-By Soul Sword-
The Group F’s points table was complicated with Mexico on top with 6 points, followed by Sweden and Germany with 3 points and Korea Republic with 1 point. Mexico faced Sweden and Germany faced South Korea at the same time in the matches that would decide which teams would progress to the next round. Sweden and Germany, though not playing against each other, had to compete in order to gain the 2nd spot in the table to progress to the round of the final 16.
Since the matches were played simultaneously I decided to follow Korea Republic Vs Germany since Germany is the defending champions.
The match was fast paced as it started. There were 5 changes made to the German Team with Mueller benched and Oezil making it to the final line-up. It was good to see that both the teams were great with their attacks. At 10’ Germany had a chance with the corner but it was well defended by the Korean goalkeeper Jo Hyeonwoo blocked the shot. At 17’ Korea earned a Free Kick and took a great shot at the goal which was beautifully saved by Neuer (German Goalkeeper), but it rebounded off him and H.M.Son came in for another shot at goal but Neuer blocked it again. As they were nearing halftime Germany tried hard to open their score but was unable to do so due to the solid defence put up by South Korea. At 32’ Germany had a good chance but was unable to convert it due to the Korean defenders who were impassable. Germany again tried at 38’ with Oezil attempting a shot but it was deflected.
The first half saw aggressive gameplay from both sides with Germany having more shots at goal and about 77% of ball possession. The Korean defence was outstanding with the defenders and goalkeeper foiling any chances that Germany had in scoring. At halftime, the score was 0-0.
The second half commenced with Germany’s Goretzka nearly scoring but was again defended, followed by Werner’s (Germany) shot which went a little above the crossbar. ( It was 50 ‘ when we learnt that Sweden had opened their score making the score Mexico 0-1 Sweden. This meant that they were ahead of Germany at this point in time) Korea missed their turn to score at 51’ when the shot went wide again. (Sweden had scored their second goal putting them in the lead with 2-0 at 62’) At 67’ Kimmich (Germany) attempted a shot on goal and yet again Jo Hyeonwoo came in with a great save followed by another at 70’. (At 74’ Sweden scored their 3rd goal putting them on top of Group F with 6 points followed by Mexico.) Germany tried to score in the form of Kroos’ shot at 85’, Hummel’s header at 86’ which went wide and Brandt (whose shot went wide) at 87’ but were unable to. 7 ‘of extra time were added and Y G Kim scored a goal for the Korea Republic at 90’ + 3’. After consulting with VAR the referee allowed the goal to Germany’s dismay. (Sweden had won the match fair and square against Mexico with a score of 3-0). Just as we thought the match was going to end with a score of 1-0, Germany came in with their last-minute attempts at goal and their goalkeeper Neuer moved into midfield trying to score and that’s when Korea took possession of the ball. With the goalpost unguarded, H M Son of easily scored a goal at 90’+6’ bringing the full-time score to 2-0 in Korea’s favour.
Sweden and Mexico have qualified for the knockout stage. The curse of the champions has struck again as Germany finished at the bottom of the table with Korea finishing 3rd and both teams exiting the World Cup. It was a great upset for German fans as this is the first time in history that Germany has been eliminated at the group stage. Though they had maximum ball possession and more shots at goal they were unable to get past the Korean Defence. South Korea’s goalkeeper Jo Hyeonwoo was one of the major factors that contributed to the match’s outcome. He saved the day for Korea and added to Germany’s woes with his marvellous saves. Considering the fact that he was not played in the qualifiers and was straightaway picked for the finals, he has performed extremely well and deserves the win. Jo Hyeonwoo was named the Man of the Match for his terrific performance. Though Korea Republic has been eliminated they will be going home with their heads held high.