Momentum the key for Germany

Germany's Toni Kroos (right) and Thomas Mueller at a training session ahead of their game against South Korea. AFP

Marco Reus has no intention of allowing South Korea to get in the way of Germany progressing to the last 16 on Wednesday now that the World Cup holders have already saved their skins once.

Reus was a substitute in the 1-0 defeat to Mexico, but given a starting role against Sweden, he bundled in a 48th-minute leveller to drag Germany back into the game.

With seconds on the clock in Sochi, Germany secured a vital 2-1 win thanks to Toni Kroos's superb curling shot, with Reus setting it up in a set-piece move.

It meant Germany avoided the ignominy of becoming the sixth team to crash out as World Cup holders, but they are not safe yet.

Four years after Spain became just the fifth champions sent packing after a disastrous group-stage campaign, Joachim Loew's pre-tournament favourites could still be stopped at the first round for the first time since 1938.

While the exuberant, post-match celebrations by Germany's coaching staff upset Sweden, they belied the champions' desire to show the rest of the world that their business in Russia is far from over.

However, the Germany team that won all 10 of their qualifiers with a whopping 39-plus goal difference has yet to convince many they deserve a place in the last 16, let alone the World Cup final.

Germany's path to the second round is littered with obstacles. Although South Korea sit bottom of the group without a point following defeats to Mexico (2-1) and Sweden (1-0), all four teams can still qualify.

Germany will go through if they win by two or more clear goals against South Korea, who can qualify if they beat Germany and Sweden lose, and finish with a better goal difference than both teams.

If Germany and Sweden draw their games, the team in the higher-scoring game will finish second. If the matches finish with the same score, Germany will finish second because they beat Sweden.

After missing out on Brazil four years ago when Mario Goetze's extra-time winner against Argentina handed Germany their fourth World Cup title, Reus arguably has more reason than most to make sure Die Mannschaft avoid an early departure.

The Borussia Dortmund forward missed Brazil 2014 with torn ankle ligaments, Euro 2016 with a groin problem and Germany's 2017 Confederations Cup triumph with torn knee ligaments.

"Of course, we played badly against Mexico and we had to face criticism, but we've been talking a bit too long about it in my opinion," Reus told reporters on Monday. 

"We have to do our duty and win the game, preferably not by just 1-0 but higher."

On top of that, Korea has no intention of making Germany's task any easier.

"Germany played aggressively in both of their opening matches but I think we can get a good result," said midfielder Ju Se-jong.

"I expect them to come out strong and try to score as many goals as possible, which could allow us some space at their back.

"We'd have to take full advantage of that with our quick counter-attacks through Seungwoo or Seonmin."

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Momentum the key for Germany

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