Champions curse strikes again as Germany exit World Cup
Germany became the latest nation to fall foul of the champions curse at the World Cup as they bowed out at the group stage in Russia.
Joachim Low's side's thrilled in Brazil four years ago with a stunning semi-final destruction of the hosts, before pipping Argentina to the crown in Rio.
The defending champions sailed through qualification winning all 10 of their matches, scoring 43 goals and conceding just four.
However, Germany crashed out of the finals at the first hurdle following defeats to Mexico and South Korea, finishing bottom of Group F.
They are not the only defending champions to suffer such embarrassment, though, with three other recent winners also going the same way.
4 - 4 of the last 5 World Cup title holders have been eliminated in the groups stage in the following tournament, including the last 3— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 27, 2018
Curse. #KORGER #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/ckPx8VLhNd
AU REVOIR FRANCE
After the glory of winning their first world crown on home soil in 1998, France came thudding back down to earth in South Korea and Japan.
An opening day defeat to Senegal was followed by a 0-0 draw with Uruguay, before a 2-0 reverse against Denmark saw them catch the first plane home.
Brazil avoided the curse in 2006 but it struck again in South Africa as a lacklustre Italy failed to reach the heights of four years earlier.
The Azzurri were drawn in what appeared to be a winnable group with Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand, but they could only claim two points from their three matches.
Spain's tiki-taka football thrilled in 2010 but the rest of the world got wise to their style, and La Roja failed to dominate in a similar way in Brazil.
A stunning 5-1 loss to Netherlands in their opening match raised the alarm, and when Chile also claimed three points Spain were out. A 3-0 win over Australia restored some pride but it was too little, too late.
AUF WIEDERSEHEN GERMANY
And so to Germany, the seemingly unstoppable holders who had not gone out in the first round of a World Cup since 1938. Surely they would not suffer a similar embarrassment to previous defending champions when they took the field in Russia?
An opening defeat to Mexico gave them a mountain to climb but Toni Kroos' stoppage-time winner against Sweden on matchday two gave Low's men hope.
Victory over South Korea to seal another progression to the knockout rounds should have been a formality, but Germany could not score and were twice caught on the counter-attack in stoppage time as a 2-0 loss ended their defence.