This preview is the sixth in our World Cup preview series, designed to provide a refreshing breath of Minnesotan air in an otherwise murky swamp of content. To encapsulate that oh-so-true concept of Minnesota nice, we’re looking for the most likeable teams in Russia 2018. To check out looks at other groups, head to our preview hub: https://www.epluribusloonum.com/2018/6/11/17449884/a-2018-world-cup-preview-but-minnesota-style-russia
It’s hard to deny that El Tri is the second team of the United States, especially since Liga MX draws more television viewers than MLS. Mexico also plays a significant chunk of its friendlies on American soil. Many American fans are also adopting Mexico as their team of choice for the 2018 World Cup, though there are still some who cannot allow themselves to cheer for a rival. Still, Mexico is the strongest team out of CONCACAF and stands the best chance of representing North America well. Might as well have someone from around these parts do well.
This one is a little bit more about me being a Germany fan, but the Germans are still an easy team to like. They’re expected to go far in the tourney—like, all-the-way far—and stand a good shot of repeating as World Cup champions. They’ve never been eliminated earlier than the semifinals this millenium. Expect strong displays of soccer and a ton of talented players. Both the old guard and younger generation are capable of dominating in Russia.
3. South Korea
South Korea made a name for itself at its own World Cup in 2002 when it advanced all the way to the semifinals. That remarkable success hasn’t been replicated, but the South Koreans are still a team to keep an eye on each year. Most of the squad are unknowns to Americans, though the name Son Heung-min will surely be familiar to Tottenham fans. South Korea are faced with the tall task of two top teams and Group F, making their chances of moving on rather slim.
The team led by Zlatan will unfortuantely be without their star this summer, and it’s to the detriment of both their playing and viewing quality. Sweden still has some decent players, like RB Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg, but top-to-bottom, it won’t be enough to keep the team intriguing. Scandanavian roots might beckon some Minnesotans to pull for the Swedes, but ancestral ties may be it.