From Hero to Zero

Germany’s elimination from the 2018 World Cup in Russia is not the first time the current reigning champions have failed to progress to the next round. The German’s are in good company and follow recent trends.

The inaugural winners of the 1930 World Cup Uruguay did not, for various reasons, participate in the 1934. So they didn’t defend their title in open competition, and cannot be considered in the same way as other teams mentioned. Italy won the tournament in 1934 & 1938, but it was not held again until 1950 due to the outbreak of World War 2.

World Cup winners from 1950 to 1958, 1966 to 1994 and 2002 all managed to reach the second phase of the following tournament AT LEAST.

After consecutive World Cup victories in 1958 and 1962 BRAZIL were the first reigning champions to be eliminated in the group stages at the 1966 finals.  Heavy 3-1 defeats by Hungary and Portugal and a solitary 2-0 win over Bulgaria meant Brazil finished third in their group.

FRANCE winners in 1998 were dumped out of the 2002 tournament coming bottom of their group. Between defeats from Senegal 1-0 and Denmark 2-0, the French only managed a scant goal less draw with Uruguay.

ITALY winners in 2006 achieved the same accolade as France in 2002, coming bottom of their group in South African 2010. Consecutive 1-1 draws with Paraguay and New Zealand, meant the Italians needed a positive result against Slovakia. From 25 minutes the score read Slovakia 1 Italy 0, until 73 minutes when an onslaught of goals occurred, resulting in a 3-2 humiliating defeat for the Italians.

SPAIN 2010 winners only managed third place in their 2014 group stage. Spain suffered a heavy 1-5 defeat by the Netherlands who went on the rampage, and gave themselves and the football family, the final that should have happened in 2010. Chile beat the reigning champions 2-0 and Spain’s only consolation was a 3-0 win over Australia.

And now GERMANY 2014 winners eliminated after coming third in the group. After defeat by Mexico 1-0 the German’s pulled off a last gasp 2-1 win against Sweden. But plucky South Korea stunned the Europeans with a two goal stoppage time victory.

The three most recent World Cup winners have suffered early exits, and I wonder if it has anything to do with the WAY these teams won their titles. In 2006 Italy drew 1-1 with France and won on penalties, and both Spain in 2010 and Germany in 2014 won by a solitary goal scored deep into extra time.  None of them won particularly convincingly. All used aging players who had been together a long time before getting victory, but by the next tournament new players and methods may have been implemented, but were obviously not yet fully harnessed. It’s an interesting conundrum!

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