The defending World Cup champions opened up their campaign against one of the most inconsistent teams in the world, Mexico. Based on history, this should have been an easy win for Die Mannschaft. Instead, it was the complete opposite.
Mexico held their own for most of the 1st half. Irving Lozano broke the deadlock at the 35th minute, with a stellar goal to shock the champions. This was enough, as the Germans failed to produce any results, or least to motivate them ahead of the clash against Sweden.
Regardless, Die Mannschaft got a 2-1 win against Sweden, thanks to Toni Kroos’ 95th minute goal via free-kick. In order to keep their championship dreams alive, Germany needed a win against South Korea and for Mexico to beat Sweden. Things didn’t go out as planed.
The humiliation at the hands of the Mexicans was still haunting the team as Germany faced South Korea. Just as it seemed that the champions were going to be eliminated by a draw, their biggest fear became a reality. Six minutes were added to the match. The desperation kicked it hard. Within the span of four minutes, the Koreans nailed two goals, the latter being the one to destroy German pride. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer took it upon himself to play midfielder and help his team tie the match. It was a costly mistake, as the Koreans launched one final counter-attack. With Neuer nowhere the goal post Son Heung received a long pass and scored on an empty net. Thus, the now former World Champions end their 2018 defense with the worst possible campaign since France in 2002.
Neuer went from an impenetrable wall to broken turnstile. Thomas Muller was destined to be Miroslav Klose’s successor in this World Cup, instead he was nothing more than a glorified spectator. Die Mannschaft now leaves Russia, holding tightly the memories of 2014.
Quite honestly, what has hurt this team a lot was the retirement of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose, plus the exclusion of Andre Schurrle, Leroy Sane, and 2014 hero; Mario Goetze.
El Tri entered their final match of the group stage looking for their 3rd straight victory. Instead, they faced an extremely determined and powerful Blue-Yellow. The first half saw both teams being equal. Within five minutes of the 2nd half, Augustinsson hammered the first of three. This was when Mexico started to choke on their own overconfidence for beating Germany. Twelve minutes later, 2014 came back to bite them hard where it hurts most, the ego. Hector Moreno brought down Marcus Berg inside the penalty box. We have witnessed the 2018 edition of ‘No Era Penal’. Well, there was no reason to argue, as it was a clear foul. Andreas Granqvist converted to extent the Swedish lead.
At the 74th minute mark, Edison Alvarez scored…on his own team. Alvarez’s horrid attempt to clear the ball went straight into the net. At least you can say that Mexico scored.
Germany have kept the defeding World Cup champions trend going. Ever since 2002, the champions from the previous tournament were eliminated in the following World Cup.
Defending World Cup Champion early eliminations
• France 2002
• Brazil 2006
• Italy 2010
• Spain 2014
• Germany 2018
Then there’s Mexico continuing failure after huge wins. South Korea‘s last minute goal was an epic foreshadowing of El Tri’s loss to Sweden.