By Jaimer Dela Cruz
This year’s world cup was full of excitement. We see giants being taken down by underdogs, debuts to remember for Iceland and Panama, but one thing hasn’t change over the last 14 editions of the World Cup; Defending champions Germany bow out of the competition in the group stages after losing 2-1 to Mexico and 2-0 to South Korea.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 27, 2018
The last time a nation won a back-to-back World Cup trophy was back in 1958 and 1962 during the dominance of Brazil in the world footballing stage. Since 2006, every nation who won the world cup in the previous edition eventually exits the next tournament in the group stages. In 2006, Italy won the FIFA World Cup at the expense of France then on 2010, they bowed out in the group stages where they failed to notch a win and only managed to draw with New Zealand and Paraguay.
The reigning World Cup holders have been knocked out at the group stage in four of the last five tournaments:
2002: 🇫🇷 France
2010: 🇮🇹 Italy
2014: 🇪🇸 Spain
2018: 🇩🇪 Germany
The curse of the champions. pic.twitter.com/u8xINJ6yom
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 27, 2018
In 2014, World Cup Champions Spain exited the group stages as well. They were dealt with two straight defeats from Netherlands and Chile before settling for three points against Australia. This year, Germany, who won the championship in 2014, went out in the group stages as well only managing one win over Sweden where they need to sneak out of it at the death.
Too Much Pace Killed Them
In their first match against Mexico, one major factor stood out for El Tri and that is their pace. They didn’t hold much of the ball but when they did, they executed running plays on the wings and used their pace to their advantage. Die Mannschaft seemed to be shell-shocked by this as they had no idea how to deal with it. As a result, they were caught on a break as Javier Hernandez ran the wings then delivered a pass to Hirving Lozano who cut in before taking a shot at glory.
This is the moment that caused an earthquake in Mexico City immediately after Hirving Lozano’s goal. 🇲🇽
— FlFA World Cup (@WorIdCupFC) June 17, 2018
Same thing happened in their second match against Sweden. On the 12th minute of the game, they were caught on a break by Marcus Berg that almost got the opener as a majestic through ball was fed to him only to be saved by Manuel Neuer. They then went a goal behind as Viktor Claesson found Ola Toivonen inside the box who then looped the ball above Neuer before finding it’s way into the back of the net. If not for the late heroics of Toni Kroos, they could’ve gone home without a win.
In their final match against South Korea, the air seemed to be knocked out of them after they’ve conceded the first goal as they were caught on a counter courtesy of a mistake from Neuer who went up to salvage a point. After the ball was intercepted from him, the Germans didn’t have time and pace on their side to chase a running Son Heung-Min on a counter who then eased the ball into the net.
Set Piece Blunders
In their pivotal match against South Korea, they seem to have trouble in clearing out set pieces as one of the two goals scored by the Taeguk Warriors came from a set piece. In the early stages of the game, Jung Woo-Young stood over the free kick then opted to take it himself. His shot went straight to Neuer but he had a difficult time clearing the ball for the corner.
South Korea is the first Asian team ever to beat Germany at the World Cup and the first Asian team to score vs #GER at the World Cup since 1994 (also South Korea).#KOR was +2000 (20-1) to beat #GER today!
— 8Fact Football WC 🏆 (@8Fact_Footballl) June 27, 2018
They then got a chance to go ahead of the opposition on the 39th minute through a corner kick. Leon Goretzka headed the first ball towards the path of Timo Werner who then passes it to Matt Hummels but failed to convert from close range.
The moment of disbelief occured on the 93rd minute of the match when Son sent the corner inside the box. It was taken short by Son and a scramble inside the box found the Germans flat-footed and Kim Young-Gwon all alone in front of Neuer who then slotted the ball past the keeper. A review through the VAR suggested the goal stands as it came off a deflection from Niklas Sule which directed the ball toward Kim’s path.
Killer Instinct goes MIA
As we all know, Die Mannschaft are capable of scoring goals when they want to and when they need to but it seems like this year, regardless if they need it or just feel like doing so, they’ve been missing that integral part of their offense. It seems as though they are just firing blanks at the opposition and not scoring with sheer precision. In their win against Sweden, they eked out two goals with one coming from a scramble inside the back which was scored by Marco Reus and a majestic free kick from Kroos.
Despite the two goals they’ve scored in the whole tournament, they’re killer instinct seem to be not on their side as they haven’t made any real threats upfront or even managed to overwhelm the opposition. One can only say if they came into this tournament with just pride and confidence in them and not any tactics at all.