Germany are back on track at the 2018 World Cup after Saturday’s thrilling win over Sweden. Thanks to Toni Kroos’ late free-kick to secure a 2-1 victory, Joachim Löw’s fate is now in their own hands. Our third and final game in Group F is against South Korea, who are yet to pick up a point so far, but could still reach the last 16. DFB.de has collated all the facts you need to know ahead of Wednesday’s decisive game.
RARE ENCOUNTER: There have only been three games between Germany and South Korea, with Die Mannschaft leading the head-to-head courtesy of two wins. The most recent meeting saw the Asian side claim victory, however.
FIRST MEETING IN SWELTERING HEAT: The first clash between the two nations took place at the World Cup group phase in the United States on 27th June 1994 in almost 45°C heat. Germany led 3-0 at the break thanks to Karl-Heinz Riedle and Jürgen Klinsmann’s brace, but were made to sweat out a 3-2 win after second-half goals from Hwang Sun-Hong and Hong Myong-Bo got South Korea back into the game.
BALLACK’S HEROICS: The second encounter also took place at the World Cup, but was of much greater significance. The hosts put up a real fight in that semi-final in Seoul in 2002, but Germany’s arguably best player at the tournament – alongside Oliver Kahn – Michael Ballack netted a 75th-minute winner and a place in the final for Rudi Völler’s side.
FAR-EAST DEFEAT: The most recent meeting was on 19th December 2004. South Korea were 3-1 winners in Busan, with against Michael Ballack scoring the only goal for Germany to level the scores after 25 minutes. The home side struck twice in the final 20 minutes of the game.
OLYMPIC DUEL: Germany’s Olympic team took on South Korea in their second group game at Rio 2016, drawing 3-3. Salzburg’s Hee-chan Hwang opened the scoring, but goals from Serge Gnabry and Davie Selke turned the game around. South Korea then mounted their own fightback through Heung-Min Son and an 86th-minute goal from Hyun-Jun Suk, only for Gnabry to strike again in added time to snatch a point. Germany went on to claim the Silver medal, while South Korea lost to Honduras in the quarterfinals.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: With his free-kick in the fifth minute of added time, Toni Kroos’ winner was the latest goal scored in Germany’s World Cup history (excluding extra time). It condemned Sweden to a first group-stage defeat since they were beaten by Costa Rica in 1990 – the Scandinavians were on a ten-game unbeaten run.
SHOWING CHARACTER: Germany won a World Cup game after trailing at the break for the first time since 1974, also against Sweden (4-2, 1-0 down at half time). It’s the ninth time in a row that Die Mannschaft have followed up a World Cup defeat with victory.
ALL STILL TO PLAY FOR: Nothing is confirmed in Group F with just one game to go. All four teams can still progress or be knocked out. It’s worth noting though, that Germany’s fate is still in their own hands, with a win by two goals against South Korea guaranteeing a spot in the last 16.
EIGHT OUT OF TEN: Germany have failed to win just two of their last ten World Cup matches (D1, L1). Die Mannschaft have also recorded 15 wins from their last 17 competitive games (D1, L1), with the 1-0 loss to Mexico the only time they have failed to score in that run.
GOALS AND ASSISTS: Toni Kroos has had a hand in five goals in his last five World Cup games (3 goals, 2 assists).
BY THE DOZEN: With the victory over Sweden, Thomas Müller has now celebrated twelve wins at World Cup finals, moving him level with Berti Vogts in ninth place among German players. Manuel Neuer and Mesut Özil could already reach this landmark with victory against South Korea.
ILLUSTRIOUS CIRCLE: Thomas Müller, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil could score in their third World Cup and join an illustrious group in German football. Only Uwe Seeler (1958 to 1970) and Miroslav Klose (2002 to 2014) have netted in more World Cups for Germany (four). Rudi Völler, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Lothar Matthäus and Jürgen Klinsmann have also got their name on the scoresheet in three for Germany.
FIRST GOAL: South Korea scored their first goal of this World Cup in added time of the second game. Heung-min Son hit a wonderful strike in the 93rd minute to halve Mexico’s lead to 2-1. That result meant that South Korea were still without a point, but they were not without a goal. Former Bundesliga man Son was the most dangerous man on the pitch, thanks to making eight shots on goal. As a team, however, South Korea were outplayed by Mexico, who outshot them (17 to 13) and had more possession (58 percent).
