WC 2018 Match Review: Germany vs Sweden – Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi – Group F clash – June 23, 2018
WC 2018 Match Result: Germany 2, Sweden 1
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A death gasp goal by Toni Kroos in the dying seconds of the game kept German hopes alive in the WC 2018.
Coach Joachim Low made significant changes to the team before the Sweden match, major omissions being 2010, 2014 WC protagonists Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil. Bayern Munich midfielder Sebastian Rudy was brought in.
Germany started the match on the front foot and had most of the ball. The Swedish defense was up to it and deal with whatever the Germans had to throw at them. But a sudden counter –attack left the Germans flat-footed. Marcus Berg got a loose ball, charged ahead and had just Manuel Neuer to beat.
Jerome Boateng caught up with him and just as Berg prepared to shoot the Bayern Munich defender gave him a shove in the back allowing the German goalkeeper to to race from his line and close him down. There was no VAR and the Germans are lucky to get away with a penalty in the 12th minute of play.
The World champions keep up the pressure in the face of some resolute defending but are always vulnerable to hit-on-the-breaks from their opponents. It does happen again to them. Toni Kroos callously gave a ball away to Viktor Claesson who picked it up and essayed a lovely cross to Ola Toivonen inside the box.
Toivonen allowed no time for the two defenders ringing him to react, took the ball on his chest and superbly delivered a lob over the onrushing Neuer with his right foot.The Sunderland legend put Sweden ahead in the 32nd minute of play.
Low throws in everything to save Germany in the second half, introducing Mario Gomez for the second half in a striker's role, with Timo Werner moving to the left wing and Thomas Muller acting as a second striker. There's a lot of urgency inthe German attack with Joshua Kimmich from the right orchestrating quite a few sorties. The Germans got their equalizer within three minutes of half-time. Marco Reus took advantage of a goalmouth melee and a panicky Swede defense to knee a ball in past the goalkeeper from six yards.
There were opportunities galore for the Germans to go ahead but some astonishing goalkeeping from Robin Olsen frustrated them no end. A further blow to the Germans came in the form of Boateng's red card in the 80th minute. Reduced to 10 men, Low now tried a last throw of the dice by bringing in Julian Brandt in place of left-back Jonas Hector in as late as the 87th minute of play.The Bayer Leverkusen winger almost deliverd in the 91st minute when his thundering shot from 20 yards beat Olsen, rattled the Swedish far post and bounced back into play but Timo Werner could not react as he was declared off-side.
It's do or die for Germany with just a minute to go when Werner is brought down just outside the Swedish box on the far left and the Germans are awarded a free-kick. The angle was acute, so Toni Kroos rolled the ball to Reus who killed it dead on the edge of the box. Kroos ran in to whip in an angular shot to the far right of the net with Olsen grasping at thin air. 2-1 to Germany and they survive to live another day.
The inconsolable Swedes collapse to the floor. They will rue the free kick they foolishly gave away in the 95th minute when they were so close, allowing Kroos to come up with a moment of genius.
Sweden's remaining game in the Group is against Mexico in a must match where the latter are already up with 6 points from 2 games. Only a win of considerable margin can save the Swedes (who have 3 points) from elimination. The Germans are expecting a comparatively easier outing with the South Koreans but nothing less than a big win would do for them.