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World Cup 2018, Germany vs Mexico: The Curse of Defending Champions

Varis Sharma
ANALYST
Feature
1.79K   //    18 Jun 2018, 11:21 IST

Mesut
Mesut Ozil reacts during Germany's match against Mexico

On Sunday, when defending champions Germany took on Mexico, everyone expected them to give their WC 2018 campaign a winning start, however, Mexico had other plans as a 35th-minute goal by Mexican winger Hirving Lozano was enough to defeat the defending world champions and rock their title-defence campaign.

Germany had the majority of possession and more shots on target, but were unable to find the net as the Mexican defence was too strong. The Mexicans made several counter-attacks throughout the game and looked threatening at times as they caught the German defence napping. The Germans looked strong in the midfield but were unable to impress in the final third.

The best goalscoring opportunity for Germany came in the 38th minute when a Toni Kroos free-kick was saved by Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and then helped out by the crossbar. At halftime, a German comeback looked possible, but to the delight of the Mexicans, it never happened.

The curse continues

Enter captio
Mexican players celebrating the goal against Germany

Germany became the newest victim of the curse of defending champions losing their opening match as it was the 6th time in World Cup history that the title holders lost their first match. Italy after winning the 1938 World Cup went on to lose their opening match at the 1950 World Cup against Sweden, in 1982 and 1990 it was Argentina who were beaten by Belgium and Cameroon respectively.

The 2002 FIFA World Cup saw France fall prey to this curse while in 2014 Spain had to face the wrath of this curse as they were humbled by the Dutch in their opening game.

A more simplified take on this 'curse' tells us that the reigning champions' lack of motivation coupled with opposition's determination to beat the title holders leads to such an unthinkable occurrence.

But when was the last time we saw a German side that lacked motivation? Germany always enter a tournament with a winning a mindset and this time is no different. So does that mean Mexico's historic win was a fluke?

The answer to this is yes and no as Mexico were extremely good in the first half, making occasional counter attacks while the German defence looked shaky. In the second half, though, they adopted a more defensive role and were looking to slow things down.

So it can be said that while Mexico scoring was no fluke, the Germans' inability to find the net was a twist of fate.

Can Germany recover from this result?

Germany didn't have the start they were looking for but it's still early days in the World Cup and a German recovery is very much on the cards. They play their next game against Sweden who also can't be considered as pushovers as they surpassed the likes of Netherlands and Italy to be at this mega event.

Germany now have to win both their games to proceed to the knockout stages and depending upon the results of other Group F games, their position will be determined.

This result has made the remaining Group F fixtures very interesting as all teams at present will be fancying their chances of making it to the Round of 16.

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Varis Sharma
ANALYST
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