World Cup 2018: Neuer and Germany wary of Italy-conquering Swedes

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Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer believes Sweden sounded a World Cup warning with their play-off victory over Italy.

Joachim Low's world champions begin their Russia 2018 campaign in Group F against Mexico - a side they dispatched 4-1 on the way to Confederations Cup glory earlier this year.

South Korea are also in the section alongside Sweden, whose two-legged 1-0 triumph over Italy last month meant the Azzurri missed out on the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958.

"We've got opponents who are not unknown to us. I always like it best when we know what to expect," said Bayern Munich star Neuer, who is set to return in the new year following surgery on a broken foot.

"They are all very serious opponents, but it must be our clear goal to prevail as group winners.

"Mexico usually plays an aggressive type of football. We can adapt well to the Swedish [but] since they have prevailed against Italy, we will certainly not take it easy.

"South Korea is known for playing well. It is an interesting group with three opponents from three continents."

Low's men fell at the semi-final stage at Euro 2016 but the long-serving head coach has eyes on Germany becoming the first nation to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962.

"We have very interesting opponents. In the group we want to lay the foundation for defending our title successfully. That's our target," Low told reporters.