South Korea v Germany preview: Joachim Low’s men target last 16

Germany will need to at least match Sweden’s result if they are to make it into the last 16 of the World Cup when they take on South Korea in Group F.

Joachim Low’s men gave themselves a big chance of making the knockout rounds of the competition when they beat the Swedes 2-1 on Saturday thanks to a late goal from Toni Kroos.

It puts Germany level with Sweden on points and goal difference, and now they must at least match their rivals’ result against Mexico to have a chance of making the knockout rounds.

And coach Low says his side will take control of their own qualification, telling a press conference: “We need to have clarity in our own result. We know what we need to do and we’ll look at our own performance, we will try and be the masters of our own destiny.”

Draws in both games would see qualification determined by goals scored. Identical records would then see qualification decided by the better result when the teams met, which would see Germany go through courtesy of their 2-1 win.

South Korea can also make the last 16, but would need to beat the Germans, hope Sweden lose to Mexico and amass a better goal difference than Germany and Sweden.

While coach Shin Tae-yong was realistic about the chances of his team pulling off a victory, he said South Korea would take confidence from the fact that Germany had also made a disappointing start to their campaign in Russia.

“To be honest, Germany are a lot stronger than us and it won’t be easy,” he said. “But the ball is round, anything can happen, and I believe there will be chances for us. Mexico beat Germany in their match so there is hope for us. Although it’s likely that Germany will have more possession, we will do our best.

“We must make it as difficult as possible for Germany to play their own game and instead of having too many thoughts in their heads, the players must play simply and accurately. It will be a last ditch effort.”

Team news

Jerome Boateng is suspended following his red card against Sweden, while Sebastian Rudy will also be sidelined after breaking his nose in the same game.

However, Mats Hummels should be fit to start as he recovers from a neck injury.

For South Korea, they will be without captain Sung-yueng Ki for the game at the Kazan Arena after he picked up a calf injury.

Opta stats

Two of the three matches between South Korea and Germany have been at World Cup finals, with the Germans winning both contests (1994, 2002).

The most recent World Cup meeting between South Korea and Germany was at the Koreans’ home World Cup in 2002, with the hosts losing 1-0 in the semi-finals.

South Korea’s only victory against Germany came in a friendly match in 2004 (3-1).

Germany have won all five of their World Cup games against Asian opponents, scoring 19 goals in total and keeping clean sheets in each of their last three.

1:13 Watch to see how Germany celebrated Toni Kroos' winner against Sweden on Saturday

South Korea have lost their last four World Cup matches in a row, their joint-worst run – they also lost four in a row between 1986 and 1990.

Germany’s victory over Sweden was their first at the World Cup when conceding first since 1998, a 2-1 win over Mexico.

Son Heung-Min attempted eight shots in South Korea’s defeat to Mexico – three more than South Korea managed in their opening match against Sweden (five shots).

Germany have won 15 of their last 17 competitive matches (D1 L1) since losing 2-0 to France at Euro 2016.

South Korea have conceded a penalty goal in each of their last two World Cup matches – they had conceded just one goal via a penalty in their previous 29 World Cup games combined.

Toni Kroos’ goal against Sweden was the latest goal scored by Germany in normal time at the World Cup (94:42) – Kroos has been involved in five goals in his last five World Cup games (3 goals, 2 assists).

Charlie Nicholas’ prediction

I had my doubts about Germany before this tournament. For me, they don’t tick a lot of the boxes you need to win this tournament but that said they will beat South Korea and progress. Joachim Low has to be tempted to bring in Mario Gomez but I wouldn’t. I don’t think his movement is good enough. They will get through this though because that’s what the Germans do. It’s all about timing and taking the pressure away with a big result. The fact they won the other night in the fashion they did, it tells you the Germans will come on strong later in the tournament. The chests will be puffed out now and we’ll see a return to the Germany we all know.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 0-2 (11/2 with Sky Bet)

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