What does the group stage exit for the German team mean for their future?
The current predicament
For the first time in 80 years, Germany have been eliminated in the group stages of the World Cup. It was an absolute shocker for the football world. Maybe the omens were bad for the defending champions as 3 of the last 4 defending champions, namely, France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014 all were eliminated in the group stage. France and Italy finished last in their respective groups without a win from their 3 games while Spain won their dead rubber against Australia 4 years ago.
This German team did not look set to follow that trend. They won the Confederations Cup with a second string team last year giving Joachim Loew a dilemma ahead of this year's World Cup. The likes of Draxler, Werner, and Goretzka lit up the tournament and their selection for this year's spectacle was justified. Marco Reus was a surprise selection but in all honesty, deserved it after not being fit for the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016. But the exclusion on Sane was a huge surprise. Selecting Brandt ahead of Sane didn't look like a wise choice.
Despite all that this team was expected to go through with the stars from the previous World Cup squad leading the line. namely - Kroos, Ozil, Muller, Neuer, Boateng, Hummels, and Khedira but it wasn't to be. Kroos didn't replicate the form he showed for Real Madrid this season. Ozil looked more of a threat in the final group game and not in the opening game. Muller who seemed destined to overtake compatriot Klose as the all-time top scorer looked out of sorts.
Neuer was not at his best after being injured for the vast majority of the season. Boateng and Hummels looked like a pale shadow of the players they were 4 years ago. Khedira is no more the reliable holding midfielder he once was. Loew decided to trust his experienced troops but it didn't work for him.
Timo Werner lacked the experience to lead the line and Mario Gomez is past his best. Reus was one of the few players who gave it his all in all the matches. Kimmich and Hector were good too. Apart from them, the team looked out of sorts.
What happened after a similar showing in the past?
The last time Germany were knocked out in the group stages of a major tournament was at Euro 2004. This was after finishing as runners-up to Brazil in the 2002 World Cup. Prior to which they were eliminated in the group stage of Euro 2000 as well. The Euro 2000 group stage exit is what made them invest in their youth.
The results began to show as beginning with the 2006 World Cup at home till Euro 2016 they progressed at least till the last 4. After their tame exit at Euro 2004, not many gave them a chance at the 2006 World Cup in their own backyard but led by Ballack who had the likes of Schneider, Frings, and Klose along with youngsters like Schweinsteiger, Lahm, and Podolski defied the odds to reach the last 4 before losing to eventual champions Italy in extra time. 2 years later they reached the finals of the Euro 2008 before losing to the then all-conquering Spain team.
5 of the 23 players who were a part of the 2006 team were part of the 2014 winning squad. The 2010 World Cup added more ammunition to the squad as the likes of Muller, Kroos, Neuer, Ozil, Khedira, and Boateng became a core part of the team. But only a 3rd placed finished followed at the 2010 World Cup after losing to Spain once again in the semi-finals.
Euro 2012 seemed to be the stage for them to shine but once again they were defeated in the last 4 - this time by Italy. Finally in 2014, with a perfect blend of youth and experience which was led by Lahm alongside other senior players such as Schweinsteiger, Klose, and Podolski along with the newly found stars of the 2010 World Cup - Muller, Kroos, Neuer, Ozil, Khedira, and Boateng and yet another group of youngsters namely - Hummels, Gotze, Schurrle and Draxler delivered their promise as they ended their 24-year wait for a World Cup. The best performance of that team - without any doubt was the 7-1 drubbing of the hosts, Brazil.
What does this mean for the future?
What this indicates is that in 4 years time "Die Mannschaft" will be back with all guns blazing. With the likes of Muller, Kroos, and Ozil as the senior players, the team will be built around the likes of Werner, Goretzka, Draxler, Sane, and Brandt in attack.
A team which will once again be feared and will deliver the results expected of them. We may likely even see the return of Mario Gotze, who scored the winner in the 2014 World Cup final. And the likes of Julian Weigl, Kimmich, Hector, Rudiger and Sule will become the backbone of the team and Ter Stegen or Leno might be the one in between the sticks.
The 2018 World Cup debacle is only a blip for the 2nd most successful nation in World Cup history. They will certainly rise again to the top very soon.