World Cup 2018: Germany vs South Korea - preview, head to head, team news and predicted XI
After a shock 1-0 defeat against Mexico in their group opener, Germany kept their chances of progressing alive as a last-minute Toni Kroos goal steered them to a 2-1 win against Sweden. The defending champions haven't been their usual selves up until now, and across both their matches, they have been prone to conceding from counter-attacks.
South Korea have disappointed their fans with their showings this World Cup. Their superstar Heung-min Son has failed to live up to the expectations of the nation. After back-to-back losses against Sweden and Mexico, they play Germany needing other results to go their way to have any chances of progressing.
Germany will target top spot in the group but they will know that even a win here may not be enough for that. Failure to win and an unfavourable result in the match between Sweden and Mexico could even mean crashing out of the World Cup in the opening round, something they have not done since 1938. They would want to win, and win convincingly, against a sub-par Korean side to make sure they progress.
Korea are still in with a chance to qualify for the next round, but for that, they will not only need a substantial effort from their players to overcome the Germans, but also a victory for Mexico against Sweden. It will be a huge surprise if that happens, and, as of now, the Mexicans are favourites to top the group, followed by Germany.
Jerome Boateng picked up a red card (for two yellows) against Sweden resulting in a one-match suspension that he will serve in this match. Sebastian Rudy suffered a broken nose in that match and is doubtful for this one.
One positive news for the Germans is that Mats Hummels, who missed the previous match with an injury, has returned to full training and is expected to start alongside Antonio Rudiger who impressed against the Swedes.
Mesut Özil is unlikely to regain his place in the starting XI and Julian Brandt might be given the go ahead after a couple of impressive substitute appearances.
For South Korea, there is no major injury concerns apart from defender Joo-Ho Park who is doubtful for this match.
Toni Kroos was not allowed time and space on the ball by the Mexicans and that was a key factor behind Germany's opening day defeat. Kroos is the man who pulls the strings from midfield and the way he plays will have a vital influence on Germany's chances of winning. He, along with whoever starts as his midfield partner, will set the pace for the entire game.
In both of Germany's two matches, they have been constantly caught on the counter. While Mexico could have won by a bigger margin had they not been wasteful, Sweden did not make effective use of their counter-attacking opportunities.
Since Germany will be pushing for a win, South Korea can use the pace and movement of Heung-min Son to get in behind the German defence and trouble Manuel Neuer. Son's direct attacks and ability to shoot from distance will also mean that Germany will mark him out as the key man to stop.
Head to head
South Korea will take inspiration from the last time these two teams met, which was a friendly in 2004, as they beat Germany 3-1. The two previous times they had faced each other before that was in the '94 and 2002 World Cups and Germany managed to beat Korea on both occasions.
Today, though, it looks unlikely that South Korea will put up too much of a challenge. Germany always seem to get out of trouble with their superb talent pool and strength in depth. Marco Reus and Timo Werner will use their pace to get in behind the defence and cause trouble for the opposition goalkeeper.
Although the Germans are yet to find their rhythm, they should have enough firepower to get past South Korea and potentially even set up a mouthwatering Round of 16 clash against Brazil.
Germany vs South Korea, Group F:
Match Date: 27 June 2018, Wednesday
Match Timing: 19:30 IST
Match Venue: Kazan Arena