Each of the 32 teams that will be competing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia took very different routes to get there. The nations that are in as the favorites here are there because they made qualifying look easy, which is why you have the likes of Brazil and Germany in at shorter odds than most. Outside of those top teams, there were a few who had to take a rather circuitous road to Russia, and two of those teams will be hooking up on Monday in a Group F match-up. Sweden were forced into a playoff after finishing second in their qualifying group, and they surprised everyone by taking out Italy 3-1 over the two legs of that meeting. South Korea won their qualifying group, but it was a labored approach that ended up being a lot more difficult than it should have been. It was a far from a convincing display that eventually resulted in the Koreans making a coaching change. Germany will almost certainly win this group, so these two will be looking for maximum points to give themselves a shot at second.
— FIFA World Cup 🏆 (@FIFAWorldCup) June 12, 2018
⚽: Sweden Vs South Korea (Group Stage, Group F, Matchday 1 of 3)
🏟️: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
⏰: Monday, June 18 at 8 AM EST
🎰: Sweden -½ +102 | +104 | U 2 +103
Why bet on Sweden
If history is anything to go by, then this Sweden team could be in trouble. Back in 2016, they went on a winless slump ahead of the European Championships. They crashed out of that tournament, failing to win any of their 3 games and only managing a single goal in the process, and that came at a time when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was still in the fold. After their surprise win over Italy in the playoff, Sweden have gone in the tank, losing 4 in a row prior to heading to Russia. They failed to score in 3 of those games, which makes you wonder exactly where the goals are going to come from at the FIFA World Cup. Sweden are in just behind Mexico as the most likely to finish second behind Germany in this group, but you have to believe that only happens if they can get the ball rolling with a win over South Korea in their opener.
Sweden were forced into a playoff after finishing second in their qualifying group
Why bet on South Korea
There is perhaps no team coming into this tournament in greater disarray than South Korea. As we mentioned earlier, they have already made a coaching change since qualifying for Russia, but that move had had little impact on this team. The biggest issue for this group, besides their inability to score goals, is that they just cannot find a way to win away from home. You need to go all the way back to 2016 to find the last time South Korea got a win anywhere other than at home. In that time, they have gone 12 games without an away win. That is two strikes against them heading into this tournament. Not only will they need to find a way to score, they will also need to figure out how to win on foreign soil.
Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction
I’m not expecting much in the way of a soccer spectacle here, and I believe that the obvious bet is the UNDER. I am tempted to go with a goalless score here, but I think Sweden might just sneak it.
Predicted Score: Sweden 1 South Korea 0