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World Cup 2018: Why Germany Is Out
« on: June 30, 2018, 06:24:46 AM »

World Cup 2018: 5 Reasons Defending Champion Germany Is Out
 
Robert Kidd
CONTRIBUTOR

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
 
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Mesut Özil and his Germany teammates are out of the World Cup. (Photo by Ina Fassbender/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Germany, the reigning champion, has been sensationally eliminated in the first round of World Cup 2018. Die Mannschaft was bidding to become only the third team to win consecutive World Cup titles, but instead, one of the pre-tournament favorites is out at the group stage.

After a surprise defeat to Mexico in their opening match, the Germans gave themselves a real chance with a last-minute free kick from Toni Kroos to beat Sweden. With the Germans needing to win against already-eliminated South Korea on Wednesday, most expected them to advance, but a shock 2-0 defeat leaves them bottom of the group and on their way home. Here are five reasons why.

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Re: World Cup 2018: Why Germany Is Out
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2018, 06:25:46 AM »

Curse of the champions

It’s hard to work out why, but in recent World Cup tournaments, the holders have struggled. Germany’s elimination means out of the last five World Cups, four defending champions have exited in the group stage.

France did it in 2002 after winning the 1998 trophy, followed by Italy (winner 2006, out in the group 2010), Spain (winner 2010, out in the group 2014) and now Germany (winner 2014, out in the group 2018). It's unlikely professionals would allow something like this to play on their minds, but at the same time, the winners of this year’s competition should take nothing for granted in 2022.

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Re: World Cup 2018: Why Germany Is Out
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2018, 06:26:43 AM »

Blunt attack

In their three group matches, Germany managed just two goals – the second fewest by a defending champion in competition history – and one was the stunning last-minute freekick from Kroos. The blame should not all rest with key goalscorers Thomas Müller and Timo Werner, with a lack of creativity and drive from the midfield. When the team did create chances (they registered 28 shots in the final match against South Korea) wasteful finishing cost them dearly.

When the squad was announced pre-tournament, I thought it was a mistake to leave out flying Manchester City winger Leroy Sané, even with the depth of talent at Germany's disposal. While it’s easy to say in retrospect, Sané's pace and trickery could have been the key for Germany to unlock defenses.

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Re: World Cup 2018: Why Germany Is Out
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2018, 06:27:24 AM »

Overconfidence?

Germany is not the sort of soccer nation that rests on its laurels. Even in periods of sustained success, the country’s soccer federation has worked with experts to gain edges through technology, for example using data analysis to improve their passing speed.

But the team, and the country, have become accustomed to success. Since 1938, every West Germany or unified Germany side has advanced beyond the first stage of the World Cup finals, until now. Several key players in the current team were part of the 2014 World Cup winning team, including a stunning 7-1 victory over Brazil, as well as the cruise through qualifying. Germany even won the 2017 Confederations Cup with an experimental squad. Handed a tricky-looking but hardly terrifying World Cup group, did the German players take their eyes off the prize?

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Re: World Cup 2018: Why Germany Is Out
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2018, 06:28:04 AM »

Vulnerable defense

German teams are often built on a stingy defense and this one is no different. The Bayern Munich triangle of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and center backs Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels is one of the strongest in the world. They helped Germany concede a miserly four goals in 10 wins from 10 in World Cup qualifying.

During this tournament, the defense was hopelessly exposed during the first match against Mexico. The team played an unnecessarily open style and the Mexicans could have scored more than the one needed for victory. In the second match, a 2-1 win over Sweden, Boateng had a nightmare without injured defensive partner Hummels beside him, misplacing passes and out of position before being sent off. Even putting the two goals conceded to South Korea down to the fact they were chasing the match, Germany’s defensive unit has been shaky throughout the tournament.

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Re: World Cup 2018: Why Germany Is Out
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2018, 06:29:11 AM »

Dressing room division

The political scandal involving Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan meeting with Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was less than ideal preparation and reports of a fractious squad have blighted the team’s tournament. Hummel’s pointed comments after the defeat to Mexico, when he complained the side had been too open, did not point to a unified group.

Head coach Joachim Löw only signed a contract extension to 2022 last month, but after the defeat to South Korea, he hinted he may not fulfill it. The Germans still have some hugely impressive young players - Joshua Kimmich, Werner, and the aforementioned Sané for example – and will surely come back strongly. But while Löw insisted the World Cup exit would not bring about a “dark time” in German soccer, right now the players and fans will need help seeing the light.

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Re: World Cup 2018: Why Germany Is Out
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2018, 09:32:15 AM »
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