Since 2002, Germany, one of the most dominant nations in the history of world football, had been to at least the semi-finals. In 2002, they were runner-up and 2006 and 2010 saw them finish in third place. Last time around, in Brazil 2014, they took home the trophy as winners, making them four time winners. Only Italy and Brazil have as many wins. That great run has now ended, however, after they were knocked out of the group stages in Russia.
The Germans, knowing that they needed at least a draw against South Korea in order to go through, failed to muster much of anything on the day, and have thus shocked the world in a very negative way. Germany had the luxury of not bringing some very high quality players to the tournament, and perhaps doing so has cost them here. Whatever the reason, a 1-0 loss to Mexico and a 2-0 loss against South Korea, who weren’t exactly up the pace in their first two matches, was just not enough in the end to send them through despite their dramatic comeback win over Sweden with a man down in the second group match.
Germany, under one of the best managers in Joachim Low needed to win this game due to the fact that Sweden dominated Mexico. The Swedes scored twice early on in the second half to take the initiative against what was a very strong team picked by the Mexicans, who were assumed to be group leaders. Elsewhere, the pressure would have been squarely on the backs of the Germans, and they folded under it. Knowing they needed to score, they pushed too hard and the South Koreans hit them on the counterattack to score twice and end their hopes of moving on.
It is a colossal failure for Germany, who are just not expected to come up short like this. They are almost always one of the most consistent teams involved, even when they are not great. These showings are a major shock as well after they played so well at last summer’s Confederations Cup with their ‘B’ team. This is just the second time ever, counting the West Germany years, that they have been ousted at the group stage, with the last such occasion happening in 1938.
Because of the wild results, Sweden ended up winning the group. Mexico, on six points before the match, finished in second place. Sweden, assuming that Brazil handles their business later on Wednesday, should have a slightly easier opponent. If Mexico indeed do end up with the Brazilians, they will be kicking themselves having thrown away a good chance to end their curse of not getting to the fifth game in a World Cup.