Mesut Ozil and an Arsenal transfer target headline World Cup Group F players to watch

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Can Joachim Low’s Germany side successfully defend their 2014 World Cup crown this year in Russia? That’s the big story in Group F.

The defending champions are the favourites to top the group and with the players at his disposal, Low will be expecting three wins from the opening stage.

Battling for second place will be three nations with realistic hopes of progressing to the knockout rounds.

This is Mexico’s seventh successive World Cup appearance and they haven’t failed to progress to the knockout stages since 1966, so they’ll be confident of making it through.

Sweden will have something to say about that as they return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. They qualified by producing a shock playoff victory over 2006 winners Italy.

South Korea will fancy their chances of causing a shock in Russia just as they did on home soil in 2002 when they finished fourth in the tournament.

Here are the key players to keep an eye on in this group.

1) Germany – Mesut Ozil

The Arsenal playmaker always seems to find an extra gear when representing his country and he thrives in Joachim Low’s 4-2-3-1 system.

He’s been capped 90 times for Germany and is one of the first names on the team sheet. Ozil tends to be the one to provide the decisive through ball and loves to operate between the lines of the opposition midfield and defence.

When in form, his close control, balance and pinpoint passing make him almost impossible to stop and the whole of Germany will be hoping to see Ozil dominate the pitch in Russia.

Mesut Oezil of Germany

2) Mexico – Hirving Lozano

The PSV Eindhoven forward’s performances this season have seen him attract interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs. He netted 17 times in the Eredivisie to help his side win the league title and is going into the tournament in Russia with a point to prove.

The 22-year-old’s dribbling, crossing and set-piece speciality makes him a key component of this experienced Mexico side, who will look for his pace and creativity to help them advance into the knockout stages.

Lozano is nicknamed ‘Chucky’ and knows that his performances at the tournament could see him secure a dream move to a Premier League side with Arsenal said to be interested.

Lozano is set to be a breakout star at the World Cup.

Lozano is set to be a breakout star at the World Cup.

3) Sweden – Emil Forsberg

The RB Leipzig attacking midfielder is the beating heart of this Sweden side. Janne Andersson’s men are very strong defensively but when it comes to attacking, most of the good work comes through Forsberg.

The playmaker didn’t have the best of seasons for his club, scoring five times in all competitions, with two coming in the Champions League.

However, his passing, dribbling and long-range shooting could prove to be crucial in Sweden’s hopes of making it through this group.

Forsberg is now Sweden's star player

Forsberg is now Sweden’s star player

4) South Korea – Son Heung-min

The winger had his best season in a Tottenham shirt this year and will be looking to continue his blistering form in Russia.

He managed to find the back of the net 12 times in the Premier League to help Spurs secure Champions League football for another season.

His pace and skill on the counter attack will be crucial in Russia, as South Korea look to make up for a dreadful 2014 campaign in which they failed to win a single match.

Heung-min son will hope he can replicate his club form for his country.

Heung-min son will hope he can replicate his club form for his country.

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