Defending-Champion Germany Crash Out of World Cup with Defeat vs. South Korea

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IJune 27, 2018

KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 27:  Mario Gomez of Germany and Mats Hummels  of Germany react after a missed chance during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia.  (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images, )
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Defending champions Germany crashed out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday after they were beaten 2-0 by South Korea.

The result means both teams depart the tournament while Sweden win Group F and are joined by Mexico in the last 16.


Low To Blame For Germany’s Exit

Germany’s shock exit from the World Cup is the first time Die Mannschaft have failed to make it out of the group stage since 1938, per Opta:

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

2 – This is only the second time that Germany have been eliminated from the First Round at the World Cup having last done so in 1938. Shock. #GER #KOR #KORGER #WorldCup https://t.co/jIZWOlxeEw

The defending champions qualified in style but struggled in their World Cup warm-up games, and they could not turn their form around when they arrived in Russia.

A defeat to Mexico set the tone for their campaign, and although they managed a dramatic last-gasp win over Sweden, their loss to South Korea proved costly.

Manager Joachim Low must take the blame for their early exit. His decision to omit Leroy Sane from his squad will return to haunt him particularly as the team struggled in attack.

Low chose Julian Brandt over Sane, but the Bayer Leverkusen man barely featured. Freelance writer Archie Rhind-Tutt highlighted his lack of game time:

Archie Rhind-Tutt @archiert1

Julian Brandt gets 12 minutes to shine for Germany. Given that he’s probably threatened more than Germany’s entire forward line in the 7 minutes he’s had in the previous two games, might be enough...

The Germany boss made some big decisions in the three games as he dropped Mesut Ozil for the win over Sweden, while Thomas Muller was axed for the defeat to South Korea.

The changes did little to improve the team who looked complacent, disjointed and lacking in ideas. Germany would have expected to win the group but finished bottom and did not deserve a place in the knockout stages.


Germany Must Find Lethal Finisher After Toothless Attack

Germany's failure at the World Cup highlighted their need for a lethal finisher to bring goals to a toothless attack.

The defending champions managed just two goals in Russia, a Marco Reus strike and a free-kick from Toni Kroos. Strikers Mario Gomez, Timo Werner and Thomas Muller did not find the back of the net once.

Freelance football writer Lars Pollmann offered his view of Reus' display against South Korea:

Lars Pollmann @LarsPollmann

Reus has been very, very poor today.

Werner also had a disappointing tournament, although he was not helped by being played out of position. Tom Adams at Eurosport was not impressed with the striker:

Tom Adams @tomEurosport

Werner had a shocker, Loew had no idea of his best team or approach, Germany terrible all round. Worst team at the World Cup by miles given standards

At just 22, Werner still has time on his side, which cannot be said about 32-year-old Mario Gomez. The Stuttgart player was Germany's oldest player at the World Cup and was something of a surprise inclusion.

There were no surprises about Muller's inclusion, but he is another player who could not find his best form. Sports journalist Stefan Bienkowski said he looked lethargic:

Stefan Bienkowski @SBienkowski

I think there were problems across the board for Germany in this tournament but I can't get over how lethargic the likes of Ozil, Kroos, Muller and Khedira were this summer. Some tired, others out of form but all clearly lacking incentive.

Germany's exit at the group stage is a big shock given the strength of their squad. There is plenty of young talent available to Low, but the team still need to find a lethal finisher.


Neuer's Reckless Nature Exposed in Moment of Madness

Germany's fate was sealed when Kim Young-gwon put South Korea 1-0 up in stoppage time, but it got even better four minutes later when Heung-min Son added a second.

The Tottenham Hotspur man profited from Manuel Neuer's decision to go upfield. He latched onto a long ball and tapped it into an empty net after the goalkeeper had been caught in possession deep in South Korea's half.

It was a moment of madness from Neuer, who was far too high up the pitch and paid for it dearly.

Sportswriter Andy West enjoyed the moment:

Andy West @andywest01

Somebody give Manuel Neuer an Oscar for best comedy moment. 2018 won't beat that.

Neuer is known for his ability to be a sweeper-keeper and his desire to go up for corners late in games when his teams need a goal.

However, on this occasion, he got it badly wrong. For all his qualities, the Germany captain needs to temper his reckless nature for the benefit of his team.


What's Next

Germany return to action when they play France in the UEFA Nations League in September. South Korea's next scheduled fixture is not until January 2019 when they take on the Philippines in the Asian Cup.