Al Shamal: Germany’s veteran Thomas Mueller said his side will “remain humble” given their elimination from the 2018 World Cup group stage before they face a win against Costa Rica on Thursday.
Niclas Fuellkrug’s 83rd-minute equalizer against Spain on Sunday put Germany back on track after a devastating opening defeat by Japan.
Germany’s hopes of reaching the round of 16 in Qatar are not entirely in their hands, even if they beat outsiders Costa Rica.
A Japan win over Spain in a simul would mean Germany need to better Spain’s goal difference, which was boosted by La Roja’s 7-0 win over Costa Ricans in the opening game.
However, Mueller said he was only focused on beating Costa Rica, who hit Japan 1-0 in their second game.
“When the football world looks at Germany against Costa Rica, we are the favorites from the outside and it is clear that we should win,” said Müller.
“We remain humble. We only have one point and minus one goal difference, so there’s no reason for us to be euphoric.
“We might have had a smile on our faces (after the Spain game) but that was just because we knew we had a chance.”
The predicament is a far cry from Germany’s former “tournament team” label, a product of their relentless consistency at the World Cup.
But after winning the tournament in Brazil in 2014, that consistency deserted them when the defending champions fell in the group stage years ago in Russia.
They now face their second consecutive elimination from the group stage.
Muller praised Fuelkrug’s “killer instinct” against Spain and said he delivered another “Götze moment”, alluding to Mario Götze’s additional time winner in the 2014 final at the Maracana.
Muller said he had “a similar feeling” after Toni Kroos scored in added time to defeat Sweden 2-1 in 2018, only for the Germans to lose their next game 2-0 to South Korea and be bundled out of the tournament became.
“Beating South Korea would have ensured our progress in the tournament…we have to do it differently (this time),” he said.
Last World Cup
Müller, 33, refused to confirm if Qatar would be his last World Cup but admitted “my mind went there a little bit after the game against Japan”.
But after Spain’s result, “the thought that this was my last World Cup” vanished.
Though perhaps securing a first-ever start for Germany against Costa Rica thanks to his late equalizer, late developer Fuellkrug said on Tuesday the team had to “be realistic”.
“We came out of the game with a 1-1 draw against Spain – but it was still only a 1-1,” said the 29-year-old striker.
“We have to be realistic. We’re in a situation where we can go further, but it’s not all in our hands, so we can’t be too happy.”