With the cheers and celebrations of the 2-1 win over Sweden now firmly in the past, Germany must look forward to their tournament-defining clash with South Korea on Thursday. Following Toni Kroos’ magnificent injury-time free-kick, the defending World Cup champions have been offered a lifeline in their search to repeat the success of 2014, and a win against the Group F minnows should be enough to see them through.
The biggest problem facing Joachim Loew now, however, are the injury concerns surrounding two key players. Mats Hummels, forced to miss the win over Sweden due to a cervical injury, is expected to return in time for the crucial match-up with Korea, with Löw’s assistant manager, Marcus Sorg, providing an update on his condition.
Mats participated in full team training again; he should be able to play.
However, Hummels’ Bayern Munich teammate, Sebastian Rudy, may not be as lucky. The central midfielder, who started in place of Sami Khedira during the win over Sweden, was at the end of an unfortunate boot-to-face accident, which resulted in a broken nose for the 28-year-old. It led to an early substitution for Rudy, who was brought into the side as Löw provided more of an emphasis on defensive protection, but it looks as if he’s going to be forced to sit out Thursday’s match, according to Sorg.
We should be prepared for the contingency that he [Rudy] cannot play. . . It’s about getting the boys fresh, physically and mentally.
AZ reveals that Rudy required surgery following the injury, which places his chances of making a recovery for the South Korea clash further in doubt. That could see a recall for Khedira, or perhaps Löw will opt for Ilkay Gundogan, who came on in place of Rudy during the first-half in Sochi. New Bayern Munich signing Leon Goretza is also a candidate to start, although that option seems unlikely.