World Cup 2018: Analysing Germany's chances after their win against Sweden
Before the World Cup tournament, the Germans were classed as the team to beat with the reigning champions looking their ominous best in the build-up to the tournament.
After the loss against Mexico in the opening game, there were suddenly rumours of a crisis, as Germany looked unconvincing in attack and defence. However, the dramatic late win against Sweden has put them second in their group and on course to go through.
Toni Kroos' thumping winner was an example of the quality available to Germany and why they should still be considered a threat.
Against Sweden and Mexico, the Germans did not look convincing at the back, something which better teams will look to exploit. Time after time, Germany failed to deal with the pace of the Mexican front line, as they were counter-attacked throughout the game.
In front of goal, the Germans were wasteful and indecisive, with Timo Werner and Thomas Muller the guilty party. A victory against South Korea would send Germany into the last sixteen, although they are likely to finish second, given Mexico's form and confidence.
Although the Germans sit second in the group, they will need to improve significantly if they are to retain the World Cup.
Until the 95th minute, it seemed Germany were getting the result their performance merited, an unsatisfactory draw.
Defensively the Germans were still shaky and vulnerable. The poor communication between the two centre-halves and Jerome Boateng’s decision making will concern Joachim Low.
For a former World Cup and Champions League winner, Boateng looked naïve and indecisive, as he received a red card in the 82nd minute.
Joshua Kimmich’s dynamism and energy make him very effective going forward. In World Cup qualification, the Bayern Munich right-back provided 9 assists, more than any other player in qualifying.
However, Kimmich's willingness to get forward means he leaves gaps in the defence. Hirving Lozano took advantage of this space to score Mexico's goal against the Germans. Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels have partnered each other for Bayern Munich in the last three years, making their performance against Mexico even more startling.
Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger was brought in for the game against Sweden, with the change in partnership not ideal. Due to Jerome Boateng's red card, Mats Hummels and Antonio Rudiger will most likely play together in the game against South Korea.
Over the course of their first two matches, the Germans have averaged a shot accuracy of 40 percent. Names such as Thomas Muller, Timo Werner, Mario Gomez and Marco Reus should frighten opposition defences and guarantee goals.
In his first two World Cups, Muller amassed 10 goals, a total that puts him eighth on the all-time list. However, in both of Germany’s first two games, Thomas Muller’s end product has been rather wayward. Late on in the Sweden game, Muller had a chance to put in a good delivery. Instead, it was a tame effort that sailed high over the bar.
Timo Werner is also under-performing, which is a surprise, given his last two seasons at RB Leipzig. During the last two seasons, Werner led the line for Leipzig brilliantly and scored 34 goals during that time.
The German finished as the top scorer at the 2017 Confederations Cup, with 3 goals to his name. However, against Mexico and Sweden, he squandered several chances; something he cannot afford to do against better opposition.
For all the negativity in the last week, positives must be taken from this German performance. A last-minute victory is one of the most satisfying things in football and Toni Kroos’ 95th minute strike shows the individual brilliance in the German side.
Kroos' decision to have a shot on goal and ignore his teammates was one of real courage. Germany’s team have trophy winners all over the pitch, as most of the current crop played at the last World Cup in Brazil.
Many of the players have also won league titles and Champions League trophies, something that takes immense talent and character.
The Germans need a win against South Korea to guarantee qualification to the next round. However, given the number of surprises at this World Cup, this is not a guarantee. If Germany go through, they will most likely finish in second place.
This could mean a potential last sixteen meeting with Brazil. Although Germany’s start to this tournament has been less than convincing, they still carry a major threat. This win might have just put their World Cup campaign back on track.
Do you think Germany can retain their title? Have your say in the comments.