World champions Germany should march through this group stage and onwards to the final.
Joachim Low’s squad is brimming with talent, power and more importantly the experience of winning the tournament four years ago.
Mexico stand a good chance of making it out of the group with one of the most experienced squads in Russia.
Sweden and South Korea will try to make things difficult for them.
Group F consists of:
June 17 - Germany v Mexico (5pm)
June 18 - Sweden v South Korea (2pm)
June 23 - South Korea v Mexico (5pm), Germany v Sweden (8pm)
June 27 - Mexico v Sweden, South Korea v Germany (4pm)
World ranking: 1
Best finish: Champions (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)
Coach: Joachim Low
Wolrd football superpower Germany are probably the most nailed-on favourites since the turn of the century. Coming to Russia, they have the last major global tournament under their belts - the Confederations Cup.
While that hasn’t proven to be a lucky charm for the winners of that competition at the World Cup, Joachim Low took an inexperienced squad to the Russia curtain-raiser and ended up with a handful of gems.
And now, with the likes of Julian Draxler, Sebastian Rudy, Leon Goretzka and Niklas Sule having shown their worth as Germany won every qualifying game, the holders are looking ominous.
While those new faces may have some nerves when the tournament kicks off, the core of the side is a hardened defensive unit.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is fit again and he will play his tough-to-copy sweeper-keeper role, cleaning up if Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels are caught out of position.
With the fullbacks Joshua Kimmich, Jonas Hector and Antonio Rudiger as attacking wide options, the centrebacks will be able move up the pitch and compress the space in the midfield, where Sami Khedira can play as an extra defender.
The other deep midfielder is usually the brilliant Toni Kroos, whose late runs can lead to goals too. Watch out for Rudy if he gets a chance to deputise for Kroos – the Bayern man is a smooth operator.
Ahead of them, Low has a scary selection of attacking players. Pacy and direct Timo Werner or the physical Mario Gomez are expected to lead the line for the Germans.
But the trio in support could be any of Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Marco Reus, Julian Draxler and Goretzka. Ozil will likely be the hub of the attacking moves, looking for the runs of Muller and Goretzka beyond the opposition defence.
Mavericks Draxler and Reus have the ability to create goals from nothing with sweet shooting and the flair for dribbling.
The likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Julian Brandt and defender Matthias Ginter make the squad more versatile with the trio being able to slot into many roles. The squad has very few weaknesses and should cruise into the final four.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Kevin Trapp, Marc-Andre ter Stegen
Defenders: Marvin Plattenhardt, Jonas Hector, Matthias Ginter, Mats Hummels, Niklas Süle, Antonio Rüdiger, Jerome Boateng, Joshua Kimmich
Midfielders: Sami Khedira, Julian Draxler, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Leon Goretzka, Sebastian Rudy, Julian Brandt, İlkay Gundogan
Strikers: Timo Werner, Marco Reus, Thomas Muller, Mario Gomez
World ranking: 25
Prediction: Group stage
Best finish: Finalists in 1958
Coach: Janne Andersson
So Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be at the World Cup. But Sweden will be there. Having qualified from a Uefa group competing with France and Holland without the legendary striker, they also beat Italy in the playoffs to get to Russia.
So Zlatan, coach Janne Andersson’s team aren’t that hopeless without you. However, they will struggle to make it out of this group.
Emil Forsberg of Red Bull Leipzig is their new main man in attack, playing in a narrow midfield where he can create by driving at defences.
Ahead of him are two burly striking options in John Guidetti and Marcus Berg.
Former Manchester City trainee Guidetti likes to run the channels, where he links up with the wingbacks.
Meanwhile, Berg is a handy aerial threat and physical presence.
At the back, Andreas Granqvist leads the team and Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof stars.
Deeper in midfield, Seb Larsson pulls the strings and takes a mean free-kick to boost Sweden’s attacking threat.
Goalkeepers: Robin Olsen, Karl-Johan Johnsson, Kristoffer Nordfeldt
Defenders: Mikael Lustig, Victor Lindelöf, Andreas Granqvist, Martin Olsson, Ludwig Augustinsson, Filip Helander, Emil Krafth, Pontus
Midfielders: Sebastian Larsson, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg, Gustav Svensson, Oscar Hiljemark, Viktor Claesson, Marcus Rohdén, Jimmy Durmaz
Strikers: Marcus Berg, John Guidetti, Ola Toivonen, Isaac Kiese Thelin
World ranking: 57
Prediction: Round of 16
Best finish: Fourth (2002)
Coach: Shin Tae-Yong
South Korea will be looking to spring some surprises again at this World Cup. The 2002 semifinalists have a couple of classy players in captain Ki Sung-Yueng and Tottenham hitman Son Heung-Min.
Midfielder Ki operates as a playmaker for Swansea and will do the same for the national team, where he is partnered by former national team skipper Koo Ja-Cheol.
They will look to create chances for Son, who scored 20 goals this season – including four in five Champions League games.
But watch out for Lee Seung-Woo. The 20-year-old Verona wing will be looking to make an impact.
Lee was trained at Barcelona’s famed academy La Masia and can carry the ball at pace, beat players one-on-one and link up well. Defence could be a problem, with no backline players or goalkeepers playing outside of Asia.
Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-Gyu, Kim Jin-Hyeon, Cho Hyun-Woo
Defenders: Lee Yong, Jung Seung-Hyun, Oh Ban-Suk, Yun Young-Sun, Park Joo-Ho, Kim Min-Woo, Hong Chul, Kim Young-Gwon, Jang Hyun-Soo, Go Yo-Han
Midfielders: Ju Se-Jong, Lee Seung-Woo, Koo Ja-Cheol, Jung Woo-Young, Ki Sung-Yueng, Lee Jae-Sung, Moon Seon-Min
Strikers: Son Heung-Min, Kim Shin-Wook, Hwang Hee-Chan
World ranking: 15
Prediction: Round of 16
Best finish: Quarterfinals (1970, 1986)
Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio
Mexico have the skills and the form to get out of the group, but will be a little too lightweight to make it any further. Coach Osorio is a clever so-and-so who will keep his rivals guessing with his tactics and attacking options.
But he has a couple of trump cards he can play to change the game.
Otherwise, he sets his team up with 3-1-3-3 with skipper Andres Guardado playing as a deep-lying playmaker in front of veteran defender Rafael Marquez and Diego Reyes.
In front of him, he has a midfield of ball winners in Marco Fabian, who can play box to box, and another veteran Hector Herrera.
The team’s main attacking thrust is provided by right winger Hirving Lozano, who set the Dutch Eredivisie alight by leading PSV Eindhoven to the title with 17 goals.
The 21-year-old also creates countless chances with his skill and pace, but he will have to watch his discipline if he gets fouled while making a name for himself on the world stage.
El Tri have Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez leading the line and former Arsenal and Real Sociedad striker Carlos Vela who can score the goals.
Goalkeepers: Jose de Jesus Corona, Alfredo Talavera, Guillermo Ochoa.
Defenders: Hugo Ayala, Carlos Salcedo, Rafael Marquez, Diego Reyes, Miguel Layun, Hector Moreno, Edson Alvarez, Jesus Gallardo.
Midfielders: Jonathan dos Santos, Marco Fabian, Giovani dos Santos, Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado, Javier Aquino
Strikers: Raul Jimenez, Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Jesus Manuel Corona, Oribe Peralta, Hirving Lozano