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German team exit at group stage after shock South Korea loss

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This simply doesn’t happen. Germany, the reigning world champions, four-time winners of this competition and FIFA’s highest ranked nation have stumbled at the first hurdle of a World Cup for the first time since 1938, reported Deutsche Welle (Germany).

Two late goals from South Korea hammered the final nails in the coffin, though, in truth, the writing had been on the wall since Germany’s opening clash with Mexico. For all the talk of wakeup calls and character after that defeat, there was little sign of either, as Germany became the fourth reigning champion to fall at the first hurdle in the last five World Cups.

In the wake of two dismal performances, Löw made bold choices with his lineup. Thomas Müller was dropped to the bench in favor of the dynamic, yet not-ideally suited, Leon Goretzka on the right side of attack; suggesting Löw had little idea how to wring the best out of this squad. It was telling that Germany’s coach was forced to reverse this decision in the final third of the match, his tactical masterplan bearing no fruit whatsoever until that point.

Germany looked shaky from the off, with Manuel Neuer spilling a innocuous free kick straight into the path of Son Heung-Min in the 19th minute. He managed to get to the loose ball just ahead of the Tottenham forward and parry it to safety. It was a sign of things to come.

Son went close again six minutes later, blazing over the bar from close range when he really should have punished Germany’s sloppy defending. The Korea captain was a thorn in Germany's side for much of this match, driving his team forward at every opportunity.

Germany dominated possession for much of the first half but did little with it. A champion team with A-list talent, woefully short of ideas. When Mesut Özil found Timo Werner on the edge of the Korean penalty area shortly before halftime, Germany’s only real chance of the half was snuffed out by some dogged defending.

Germany came out with all guns blazing in the second half. Leon Goretzka went close with a glancing header from a Joshua Kimmich cross on 48 minutes but was denied by goalkeeper, Jo Hyeon-Woo, who pulled off a great save to keep his side in the match. The momentum didn’t last long, though, with the news that Sweden had scored against Mexico adding pressure to an already explosive situation.

Sweden’s goal, on the 50 minute mark, was scored by Werder Bremen's Ludwig Augustinsson. The defender fired home from a cute angle to drag his side ahead of Germany in Group F. A draw would no longer be enough, with Germany needing a goal if they were to advance to the next round.

The introduction of Mario Gomez for Sami Khedira just before the hour mark, made sense. Korea had been sitting deep since that earlier Goretzka opportunity and the need for a physical presence in attack was clear. It almost paid off immediately, as Kimmich found him with a beautifully-weighted cross in the 64th minute. The Stuttgart man really should have done better, heading straight into the grateful arms of goalkeeper Jo .

Two further goals from Sweden, a penalty from captain Andreas Granqvist and an own goal from Edson Alvarez changed little. A Germany goal would still be enough to see them through.

It simply wouldn’t happen, however, with Toni Kroos blazing over the bar on the 73rd minute after Mesut Özil fed him inside the Korea penalty area. Several more frantic attacks were snuffed out before Mats Hummels was presented with perhaps Germany’s best chance of the game.

Again it was from a Kimmich’s cross, again the recipient should have done better. Hummels can claim that he was short sighted, with the ball blocked from view as a defender stretched to head it clear, but it should have been routine for a player of his pedigree. The Bayern defender missed the ball with his head and watched as it drifted agonizingly over the bar after ricocheting off his shoulder.

Then Korea struck. After winning a corner in stoppage time, Son Heung-Min whipped a low ball into the box that should have been cleared. Instead, it bounced awkwardly off Kroos and was poked in from close range by Kim Young-gwon. The referee opted to check VAR for offside but the outcome seemed oddly inevitable. Germany were about to be knocked out of the World Cup.

The second goal came as a result of Germany's desperate attempt to find an equalizer. Neuer was high up the pitch when the ball was cleared to Son, who raced clear into an empty half and put the game to bed with the simplest of finishes. Cue bedlam.

There will be inquests of course, calls for Jogi Löw to step down as coach of the national team; a glorious tenure ending in ruin. Germany is out of the World Cup. This simply doesn't happen.

Well, this is incredible. Germany is the fourth world champion of the last five to go out at the group stage. And it's hard to argue that they deserved more. Mats Hummels is the unlucky man who has to do the pitchside interview at full time and he's lamenting the missed chances. But, in truth, most of those came in a desperate ending when South Korea also had their share. The camera now cuts to the German bench where no words are being exchanged and thousand yard stares are everywhere. Our match report will be with you any minute.

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