Sweden return to the World Cup after a 12-year exile as they take on South Korea in Group F. Lucas Swain (@LucasSwain95) previews the encounter and picks out his best bets.
Sweden v South Korea | Monday 18th June 2018, 13:00 | ITV
There comes a time in everybody’s life where they need to grow up and move on from something they're attached to. It could be a childhood toy, stabilisers, and ex-partner; it can be absolutely anything.
For Sweden that time came in 2018 when Janne Andersson made the bold call to leave Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of their World Cup squad. If you ask me, any man who refers to themselves in the third person, especially when aged 36-years-old, deserves to stay at (in a) home.
However, there’s a case to be made that Sweden are betting with the man who was voted Sweden’s second-best sportsman off all-time behind Bjorn Borg. Andersson has forged a good team spirt and let’s not take away from the fact the Scandinavian side bettered Netherlands and defeated Italy to get to Russia.
A Fors to be reckoned with
Sweden will look to now is RB Leipzig’s creative outlet Emil Forsberg. The attacking midfielder topped the Bundesliga assist charts in 2016/17 with 19 in 30 matches, and in a match where Sweden are expected to control the game this could be pivotal.
The man who will be looking to benefit from Forsberg’s creativity is Marcus Berg. The 31-year-old was the top goal scorer in qualifying with eight goals, but 50% of these did come against Luxembourg.
However, Sweden’s success shouldn’t lie with the forward capability. In fact, that’d be completely incorrect. The reason they find themselves at the World Cup is due to their defence, and six clean sheets in their last nine matches illustrates that.
You can be forgiven for thinking South Korea could be a difficult customer following the fantastic season Son Heung-min had at Tottenham this season. However, the Asian side have a number of issues and it starts with Shin Tae-Yong not knowing his best side.
South Korea have found themselves playing in multiple formations with nothing really sticking for them. Their best bet is working to get the best way out of Son in order to stand a chance.
The worrying factor here is how poor South Korea are away from home. In the final round of Asian qualifying (five matches), the Taeguk Warriors picked up just two points.
Considering we’ve seen one Asian nation get dismantled on the world stage already, you have to seriously question the quality of this team and whether they can make their mark in Russia.
The betting angle
This is a must-win for either side if they wish to progress out of this group, and it’s more likely to be Sweden.
South Korea have kept just one clean sheet in their last 17 matches with UEFA nations and there’s an attractive price on the Europeans.
If you wish to be conservative, then putting your money on Sweden to win is certainly a great bet. However, I’m going to be slightly greedier and factor in Under 3.5 Goals to boost up the price to 6/4 (Ladbrokes).
Sweden v South Korea – Sweden win and Under 3.5 goals (6/4 Ladbrokes)