Germany defender Mats Hummels said the team went “wild” in the second half against South Korea, losing their discipline as they tried in vain to find a goal that would have kept them in the World Cup.
For the first time in their World Cup history, Germany were eliminated in the group stage following their 2-0 defeat to South Korea.
The game was goalless until stoppage time, and after Sweden took a sizable lead over Mexico in the simultaneous group game, Germany knew only a win would put them through to the knockout stage.
But Hummels admitted a bit of panic set in as Germany pushed for but could not find a winner.
“We were wild after the 65th minute, left our positions, ran into counters, lost our structure,” he told German broadcaster ARD. “If I had scored that goal in the 86th, we’d all be happy now. But now it’s just a bitter, bitter evening for us.”
Hummels had a chance to be the savior three minutes from time but his free header from inside the area bounced over the bar, and South Korea went on to score twice as Germany abandoned their defence in pursuit of a win.
“It’s hard to put in words. We believed in ourselves until the end,” Hummels said. “Even after the 1-0, we tried to turn it around. We did not get that ball across the line. I should have scored in the 86th minute. It broke our neck that we did not convert our chances.”
Germany ended up finishing bottom of the group after their opening defeat to Mexico, with their only three points coming in the dramatic late win against Sweden last week.
Asked what happened in the four years since Germany demolished the previous World Cup hosts Brazil 7-1 in the 2014 semifinals and went on to lift the trophy, Hummels credited the improved defence of their opponents.
“The smaller teams have learned how to defend,” Hummels said. “Every team has had its problems. And we manoeuvred ourselves into that position against Mexico. How South Korea score, it’s just like that.”
The World Cup exit capped a difficult lead-up to the tournament that saw Germany draw friendlies with England, France and Spain, then lose to Brazil and Austria, and only squeeze past Saudi Arabia 2-1.
“We have several points we now must address,” Hummels said. “Our last convincing match, that was back in autumn of 2017.”