June 18, 2018 10:14
Korea is set to face Sweden in Nizhny Novgorod in its first match of the World Cup in Russia Monday.
World No. 24 Sweden is definitely a stronger team than 57th-ranked Korea, and leads its head-to-head record with two wins and two draws.
However, Korea has won its first match at the last four World Cup events so many Korean fans hope Korea will continue the lucky streak this time as well.
Korea was lucky to qualify for the World Cup after a string of poor performances that disappointed many fans. A tough road is expected as it is grouped with world No. 1 Germany, No. 15 Mexico, and Sweden.
Sweden may be the least challenging of the three, but it is still ranked far above Korea. Sweden was runner-up in the 1958 World Cup held at home, and has reached the semifinals four times. Although it is without its superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, all 23 players in the squad play in overseas leagues.
The player to watch is Emil Forsberg, a winger for RB Leipzig in Germany's Bundesliga. In the absence of Ibrahimovic, Forsberg's contribution was pivotal in Sweden's qualification over Italy to the World Cup.
Although the Swedish media believe the current squad is the country's weakest ever, they still predict victory over Korea. However, anything can happen in football.
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