Mexico have won both of their matches so far at Russia 2018 but that hasn’t yet secured them a place in the last 16 of the World Cup ahead of their final group-stage fixture against Sweden in Ekaterinburg on Wednesday (10am ET).
Mexico defeated South Korea on Saturday and their place in the next round looked secure at various stages of the match between Germany and Sweden later in the day. A late Germany winner changed the complexion of the group heading into the decisive match day.
While Mexico do top the group on six points, Sweden in second and Germany in third have three points apiece. Therefore, if Germany defeat South Korea on Wednesday and Sweden beat Mexico, all three teams would be tied at the top of the group. There are circumstances in which even just a single-goal defeat for Mexico would see them eliminated.
What they do know without doubt is that a draw would be enough to progress, and do so as group winners. After two wins out of two, confidence is high, and there is no reason for Mexico to believe it is a result they are incapable of achieving.
The performance in the 2-1 win over South Korea was more reserved than in the high-intensity triumph over Germany in their opener but it got the job done. Carlos Vela, probably the standout player on the day, converted from the penalty spot to give Mexico a first-half lead, and Javier Hernandez added a second at the end of a swift break midway into the second period. South Korea scored a late consolation after rarely threatening previously.
It was somewhat of a surprise to see that Juan Carlos Osorio made only one change to his team between the two matches, as he is a coach who regularly alters his formation and personnel in line with the demands of the opposition. Saturday’s match was his 50th in charge, and saw him field his 50th different starting XI. He is also a firm believer in the benefits of rotation; two or three changes should therefore be expected against Sweden.
Osorio suggested after the Germany match that the attributes of pacy winger Hirving Lozano, scorer of the winner in that match, may not be as well-suited to a confrontation with Sweden’s compact 4-4-2 formation. He may also wish to add some height to his side to better deal with the aerial threat Sweden will provide from set-pieces. They are not a particularly exciting or dynamic team and that is one of their primary weapons.
Sweden’s last-gasp defeat to Germany means that things are relatively simple for them coming into Wednesday’s match. To be sure of progressing, they must either defeat Mexico by two goals or better Germany’s result against South Korea, either in terms of the result itself or in the case of goals scored if the two teams achieve the same result. For instance, a 2-2 draw would see them through if Germany draw 1-1.
They would have been in a much stronger position had they just been able to hold on for the draw on Saturday. They took the lead just past the half hour through a wonderful finish from Ola Toivonen, but Germany started the second half strongly, swiftly equalised and continued to put the Swedish defence under pressure from thereon out. Sweden held firm until Toni Kroos fired in a superb effort from a set-up free-kick in stoppage time.
“It is the most disappointing end to a game I have ever felt,” Sweden coach Janne Andersson said afterwards. His primary task will now be to pick his players up ahead of Wednesday’s match. His side are not necessarily a team who will be comfortable taking the initiative, and they may play a waiting game early on whilst waiting for news from the other match.
Our Preview’s Mexico vs. Sweden Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict
There may be some difficult moments for Mexico, moments in which their qualification seems in doubt, but with victory a likely imperative for Sweden, spaces should eventually open up and allow Mexico to progress to the last 16 on the back of a victory. So our Mexico vs Sweden prediction for this betting preview is: