Who? Sweden - South Korea
Where? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
When? June 18, 14:00 (CET local time)
If you need to understand the Swedish team for the World Cup, all you need to do is to read what Janne Andersson, Sweden manager, at the end of the second leg against Italy: "It's unbelievable! This player has just stopped to play for Sweden one and a half years ago and we are still here talking about him".
Andersson had a lot of luck compared to those who had the same job a few years ago. He didn't have Zlatan Ibrahimovic as an option in his squad. For years it seems that even though Sweden had one of the biggest football stars in the world, they always struggle to play with him. Sweden failed to qualify for the last two World Cups and being eliminated in group stage at the last three Euro campaigns.
In the new era, the Zlatanless era, Sweden is looking forward. Those who are focusing on the defensive style against Italy are almost ignoring the face that Sweden made great attacking performances during the qualifiers. Andersson changed the point of view for the team – from being a group of players that play with a star, Sweden became a unit that plays together as a team.
Sweden brings another important thing to this World Cup, a new generation that is eager to put Sweden back on the peak of a major tournament. These players made two unusual achievements for Sweden as youngsters with winning the U-21 European Championship in 2015. Among them you can find John Guidetti, Victor Lindelöf and Isaac Kiese Thelin.
With such optimism, you can understand why Sweden feels that they don't need Zlatan anymore. Sweden had a complete renovation and maybe it will be more accurate to say that Sweden became a team.
The Taegeuk Warriors arrive to Russia with a long tradition of World Cup participations. The Koreans are participating in the World Cup for the 9th consecutive tournament, one of the longest active streaks in World Cup history.
A look on the squad will show that most of the players are playing in Asia, mainly in the K-League but some of them also in Japan and China. Yet, you can find some players that play in Europe. The leader will be Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea City. Ki will play his third World Cup and he wants to make a good performance with his teammates.
Another name that is a bit unfamiliar is Hwang Hee-Chan, Red Bull Salzburg's striker. While everyone will be watching on Son Heung-Min, Hwang will have a chance to show his kills. His last season was superb while he scored five goals in his Austrian club Europa League campaign, which ended only in the semifinals.
With Germany, Mexico and Sweden, the mission to qualify for the next stage is seems to be impossible. After looking at South Korea, this team maybe will not do so, but they can be a tough obstacle from each of their rivals.