FIFA Fever: Mexico emerges as a victor. How will Korea and Panama fare?

Mexico wins 1-0 against Germany
Mexico wins 1-0 against Germany

Mexico’s Hirving Lozano scores against Germany securing a 1-0 victory for the Latin American challengers. An artificial earthquake was triggered in Mexico city caused by by the cheering of local fans. Prior to this major upset, Serbia defeats Costa Rica 1-0. Brazil’s progress is also brought to a halt by Switzerland in a 1-1 stalemate in the final match on the previous day.

Today evening at 5.30 IST, Day 5 of the FIFA World Cup Russia commences with the match of Sweden vs Korea Republic. This uneven pairing of teams, one at the top rung of the FIFA rankings (Sweden) and the other quite at the bottom (Korea Republic) makes us wonder what sort of game Korea Republic will show us.

The only statistic in South Korea’s favour ahead of their game is the fact that they haven’t lost a WC opening match since 2002. That was also the only WC where they were able to reach the semis. This year their squad does not look particularly promising except for Tottenham Hotspur winger Son Heung-Min who might harry the Swedish defense. We hope they put on a good game.

From the looks of it, Sweden might be in better shape than they have been in years for this WC. They lost their Star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic and have been playing as a more cohesive unit since. Strong team dynamics that is reminiscent of the Sweden of old is what defined the team before the Star player join their ranks. They even managed to defeat rank 7th France in a 2-1 upset in the qualifiers to the WC. All in all, the odds are stacked in their favour and fans are expecting them to make quick work of their opponents.

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If you thought that Sweden vs Korea Republic matching was uneven wait for the game between Belgium and Panama. This year big things are expected from the European powerhouse with their star-studded squad including players such as Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. On the other hand this is the first time that Panama has qualified for the WC. Anything thing other than as crushing defeat will come as a complete surprise to football enthusiasts.

You can watch the match between Belgium and Panama on Sony Ten 2 in English and Sony Ten 3 in Hindi. Ahead of the games you can view ‘Football Extraa’ where an elite panel discuss the nuances that might affect the outcome of the matches and make final score predictions. Panelists include players such as Sunil Chhetri and Bhaichung Bhutia from India, ex-Manchester United forward, Louis Saha, Champions League winner, Luis Garcia, and former England goalkeeper, David James.

England is somewhat of a  dark horse this WC. Their team hasn’t really been making waves other than their 3-0 win against neighbour Scotland. However, their performance has been consistent up to the WC and they have a strong team. Perhaps fan expectations have dimmed due to their embarassing loss to Iceland in the European Cup 2016. But now that Iceland was able to tie with Argentina in their first WC match, England’s loss can be viewed somewhat more reasonably. Tunisia, a team that is neither remarkably strong nor particularly weak, will offer the perfect testing ground for England to prove their fitness and be regarded as a top contender for the WC.

Tunisia might be in big trouble for their game with England as their forward Youssef Msakni was sidelined with an injury and is unfit for play. The team that previously was organised around the strengths of this key player will have to reshuffle their line-up to make up for his absence. Trouble does not end there for Tunisia as they belong to Group G and will eventually have to face-off against another strong, Belgium. The game begins at 11.30 IST.

Click here for more updates on FIFA World Cup Russia.


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