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Germany knocked out of the World Cup - South Korea leave it late to eliminate the defending champions

The referee blew the full-time whistle officially confirming Germany’s exit, after three underwhelming and inconsistent performances

Last updated: 28.06.2018
Germany knocked out of the World Cup - South Korea leave it late to eliminate the defending champions | Sports Social Blog

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Drama, drama and more drama – that’s how any football fan would define the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Round after round, Group after Group, something or the other has happened to send the footballing fraternity into a frenzied shock from which it takes quite some time to recover. And the final Group F match just added to that collection. Defending champions, Germany, touted to be fierce contenders for this World Cup too, and their fans were left dumbfounded and in tears as South Korea scored two goals in stoppage-time to send the European heavyweights packing.

Right from the start, this game was expected to be a high-voltage clash and Germany were expected to dominate this game against a Korea side that lost its games against both Mexico and Sweden and were simply playing for pride. But, it turned out to be Korea who showed more ambition and played like a side vying for a spot in the next round, unlike Germany, which was tepid and lukewarm for the entire duration of the game. Several decisions made by the management came back to haunt the team as the lack of a pacy wing threat in Leroy Sane and the decision to stick with Timo Werner, who is inexperienced on the big stage, and Mario Gomez, who is nothing like the center forward he was previously, to bring them the goals in attack backfired heavily as both finished with only shots and no goals in 3 games. In fact, Germany scored only in one game, failing to put the ball in the net against both Mexico and on the night against South Korea.

The entire first half was all about the Germans. They had the line share of possession and were stringing together passes at will, but still lacked the killer instinct in the final third. Their shooting too was below par, with the Korean custodian, Cho, hardly troubled. South Korea, on the other hand, chose to sit back and defend deep and relied on the pace of Tottenham man, H.M.Son on the counter to move forward. The midfield, too, put up a solid performance for the Koreans, closing out the spaces for the Germans when they attacked and moving the ball fluidly when in possession. The German midfielders, on the other hand, struggled to make things happen and Toni Kroos found himself constantly shooting from a distance because his teammates did not make good enough runs into the box. The full-backs, too, had a poor outing with both Joshua Kimmich and Hector struggling in the attacking third, though they managed to get back in time to thwart any Korean counter-attacks. At half-time, the teams went in level and in parallel, Sweden was also level against Mexico, both games having been goalless at 0-0. As it stood, Germany was going through thanks to their discipline on the field, having collected fewer yellow cards than the Swedish.

The second half began and Germany continued to attack relentlessly, but the lack of flair, which Sane could have brought to the fore, and a genuine attacking threat upfront meant the Germans had an uphill task on hand. The Koreans continued to dig deep and relied on their defense to handle the German pressure, which they did admirably well. Unhappy with the way things had been progressing, Joachim Low replaced a poor Sami Khedira with Gomez, hoping for some better opportunities to score, and it came just moments later. A dangerous ball was swung in from the right and Gomez headed the ball towards goal, only for Cho to come up with a stunning save to deny the Germans from going in front. He also made a few more routines saves as Germany now resorted to shooting from anywhere close to the box. The team clearly lacked clarity and their game-plan was all over the place.

Korea, meanwhile, stuck to their game-plan ever so well and stubbornly held the defense together. Low made his final two substitutions too, bringing on Thomas Muller and Julian Brandt for Goretzka and Hector, but the team continued to struggle. Mats Hummels found himself forward frequently in the dying minutes of the game and messed up a couple of good chances to score before against all odds, the inevitable South Korea goal arrived in the second minute of stoppage time. On the break, the team from Asia won a corner. The resulting set-piece, taken by Son, seemed a poor one, but it was flicked on by the first Korean man in the box. The ball ended up at the feet of Kroos, who in a moment of madness, poked at the ball, which ended in the feet of an unmarked Kim Young-Gwon, who took a touch to control it and shot from close range. The ball rammed into a diving Manuel Neuer’s foot and ended up in the roof of the net. The celebrations began for South Korea but were cut short in seconds when the goal was called for offside. Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was immediately brought into the picture and the goal stood.

South Korea led, with another 5 minutes of stoppage time to play, and the Germans looked distraught. Elsewhere, Sweden had taken a 3-0 lead against Mexico with only seconds left on the clock, meaning Germany was all but out. They continued to attack though and a cross was met by Hummels again, who skied his header onto the roof of the net. The Germans had all their players in the Korean half, with even Neuer making his way up to midfield, and a few seconds later, the German goalkeeper made the fatal mistake of giving the ball away cheaply to Ju, with only Suele behind the half-line. Ju sent the ball flying over in what might have been an attempt to score, and Son latched on to it and tucked it home into the bottom corner of an empty net. 2-0 to South Korea and in one part of the stadium, one could definitely hear a sigh and a disbelieving gasp. Germany attempted 28 shots with just 6 on target, while South Korea attempted just 12 with 5 on target and 2 goals to their name with those. Germany also enjoyed 74% possession of the ball but failed to do enough to take them past a rigid Korean line-up.

The referee blew the full-time whistle a couple of minutes later, officially confirming Germany’s exit from the 2018 FIFA World Cup, after 3 underwhelming and inconsistent performances in the group stage. After France (2002), Italy (2010) and Spain (2014), Germany achieved the dubious distinction of being the fourth defending champion to be knocked out in the group stage in the following edition of the World Cup. The Germans fell prey to some poor management decisions, a lackluster game-plan and some poor performances from the big guns, which resulted in the ousting from the tournament in the First Round itself for the first time since 1938. A night earlier, Argentina defied the odds to make it to the Round of 16, but Germany could not achieve something similar and they bowed out of the World Cup in a painful manner which will continue to hurt them in the months to come. The 2018 FIFA World Cup has given us more surprises than we could have possibly imagined and there’s every chance that a lot more is waiting to happen.

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