Sweden vs South Korea Preview: Both nations look to get off to best possible start

The European nation make their return after 12 year absence whilst the Asian outfit are the most successful country to represent the continent.

Sweden and South Korea both meet on Monday afternoon at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium as they look to kick-off their 2018 FIFA World Cup campaigns in Group F.

The two sides will be looking to get off to a solid start, having watched Mexico take the early lead in the group, following their 1-0 victory over strong tournament favourites Germany.

This will be the first time in 12 years that the European nation has been at the finals, whilst the Asian’s will be heading to their tenth finals and will be looking to improve on their early exit from the competition in 2014 when they were knocked out in the group stages.

Sweden may have attacking concerns

The Swedes will be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the tournament following his retirement from the national side. Despite making himself available, it was decided by senior staff that Ibrahimovic playing wouldn't have been right after not qualifying with the team.

The Scandinavian outfit will have an air of confidence heading into the opener, having beaten Italy in the World Cup Qualifying Play-Off for a spot in Russia and will be looking to prove they can cope without the striker.

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Solid defence

The defence has been solid for Janne Andersson’s team in recent matches, however, there has been some growing concerns ahead of the tournament about their attack, with their last two results coming as goalless draws.

Predicted XI: Olsen; Lustig, Granqvist, Lindelof, Augustinsson; Claesson, Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg; Berg, Toivonen.

South Korea looking to reach potential

The Asian country have been the most successful nation when it comes to representing Asia at the World Cup and famously reached the semi-finals of the tournament when it was played in their own backyard in 2002.

The South Koreans will not be too concerned when it comes to their attacking options on Monday, as they have Son Heung-Min leading the charge. The Tottenham Hotspur man has been in fine form in the Premier League this season and will be looking to make life difficult for the Swedes.

Shin Tae-Yong will want to see his team reach their full potential and has struggled to get the best out of the team during the qualifying campaign. He has made several changes during the recent international friendlies and has been scrutinised about those decisions.

Predicted XI: Kim Seung-Gyu; Lee Yong, Kim Young-Gwon, Jang Hyun-Soo, Park Joo-Ho; Ki Sung-Yueng, Jung Woo-Young; Hwang Hee-Chan, Lee Jaesung, Son Heung-Min; Kim Shin-Wook.

Background

The two sides have met four times in their past, with the European nation having won two of the previous meetings, whilst the other two ended in draws.

One of those victories was a 12-0 win in the 1948 Olympic Games in London, however, the Asian side are a much better unit than they were 70 years ago.

Monday’s match is the first time the two sides have met at the World Cup and both will be looking to get started with a win.