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World Cup History: 5 Top Teams that were Knocked Out in the Group Stages

Divesh Merani
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
1.25K   //    28 Jun 2018, 19:32 IST

Germany are the latest victims of the Champions' Curse.
Germany are the latest victims of the Champions' Curse.

One of the biggest charms of the FIFA World Cup is the no team is immune to failure. This has been perfectly illustrated in recent editions of the World Cup. Almost every year, we see at least one favourite get knocked out or struggle to get out of their group.

Four of the last five winners have been eliminated in the subsequent World Cup’s group stage. There can be a list of factors going into this.

Complacency and a sense of entitlement come to mind. When it comes to football, one must never be complacent. A single moment could change the fortunes of a nation. It has happened too many times over the past few years to be a one-off.

It takes grit, determination, and heart to succeed at these major tournaments and the underdogs have showed that in recent times. Once you lose these qualities, it is hard to do well, no matter how talented your players are.

Unrest within the team, bad decisions by the management along with a lack of unity within the squad can be factors. Sometimes it is a period of transition from one generation to the next. It has happened so many times and will continue to happen in the future.

Here are five strong teams who have failed miserably at recent World Cups.


#5 Germany (2018)

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Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos

The Champions’ Curse has struck again this year, as we saw Germany finish bottom of their World Cup group in what was the third successive disaster of a title defence. 

They went into Russia as the hot favourites to retain their crown and end the much fabled Champions’ Curse. However, it ended in disaster for them.

The Germans had a mix of the old guard and the new guard. Most of the squad had the experience of lifting the famous trophy in Brazil four years ago and it formed a solid core of players who knew how to win.

However, it could be attributed that age may have played a part in the Germans’ downfall. All the key players were not in their prime anymore. Germany was not playing with the same swagger and fluidity which has been consistent in a period of European inconsistencies.

Joachim Low had never lost before the semi-finals of a major tournament since taking over as the German coach, a run which has spanned six tournaments. Maybe there a was a degree of complacency within the squad. Overconfidence can be a major damning factor in a team’s downfall.

Germany left themselves absolutely wide open for counter-attacks so often and they got punished for it against Mexico. They just couldn't find a way to win. Die Mannschaft needed a last-minute free-kick from Toni Kroos to beat Sweden, but ultimately it did not matter.

They failed to break down a stern South Korean defence and paid for it by conceding two late goals. It was a major shock that the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller had failed on the international stage.

Out of all of the shocking early eliminations at recent World Cups, this might have been the most shocking one.

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Divesh Merani
ANALYST
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