Football, football, football, football. Sigh! Who on Earth would have predicted such a script at the Kazan Arena?
The judgement day in Group F went down to the wire when Germany v South Korea began. The ‘World champions’ curse in FIFA World Cup continued as South Korea netted two late goals against a German side hungry to get onto the scoresheet.
Undoubtedly, every soul that celebrates this beautiful game will be feeling the shockwaves flowing across the globe.
Goals from Young-Gwon Kim and Heung-Min Son helped the South Koreans carve out one of the brightest days in their football history.
On the other side, Joachim Low and his troops will take an early flight home, with hearts filled with pain and agony.
On a day where it looked like the champions would enjoy a plain sail against a mediocre South Korean outfit and top their group with 6 points, they ended up in the basement instead, conceding two late goals and damaging their own goal difference.
This infamous defeat for the Germans and an emphatic yet unpredictable victory for Sweden meant that Sweden topped their group on the final match day, with Mexico finishing second with a worse goal difference.
The first-half of the game provided a large picture of what was in store for us. Germany bossed in possession, worked the ball around, played passes and crosses, but couldn’t find a breakthrough. On the other side, Shin Tae-Yong's team knew they were in for a long evening.
Amidst a rather subdued atmosphere in the stadium, Heung-Min Son and co. enjoyed the better chances despite seeing very little of the ball.
The best chance of the opening half fell to Hummels when he tip-toed past a couple of defenders but saw his shot smothered away by the star of the show, Hyun-Woo Cho.
Frustration grew as Die Mannschaft were unable to break the well-drilled opposition defence. Whenever the backline endured a lapse in concentration, the South Korean gloveman came to the rescue.
The Germans had better opportunities in the second-half, the best ones falling to Mats Hummels, Leon Goretzka, and Timo Werner. The former could have scored a hat-trick to be honest, as he missed the easiest of free headers.
Here are three reasons why South Korea beat Germany:
#1 A well-structured back line
This has been one of the highlights of World Cup 2018. Most of the underdog sides that go into a fixture aim to choke the opposition’s forwards and bank on their counter-attacking prowess. Not all teams have managed to do so, but South Korea stunned Germany and the rest of the world with their resolve and concentration.
The story was the same this time around too. Young-Sun Yun and Young-Gwon Kim marshaled a formidable looking back line, where the full-backs joined them in narrower positions to crowd the box.
The wingers dropped in deeper to guard the box, followed by the two forwards – who tracked their opponents down excellently well.
Crosses were allowed to come in, but each green shirt was man-marked to perfection.
They also played rough football, closing down German players, tightening up spaces and bundling them over without any fear.
As a result, four of their players were shown the yellow card. This strategy proved to be vital, as the Germans ran out of ideas and empty channels.
While some people refer to it as ‘parking a bus’, others will call it a tactical masterclass. However, it’s important to know that apart from focus, sharpness, positional and aerial strengths, defending for a whole of 90 minutes is mentally taxing.