Wednesday morning was full of World Cup action as two colossal Group F matchups took place. With every team still having had a chance to qualify going into the two 10:00 am EST games, tensions were high and fans were on the edge of their seats.
Germany vs Korea
Germany, one of the tournament’s favorites (4-1) at the beginning of the World Cup, needed a win today to advance. After Toni Kroos’ 95th minute heroics against Sweden last week, Germany left themselves with what should have been an easy “win and you’re in” situation. Korea however, wasn’t going home without a fight.
Coming in heavily favored, football fans were surprised to see Germany tied 0-0 at the half with South Korea. Throughout the game, and specifically the second half, both teams had plenty of scoring opportunities. Mats Hummels had an open header opportunity in the penalty area on more than one occasion, but wasn’t able to grab a goal. Hummels later said after the game, “we didn’t make the best use of our shots.”
It wouldn’t be fair to chalk up Korea’s solid defensive performance only to Germany’s lack of finishing. Korean Goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo had a “man of the match” type performance, saving all 6 of Germany’s shots on target and keeping a clean sheet throughout the duration of the match. Both South Korea and Germany are now eliminated from the tournament as Sweden and Mexico will advance.
Sweden vs Mexico
Similarly, Sweden needed a victory to advance. The Mexican contingent either needed a win, or a loss from Germany to advance (despite winning their first 2 matches). Just like in the Germany and South Korea match, the first half did not produce a goal for either side.
The second half however, was a goal scoring parade for Sweden. The Swedish team had their way with the Mexican Defense as they put 3 into the back of the net. Ludwig Augustinsson had a 50th minute goal that broke open the scoring. This was followed by Swedish captain Andreas Granqvist getting the job done on a penalty kick. The 3rd and final goal, which was a Mexican own goal, gave Sweden a 3-0 victory.
What does this do to the table? Sweden’s victory pushed them to the top of the table earning them a spot in the knockout stage. Germany’s loss drops them to 3rd in the group and assists Mexico in keeping them in the 2nd spot and earning them a knockout round spot as well. Had Mexico not advanced, it would have been the first time since 1982 (Alegria) that a World Cup team not make it to the knockout stage despite winning their first 2 matches in group play. And despite Korea putting up an incredible battle and victory, they would have needed a Mexican victory over Sweden to advance. They finished 4th in the group.
The Knockout Stage of the World Cup will begin Saturday June 30th at 10:00 am EST, in Kazan, Russia. Spain will face tournament host, Russia.