GOING HOME WITHOUT A POINT: South Korea have only lost all three of their World Cup group games in 1990 - the year when Germany won their third World Cup. South Korea also lost all of their group games when Germany won their inaugural World Cup in 1954, albeit back then each team only played two group games.
EIGHT YEARS OF HURT: South Korea have lost their last four World Cup games, which equals their worst ever record (1986 to 1990). They are also winless in their last eight World Cup games - six losses and two draws. Their last win came in 2010 in their opener against Greece, which ended 2-0. They’ve conceded 17 goals in the eight games since, which corresponds to over two per game.
JAPANESE ORIGINS: The Korean football association was founded in 1928 when the region was still under Japanese control and was re-founded in 1948 after they gained independence. The Korean Republic also joined FIFA in that year as well.
FIRST INTERNATIONAL GOAL: 13 days before they declared independence on 15th August 1948, the South Korea national team’s first official international game took place. They beat Mexico at the London Olympic Games 5-3.
ASIAN CHAMPIONS: South Korea won the Asian Championship the first two times they were involved in it (1956, 1960), and haven’t won it since. They have been runners-up and finished third place four times apiece.
HOME WORLD CUP: South Korea hosted the first World Cup on Asian soil together with Japan in 2002, and reached the semi-final to play Germany. They would ultimately lose that game and then go on to lose the third-place playoff to Turkey 3-2. Nevertheless, that fourth-place finish was their best ever performance at a World Cup.
FIRST ASSISTANT, NOW HEAD COACH: Tae-yong Shin has been South Korea’s head coach since July 2017, after previously being assistant coach for three years as well as being the interim coach of the “Taeguk Warriors” and coaching the South Korea U20s and U23s. The former midfielder also played 300 games for Seongnam FC, in which he scored over 70 goals.
RECORD GOALSCORER FROM THE BUNDESLIGA: South Korea have long been associated with the Bundesliga thanks to Bum-kun Cha, who played 308 games in the German top flight for Darmstadt, Frankfurt and Leverkusen. His 98 goals were the most ever scored by an overseas player in the Bundesliga for a long time. Bum-kun Cha scored 55 goals in 121 internationals for South Korea.
CAPTAIN AND MOST-CAPPED PLAYER: Their current captain is Sung-yong Ki, who was relegated from the Premier League with Swansea City this past season. He has won the most international caps (104) out of all current players.
AUGSBURG INTERNATIONAL: FC Augsburg’s Ja-Cheol Koo is another Bundesliga representative at the World Cup. Koo has played in Germany since 2011, (Wolfsburg, Mainz and Augsburg) and has played in the second most Bundesliga games by a South Korean behind Bum-kun Cha (185 appearances, 26 goals). Twelve of the 23 players in the squad play in South Korea. Yong Lee of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors is the oldest player in the squad, while Hellas Verona’s Seung-woo Lee is the youngest. Heung-min Son played in the Bundesliga from 2010 to 2015 at Hamburger SV and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, scoring 41 times in 135 games. Cha Bum-kun is the only South Korean to have scored more.
A STATE OF THE ART VENUE: The venue for Wednesday’s game is the Kazan Arena. The stadium lies on the Kazanka river in the northeast part of the capital of Tartasan region that goes by the same name. The stadium is to replace the old central stadium that previously served as the home of Rubin Kazan. The stadium holds 45,105 spectators and is built in the shape of a river lily. The huge LED facade is a particular highlight of the stadium. At 3622 metres squared, it is the biggest of its kind in the entire world.
BACK TO KAZAN: The Kazan Arena was also one of the four venues for the Confed Cup in 2017. Germany scored against Chile here in the Group stage against Chile. It was the only time that Germany had played a game in Kazan to that point.
TWINNED WITH BRAUNSCHWEIG: Kazan is around 800 kilometres east from Moscow and is one of the centres of Islam in Russia. Kazan has a population of 1.1 million people and is home to Kazan University - the second oldest higher institution in Russia.###more###