KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - Germany will be without Sebastian Rudy for Wednesday’s decisive World Cup match against South Korea as the holding midfielder is still not fit after breaking his nose in the dramatic victory over Sweden, coach Joachim Loew said on Tuesday.
After losing their Group F opener to Mexico, the world champions revived their campaign with a last-gasp victory over Sweden and now need to beat the Koreans by at least two clear goals to guarantee progress to the last 16.
With centre back Jerome Boateng suspended on Wednesday after being sent off against the Swedes, Loew said he was down to 18 players for the match at the Kazan Arena.
“With Sebastian Rudy, it’s two or three days too early for him,” Loew told a news conference.
“He nose is broken in several places and he couldn’t play even with a mask (but) Mats Hummels is able to play tomorrow, he’s trained for the last two days.”
Rudy had replaced out-of-form World Cup winner Sami Khedira in the midfield in Russia as Loew put more emphasis on defence to try and stem the number of goals they have been conceding.
Hummels missed the Sweden victory with a neck injury but should return to the centre of defence alongside Antonio Ruediger or Niklas Suele.
At the other end of the field, Loew suggested striker Thomas Mueller, who is goalless after two games having scored 10 in two previous World Cups, would be retained.
“After the Mexico match we had a long chat,” said the coach.
“He’s very open to comments and highly self-critical and despite one or two negative matches, he has a positive outlook and he’s a very important player for us.”
The Germany coach said it was important the “pure elation” the players felt after rescuing the win against Sweden was quickly replaced by resolute focus on their next match.
“Of course we weren’t completely hysterical, we knew it was a small step on our path to the round of 16,” he added.
“The euphoria subsided quickly and it was back to business next day. We will see whether we can carry this momentum on. In 2014, remember, we beat Portugal 4-0 but then drew 2-2 with Ghana.”
Germany might only need to perform better than the Swedes against Mexico, and could even go though with a draw, as they seek to avoid a first opening round exit since 1938.
Loew said while he would have someone keeping tabs on the Yekaterinburg match, he would prefer it if Germany removed any element of doubt from the equation.
“We need to have clarity in our own result,” he said. “We know what we need to do and we’ll look at our own performance, we will try and be the masters of our own destiny.”
Editing by Neil Robinson