World Cup 2018: Mats Hummels to return as South Korea test looms for Germany
Poor form have played their part as Joachim considers his team for Wednesday’s crucial clash with S Korea. But the return of Hummels comes at just the right time, with the Bayern man set to start
The centre-back's availabilty is a huge boost for Joachim Löw, who will be without the suspended Jerome Boateng for Wednesday's encounter. The Bayern Munich defender was sent off in Germany's narrow victory over Sweden on Saturday. Hummels is expected to start alongside Niklas Süle at the heart of defense.
Midfield continues to be an issue, however, with several key players in doubt due to either form or fitness. Löw admitted during Tuesday's pre-mtach press conference that Mesut Özil's inclusion is still a consideration at this late hour. The Arsenal playmaker has come under criticism from fans after an anonymous display in Germany's opener against Mexico.
Sebastian Rudy, whose nose was broken by a wayward elbow in the dying minutes of the Sweden game, will not be included.
"The game is coming two or three days too soon for him," explained Löw. "His nose is broken in several places and he can't even play with a mask". Toni Kroos's partner at the base of midfield is still unconfirmed, though Sami Khedira's poor form could see Ilkay Gündogan get his first start in Russia.
Further forward, Thomas Müller is set to be retained despite his poor showing in Germany's opening games. Löw is convinced the Bayern Munich forward has the character to turn things around against South Korea.
"After the Mexico match we had a long chat," said the coach. "He's very open to comments and highly self-critical and despite one or two negative matches, he has a positive outlook and he's a very important player for us."
Whatever his selection, Löw's side are expected to win against a South Korean team that have failed to collect a single point so far. They could, however, still advance to the knockout stage with a win.
Despite Germany's lacklustre showings thus far, South Korean coach Shin Tae-Yong remains realistic ahead of the showdown in Kazan.
"They're the world champions, they're world number one," he told reporters on Tuesday. "A lot of people didn't think Mexico could beat Germany, so we will try to do our best. We have a one percent chance. It will be our last-ditch effort, but whether we go to the round of 16 or not we will do our utmost to win tomorrow's game. The Korean people know this and I hope they will give us support as well."
Speaking of support, Mexico's fans played a key role in Germany's openíng defeat, jeering and hounding the world champions' every touch of the ball. Löw's men wilted under a hostile atmosphere and will need to cope better with the pressure on Wednesday if they are to avoid a first group stage exit since 1938.
Löw insists his team are focused on the task at hand, however, unfazed by external influences.
"We know what we need to do and we'll look at our own performance," he declared. "We will try and be the masters of our own destiny."
Published: 27 Jun 2018, 9:58 AM