Holders’ curse! Germany crash out of World Cup

World Cup holders Germany have crashed out of this year’s tournament after losing 2-0 against South Korea in their final group game.

Germany went into the match second in Group F by virtue of a superior head-to-head record over Sweden, but have been dumped out of the World Cup after the Scandinavians beat Mexico 3-0.

It is the first time Germany have failed to make it out of the group stage since 1938, and the third consecutive time the holders of the World Cup have been knocked out of the group stages.

South Korea celebrate their late winner
Image: South Korea celebrate their late winner

The 2006 winners, Italy, crashed out of the group stage in 2010, while that tournament’s winners, Spain, did the same in 2014.

Germany were stunned 1-0 in their opening World Cup 2018 game against Mexico and appeared to be heading out as they trailed Sweden in their next group game.

But Die Mannschaft got their campaign back on track by drawing level then scoring a last minute winner through Toni Kroos.

 Thomas Mueller of Germany
Image: Thomas Muller failed to find a breakthrough

With that win they held their fate in their own hands, knowing victory over South Korea would guarantee them of a place in the last 16.

The four-time winners peppered the South Korean goal throughout the final group game but a combination of blocks and heroic saves from goalkeeper Cho Hyun-Woo kept the score level after 90 minutes.

Germany were caught out at the back as they threw men forward in search for a late winner, with Kim Young-Gwon flicking home inside the box two minutes into injury time.

Ozil
Image: Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil was restored to Germany’s starting lineup for the final game

The goal was initially ruled out for offside, but the decision was overturned following a video review.

Four minutes later German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was tackled as he roamed deep into South Korea’s half, with a long ball giving Son Heung-Min the chance to slot home into an empty net from close range.

His finish confirmed Germany’s group stage exit and made South Korea the first Asian team to beat the defending champions at the World Cup.

Germany's Toni Kroos after a missed chance
Image: It is the first time Germany have failed to make it out of the group stage since 1938

German defender Mats Hummels said the early exit was “really bitter” for his side.

“The situation is very difficult to put into words,” he told German broadcaster ZDF.

“We did not put the ball in the net, even though we had plenty of opportunities, including myself in the 86th minute – I have to score from chances like that.”

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He added: “We believed in it until the very end, we tried to shoot, but we just couldn’t get the ball in.

“We had plenty of opportunities, we broke our necks trying out there today.”

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