Who? Mexico - Sweden
Where? Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg
When? June 27, 16:00 (CET local time)
Mexico (Meir Lozowick)
If you would ask the Mexican fans how they felt when Toni Kroos scored his decisive goal against Sweden, the majority of those fans would be disappointed. Guaranteed qualification to the round of 16 was already behind the corner, and in one second, elimination from the tournament is still an option. However, if you would ask anyone of the Mexican players how they felt in the last minute of the game, the response will probably be something unrelated. Some would say that slept, others might say that they read a book. But why? Cause the Mexican national team was inside an airplane on route to Moscow back from Rostov. It’s not a coincidence or a matter of finding a cheap flight. The Mexican football association adopted a motto of “don’t look at the neighbour's grass but only your own”. Meaning: the team has to gain the qualification by their own. Gaining it with some help from others would be a nice bonus.
The situation for Mexico is quite clear: win or draw against Sweden will guarantee qualification from the first place in the group. The situation could be very different with losing against Sweden. If that will happen, Mexico would have to do exactly what they don’t want and count on others. Assuming that Germany would win against South Korea by two goals or more, Mexico would be eliminated. The last thing that Mexico would like to do, is to count on South Korea to do their job.
The goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa demonstrate the positive & confident attitude during the press conference, saying that Mexico's faith is in its own legs and this is the only thing that matters. Ochoa put all of his faith in Juan Carlos Osorio's decisions. From his side, Osorio has demonstrated that he can learn the opponent and prepare the team well. He claims that Mexico should break the record this tournament and go the furthest they have ever been. Now it’s on him to show that he can keep up his players to his words. The first step: reaching the round of 16.
Sweden (Yossi Medina)
In the last few days, one name became the main issue in the Swedish national team. Jimmy Durmaz became the main person for critics after the defeat against Germany. Durmaz made the foul who gave the free kick against Sweden and later became the winning goal of Germany.
Durmaz received racial abuse for this incident. Even though he was born in Sweden, people decided to mention his Turkish and Syriac origin. With an experience of 45 international caps for his nation, this abuse that focused his ethnicity was a line that nobody should cross.
In elegant way, Durmaz faced the media few days ago. "When you threaten me, when you can call me a terrorist, then you have gone far beyond the border", said Durmaz. "I am proud to play in the Swedish national team and I will never let any racists destroy that pride", he said as he gives a clear answer to all those people.
Jimmy Durmaz is not the only immigrant that plays in Sweden during this World Cup. His teammate, Isaac Kiese Thelin, was born to a Congolese father. Both won together the U-21 European Championship with Sweden in 2015. Moreover, for years Sweden had Zlatan Ibrahimovic as their captain, another player that is not a native Swedish player.
Sweden will have to work hard against Mexico if they still want to play at the next stage. As usual, they will need to do it together. If in the beginning it was about playing as a team, now it became to be about playing together equally as an all-Swedish team.