Sweden has two wins in two matches at the World Cup, but it still must get a result vs. Sweden when they meet on Wednesday to stave off the possibility of not going through.
Mexico needs needs just a draw against Sweden to keep control of its own destiny and advance. A loss would open the door for Germany and Sweden to unseat El Tri via tiebreaker and send Juan Carlos Osorio’s side home despite its six points.
Sweden enters the with three points and will be kicking itself for not having a point more after letting a draw vs. Germany slip away. It remains alive for the knockout stage, though it will likely need a win and some help to ensure it goes through.
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Despite the fact that El Tri have already found a way to earn two victories in Group F, a place in the knockout stage remains unsecured. On Wednesday, manager Juan Carlos Osorio will seek to finally guarantee their spot when his team faces off against Sweden.
Ahead of the final group-stage clash, here are the three biggest questions facing Mexico:
1. Will Mexico find a way to break down Sweden’s sturdy defense?
When it comes to defining Sweden’s style of play, it’s no secret that the team favors a compact and highly organized approach through a 4-4-2. Through this game plan, the Scandinavian side kept South Korea scoreless in a 1-0 win to kick off its World Cup journey. In the recent 2-1 loss to Germany, Sweden’s conservative style was once again impressive in the narrow defeat.
Looking ahead, Mexico’s next opponent will likely utilize this cautious approach once again.
Due to the fact that Mexico will run into plenty of Swedish players behind the ball, quick and creative players such as Carlos Vela and Hirving Lozano will be necessary to find success. If needed, another pacey option such as Jesus Corona also has the talent to break down the opposition.
In a match that will probably be reminiscent of a CONCACAF clash, Mexico will need to find a way past the European rivals who will be more than happy to sit back and wait for counters.
Wednesday’s game represents not only an opportunity to qualify for the knockout round but also a chance to make history.
In the World Cup, Mexico has never finished the group stage with three victories. If El Tri can find a way to defeat Sweden, this would mark the first time that the North American giant charges through the first round without a single draw or loss. The achievement would be massive for the national side that nearly missed out on qualifying for the major tournament in 2014.
If Mexico is truly a dark horse in this year’s World Cup, nothing would highlight the potential of Osorio’s men more than a perfect run through Group F. Although the squad has yet to accomplish this goal, it isn’t too presumptuous to assume that El Tri will be heading to the final group stage match as the favorite over Sweden.