But the Germans failed to fire on Russian soil, suffering a shock 1-0 loss to Mexico in their opener, scraping past Sweden with a stoppage-time victor, and then losing 2-0 to South Korea at the Kazan Arena on Wednesday.
The defeat leaves the 2014 world champions last in Group F and for the first time in German football history eliminated in the group stage of a World Cup.
Joachim Low's side became increasingly desperate and even sent goalkeeper Manuel Neuer into midfield, but he lost the ball high up the pitch, with Ju Se-jong's long ball forward finding Son Heung-min to tap home a second deep into added time.
In the other Group F match, in Ekaterinburg, Sweden clinched a 3-0 victory over Mexico, meaning a win against South Korea would have been enough for Germany to progress.
Instead, they will head home after a scarcely believable failure, having been unable to break down the South Koreans and after a shock 1-0 loss to Mexico in their opening group match.
It was, though, a bittersweet success for the Koreans, who exited the tournament as well, despite becoming the first Asian side to defeat the Germans at a World Cup, as Sweden beat Mexico and both teams advanced.
It is the fourth time in five World Cups that the holder has failed to make it out of the group stage. We just did not use our chances.
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South Korea took a 93rd minute lead when Kim found the roof of the net from two yards out.
It has won four World Cup titles and also finished runners-up four times and entered this year's tournament heavily backed to retain the title.
"But this German team knelt down before Korea at the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation". During the game we were just concentrating on the game. The official had to check with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) before confirming the goal, but it was good.
Ironically, Toni Kroos' sensational late strike against Sweden is the reason why Korea Republic still have a chance to advance but that may also be the reason why Germany finally produced their real form.
He said: "Until quite recently, we have probably been the most consistent, in terms of performance, team in the past 10, 12 years".
Sweden finish top of the group, with Mexico second, and South Korea third.
"We're not going to the last 16, but we did manage to beat the champions, and the World No. 1 team", Shin said.