Defending champions Germany need to ignore the pressure when they face South Korea in their final group game at the Kazan Arena on Wednesday.
Germany will brace themselves for a tough fight as they meet South Korea in their final group game. At the Kazan Arena on Wednesday, both of these sides will look to end their group stage campaign in a positive fashion, with Germany, in particular desperately needing a win in order to seal their place in the knockout rounds.
Joachim Low’s men are riding a wave of euphoria following their morale-boosting 2-1 win over Sweden. After an unsatisfactory performance throughout the course of the game, Toni Kroos’s sublime free-kick in the last minute won the game for Die Mannschaft.
That being said, their opening game defeat to Mexico still puts them in a risky position. Currently sitting second in the Group F table, the World Champions need a win to book a ticket for the knockout rounds though they can still hope to qualify with a draw if Mexico beat Sweden. If both sides finish level on points, they will be separated by Fair Play rules (red cards/yellow cards).
South Korea, on the other hand, have slumped to defeats in both of their group games, despite showing great promise and talent. On the good side of things, however, they can still hope to qualify if they beat Germany by more than two goals and hope that Mexico beat Sweden.
And given Germany’s struggles in this early stage of the tournament, a loss to South Korea is not out of the question with the Asian giants boasting a dangerous attacking lineup. Here at The Hard Tackle, we run the rule over the two sides before their all-important match-up on Wednesday.
Team News & Tactics
Germany will likely be facing a host of problems ahead of their clash against South Korea. Star defender Jerome Boateng is suspended after he was sent off for two yellow cards against Sweden while Sebastian Rudy also suffered a broken nose in the same game.
Thus, we can expect Joachim Low to make several changes from the team that won against Sweden. Ilkay Gundogan will deputize Sebastian Rudy should he fail to make the squad on Wednesday. In addition, Julian Draxler had a disappointing game against the Swedes and was replaced just after the restart, meaning we could potentially expect Mario Gomez to start upfront with Timo Werner being shifted into a wider role.
Marco Reus and Thomas Muller will retain their respective places in the starting lineup with Reus, in particular, expected to play a vital role in this encounter.
In defence, Jerome Boateng will be replaced by his Bayern Munich teammates Mats Hummels, who will return to the team following his absence against Sweden. Antonio Rudiger had a wobbly outing in the last game and will likely be replaced by Niklas Sule in central defence.
Predicted Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Sule, Hummels, Hector; Kroos, Gundogan; Muller, Reus, Werner; Gomez.
South Korea has been impressive in both of their outings against Sweden and Mexico respectively but head coach Shin Tae-Yong will be hoping for a bit of luck as his team gears up to face the mighty Germans on Wednesday.
Unlike Germany, the South Koreans will likely remain unchanged from the team that lost 2-1 to Mexico, which would see Son Heung-min leading the attack for the Asian giants.
In the pre-game press conference, Germany superstars Marco Reus and Timo Werner stressed that they need to be wary of South Korea’s pace in the attacking department. Therefore, Son Heung-min will definitely play a vital role in this clash along with the likes of Hwang Hee-Chan and Moon Seon-Min.
However, South Korea’s mammoth task of overcoming Germany will be made much difficult by the news that key midfield Ki Sung-Yueng is sidelined with a calf injury, which will keep him out for two weeks. “A medical inspection at a hospital showed that Ki damaged his left calf muscle,” a Korean Football Association official told Yonhap News. “He needs two weeks of treatment.”
Predicted Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hyun-Woo; Yong, Hyun-Soo, Young-Gwon, Min-Woo; Jae-Sung, Se-Jong; Seon-Min, Heung-Min, Hee-Chan; Shin-Wook.
- Germany have won all five of their World Cup games against Asian opponents, scoring 19 goals in total and keeping clean sheets in their last three.
- Son Heung-min attempted eight shots in South Korea’s loss to Mexico — three more than the Taegeuk Warriors managed in their opening match against Sweden (five shots).
- Germany’s victory over Sweden was their first at the World Cup when conceding first since 1998, a 2-1 win over Mexico.
- South Korea have lost their last four World Cup matches in a row, their joint-worst run – they also lost four in a row between 1986 and 1990.
Player to Watch
Marco Reus (Germany)
It’s probably safe to say that the reigning world champions Germany are yet to play to their full potential in this early stage of the tournament with several key players failing to find their groove. However, one player who has remained consistent in these first few matches is Marco Reus.
After missing out in the last World Cup as well as the European Championships due to injuries, the Borussia Dortmund superstar is relishing the chance of playing in his first major international tournament. In the past couple of matches, Reus has been a constant threat in attack with his pace and clever movements causing a lot of troubles for the opposition.
And head coach Loew will be hoping that the talented attacker can once again provide an impressive performance as Germany look to seal their place in the knockout stages.
Germany 2-0 South Korea
A morale-boosting victory against Sweden has already lifted the spirits of these talented German players and it would appear as no surprise if they oust South Korea in their final group game. Although the South Koreans definitely won’t make thing easy for the World Champions, Germany have the means to secure that vital win which will grant them a ticket to the Round of 16.