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Eyeing pre-quarters berth, Germany aim to tame S Korea

Kazan: Defending champions Germany will go for the kill against South Korea to enter the FIFA World Cup pre-quarterfinals when they face-off in their final Group F contest at the Kazan Arena here on Wednesday.

Germany have three points from two games, while South Korea are currently last in Group F with two losses, but they still have a chance to advance to the Round of 16. If South Korea beat Germany and Sweden (three points) lose to Mexico (six points), then the three teams, excluding Mexico would be tied at one win and two losses, meaning the second and last position to qualify from the group will be down to goal difference, goal scored, head-to-head record and then fair play rules. Since FIFA has operated the World Cup with 32 teams, only Chile have advanced to the round of 16 after earning three points in the group stage. At the 1998 World Cup in France, Chile had three points from three draws and finished as the runners-up in Group B, reports Yonhap news agency. However, no team has passed the group stage after losing its first two matches at a World Cup with 32 nations.

Even at the 2018 World Cup, those with two losses have all been denied entry to the knockout stage regardless of the last matches in their respective groups, with South Korea looking to become the only exception.

Chances, however, appear to be very slim. Germany, four-time World Cup winners, are the top-ranked team in the world, while South Korea sit at only No. 57 in the latest FIFA rankings. Germany lost their opener to Mexico but they kept their chances alive by a Toni Kroos' last-minute winner against Sweden. It could be a turning point for the reigning champions and that all their problems in build up to the World Cup and against Mexico (and the previous 94 minutes against Sweden) were swept away by that magnificent free kick. If that is the case, expect the Germans to hit top gear against a South Korean side that needs a miracle to qualify.

South Korea will rely on the attacking prowess of Son Heung-min, who notched up the team's first goal in the tournament against Mexico on Saturday. Son is one of the players who is familiar with the Germans after having stints with German clubs Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg before signing with London-based Tottenham Hotspur.

South Korea are likely to stick to their familiar 4-4-2 and try to bank on their counter-attacks using quick attackers like Son and Hwang Hee-chan.

The question will be whether South Korea can feed attackers with accurate passes and make quick transitions from defence to offence.

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