Müller: We're in the tournament now
Toni Kroos chested the ball down, and Thomas Müller smashed it into the net with an overhead kick. It looked like a relaxed training session for the Germany squad on Monday in the afternoon sun at their World Cup base in Vatutinki. There was even time for football tennis. But although fun was at the forefront of things, it was clear to everyone that when they set off for Kazan, things will get serious!
Ahead of their decisive group game against South Korea on Wednesday in the capital city of Tatarstan, anything is possible for the world champions. After the opening defeat to Mexico and the dramatic last-minute victory over Sweden, Joachim Löw's could finish anywhere from top to bottom in Group F. A win by two goals or more would guarantee Germany a place in the last 16, while defeat could mean a first ever exit at the group stage in the team's history. It could come down to FIFA's fair play ranking or even be decided by a random draw, depending on Sweden's result. No one in the Germany camp will want to rely on those circumstances, though.
"We're in the tournament now and can qualify by our own merit with a win against South Korea," said Thomas Müller following Saturday's triumph against the Swedes. "We'll certainly do everything we can to take our country far," added the 28 year-old.
Hummels returns, Boateng suspended
Former Bayern man Kroos, who kept Germany's hopes of qualification alive with his 95^th^-minute strike on Saturday, agreed with Müller: "Now we need to recover, beat South Korea and put in a convincing display." Dortmund's Marco Reus echoed those sentiments: "If we play with freedom, if we produce our link-up play on the pitch, with the same passion that we showed against Sweden, then it'll be difficult for South Korea," commented the 29 year-old at Monday's press conference.
So, the message for Germany's last 16 bid is to take strength from the Sweden game and not allow any more slip-ups like the one at the start of the tournament. However, Löw will again have to shuffle his pack. Mats Hummels has recovered from his neck problem and is set to replace Jérôme Boateng, who is suspended following his sending off against Sweden. There's also a question mark over Sebastian Rudy, who may be able to play with a mask after his nose operation. Meanwhile, Bayern duo Müller and Hummels will have to tread carefully as they are both one yellow card away from missing a potential last 16 match.