At one point on Tuesday it looked as if a penalty from Chelsea wing-back Moses was going to be enough to see the Super Eagles through to the last 16 - before Argentina's late victor ended their World Cup dream in St Petersburg.
A 2-0 defeat to South Korea in Kazan following stoppage-time goals from Kim Young-gwon and Son Heung-min condemned the four-time champions to an ignominious bottom-place finish in Group F. Sweden and Germany both had three points, and South Korea had zero.
His planning for the match has been further complicated by a calf injury ruling out midfielder Ki Sung-yueng, the South Korea captain joining full back Park Joo-ho (hamstring) in the treatment room.
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio gambled and went with the same starting lineup - and same formation - that beat South Korea, marking the first time in 51 games he didn't make any changes.
"Ki Sung-yueng is a pillar of our team". South Korea and Germany came in third and fourth, respectively, with three points apiece. "We will see who feels the less pressure, the less emotional".
Some fans in Brazil were delighted, not just because they topped their group to qualify for the knock out stages, but also because a team that humiliated them at home in a catastrophic 7-1 loss in the 2014 FIFA World Cup met with the embarrassment of elimination in group stages- Germany, who else.
South Korea lost its opening two matches but still entered the game with a chance to advance. "We believed until the end today, even when it was 0-1, I think we kept trying to turn it all around".
Germany coach Joachim Loew said his players will be wary of the speed and pace of their opponents to avoid getting caught on the break.
He said: "Until quite recently, we have probably been the most consistent, in terms of performance, team in the past 10, 12 years".
The journey back to Gelendzhik promises to be a lot more pleasant than their last one following the Germany defeat.
"South Korea has players who can execute fast breaks, we will try to adapt", Loew said.
"We knew that Sweden were leading but we didn't have enough to get a goal".
Merkel said she has to be in parliament this week, "but of course I sincerely wish the team all the best - and of course I hope for a good outcome after we all went through - torture, in the truest sense of the word - during the last game".