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Rising stars Reus and Werner give hope to Germany    

By Oliver Trust BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- World Champions Germany still faces a battle to reach the last 16. They have to overcome South Korea in their last Group F game in Kazan this Wednesday. Confidence is back after two rising stars are giving head coach Joachim Loew reason to be optimistic.

The speed and passion of Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) and Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund) have enhanced the titleholder’s chances of playing a leading role at the tournament in Russia, after the mood in Germany hit rock bottom following the defeat in the team’s curtain-raiser against Mexico.

Both strikers seem to be able to provide what the Germans lacked in their opening game. The speed, desire and passion of the World Cup newcomers have made them irreplaceable in a squad full of experienced players whose insecurity has made the team lose its balance.

Meanwhile, optimism in Germany has increased among supporters. The country’s media see Reus and Werner as the new dream team.

Fans are not only talking about certain victory over South Korea but don’t seem to fear a challenging opponent like Brazil in the next round, should Germany come second in the group.

Werner and Reus not only increase the options for Loew up front as a result of their versatility but are also improving the team spirit.

22-year-old Werner and 29-year-old Reus are both playing their first World Cup and are excited by the whole experience. Werder had tears in his eyes after the Germans scored the winning goal against Sweden after a nail-biter.

“We’ll do everything to prevent the team from going the same way as predecessors France, Italy and Spain four years after their World Cup triumphs,” Reus commented.

The duo might be new on the World Cup stage but still stand for experience and quality. Werner won the 2017 Confed Cup, played in the Champions League with his club and has appeared in 158 Bundesliga games despite his young age. Reus missed out on participating at the last major tournaments due to injury but was a regular for his club in the Champions League and has played 233 first division matches.

While Loew is still unsure over his midfield and defense but the places for Werner and Reus are already booked. Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng is banned for the Korea clash after being red-carded in the Sweden game and will be replaced by Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich) or Antonio Ruediger (Chelsea).

According to reports, Loew is considering a return for Mesut Oezil (Arsenal) and Sami Khedira (Juventus) for a midfield job due to Sebastian Rudy (Bayern) being sidelined with a broken nose. Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04) is an additional option. Thomas Mueller could be replaced by Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen) but it is rather unlikely despite Bavarian’s poor performances.

Mueller could play behind spearhead Werner and Brandt could operate down the right flank.

While Loew praises Reus’ and Werner’s skills, their teammates admitted that they gave them a “good feeling” (Mats Hummels). “Against Sweden, we knew Timo and Marco could get past the opposing defenders,” Hummels emphasized.

Reus and Werner stand for a rejuvenated 2014 World Champions team and seem to have opened the doors for Loew to push the German forwards.

Reus called the 2018 World Cup a highlight in life and one “you can’t buy for all the money in the world”. Werner said he is thrilled playing next to a “world class footballer” like Reus. “We get along well and not only on the pitch,” Werner said.



Germany and Brazil on early World Cup collision course

By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Wednesday’s final matches in Group E and Group F of the 2018 World Cup finals hold the prospect of a mouth-watering clash in the last 16 that neither of the two sides likely to make it through will want at this stage of the competition.

If results go as expected, we could see Brazil finish as leaders of Group E and Germany finish second in Group F. That would set up a last 16 tie between the two in Samara on July 1.

Group F is led by Mexico with six points, followed by Germany and Sweden on three points each, while South Korea have no points after two defeats. In theory all four sides can still qualify for the next round and all four could fail to make it through. Mexico are in the best position to qualify and can assure their progress with a draw against Sweden, who suffered last-minute heartbreak when German midfielder Toni Kroos scored an injury time free kick on Saturday.

That win means the Germans still depend on themselves to make it into the last 16. The defending champions will qualify if they beat South Korea by a bigger margin than the Swedes manage if they can beat Mexico. However, if the Swedes beat Mexico 2-0 and Germany also win, then Mexico could still crash out of the competition on goal difference. A 1-0 victory for the Swedes could even see qualification decided on fair play, a criteria where the Mexicans currently have a slight advantage. South Korea could still qualify if they inflict a heavy defeat on Germany and Mexico beat the Swedes.

