Defending champions Germany face a tougher-than-expected task to ensure their qualification from a Group F in which Mexico have proved to be a surprise package.
Joachim Low’s men were dramatically close to elimination from Russia 2018 before Toni Kroos’ late strike against the Swedes nestled in the top corner of Robin Olsen’s net in Sochi lat Saturday, sparing them - for now at least - the humiliation of an anemic defense of the trophy they won in Brazil four years ago.
A win in Wednesday’s tie with South Korea will almost certainly ensure the Germans’ safe passage to the round of 16, though Die Mannschaft will be keeping a nervous eye focused on the events in the Ekaterinburg Arena as a Swedish win against Mexico could potentially have dire consequences for German football.
Mexico, on six points, remain very much in the driving seat and will book their place in the knockout stages so long as they don’t lose to Sweden. Germany will advance if they beat South Korea by two goals, or if Sweden fail to beat to the Mexicans.
Germany may also progress if they improve their goal difference in a win against South Korea, regardless of whether Sweden claim three points against Mexico.
Sweden face an unlikely list of permutations, requiring a three points against Mexico and then relying on South Korea pulling off an unlikely victory against Germany - which, if Sweden beat Mexico, could open up a goal difference scenario which could potentially see the East Asian side through to the latter stages.
The eventual winner of Group F will face the runner-up in Group E in the next round of the World Cup which, before this evening’s games, is where Switzerland currently lie. The prize for finishing second will most likely be a tough encounter with a Neymar’s Brazil with a place in the quarter finals on the line.