South Korea play Sweden in their opening Group F match on Monday.
South Korea come into the tournament having qualified for the last nine World Cup tournaments. The South Koreans will be up against a physical Swedish team that will attempt to bully their Asian opponents.
Sweden are favoured to get the second spot in the group. The Swedes no longer have Zlatan Ibrahimovic to count on. Manager Janne Andersson has called up some exciting players including Emil Forsberg and Oscar Hijjemark. The two midfielders are very talented and Forsberg in particular has become a top performer in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig.
Andersson’s team’s biggest weakness will be in the attack. Without Ibrahimovic the Swedish don’t have a proven big match goal scorer. Alaves’ John Guidetti will be the team’s main striker and Andersson will also deploy Ola Toivonen. The two players have only combined to score 14 career international goals. Veteran striker Marcus Berg was called into the team as well. He plays his club football in the United Arab Emirates. The talent in the U.A.E. isn’t at the level of what the other two strikers have faced and it shows the derth in attacking options for Andersson. Although the team is considered one of the favourites to finish second, Sweden may not be as talented on the pitch as they seem on paper.
South Korea are always organised despite not having the same amount of talent or physicality as their opponents. The Koreans will be lead from the front by Tottenham striker Son Heung-Min. He is an incredibly talented striker that will be at the heart of everything the team does. His charging runs may give Sweden’s defence difficulty in the fixture. Son will have RB Salzburg striker Hwang Hee-Chan paired with him. The pacy striker is a promising talent and Hwang can unlock defences just like his forward partner Son.
In five friendlies this year, Sweden haven’t won a match. The team is talented and physical as it proved by beating Italy in the UEFA World Cup qualifying playoffs. But the team’s form should be a worry. South Korea aren’t in good form either as the match nears. South Korea have played nine matches in 2018 and are winless in five. They lost two of their last three.
Neither team is in great form an it will lead to this fixture ending in a draw to start the tournament. Both national teams will be playing not to lose which should make for few chances.
Under 2.5 match goals