Today at the World Cup: Saturday, June 23

The second round of World Cup group matches continues on Saturday – with the pressure on champions Germany.

Joachim Low’s side suffered a shock opening defeat to Mexico and must make amends against Sweden to stay on course for the knockout stages, while England will take note of Group G rivals Belgium’s match against Tunisia.

Each morning during the tournament we will bring you an overview of what is coming up that day. Here is what you can expect on the second Saturday of the 2018 World Cup…

World Cup fixtures
World Cup venues

Who’s playing today?

Belgium v Tunisia (Group G) – Moscow (Spartak), 1pm

South Korea v Mexico (Group F) – Rostov-on-Don, 4pm

Germany v Sweden (Group F) – Sochi, 7pm

What’s the deal?

The pre-tournament talk in Germany focused on the country’s bid to become the first team for 56 years to retain the World Cup but after a shock 1-0 defeat to Mexico, the four-time winners must beat Sweden to be sure of staying in the tournament.

Forward Thomas Muller admitted his team-mates might have taken Mexico “too lightly,” while goalkeeper Manuel Neuer revealed “frank words” were said. But when a Swedish reporter offered Sami Khedira a mocked-up ticket home for the German squad, the midfielder fired back: “I think we’ll only need that on July 16.” Low’s squad still believe, then – but Germany expects.

Elsewhere, Mexico can close in on the knockout stages with victory against South Korea and Belgium can follow suit in Group G with a win over a Tunisia side that England saw off in injury-time. Belgium and England meet in the final round of group fixtures, but with goal difference potentially deciding the group winner, Gareth Southgate will have a close eye on this one.

Three to watch

Eden Hazard: The Belgium captain is the creative centre for his country in a similar way to how he is perceived at Chelsea. On his day, Hazard can bamboozle even the best defender with his pace and skill, and frequently picks out team-mates in the smallest of spaces. He nabbed an assist for Romelu Lukaku’s second goal against Panama and Tunisia will surely be looking to restrict him.

3:00 Take a look at Mexico winger Hirving Lozano's best moments for PSV last season

Hirving Lozano: In one of the best games of the tournament so far, Lozano scored a superb goal to inflict defeat on Germany, and will no doubt be in the middle of the action once again when Mexico take on South Korea. He is a brilliant talent and at just 22 years old, offers a very exciting prospect for the future of Mexico’s national team.

Heung-min Son: Much of South Korea’s hopes for a successful World Cup campaign lie on the shoulders of Son – think Lionel Messi for Argentina. They have two tough games against Mexico and Germany to come, but the talent Son has shown for Tottenham can give the country a reason to be hopeful of a last 16 spot.

Also look out for…

Sickly Swedes

Sweden have been hit with a stomach bug ahead of the game in Sochi, with Pontus Jansson, Filip Helander and Marcus Rohden staying behind at the training base although they are expected to travel to the game on Saturday morning.

“We have split the squad. We didn’t bring them on the flight because we didn’t know what had made them feel a bit queasy, but they will travel tomorrow,” Andersson said at a press conference at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium on Friday.

Sweden’s team doctor said in a statement on the official Swedish FA website that the trio were “on the mend”.

Lukaku to make history?

Romelu Lukaku scored twice for Belgium against Panama, putting himself in contention for the competition’s Golden Boot and he can make some history if he finds the net again on Saturday.

Only Jan Ceulemans (6) has scored more goals in major international tournaments for Belgium than Romelu Lukaku (5, level with Marc Wilmots).

Therefore, another double from the Manchester United striker would make him Belgium’s leading scorer at both the World Cup and European Championships at the age of just 25.

What are England doing?

England will train in Repino on Saturday morning before flying to Nizhny Novgorod from St Petersburg in the afternoon, ahead of Sunday’s clash with Panama. A media conference with Gareth Southgate and one of his squad is scheduled for 3.45pm.

Stat of the day

Germany’s Thomas Muller has scored 10 goals from just 14 shots on target at the World Cup but he was the only outfield Germany player to not register a single shot in their defeat to Mexico. In fact, he has not had a shot in his last 239 minutes of World Cup football.

On this day

A low point for Scotland. A 3-0 defeat against Morocco saw them finish bottom of their group at the 1998 World Cup finals in France. It was the eighth time in their eight appearances in the World Cup finals that they have failed to progress to the knock-out stages.

Source.