Mexico v Sweden Wednesday 27 June, 15:00 Live on BBC 2
Mexico forced to keep their focus
I'm sure Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio would have loved the opportunity to shuffle his pack and rest some of his key players, but Toni Kroos' stunning late winner for Germany against Sweden has kept Group F very much alive for everyone involved. Mexico know that a defeat could spell the end of their World Cup, even though they have already beaten Germany and South Korea.
Mexico have played with solidity in defence and with devastating speed and precision on the counter. Hirving Lozano is emerging as one of the stars of the tournament, not just with his pace and enterprise in attack, but also his admirable work-rate when it comes to tracking back. Carlos Vela stole the show against South Korea with a goal and an intelligent attacking display, and Chicharito netted his 50th goal for his country, a phenomenal achievement.
Mexico have never won three straight games at the World Cup, and if they achieve that feat, Opta tell us they will be the first CONCACAF side in history to do so. They are looking to book a place in the last 16 for the seventh World Cup running, and if they were to fail from this position, it would be a bitter pill to swallow.
Heartbroken Sweden in uncomfortable position
Football can be a cruel sport that punishes timidity in the harshest way. Having taken a shock lead against Germany, and having looked comfortable throughout a tension-filled first half in Sochi, Janne Andersson's side made fatal errors in the second half. They were forced onto the back foot by a resurgent German side early in the second period, but they paid the price for defending a point instead of pushing for what would have been a priceless win. That reticence to throw men forward continued even when the world champions had been reduced to ten men, and the cost became apparent when Toni Kroos whipped the ball into the top corner.
Now Sweden know that they almost certainly need to beat Mexico to have any chance of making the last 16, and they don't like having to chase games. They haven't scored more than once in any of their last 11 games, and as I suspected might be the case, playmaker Emil Forsberg has continued his rather weak form from the Bundesliga season with RB Leipzig.
There are no fresh injury concerns for Andersson, and it seems unlikely he will make many changes, if any at all. One requirement for the Swedish coach is surely to find a way for his side to be on the ball more often - Opta tell us they had just 24% possession against Germany, their lowest figure in a World Cup match since 1966.
Mexico worth backing with insurance
Mexico are the 2.50 favourites here, and given how impressive they've been, I think that's an attractive price in the sense that it gives us the opportunity to back them with a bit of a safety net. If we back them Draw No Bet at 1.75, our stake would be returned in the event of a draw, and if Mexico win, we win. I'd like to keep the draw on our side, because Sweden are such a dogged and competitive outfit.
Swedes' need could open the game up
It's a nightmare scenario for Sweden in some ways. Their instinct is to sit back and soak up pressure, making sure there are no big gaps in midfield or defence. However, if Germany make a fast start against South Korea, that will force Andersson's side to go looking for the three points. That could play into the hands of a Mexico team that is at its most dangerous on the counter-attack.
Even though Sweden's recent record suggests there won't be many goals (eight of their last ten games have featured fewer than three goals), the match situation may dictate otherwise.
Over 2.5 Goals is trading at a chunky 2.34 here, and I'll take a swing at that.
El Tri's triumvirate worth considering
Obviously you'll have to keep an eye on team news (although Osorio is expected to field a strong line-up), but all three of Mexico's attacking trident have scored at this tournament.
Lozano and Vela (both 3.7 at time of writing) should get chances if they start, while Chicharito is 2.04.
I backed Lozano to score against South Korea, and the other two netted, but Lozano went close and got into some great positions.
If you want to use the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi feature to build your own acca, you could back Mexico to win, Over 2.5 Goals and Lozano to score at combined odds of [8.66]
Key Opta Stats for Mexico v Sweden
Mexico and Sweden have faced each other on nine occasions but only once at a World Cup, Sweden winning 3-0 in their opening group stage match in 1958. Sweden are3.25 to win.
Mexico have only lost one of their last five matches against the Swedes (W2 D2), however they’ve all been friendlies. The draw is3.30.
Sweden have kept clean sheets in three of their four World Cup contests against CONCACAF sides – winning two and drawing one (L1). Under 2.5 goals is1.73.
Mexico have never won three consecutive matches at the World Cup and could become the first CONCACAF team to achieve this feat in World Cup history. A Mexico win is2.50.
Sweden’s defeat to Germany was their first in the group stage of the World Cup since 1990, when they lost 2-1 to Costa Rica. They are now3.00 to qualify from Group F.
Mexico have lost just two of their last 19 World Cup group stage matches (W10 D7). They are1.74 in the Draw No Bet market.
Sweden have won only four of their last 13 World Cup games when they’ve scored first (D5 L4). The Sweden half-time/draw full-time double result is15.50.
Javier Hernandez’s goal in Mexico’s 2-0 win over South Korea was his fourth at the World Cup – only Luis Hernandez has scored as many for Mexico in World Cup history (also four). Hernandez is3.00 to find the net.
Sweden’s Ola Toivonen didn’t score in 23 matches for Toulouse in Ligue 1 in the 2017-18, failing with all 19 of his shots – at the 2018 World Cup, Toivonen has scored one goal from just two shots. Toivonen is4.00 to add to his tally.