Group E is also in the balance with Brazil on four points leading Switzerland on goal difference. Serbia is third with three points. The Serbs face Brazil, who would qualify with a draw, but who would go out of the tournament if Serbia beat them and Switzerland avoid losing to Costa Rica.

A win for Brazil meanwhile would see them finish top of the group as long as they win by a bigger margin than the Swiss would manage if they beat the Costa Ricans.

Although Brazil will no doubt want to avenge that painful 7-1 defeat to Germany from four years ago, neither side will want to face the other so early in the tournament.


Coach says Germany need to “master destiny” in match against South Korea

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- Germany coach Joachim Loew said on Tuesday that his team will have to find a way to counter South Korea and achieve two clear goals in order to master their destiny and secure a place in the World Cup round of 16.

Germany will play South Korea in their last group match on Wednesday while Mexico takes on Sweden. Currently, Mexico are leading Group F with two wins, while Sweden and Germany are both struggling with one win and one loss, and South Korea are at the bottom.

Each with one match to go, all of the four teams have a theoretical chance to reach the knockout stage but also are not without the possibility to be eliminated.

“I don’t really know what chances South Korea have of winning this match and I don’t know ours either,” Loew said.

“But we have to be clear about what we need to achieve. We have to score two clear goals over our opponents and that will see us through. We have to be masters of our own destiny tomorrow,” the coach said.

Loew said that different from Sweden which stood rather deep, the South Koreans usually try to be involved with the ball from the midfield and they have two or three players who are very quick and can launch fast attacks there and “it would be our task to contain that.”

“We did make mistakes in the midfield (in the previous matches) after we lost the ball, and when that happened, the opponents often had players that could use the space that opened up. We have to make sure that we don’t lose the ball that easily any more, especially in the midfield,” he said.

One day before the decisive match, Loew said that he had not yet made up his mind about the starting lineup but with a couple of players injured or suspended, he had only 18 players to choose from.

He also revealed that Bayern Munich’s Sebastian Rudy will not play in the decisive match against South Korea on Wednesday after breaking his nose in previous match.

“His nose was broken in several places and he couldn’t play even with a mask. But Mats Hummels is able to play tomorrow. He’s trained for the last two days,” said Loew.

Meanwhile, striker Thomas Mueller, who has not been in top form in the previous two games would stay, according to Loew.

“After the Mexico match we had a long chat...He’s very open to comments and highly self-critical. Despite one or two negative matches, he has a positive outlook and is a very important player for us,” said the coach.


Coach says S. Korea to try best despite unlikely chance to win

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong said Tuesday that his team will do their utmost in their last group match against Germany though there was just a “one percent chance to win.”

“Germany are stronger than us, and it’s not going to be an easy match. But the ball is round. I believe there is still opportunity for us, and we are going to do our utmost to win tomorrow,” said the coach at a pre-match press conference in Kazan.

With two losses, South Korea are now at the bottom of Group F, but they still have a theoretical chance to reach the knockout stage if they beat Germany.

Shin said that the situation in Group F has not gone as he anticipated, as he originally predicted that Germany would have gone to the third match with two wins.

Now with just one win and one loss, the defending champions are still struggling to reach the round of 16, and would surely go all out against South Korea to get their three points, according to Shin.

What’s worse for South Korea is that they will have to play without captain Ki Sung-yueng, who suffered a left calf injury during the match against Mexico.

Regarding the new captain, Shin said that the decision has not been made yet. “We will see who is the most psychologically stable and can sacrifice for the team, and that person will wear the captain’s armband,” said Shin.

Shin said South Korea have been analyzing Germany since they were drawn into the same group.

The Asian side came to the World Cup after losing almost half of the key players to injury, and Shin admitted that even if that didn’t happen and South Korea play with full strength, Germany would still be a hard opponent to beat.

“However, we still have a one-percent chance (to win) and we’re not giving up our hope. We’ll try out best to find opportunities and play a wonderful World Cup,” Shin said.

South Korea will play Germany in their last group match on Wednesday while Mexico take on Sweden. Currently, Mexico are leading Group F with two wins, while Sweden and Germany are both struggling with one win and one loss.

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