The final match of the group for these teams will be crucial. Both Sweden and Mexico will be aware coming into the tournament that Germany are almost certain to top a tough Group F, leaving only one other place in the Round of 16. If all goes as expected, the winner of this match will be that team, which means everything is on the line here.
Mexico will certainly enter the match with plenty of confidence – they have qualified for the second round in their last seven consecutive attempts and have helped eliminate the likes of France, Belgium and Croatia (twice) in the process. From the 1986 World Cup onwards, Mexico has lost just one of ten matches against European opposition in the group stage.
Sweden meanwhile will also be quietly confident of getting the win here. They have a superior record against the Mexicans overall, and were good enough to qualify ahead of 2010 finalists the Netherlands and knock out four-time World Cup winners Italy. They have a hard working squad that will prove difficult for Mexico to overcome, and have also qualified for the Round of 16 in their last three attempts.
In fact, there is very little to split these sides on paper. Sweden will be playing reasonably close to home, although their lack of experience at big tournaments is a worry – none of their three first-choice goalkeepers have more than ten international caps. Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof and RB Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg are the biggest names on the team sheet, yet both are young and have minimal experience on the big stage.
Mexico boast more international caps although are similar in that they too have few notable big names. The majority of the squad play in the Mexican domestic league, which although strong and competitive does not quite compare to European competition. Will this be a factor when the sides meet?
The best yardstick will perhaps be each side’s performances against Germany and South Korea in the opening matches. While the teams set up differently from a tactical standpoint, there will certainly be clues as to which team will prevail.
The sportsbooks certainly can’t split the pair. Mexico enter as the slight favourite, available for +148, while Sweden are quite close and will start at +191. Watch for these odds to fluctuate significantly as the match approaches. The draw is the third option, available for +219 and is very tempting considering one team may be able to qualify via a stalemate in this final match.
We’re not in the business of sitting on the fence though. Our pick is the Mexicans in what is expected to be a low-scoring, nervy affair. A 1-0 victory is our tip, although we certainly wouldn’t rule out a 1-1 finish.
When: Wednesday, Jun 27 (10am ET)
Where: Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg
TV: FS1, Telemundo*