups. Pele’s Brazil became the first team to achieve the feat when the won the competition in 1958 and 1962 in Jules Rimet Trophy era.
Surely one of the toughest groups in the tournament, but Germany are the obvious favourites to top it. Good news for the side that Manuel Neuer fit and back. Not only at the goal, the team will look up to him for inspiration, especially in post Schweinsteiger-Lahm era. They have a nice, solid back line Jérôme Boateng, Kimmich and Mats Hummels. Midfield also has so much great talent. There is Kroos and Khedira. But still Schweinsteiger will be missed.
Though they have a good attack, good but there are some doubts regarding where Muller and Gomez will play. Coach Joachim Low experimented a lot in the last World Cup with Muller as the centre-forward. Apart from these two, Germany has Marco Reus and 22-year-old Timo Werner, who has had two great seasons with Leipzig. There might be a selection tussle between Mario Gomes and Werner.
Mexico has gone past the group stages in the last six editions of the World Cup. It will be interesting to see whether they will make it seven in a row.
They have a good attack, but their defense is weak which will be exploited by other teams. Their defense itself is okay but their defensive midfield is the problem. Rafael Márquez is 39-year-old and hasn’t been able to patrol the defense. In attack they have got Javier Hernández, who is one of the best poachers and finishers. He will be supported by winger Hirving Lozano.
Sweden may not have the services of the talismanic Zlatan anymore, but they have a solid squad at their disposal. Sweden did well in the qualifiers to eliminate Italy and finish above Netherlands. They have Marcus Berg to score goals along with Ola Toivonen and John Guidetti, who is a cult figure. Emile Fosberg will be their star player for them. Defensively they have always been a stingy side so teams will need to work hard to net balls against them.
Meanwhile, South Korea has had injury problems and that too just ahead of the World Cup. But they still have their star striker - Son Heung-min, who can play everywhere up front. This season, he filled for Harry Kane as centre-forward for Tottenham.
Germany's 23-man squad: Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Kevin Trapp; Jerome Boateng, Matthias Ginter, Jonas Hector, Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich, Marvin Plattenhardt, Antonio Rudiger, Niklas Sule; Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, Mario Gomez, Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gundogan, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Sebastian Rudy, Timo Werner
Mexico's 23-man squad: Jesus Corona, Alfredo Talavera, Guillermo Ochoa; Hugo Ayala, Carlos Salcedo, Diego Reyes, Miguel Layun, Hector Moreno, Edson Alvarez; Rafael Marquez, Jonathan dos Santos, Marco Fabian, Giovani dos Santos, Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado; Raul Jimenez, Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Jesus Corona, Oribe Peralta, Javier Aquino, Hirving Lozano
Sweden's 23-man squad: Robin Olsen, Karl-Johan Johnsson, Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Mikael Lustig, Victor Lindelof, Andreas Granqvist, Martin Olsson, Ludwig Augustinsson, Filip Helander, Emil Krafth, Pontus Jansson, Sebastian Larsson, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg, Gustav Svensson, Oscar Hiljemark, Viktor Claesson, Marcus Rohden, Jimmy Durmaz, Marcus Berg, John Guidetti, Ola Toivonen, Isaac Kiese Thelin
South Korea's 23-man squad: Kim Seunggyu, Kim Jinhyeon, Cho Hyeonwoo, Kim Younggwon, Jang Hyunsoo, Jeong Seunghyeon, Yun Yeongseon, Oh Bansuk, Kim Minwoo, Park Jooho, Hong Chul, Go Yohan, Lee Yong, Ki Sungyueng, Jeong Wooyoung, Ju Sejong, Koo Jacheol, Lee Jaesung, Lee Seungwoo, Moon Sunmin, Kim Shinwook, Son Heungmin, Hwang Heechan