FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 – Mexico vs Sweden PREVIEW
It’s a do or die. Mexico and Sweden meet up in a game that will decide the fate of both sides. One of them will go through while the other will be out. Mexico are top with 6 points and two wins out of two, however the results elsewhere have caused unrest as losing the third game could still eliminate them. Sweden were literally seconds from denying Germany the win in their last game, however they got beat at the death and they’ve now been put in an incredibly tough situation. It’s a must win for Sweden. Meanwhile Mexico need to avoid a defeat, a draw here and they’re through.
Mexico have been one of the most entertaining and impressive teams in the tournament. From their support brigade to the football they play on the pitch, they’ve been fantastic. So far Mexico are still with a 100% win ratio beating Champions Germany 1-0 and then backing up with a 2-1 win against South Korea. Mexico’s biggest strength other than the crowd support they’ve been getting has been their counter attacking style of play. They are absolutely rapid when they hit teams on counters. Lozano and Vela have been playing on a completely different level, meanwhile Layun and Chicharito have also looked very good. Defensively, Mexico have showed their typical shaky play. Sure, they’ve only conceded one goal in two games that being a world class finish by Son from outside the box, but if you’ve watched games you’d know that Mexico could’ve easily been punished at the back more, it also helps that Ochoa has been absolutely class for them in goal yet again. Their defending wasn’t bad against Germany, but more so against Korea. There was a few silly mistakes but luckily they didn’t get punished from them. It’s a typical Mexican world cup so far except that going they look the best they’ve looked going forward in quite a while and are one step through to the Round of 16.
Now Mexico’s focus turns on Sweden. Mexico were 15 seconds away from qualifying R16 but Sweden conceded a goal right at the death which now makes the situation a little worse for Mexico knowing that a 2 goal loss here could eliminate them unless they pick up two more bookings than Sweden then a 1 goal win for Sweden would be enough to beat out Mexico due to disciplinary standings, but all of that only matters if Germany beats Korea which you would bet on happening. Mexico know that they can’t come into this game thinking their place in R16 is safe so they have to show the same type of intensity they’ve shown throughout the world cup. They know Sweden will have to get out and attack eventually, so if Mexico are patient they’ll get their chances to hit Sweden on counters and the way Mexico have performed on counter attacks have been lethal. Mexico must make sure they don’t make any silly mistakes at the back as that could instantly lead them to getting punished and if they let Sweden take the lead, it could instantly go all so wrong, frustration, silly bookings and just like that they could go out so they can’t be lethargic coming into this game. Just play the way they’ve played and Mexico will be fine. Anything else than a loss and Mexico wins the group most likely avoiding Brazil in R16 which would increase their chances massively to get past that stage into the Quarters for the first time in a very long time. But a loss complicates everything and they could bounce out.
We can probably all agree on the fact that Sweden have been dealt the biggest heart break of the tournament in terms of losing a game so far. Sweden were just seconds away, one set piece defensive stop from holding out Germany for a draw and putting themselves in a situation where a draw would be enough to certify them a place in R16 and eliminating the champions. However Toni Kroos scored the free kick and Germany beat Sweden in their last game which was a huge blow and now Sweden must win either by one goal and needing Mexico to pick up more bookings or win by two or more assuming Germany wins the other game. Sweden’s world cup so far has been impressive even with that loss to Germany. They beat Korea 1-0 in the opener dominating the game and deserving to win by a lot more, and then if we look at the Germany game they literally held them off until that final free kick. Sweden have been very solid at the back, very tough to break down. Going forward they’ve lacked the finishing touch, should’ve scored more against Korea, you could argue they should’ve had at least one more goal against Germany. One of their most impressive players so far have to be Larsson, his deliveries of the ball to the box have been great, also Granqvist at the back has been a tank. Just overall Sweden’s team unity’s been good in this tournament. Just to sum it up Sweden have been a tough, cohesive side and are still within a chance of advancing to the next round.
Coming into the final game, the task will be challenging for Sweden. The question is will they try and throw more bodies forward because they need a win, or will they sit back, play their style and try to counter Mexico. You really would have to think Sweden will be smart enough to play their normal play style. If Sweden throw too many bodies forward they will get punished with Mexico’s rapid counter attacks. If Sweden just play the way the have so far, that being have more bodies at the back and try to create chances through counter attacks and set pieces, then the task is much more doable. Sweden showed that they can still score playing on the back foot like we saw against Germany. If Sweden score first, they can’t crumble this time round. If the score stays tied or Sweden are down then you can expect them to throw a bit more bodies forward later in the game, but as far as the way they set up to start, we can expect an organised backline and them trying to wait for Mexico to make a mistake which is possible knowing Mexico. The main key players for Sweden will be Granqvist, Forsberg, Larsson and both strikers. Granqvist has to lead that back line as a captain, Forsberg and Larsson are their main playmakers and either one of Berg and Toivonen have to convert chances. Berg has wasted quite a few chances failing to score so far, Toivonen has got a goal in this tournament but hasn’t been great either. Finally, Sweden gotta show good discipline, don’t pick up any silly bookings as in case if they win by 1 goal then who goes through will be decided by the amount of bookings both teams picked up, the one with less advances. Mexico have 2, Sweden have 3 so far.
It’s hard to see Mexico losing this game. Expect Mexico to have more support as their fans have been ridiculously good in this tournament. Mexico have the better team and can allow themselves to play on the back foot which is actually a good thing because it will lead to counter attacks which is their biggest strength. Eventually Sweden will have to throw more bodies forward and will get exposed at the back which we believe will lead to them getting punished. It will be a close match from the start, but in the end we believe on this day Mexico will come through. Who even knows how Sweden are feeling mentally after the last game anyway, it was a heart breaking loss. Expect Mexico to win 2-0, maybe 2-1 since they love to make dumb mistakes at the back, but they’ll win anyway. Lozano and Vela to be the star men once again.
1 Mexico 6 pts +2 GD
2 Sweden 3 pts 0 GD
3 Germany 3 pts 0 GD
4 South Korea 0 pts -2 GD
ODDS – Decimal (WilliamHill)
Mexico Win – 2.37
Draw – 3.20
Sweden Win – 3.00
KICK OFF – 27th June 2018 – 3pm UK Time