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No Zlatan? No Problem! Sweden Top World Cup 2018 Group F!

No Zlatan? No Problem! Sweden Top World Cup 2018 Group F!

Mexico 0-3 Sweden

World Cup 2018‘s Group F joined Groups A, B, C and D in determining which nations would be making it past the group stages and into the knockout rounds. At first, it seemed clear-cut that Germany would be the heavy favourites to make it out at the top since the 2014 champions fielded such a strong team for the biggest tournament in world football.

However, this group turned out to become one of the most surprising in the tournament. Korea Republic defied the World Cup 2018 odds by pulling off an upset for the ages and sending Germany home after a shocking 2-0 victory. Meanwhile, Sweden impressed and showed their class as they overpowered Mexico in their last game in the group stage.

However, this game only showed Juan Carlos Osorio and the rest of El Tricolor which areas they need to improve if they want to make a deep run in this World Cup.

Highlights of the game

Both countries knew the importance of winning their first game, and they played the game with every intention of taking the points for themselves. Jesus Gallardo got a bit too passionate in helping Mexico snag three straight wins as he got one of the quickest yellow cards in the tournament: Nestor Pitana immediately slapped him with a booking for a rough challenge.

The Blaugult had an early shot attempt in the sixth minute when Emil Forsberg took a free kick in a dangerous position for Sweden. The RB Leipzig midfielder took the shot, only to see Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa save the ball.

Marcus Berg also had a good chance to give Sweden the early lead. A corner saw the ball drift towards his direction. He unleashed an impressive bicycle kick to elicit some ooh’s and ahh’s from the crowd, but his effort went just wide of the post.

Carlos Vela, one of the team’s stars in their outstanding victory over South Korea, had a chance to put Mexico on the board with a shot attempt within 25 yards that went just wide. Emil Forsberg also fired a volley that went way above the crossbar.

A bit of controversy that required VAR assistance happened in the 29th minute. Javier Hernandez apparently handled the ball inside the penalty box during a clearance. Some Sweden players and Janne Andersson cried foul, forcing Pitana to review the play. He decided to not give Sweden the penalty after reviewing the game footage.

Nothing much happened for the remainder of the first half as both nations were held scoreless for much of the half. El Tri had a lot of the ball but were unable to do anything with it. Meanwhile, Sweden were only a few precise strikes away from scoring.

Andersson seems to have made the proper adjustments during the break as the Swedes strike first during within the first 10 minutes of the second half. Ludwig Augustinsson found the goal after a brilliant lob found the Weder Bremen man on the left-hand side of the goal alone. He powered the ball past Ochoa and finished with ease.

Sweden were given a chance to double their lead after Hector Moreno made a terrible challenge at their own penalty box in the 61st minute. Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist took the shot and slotted it coolly to the top-right corner for the second Swedish goal.

Mexico’s suffering didn’t end there, however. Viktor Claesson threw a long ball into the Mexican penalty box in the 74th minute to provide a scoring opportunity. A header saw the ball stumble towards Omar Velazquez’s thigh, catching Ochoa off guard to concede an own goal.

The game ended with a shocking 3-0 score. Velazquez understandably broke down and cried after the game, thinking that their chance for making it past the group stages was lost. However, the Ekaterinburg Arena became full of Swedish and Mexican cheers as both sides learned that they will be making it out of Group F.

Key statistics

Mexico have made it past the group stage for the seventh straight time, thanks to favourable World Cup 2018 results. They will be trying to make it to the quarter-finals, a feat they have only done during the World Cups where they were the hosts (1970, 1986). This is also Osorio’s first foray into the World Cup knockout stages as coach.

Meanwhile, Sweden continue their World Cup journey after a 12-year absence. They will be hoping for a repeat of their third-place finish in 1994, but they are probably just happy to finish top of a group that included Germany.

Match-wise, Mexico had a terrible game. They had 65% of the possession but failed to capitalise on their blistering pace to unnerve the Swedes. Hirving Lozano, an effective weapon for Mexico during their last two games, was rendered useless by the Swedish defence. They also allowed Sweden more shots on goal and free kicks.

There is a lot of adjustment Osorio must make to prepare his team for the knockout stages.

What’s next?

Should Group E end the way they are now, Mexico will be facing a tough challenge in Brazil. Neymar and the rest of the Canarinha will look to outplay them with flair and awe-inspiring football. Osorio needs to ensure his that his lads play well to give their fans something to cheer for.

Meanwhile, Sweden might square off against Switzerland. Should this match be booked, it will be hard to tell who will win this game. The experts at SBOBET believe that both nations have quality players, and it will all come down to how their managers play their tactics.






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Christian Alamodin
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