KAZAN – Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil returned to the starting line-up, but Thomas Mueller was left out as Germany look to avoid an embarrassing World Cup exit at the hands of South Korea in their Group F decider on Wednesday.
Midfielders Khedira and Ozil both started for Joachim Loew’s defending champions in their opening 1-0 defeat by Mexico, before being dropped to the bench for a crucial 2-1 win over Sweden.
Mueller, who performed well below expectations in Germany’s opening two games, was left on the bench as Loew handed Schalke 04’s Leon Goretzka his first World Cup start.
Sitting second in their group – three points behind Mexico and ahead of Sweden on head-to-head – Germany need to beat the Koreans by two clear goals at the Kazan Arena to be sure of reaching the last-16.
With Jerome Boateng suspended following his sending-off against Sweden, Mats Hummels returns to the centre of defence alongside Niklas Suele – the Bayern defender also earning his maiden World Cup start.
Jonas Hector keeps the left back position he was given for Sweden, with Joshua Kimmich starting his third straight game at right back.
Khedira replaces Sebastian Rudy in midfield after Rudy was sidelined with a broken nose suffered against the Swedes and will partner Toni Kroos, who hit Germany’s last-gasp winner against Swdeden.
The German attack is led by RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner, who will be looking to score his first goal of the tournament.
With two defeats from their opening two games against Sweden and Mexico, South Korea switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, with coach Shin Tae-yong notably deprived of influential captain Ki Sung-yueng, who is injured.
The Koreans need to win and hope Mexico beat Sweden to have any chance of going through.
South Korea (4-4-2)
Jo Hyeon-woo; Lee Yong, Yun Young-sun, Kim Young-gwon, Hong Chul; Lee Jae-sung, Jung Woo-young, Jang Hyun-soo, Moon Seon-min; Koo Ja-cheol, Son Heung-min (captain)
Coach: Shin Tae-yong
Manuel Neuer (captain); Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels, Niklas Suele, Jonas Hector; Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos; Leon Goretzka, Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus; Timo Werner
Coach: Joachim Loew
Referee: Mark Geiger (USA)