Germany's World Cup destiny hangs today's group finale against South Korea where a 2-0 win or better will send them into the last 16 and anything else will have fans sweating. An opening loss to Mexico was followed by a last-gasp 2-1 win over Sweden and now all four teams in Group F still have a chance of going though. Mexico leads the group with asix points, followed by Germany and Sweden on three and South Korea on zero. But if the Koreans beat Germany handsomely in Kazan and Mexico defeat Sweden in Yekaterinburg, the Asian side can progress. Group E also comes to a climax today with only Costa Rica already out of the running for the first knock-out round. Midfielder Sebastian Larsson told Swedish public broadcaster SVT that the players were aiming to do "all we can" to achieve a victory, noting that "we have everything to win and they have everything to lose."
But Mexico's strong track record of qualifying from the group stages at World Cups is a factor that can not be ignored.
As for Group E, leader Brazil is level on four points with the Swiss and faces Serbia in Moscow, knowing a draw is also enough for them to go through. But a shock defeat could send Serbia through instead and mean record five-times champions Brazil is knocked out in an opening group stage for the first time since 1966. Brazil has failed to impress so far in Russia, held 1-1 by Switzerland, and both goals against Costa Rica coming in stoppage time. Neymar in top form would help their cause but the 26-year-old talisman is still seemingly trying to find his spark after a foot fracture, and his role in the team where Philippe Coutinho has orchestrated play so far and scored twice.
Neymar's booking, for slamming the ball to the ground in disgust over a referee decision, is causing great concern as another yellow card against Serbia, or in the last 16, would see him suspended for one game. And a possible last 16 date with holders Germany - who famously thrashed Brazil 7-1 in the semis four years ago when Neymar is injured - only multiplies those fears.
Elsewhere, Switzerland is a relieved team going into their final World Cup Group E match against Costa Rica today, with FIFA deciding not to ban three of their key players for alleged political gestures made in their win over Serbia. Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Swiss captain Stephan Lichtsteiner were cleared to play after having celebrated in front of Serbian supporters by forming what appeared to be a two-headed eagle - part of the Albanian flag - with their hands. But FIFA on Monday decided that a warning and fines would suffice - allowing Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic to breathe a sigh of relief. Opponents Costa Rica have struggled at this World Cup, failing to score in two losses to Serbia and Brazil.
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