FIFA World Cup 2018: Germany fighting for survival in wide-open Group F; Brazil aim to grab top spot on Day 14
Two of the best teams in international football — Germany and Brazil — go into their final group matches in danger of being bounced from the World Cup.
Two of the best teams in international football go into their final group matches in danger of being bounced from the World Cup.
Germany and Brazil, both early favorites for the title, struggled through their opening two matches. The teams have a combined nine World Cup titles, Germany are the defending champions and Brazil are still trying to redeem itself from a humiliating 7-1 loss in the 2014 semi-finals, in which they were the host nation.
Here’s a look at what you can expect on Wednesday at the World Cup in Russia:
Group F: Mexico vs Sweden, South Korea vs Germany (7.30 pm)
Germany were shocked in their opening match in Russia by Mexico, and they needed a goal in stoppage time from Toni Kross to pull out a 2-1 victory over Sweden. To avoid elimination in the first round of the World Cup for the first time since 1938, Germany need a strong showing on Wednesday against South Korea in a wide-open Group F finale at Kazan Arena.
Germany coach Joachim Loew has been blasted at home for conservative roster choices. So Loew made four changes against Sweden, including dropping playmaker Mesut Ozil from the starting line-up. The changes made for a balanced team that was relieved to pull out the win against Sweden.
South Korea's chances to advance are slim, and captain Ki Sung-yueng won't play because of a left calf injury. If South Korea beat the four-time world champions, and Sweden lose to Mexico, the South Koreans could make it to the Round of 16.
Meanwhile, Mexico have a chance to win their group with a perfect record for the first time in their World Cup history.
Mexico haven't yet secured their spot in the Round of 16, but forward Javier Hernandez believes they are contenders to win the entire tournament.
"We are brave enough not only to dream, but to work on those dreams so that we can make them true," Hernandez said.
Hernandez needs one goal to make him Mexico's all-time leading scorer in World Cup play with five.
Group E: Switzerland vs Costa Rica, Serbia vs Brazil (11.30 pm)
In Group E, Brazil and Switzerland have four points apiece while Serbia have three, and any of them could grab one of the group's two spots in the knockout stage.
Brazil head into their final group match against Serbia at Spartak Stadium in Moscow needing only a draw to advance.
But after a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, Brazil needed two injury-time goals to pull out a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica. Neymar has been frustrated with the play of the national team, and he dropped to his knees and sobbed after the Costa Rica match.
Switzerland were under scrutiny following their 2-1 victory over Serbia because three of the players used the match to make political statements.
FIFA fined three Swiss players for making hand gestures that seemed directed against their opponents because many Swiss players have ties to the former Serbian province of Kosovo.
Switzerland will reach the Round of 16 with at least a draw. Costa Rica were eliminated after losing their first two matches, which makes Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic wary of the match in Nizhny Novgorod.
"Mind you, this is not going to be an easy one," Petkovic said. "This is a good quality opponent. Obviously they are a proud team and have nothing to lose and are potentially dangerous."
With inputs from AP
Italy will face North Macedonia at home in a playoff semi-final next March, and the winner will play away at either Portugal or Turkey for a spot in the World Cup.
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