Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, the World Cup draw took place in Moscow, Russia. Thirty-two teams were placed in eight groups of four. Germany was hoping to get a group that was not very difficult in order to swerve the tougher opponents early in the tournament. Unfortunately, Germany was not drawn in one of the easier groups and instead was paired with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in Group F.

Without a doubt, the Die Mannschaft should be expected to win the group. They are by far the best team in their group, and they should not worry about the competitive opponents until the quarterfinals. Although none of the teams in their group is considered a competitor to win the World Cup, they may still pose a threat to Germany and force the defending champions to drop points early in the tournament.

In terms of talent and experience, Mexico will probably be Germany’s toughest opponent. El Tri have managed to qualify for seven consecutive World Cup campaigns and have made it past the group stages in their last six World Cup appearances. The likes of Javier Hernandez, Hector Moreno, Andres Guardado and Guillermo Ochoa have the experience needed to understand what it means to compete against world-class sides like the Die Mannschaft.

Mexico also has a young Hirving Lozano, who has lit up the Eredivisie and is seen as one of the most promising young players across Europe. In its previous World Cup campaigns, Mexico has played world-class sides like France and Brazil in the group stages and managed to obtain at least a draw. The Mexicans have proved to be able to beat top-class sides in major tournaments and can easily do that against Germany this summer.

The other decent side that Germany will have to go up against in the group stages is Sweden. The Scandinavian country remarkably qualified for the tournament after defeating Italy in a two-legged tie. Every country will be wary of Sweden after the Swedes defeated both the Italian and French national teams during their World Cup-qualifying campaign. Despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s retirement, the Swedish National Team has still managed to play at a very high level. In fact, it may have even gotten better since Zlatan’s departure.

Thr improvements are largely due to a great job of developing young players. This stems from the impressive triumph at the Under-21 European Championship in 2015. Some of the players who were part of that squad are now included in the senior team setup and performed well during the World Cup qualification campaign. If those players can transfer that good form to the World Cup, expect them to cause Germany some problems.

The third team that Germany has been drawn with is South Korea. The Asian nation may be the world champion’s weakest competitors. South Korean football has gone downhill since the extraordinary 2002 World Cup campaign. During the qualifying stages, South Korea struggled against sides like Uzbekistan and Syria and may be lucky to even qualify for the tournament. The only player worth watching is Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son. Even though this national team is full of experience and has consistently qualified for the prestigious tournament, it has lost its foothold as Asia’s most dominant footballing nation and is unlikely to cause the Die Mannschaft problems.

Overall, the group stages will not be a breeze for Germany.  Mexico will give Germany a run for its money, and if the Mexicans are on their game, there is no doubt that they can pull a shocker and defeat the world champions. Sweden will also provide Germany with some challenges and is a team to be wary of after its impressive performances against top European sides. South Korea may not be as strong as it once was, but the World Cup is full of surprises and that is why Germany must play its best football from the start of the tournament.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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