The question was never if Germany were capable – albeit on paper – to reach a consecutive World Cup final; the question was if they would be the first repeat champion since 1962. But what no one expected to unfold in Kazan was Die Mannschaft continuing the unwelcomed trend of current holders crashing out at the first hurdle. Germany go home, but the inquests have just begun.
Manuel Neuer – 4/10
Was not called into action with any regularity, though his own howler nearly gifted South Korea a goal. Cannot be blamed for Korea’s opener, though questions could be asked why he was so far up the pitch when the goal margin was still at one.
Joshua Kimmich – 6/10
Struggled to really impose his attacking qualities in the first half but improved considerably during the second-half. Provided three or four excellent balls into the box, which Mario Gomez and Mats Hummels failed to head home.
Niklas Süle – 7/10
Germany’s best player on the day. Despite one moment of poor judgement in the first half, the Bayern Munich central defender was in the right place time and time again despite getting spotty cover from his central midfielders. Five successful tackles and an interception sum up a very solid display.
Mats Hummels – 3.5/10
Has struggled all tournament long from a defensive standpoint and today was no different. When he was presented with chances for retribution in the attacking third, Hummels failed to head home one of three guilt-edged opportunities. Today summed up what has been a poor summer for him.
Jonas Hector – 5/10
Distributed the ball well (92%) and did his best to win possession back (five successful tackles). However, he failed to make good on his forays going forward to stretch play via overlapping runs on his flank. So often he came central to get involved in the attack, exacerbating Germany’s biggest issue this summer.
Sami Khedira – 5/10
Not as poor defensively as he was against Mexico, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the way forward for the team is to pull away from the midfield stalwart. He put in some good tackles and deserves credit, but a more “modern” partner is needed for Kroos moving forward.
Toni Kroos – 4.5/10
Potentially the hero turned villain; he was unable to save his blushes in the manner of which he did against Sweden. Directly responsible for Korea’s opener with a moment of foolishness, he was largely absent in the first half. While he did grow into the match, and controlled play as he usually does, he still struggled to push play forward fast enough – a major team issue all summer long.
Leon Goretzka – 3/10
Perhaps deserving of a start this summer, it’s the way it was given to him that must be questioned. Capable as a player he may be, and versatile as well, but being tasked as the right-sided attacking player would never suit him. Often coming centrally in more familiar hunting grounds, he too caused more issues than answers. His well headed effort early in the second half was parried away; it was the most he did on the day.
Mesut Özil – 5/10
It will be curious to see how much blame falls on Özil’s shoulders again; after all, both of Germany’s losses came with him in the team. That said, this writer is not quick to jump on that wagon. Seemingly one of the only players with ideas today or willing to try penetrative passes (he created four chances), as well as trying to win possession (registered five successful tackles). He wasn’t dominate, no one was, but he tried to make something happen.
Marco Reus – 4/10
Praised for his versatility, Reus was on a high after scoring and adding an assist in Germany’s win over Sweden. That versatility, however, failed to come to the fore today sufficiently enough. He didn’t register a single shot on frame, while failing to complete a single take-on. His pace was nullified in a big way, while his ability to run the central channels were rebuffed by routine traffic jams. It’s clear this system isn’t ideally suited to his strengths, like so many other players.
Timo Werner – 4.5/10
Young and talented he may be, but a lone central forward he is not. His tendency to drift left when in a two-striker system at RB Leipzig is effective when one striker remains the focal point; a dynamic that no longer exists when alone upfront. His play improved in both matches when Mario Gomez was introduced, and though he tried to be more direct down the left, his efforts were largely in vein.
Mario Gomez – 4/10
The player who should have started, and arguably was missed the most, so nearly spared German blushed. For the second time this tournament, however, a headed effort from inside the area went directly to the keeper; he completely missed when trying to slot home a low cross from Kimmich as well.
Thomas Müller – 4/10
He was not good when coming off the bench, but he wasn’t poor either; he was, well, very grey in his appearance. Questions surrounded his contributions this summer before today, but now the bigger question of if he is still deserving of consideration at all as Germany look to pick up the pieces.
Julian Brandt – 5/10
Bright off the bench yet again and always looking to get involved in a positive and forward manner, he’s done more in his twenty-five minutes of time on the pitch than some have done in three full appearances. Showed once more why he probably should have been in the starting XI.
By Andrew Thompson.