The World Cup winners’ curse has hit Germany over in Russia, with Joachim Low’s side crashing out of the 2018 competition at the group stage, less than four years after lifting the trophy in Brazil.
Back in 2014, Germany emphatically won the World Cup, with Mario Gotze’s goal all that separated Low’s side and Argentina. Fast forward four years to Russia and Germany have gone the same way as Italy and Spain, the last two defending champions, by crashing out of the round robin stage of the competition.
Low put faith in a similar pool of players to four years ago, even deciding to leave Leroy Sane behind, despite the Manchester City winger finding himself in the form of his life during the 2017/18 campaign, helping his side to become a dominant force in the Premier League.
That decision, along with many others, backfired spectacularly, with defeats to Mexico and Korea Republic leaving Germany bottom of Group F. Sandwiched between those defeats was a dramatic victory over Sweden, which was supposed to spark the Germans into life. That never happened and Germany are watching the knockout stage of the competition.
This tournament is wild 😱 pic.twitter.com/PxfRmCvmyl
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) June 27, 2018
Currently, Brazil and Spain are amongst the favourites to win the competition, with Betfair pricing those nations at 7/2 following the end of the group stage. Germany had been amongst the favourites pre-tournament, but are now facing an inquest, with plenty of questions to be answered before Euro 2020 comes around.
Big changes have to be expected when Germany are next in action, starting right at the very top with Low. There’s no denying that Low has been fantastic for Germany, but very few national managers last after a humiliating exit at the World Cup, let alone when you are the holders and amongst the favourites.
Germany’s captain for the tournament was Manuel Neuer, the ‘sweeper keeper’, who was at fault for the second Korea goal in the game that saw his side’s exit confirmed. Marc-Andre ter Stegen is knocking on the door, with Neuer, now over 30, at risk of losing his number 1 jersey.
— Rehan M. R. Arshad (@RehanToday) June 27, 2018
Others are also at risk. Jerome Boateng disappointed, whilst Mesut Ozil carried his club form onto the international stage, with the Arsenal man turning in some underwhelming, lazy performances in what should have been a creative role.
Perhaps most surprising was Thomas Muller, who for so long has been the man for the big occasion for both Bayern Munich and Germany. The forward was dropped from the starting XI against Korea in Germany’s must-win final game, something Low will not have taken lightly. It’s safe to say that despite being only 28, Muller might not be considered a guaranteed starter anymore.
Going forward, lessons will be learnt and the German national side will bounce back, as they always do. Come 2020, they’re going to be a wounded animal ready to strike. However, in order to do that, changes have to be made. Now is not the time for drastic action, but whilst the rest of the world focuses on the knockout stages in Russia, Germany need to be planning their way back to the top.