- Germany captain reflects on tough U-20 World Cup so far
- Benedikt Gimber anticipates nervous wait over last-16 qualification
- Europeans edged into third on goal difference after 3-2 win
Had Argentina and Guinea enjoyed a media blackout in the lead up to arriving at Jeju World Cup Stadium, you would have forgiven them for thinking they had just missed the mother of all upsets.
There was an eerie contrast between the two dressing rooms, as a deathly silence emanated from Germany’s on one side of the stadium's wide entrance hallway, while raucous cheers and celebrations echoed from Vanuatu’s. You would never have guessed Germany had won 3-2.
However, the glum faces that trudged towards the uncertainty that third place in Group B has left them with told the whole story of their tournament so far. Defeat to Venezuela, followed by a goalless draw with Mexico left them in a dire state. But a maiden goal and win was no cause for joy.
“No, it’s not a positive day for us,” captain Benedikt Gimber told FIFA.com. “We wanted second place and we didn’t reach it. And in terms of our performance, it was no good. At no point was it good, it was very bad.”
Having given up two-thirds of a 3-0 lead, the result has forced them to inhabit a precarious landscape after Mexico – beaten 1-0 by Venezuela – edged them out of second on goal difference. “Now we have to hope that we reach the next round,” the solemn centre-back admitted, “and then we have to fight, really fight, not like today and we have to show our true face. Today Vanuatu showed us that we have to take every opponent seriously.”
Rhythm and coherence have been a struggle for Guido Streichsbier’s side, two elements so often synonymous with the nation's bright white shirts, but there has been consistent friction among the cogs in Korea Republic, with the exact cause a mystery to Gimber.
“I don’t know [what we are missing]. We weren’t sure in our game, we made many mistakes and that’s the reason why our play was so panicked. We didn’t have control.”
The way things stand, there is a good chance – though far from certain – that should Germany reach the next round they will remain in Jeju, meeting Group C’s winners, with a quirk of schedule giving them some added rest. This, Gimber accepts, is one silver-lining to their predicament and raised the first sign of optimism in his voice.
“That’s a good point. We can train and look to improve on today and the break will do us good,” he said, with potentially two days of nervy group-table watching ahead. “We will have to show more to reach the quarter-final but today we just hope that we will reach the next round.”