FIFA World Cup : Can Germany break the Confederation jinx?
With a massive defeat of 5-0 handed to Saudi Arabia, the FIFA World Cup 2018 has begun on the right note for hosts Russia. As we move into another action packed day, one tends to think about some interesting facts that have been a part and parcel of this prestigious tournament, even if it's a mysterious connection with the teams and some unnatural phenomenon.
One such mystery is the connection of FIFA Confederations Cup with the defending champions of the FIFA World Cup. Ever since the tournament began officially in 1997, there has not been a single winner of the Confederations Cup, especially if they've won a FIFA World Cup before that, who has successfully defended the FIFA World Cup following the Confederations Cup tournament win. From France to Brazil and Spain, this jinx just doesn't seem to wither away.
The weird coincidence
It all began in 1997. Earlier known as King Fahd Cup, which was conducted in Saudi Arabia in 1992 and 1993, FIFA Confederations Cup was officially launched in this year, and performing up to the expectations, the defending champions of the 1994 FIFA World Cup edition, Brazil won the title handsomely, pummeling Australia by a huge margin of 6-0. With such an important victory, apart from a victory in the Copa America Championship, Brazil were all set to conquer the next bastion, FIFA 1998.
However, to the surprise of everyone, Brazil, despite being hot favorites for the title, lost in a humiliating fashion to hosts France by 0-3. This was from where the Confederation jinx started haunting the football arena.
The Champions' nightmare
While one could easily dismiss the Confederation jinx of 1997 as a mere coincidence, the following three cases confirm the jinx of Confederations Cup that is tough for any defending champion to break:
Case 1: France [1998-2002]
To the surprise of everybody, legendary footballer Zinedine Zidane's dream team of France had won the FIFA World Cup in style, beating hot favourites Brazil by 3-0 in the finals, in which Zidane himself scored two goals in the first half itself. Following the World Cup, France wwere on a roll, first winning the Euro Cup 2000, and then the FIFA Confederations Cup, defeating Asian powerhouse Japan by a solitary goal.
By 2002, France had replaced Brazil as hot favourites for the World Cup title. However, a shock loss to Senegal by 0-1 gave the jolt from which France could never recover, and they were knocked out from the World Cup within the first round itself.
Case 2: Brazil [2002-2006]
FIFA's darling team, Brazil, were on a roll. With a star-studded team and an equally illustrious coach, the team had pulled a clean sweep, from FIFA World Cup in 2002, to Copa America and FIFA Confederations Cup in successive years. They were touted once again as hot favourites for the FIFA World Cup 2006, which was to be held in Germany.
Until the quarterfinals, Brazil had stamped their authority as the front-runners for a second consecutive title since 2002 edition. However, in a rerun of what happened in 1998, France shocked Brazil with a 1-0 defeat, knocking them out of contention. It would take another eight years for the Confederation jinx to haunt another World Champion.
Case 3: Spain [2010-2014]
The Spanish team had a literal dream run from 2008 onwards. Never the frontrunners for any major championship, they first surprised everyone by winning the Euro Cup in 2008 after 44 years, and then following it up with a shocking victory at the FIFA World Cup, defeating the Netherlands by a golden goal in the dying minutes of the final.
The dream run continued even in 2012, when they won the Euro Cup again, followed by a Runners Up finish in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 to Brazil by 0-3. However, the Confederation jinx returned to haunt Spain, as they were shockingly knocked out in the first round itself, losing two matches in quick succession, before saving some grace by winning the final group match against Australia.
Can Germany break the jinx?
With such a dreary history, the question arises: can the defending champions Germany break this jinx? They've won the FIFA Confederations Cup only a year ago, and even if they progress beyond the group stage, for now, they shall break a notorious record that is existing since 2006. Since 2006, anyone who has won the FIFA World Cup has never progressed beyond the first round.
If Germany even progresses to the Round of 16, this jinx shall be reduced to tatters. Let's hope it stays the same for the rest of their journey.