Scenes as South Korea shock holders Germany to send them crashing out of the tournament (Image from FourFourTwo)
Germany’s nightmare in Russia was rounded up by a humiliating 2-0 loss to South Korea, sending them crashing out of the World Cup and bottom of the group. Germany had to win their match to progress to the next round, but as they pushed and pushed for the winner, they squandered several major chances and could not find the breakthrough. Two late goals from South Korea sealed the fate of the Germans, in a tournament they would want to forget.
Die Mannschaft made several changes to their starting line-up, with Sule and Hummels coming in for Rudiger and the suspended Boateng. Draxler and Muller were dropped to bench, allowing Ozil and Goretzka to start. Khedira also managed to find his way into the first eleven, after the injury to Rudy in the last game. South Korea were without their captain Sung Yeung Ki due to injury, so instead Heung Min Son lead his national side.
Despite the Germans dominating possession in the first half, they were slow, didn’t show any urgency and were lacking the end product. The best chance of an uneventful first-half arguably came to South Korea. Koo Ja-Cheol’s free-kick came straight at Neuer who fumbled the ball, before swiftly knocking it away from Son’s path, who was coming in on the rebound.
Germany showed a little more desire in the second half, where they put had several good chances when the ball was crossed into the box. Early on in the second half, Goretzka had a free header, which was superbly kept out by the diving save of Jo Hyeon Woo. As the game wore on, Germany committed more and more people forward, leaving them empty at the back. South Korea often hit them on the counter attack, but they couldn’t take the final decisive pass or shot to finish off the move. Germany had several chances similar to Goretzka’s attempt, but they couldn’t put them away. They kept on pressing, but eventually it was South Korea that got the first goal of the game, in stoppage time. A corner was whipped it into the danger area and the ball found its way to Kim Young-gwon who finished from close range. The goal was initially ruled out, but when reviewed by VAR, it was clear that Toni Kroos unintentionally assisted the goal, so it was allowed in the end. Germany still preserved, pushing everyone forward including the goalkeeper. Neuer’s ability to play as a sweeper keeper is well known, but it was his touch that let him down, giving the ball away in the Korean half, allowing a long ball to be played over to Son, who could calmly stroke it in from close range.
|Neuer’s adventures upfront allowed Son to slot the ball into an empty net (Image from PressTV)|
Germany are now the latest team to succumb to the so-called ‘curse of the champions’ (they are now the fourth reigning champions have been knocked of the group stage in the last five World Cups). Die Mannschaft have not been playing to their usual high standards and didn’t really deserve to go through to the knockout stages. Perhaps the signs of Germany failing were there to be seen, after a poor run of games going into the tournament. But as this is the first time Germany haven’t made it past the first round in 80 years, there will be no excuses. for the players Plenty of questions will be asked of the German team. Was there unrest amongst the players in the camp? Were Germany too reliant on their old guard in midfield? Would Leroy Sane have made the difference to their team, with flair and pace he brings? Will Joachim Low be sacked, despite being incredibly successful in previous tournaments?
On the other hand, despite not qualifying for the knockout rounds, South Korea should be pleased with what will be a famous win for them against Germany. The players may just have avoided having sweets thrown at them by fans, which is what happened the last time team failed to achieve success on the international stage.
South Korea Player Ratings
Jo Hyeon Woo (9) – Very solid between the posts, didn’t really do much wrong. His incredible save for Goretzka’s header kept South Korea in the game. Could be a target for clubs in the top European leagues.
Lee Yong (6) – Perhaps gave Hector too much space when attacking early on, but still defended well when called upon.
Yun Yong Sun (7) – Strong at the back throughout the game.
Kim Young-gwon (8) – Did well to contain Germany’s attack and scored the opener.
|Kim Young-gwon scores the opener (Image from The Argus)|
Chul Hong (7) – Had to manage Kimmich and Werner ,when he was pushed out wide, but dealt with them throughout the game.
Lee Jae Sung (7) – A threat down his wing and pressed well against the German defence.
Jang Hyun Soo (6) – Found himself in space on the attack, but his service to Son wasn’t always quite there.
Jung Woo-Young (7) – Received an early yellow card, but got more into the game as it progressed.
Moon Seon Min (6) – Worked hard, but often struggle to get off a shot and instead held the ball too long.
Son Heung Min (7) – Was the main threat going forward for South Korea but occasionally wasted his chances when in good positions. Rounded off his performance with a goal in dying minutes of the game.
Koo Ja-Cheol (6) – Found himself in good attacking areas but usually nothing came to it. Injured early in the second half.
Germany Player Ratings
Manuel Neuer (5) – Nearly made an error with a free-kick in the first half, but got away with it. Lost the ball carelessly at the end to give away the second goal.
Joshua Kimmich (6) – A danger going forwards as always and provided a good cross for Goretzka.
Niklas Sule (7.5) – Germany’s best player on the pitch, distributed the ball well going forwards. Should have started the other games but is definitely one for the future.
Mats Hummels (6) – Also had a decent game but wasted a heading opportunity.
Jonas Hector (6) – Did well going forwards, supporting the attack.
Sami Khedira (5) – Didn’t offer much on the attack when on the ball, got subbed off in the second half.
Toni Kroos (5) – Didn’t have it in his locker today, a poor performance from him.
Leon Goretzka (4) – His World Cup debut was one to forget, didn’t show much energy and couldn’t put away a very good chance in box.
Mesut Ozil (5) – Showed glimpses of good football but was often lethargic.
Marco Reus (6) – One of Germany’s better players in midfield, tried to create chances from all around the pitch, but not much came from it.
Timo Werner (5) – Wasn’t really in good positions for much of the game. He was found drifting out wide, instead of staying in the box. Was tipped to rise to prominence in Russia, but I think his time will come eventually.
Man of the Match – Jo Hyeon Woo – Been one of South Korea’s best players this campaign and made important saves throughout this game as well.
|Woo’s superb one-handed stop prevents Germany from opening the scoring (Image from FOX Sports)|