Germany’s star goalkeeper and Captain, Manuel Neuer will be healthy to start for his nation after being sidelined since September of 2017 with a fractured foot (via @DFB_Team_EN/Twitter)

FIFA World Cup preview: Defending World Cup champions Germany prepared to lead Group F

Battle for group runner-up will be close with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea

The 2018 FIFA World Cup begins on Thursday, June 14. Leading up to the tourney, we’ll offer our previews and predictions for each of the eight groups. Today, a look at Group F:

Germany

FIFA rank (as of June 7, 2018) : 1

Best player: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)

Despite missing most of the 2017-18 season due to a foot injury Neuer is confirmed to be Germany’s starting goalkeeper for the tournament. His first game back was on June 2 in a friendly against Austria.

One to watch: Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

After former captain Philipp Lahm retired from international play after the 2014 World Cup, Kimmich has been set to be his successor at fullback. During 10 qualification matches in Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Group C, Kimmich scored two and provided a team-high nine assists.

Outlook:

Being the reigning World Cup champions, Germany has no other expectations than to blow through the group stage and head straight to the final. They are in good shape to defend their title as they remained undefeated in 2017.

READ MORE: FIFA World Cup preview: Lionel Messi set to shine on the world stage in Group D

Mexico

FIFA rank: 15

Best player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham United)

Hernandez is Mexico’s most prolific goal-scorer in history, with 49 goals in 100 appearances. Though he is not the same player he once was at Manchester United, he will need to provide production to give Mexico a chance to advance to the knockout stages.

One to watch: Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven)

In Lozano’s first season in the Eredivisie, he amassed an impressive 17 goals and 8 assists across 29 matches for the Dutch club. He is a speedy winger who should be poised to make an impact for his country at the World Cup.

Outlook:

Since 1994, Mexico has always made it to the round of 16 and the expectations shouldn’t change this time around. They have a quality squad with a great deal of experience as they are one of the older teams in the tournament.

Sweden

FIFA rank: 24

Best player: Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig)

Forsberg has had a successful career with RB Leipzig, especially after the club placed second in the Bundesliga in 2016-17. The attacking midfielder will have quite the shoes to fill with Zlatan Ibrahimovic absent from their roster.

One to watch: Victor Lindelof (Manchester United)

The 23-year-old defender appeared in 17 matches for United in 2017-18 after he transferred from Portuguese side Benfica in June 2017. He is a quality defender with a bright future.

Outlook:

Ibrahimovic was a once-in-a-generation talent out of Sweden, though the country seems to be more structured with their play than in the past. They’re not in an easy group.

READ MORE: FIFA World Cup preview: Whitecaps’ Kendall Waston hopes to repeat success of Costa Rica in 2014 in Group E

South Korea

FIFA rank: 57

Best player: Heung-min Son (Tottenham Hotspur)

Son holds the title as the most expensive Asian footballer in history after his transfer fee of 22 million British pounds to Tottenham Hotspur in 2015. In 2016-17, Son scored 21 goals for the English side and another 18 in 2017-18. Son is an exceptional forward and has been able to score for Tottenham as a non-starter.

One to watch: Hee-chan Hwang (RB Leipzig)

Hwang is expected to start for South Korea in the World Cup. As a 21-year-old for RB Leipzig in the 2016-17 season he amassed 16 goals.

Outlook:

Their play revolves around Son, the top-scoring Asian player in English Premier League history. They are a good enough team to make it through the group.

Group Winner: Germany. They are the reigning World Cup champions and their roster is much of the same if not better this time around.

Group Runner-up: Mexico. The calibre of their team ranks second-best in this group. Mexico should not have trouble scoring goals especially with the arrival of Lozano.


@kieranroconnor
kieran.oconnor@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Highway 7 down to one-lane alternating as crews fight Mt. Hicks wildfire

150-hectare blaze prompted closure of a provincial park

Night patrol on Chilliwack waters leads DFO to seize 48 sockeye and harbour seal from poachers

Charges pending after two poachers arrested for fishing at night

WATCH: Recruitment set to start for the Molson Coors Brewery at Chilliwack

There were about 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and some staff now being sought

Chilliwack goes cluck-cluck for chickens ahead of civic election

With an election in sight, urban chickens supporters ramp up their efforts for legal acceptance

Wildfire smoke brings in air quality advisory for Lower Mainland

People with health conditions are urged to avoid the outdoors

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Hot, dry conditions forces drought rating to highest level on Vancouver Island

The province says Vancouver Island is under Stage 4 drought conditions

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Get involved in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count

Environmental organization develops app to help with the nationwide count

Pesticides linked to bee deaths will be phased out in Canada, sources say

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike

Most Read