Sweden vs South Korea: Germany and Mexico ruin Group F, VAR questions to be asked, tournament trend continues

The first round of games in Group F see Sweden and Mexico in the top two

World Cup Opening Ceremony

Sweden made a winning, if not a wholly convincing, start to their World Cup 2018 campaign as they moved ahead of Germany in Group F

Here are five things we learned…

Germany defeat worst thing Sweden and South Korea

Mexico’s shock 1-0 win over World Cup holders Germany was not what either of these two teams wanted going into their game in Nizhny Novgorod. When Group F was drawn it looked as though there would be three teams vying for second and relying on beating each other to finish behind Germany.

That is not the case now as Germany’s defeat means they must win their next two games to guarantee safe passage to the Round of 16, which is not good news for Sweden and South Korea. Mexico’s win meant this became a must-win game for both sides with ambitions of the next round.

Tournament trend continues

So far in Russia, with the exception of the opening game, the team who has dominated throughout has found it the most difficult to convert their possession into chances. That was no different here, as Sweden controlled the game, leaving the Koreans to defend on their 18-yard box for the majority of the first half.

(AFP/Getty Images

Marcus Berg, who scored 36 goals in 36 games this season for his club Al Ain this season, missed a hatful of chances while Viktor Claesson was also guilty of profligacy. Andreas Granqvist’s penalty saved them somewhat from following the trend of Germany, Spain or Argentina.

Son shackled

Heung-min Son, arguably the most talented player on the pitch in Monday’s Group F encounter, was restricted to playing as an auxiliary right-back against Sweden as Korea were pinned back into their own half. Despite a couple of industrious runs where he was either upended or ran out of space to dribble into. He had the second least number of touches in first half of all of South Korea’s players, which tells you about their struggles to find him throughout.

Forsberg fails to live up to reputation

Tt was a disappointment to see Emil Forsberg make a ponderously slow start in Russia. With all of the pre-match attention focussed squarely on him he struggled, restricted to a role on the margins in the first-half and getting little better in the second.

(Getty Images

No player on the pitch had more attempts on goal than Forsberg and yet he enjoyed only one real clear-cut chance: receiving the ball from Viktor Claesson around 20 yards out from goal, he shifted the ball quickly onto his right foot only to blaze wastefully over the bar with Cho Hyun-woo scrambling for position. That was largely it.

VAR still needs ironing out

Awarding Sweden’s penalty, which was scored by Granqvist, was the correct decision. It looked it in real time and on the VAR replays. However, the main gripe from the referral is that what would have happened if the referee had decided it wasn’t a penalty.

South Korea had broken and had overlaps on either side as they approached Sweden’s penalty area before play was stopped. Had they gone any further, working a goalscoring opportunity or even scoring – what would have happened? Questions are still there to be answered.

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