FIFA World Cup 2018: A comprehensive look at Group F
A detailed look at the teams in Group F of the 2018 world cup, their most important players and their chances of progressing further.
Group F of the FIFA World Cup 2018 consists of defending champions Germany, and Sweden as part of the European contingent, Mexico from the CONCACAF and Korea Republic as the representatives from Asia.
Four-time winners Germany are expected to top the group, and the second place will be decided by the game between Mexico and Sweden on June 27, with Korea expected to play a passive role in the group.
Mexico usually are strong contenders for going through to the next round, but Sweden was the team that dumped Italy out of the WC, and any team that is good enough to beat Italy deserves a mention.
Most likely to go through to the RO16: Germany, Mexico
Like Brazil, Germany rarely comes into a tournament without being favorites, and this time around they have the added pressure of being the defending champions as well. Pressure is not something the Germans are new to and will be looking very much forward to defending their title in Russia.
Germany qualified as the winners of their European qualification group, cruising to an 11-point lead over second placed Northern Ireland.
It was not the hardest of groups prior, but Germany still did well to snatch a perfect run - 10 wins out of 10, scoring 43 goals and conceding only four.
Coach: Joachim Low
No introductions are needed for Low, as he has been the coach for the German national team since 2006. This will be his third WC in-charge of Die Elf and his experience in dealing with such high-pressure tournaments will come in handy.
The exclusion of Sane from the final squad has grabbed the headlines, but Low is right to feel that he has put his best squad forward.
The last time a team successfully defended their WC title was in 1962 and this German team has all the quality to make history again.
Manuel Neuer returned to fitness during the most recent international friendlies and it is safe to say that Neuer will start every game in goal for Germany.
As captain, he will be the first name on the team sheet and it is a pity that Barcelona's Marc Andre Ter Stegen will serve as a mere back-up after his brilliant season.
At first look, the team looks considerably weaker than the last edition - no Lahm, no Schweinsteiger, no Klose. But the team is absolutely stacked with quality and there is no reason not to expect them to come good.
A back four of Kimmich, Hummels, Boateng and Hector forms the backline, with the wingbacks constantly helping out in the attack.
Kimmich has been a revelation at Bayern Munich and has managed to fill the enormous boots of Lahm both for club and country.
Hector might be a slightly weaker name compared to the others around him, but Low trusts him enough to start at left back.
The only problem is that Kimmich and Hector are wired more offensively than in defense, and might leave Germany susceptible to counters. However, the CB pairing is as strong as they come and should bail them out.
Toni Kroos and one of Khedira/Gundogan will start as the DMs - and even for a defensive midfield pairing, it is quite attacking.
Khedira will play as workhorse against teams that hold the ball, while Gundogan is more attacking and will play against the defensive sides. Once again, it is the defensive side of things that looks worrying.
Even in the back, there are several good players who are just unlucky that they had to share their time with these players as they could have easily been on the starting XI of most other teams in the tournament.
A three attacking midfield of Ozil as No.10 and Marco Reus and Thomas Muller on the right is downright filthy and is one of the best in world football right now. Throw in Timo Werner up front, and you have what is basically a defender's worst nightmare.
But the biggest advantage for Germany is how they function as a team. Not a bunch of superstars thrown together in haste, but a well-oiled machine whose parts known when and what to do.
Player to watch out for: Thomas Muller
10 goals in the two previous WCs have put Thomas Muller already among the great WC players - and he is currently eighth in the all-time goal-scorers. At 28, it is not out of the ordinary to expect that Muller will even go on to play another WC and beat the 16 goal record.
This season did not begin well for Muller, but the arrival of Heynckes and the looming presence of the WC have turned Muller into a beast during the second half of the season.
Unlike last time, the attack is not overly dependent on Muller, so that might free up things for him mentally. Expect to see Muller light up the tournament on fire, along with the rest of his attacking force.