Germany’s World Cup fate now rests in their own hands going into their final group game against South Korea on Wednesday evening, thanks to Toni Kroos’ dramatic stoppage time winner against Sweden on Saturday night. Having been beaten by Mexico in their opening fixture, the world champions’ hopes of retaining their crown were hanging by a thread after Ola Toivonen gave Sweden a half time lead in Sochi, before Kroos’ late intervention.
Die Mannschaft will travel to the city of Kazan in buoyant mood and confident of progression to the round of 16, despite another stuttering performance against Sweden, particularly in the first half. The relief that Germany came through such a tough test should hopefully serve them well for the rest of the tournament.
Speaking after the game, Thomas Müller said that: “We gave our absolute all, and in the end it paid off. We weren’t perfect by any means, but we came through against the odds. This could be a turning point for us in the tournament.”
Germany coach Joachim Löw admitted that the atmosphere in the German camp was not good after the Mexico defeat stating that: “The atmosphere after the Mexico game wasn’t good because the pressure really increased. After the Sweden game there was delight, and the relief was huge. The atmosphere on the way home was good, but we didn’t overdo it. The team recognised that it was one small step, and that we had to follow it up against South Korea. I had the sense that we’d re-focus our concentration again.”
Although they won’t be underestimated, Germany should find Wednesday’s game much more comfortable when they face a South Korean side who will be low on confidence after suffering defeat in both of their opening games against Sweden and Mexico.
With qualification still to be achieved, Löw has some tough decisions to make. One enforced change will be at the heart of the defence. Jerome Boateng’s suspension following his red card against Sweden will see Mats Hummels return to the side, following his recovery from a neck injury. It has been confirmed that Sebastian Rudy is out, which is likely to see one of Sami Khedira or Leon Goretzka start while Julian Brandt has been impressive when coming off the bench in the previous fixtures and is therefore expected to challenge Julian Draxler for a starting birth. Marco Reus is expected to continue in one of the wide attacking roles with Timo Werner in the lone striker position.
Probable line-up: Neuer – Kimmich, Hummels, Süle, Hector – Goretzka, Kroos – Müller, Reus, Draxler – Werner. (Bild)
Prediction: After the victory over Sweden, Germany will see this game as the perfect opportunity to build some momentum after a slow start to the tournament. It is difficult to see Germany not securing a second consecutive victory against a disappointing South Korea and take them to win. South Korea 0-3 Germany.
By Jonathan Shelley.