Holders Germany are stunned as they are eliminated following just one win from their three group games.
We’ve seen a lot of drama in Russia with a few shocks already during the World Cup. Russia’s opening day victory over Saudi Arabia ensured the tournament got off to a flying start, the introduction of VAR has caused numerous talking points – some like it, others loathe it. We’ve seen a record number of penalties dished out at this World Cup, largely thanks to the new technology. Argentina’s dramatic late winner against Nigeria was enough to see them through having stared elimination in the face, but the biggest surprise of the group stage has to be the elimination of Germany. The World Cup holders finished bottom of Group F with South Korea putting the final nail in the coffin with a shock 2-0 result on Wednesday evening.
This is the first time since Euro 2004 that Germany won’t reach the semi-finals of an international tournament. That’s six straight tournaments where fourth-best was the worst it got. In Russia, they’ve finished bottom of a group that included Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea. With all due respect to those three sides, that’s unforgivable.
Much will be made of the fact that Germany have become the third straight World Cup holders to crash out at the group stage, and fourth straight champion from Europe to do so, after France in 2002, Italy in 2010, and Spain in 2014.
Comparisons to Spain are the most valid, simply for how clueless a side that had been dominant four years earlier looked as the world caught up to them. The sides are so similar stylistically – relentless possession, precision passing, and ruthless finishing – that the Germany of 2014-17 essentially looked like the next stage of evolution of Spain from 2008-13.
Instead it’s Mexico and Sweden who advance to the knockout stages from Germany’s group, in a World Cup, which will no doubt throw up a few more surprises en route to the final on July 15th.
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