June 25, 2018 11:14
Korea's opponent in its final group-stage match of the World Cup in Russia this week is reigning World Cup champion and world No. 1 Germany. Both Korea and Germany need a victory, but neither team will be able to field their best squad.
Korea will be without captain Ki Sung-yueng, who injured his left calf in a clash toward the end of the match against Mexico on Saturday and eventually left the ground on crutches.
"Ki underwent a medical checkup, which showed that he pulled his left calf muscle. It will require two weeks of treatment, so he will not be able to play against Germany," a Korean team official said.
Korea battled injury problems even before the World Cup started, and Park Joo-ho sustained a tournament-ending injury in the first match against Sweden. Now Ki is out. Germany is a big mountain to climb. With two key players out, Korea needs a miracle.
But Germany is not without its own troubles. Defender Jérôme Boateng was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in the match against Sweden on Saturday, and will miss the match against Korea. Midfielder Sebastian Rudy is also likely to miss the match after leaving the Sweden game with a broken nose. Not having to face these two pivotal defenders would be good news for Korea, which will be able to make the most of its offense led by Son Heung-min and Moon Seon-min.
Germany beat Sweden 2-1 on Saturday thanks to Toni Kroos' free kick in the final minute of injury time. Germany, who lost to Mexico in the first match, will advance to the next round if it beats Korea. Ironically, Germany's last-minute victory gave Korea a slim chance of moving on to the round of 16.
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