Germany was seen as one of the favorites to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But the defending champions won’t be celebrating this year, as a shocking 2-0 loss to South Korea has sent Germany out of the tournament in the group stage.
Germany had never failed to advance out of the group stage of the World Cup before this year, and had only once been bounced in the first round – back in 1938, when the tournament used a single-elimination knockout format.
Germany Fails to Convert, Sweden Dominates Mexico
All four teams in Group F were alive heading into their final matches on Wednesday. Germany was likely to go through with a win over South Korea, and could guarantee advancement if they won by at least two goals.
But the Germans were sloppy around goal, and failed to convert on numerous chances throughout the match. As the match neared its conclusion, the score stood at 0-0.
At the same time, Sweden was putting on a show against Mexico. While that match was also scoreless at halftime, a Ludwig Augustinsson goal in the 50th minute gave the Swedes the advantage. A penalty converted by Andreas Granqvist gave Sweden a more comfortable 2-0 lead, and an Edson Alvarez own goal in the 74th minute made it clear that Sweden would be going through.
But the lopsided margin left Mexico in danger of elimination if Germany could score a late winner. But as the Germans opened up the game in search of a late winner, it was South Korea that would score. Kim Young-Gwon put one past Manuel Neuer at 93 minutes into the game, with the goal confirmed after a VAR review determined that Kim was not offside.
With a long period of stoppage time ahead of them – ultimately, after the VAR review and the goal, nine minutes were added — Germany still pushed forward in the hopes of somehow finding two goals. While the Germans did create a few more chances, they never converted, and with Neuer up field as part of the desperation attack, Son Heung-Min was able to score an empty net goal to make the final score 2-0.
After the match, German manager Joachim Low appeared stunned by his team’s elimination.
“I’m shocked that we didn’t manage to pull it off,” Low told reporters. “I really had the feeling that the team, they really wanted to go forward…the disappointment of being eliminated is just huge.”
Brazil Handles Serbia, Late Goal Earns Draw for Costa Rica
There was less drama in Group E, where Brazil and Switzerland both did enough to safely go through.
Brazil faced a tough challenge from Serbia, which came close on several occasions to scoring while constantly keeping the pressure on. But it was Brazil that found two goals, first on a crafty poke by Paulinho in the 36th minute, and again in the second half on an uncontested header by Thiago Silva.
Meanwhile, Switzerland and Costa Rica played to an entertaining 2-2 draw. Tied at one late in the match, Josip Drmic looked like he had scored the winner for Switzerland in the 88th minute when he connected with a cross from Denis Zakaria to give his side a 2-1 lead.
But Zakaria would then push Joel Campbell in the box, setting up a penalty for Costa Rica in extra time. Bryan Ruiz took the kick and sent it off the crossbar, but it still managed to find the net after hitting goalkeeper Yann Sommer in the back of the head and rolling over the line for an own goal.
The results will see Brazil play Mexico in the Round of 16, while Sweden takes on Switzerland. The elimination of Germany has shortened Brazil’s odds even further, with William Hill now offering the five-time champions at 3/1 to win the World Cup.
The other teams advancing out of Wednesday’s play are regarded as longshots however, with Switzerland (40/1), Mexico (40/1), and Sweden (66/1) all seen as unlikely to make much noise in the knockout phase.