World Cup holders, Germany, were booted out of this year’s tournament after losing 2-0 to the Korea Republic in their final group game. It’s the first time Germany haven’t made it past the group stage in World Cup history, labeling this German side as the worst ever. They sure proved that claim to be true at Russia 2018. The Germans had two routes to qualifying prior to kickoff: beat Korea or earn a draw with the hope that Mexico take points from Sweden. But you just know when things are not meant to go your way when, surprisingly, none of those scenarios occurred.
Despite winning last year’s Confederations Cup with a young team, Joachim Loew remained loyal to his senior players like Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller, Sami Khedira, and Mesut Oezil. But not including Leroy Sane, who just had a magnificent season at Manchester City, proved costly in their World Cup campaign, as they lacked pace up front and had no creative avenues to breach any defence. It was the same sideways and backwards football that is unheard of when you think of a German team. With Die Manschaaft needing a final day victory, they continued to play slowly and lazy; giving the Koreans plenty of time to sit back and absorb pressure, just like in their previous two games. They never really posed a threat in ANY of their group matches in Russia, despite beating Sweden 2-1. It’s like they felt they already qualified so they didn’t need to show any urgency. It sure seemed that way before there was no will to penetrate the Korean box.
In the other game, Sweden were marching on to the last 16, leading 3-0 after 74 minutes. Mexico fans were in tears; fearful of having to book early tickets home. But they weren’t wary of Germany’s misfortunes. Germany’s day, and World Cup (by extension) came crashing down when Kim Younggwon’s offside goal was correctly overturned and given in the 93rd minute. The Germans were left with a huge mountain to climb and their quest to defend their title were slipping away by the second. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer joined the action up front to help the Germans to get back into the game, but (of course) that would leave the German net empty for Korea to exploit. Korean captain, Son Heung-Min sped onto a long clearance from defence and rolled the ball into the empty net. Germany’s campaign was over. Mexican fans soon heard the news and those tears of pain turned into tears of relief, knowing that they’re through after such a heroic campaign so far.
Curse of the Champions
With this early exit, Germany became the sixth World Cup champion to be knocked out of the tournament in group stage (the fourth at the turn of the millennium), proving that winning the World Cup could bring a bad spell to the following generation.
1934: World Cup winners
1938: World Cup winners
1950: Group stage exit
1962: World Cup winners
1966: Group stage exit
1998: World Cup winners
2002: Group stage exit (without scoring)
2006: World Cup winners
2010: Group stage exit
2010: World Cup winners
2014: Group stage exit
2014: World Cup winners
2018: Group stage exit
Today’s loss against Korea also meant that Germany finished bottom of Group F, something that has never happened before. It’s certainly the end of an era for Joachim Loew and Germany. I do expect Loew to resign soon, probably within the next month or so, and allow a new face to take the next generation forward.
Sweden and Mexico go through to the Round of 16 where they await the Group E qualifiers.
Image Credit: FIFA™