As a part of a trend Germany became the latest defending champions to make an early exit from the Group stages in FIFA World Cup when they lost to an average South Korean team. All Germany needed to qualify to the knockout stages was a goal against minnows South Korea, which evaded them in the entire match. They were crashed out in an abject fashion conceding two goals in the injury time when they desperately chased for a goal which would have sent them through. The German fans and football lover all over the world were in a state of shock and disbelief when the final whistle was blown by the American referee Mark Gieger.The defending world champion played poorly against South Korea, but the problems for Die Mannschaft started much earlier than that.Now where did it all go wrong for the Germans? Let’s analyze the three factors that led to Germany’s downfall in World Cup 2018.
- Coach Joachim Loew got it horribly wrong when it came to squad selection or fielding the first eleven in a match. He left out the talented and in-form Leroy Sane from the German squad without citing any concrete reason. Sane was in devastating form and was instrumental to lead his club Manchester City to Premier League title. He also left out the experienced Mario Gotze, Benedict Howedes,Per Mertasacker who all played a crucial part in Germany’s World Cup win in Brazil. It was quite evident that Loew didnot have any clue what is best team was. He chopped and changed the team randomly upsetting the rhythm and combination of his team itself. He changed marvin Plattenhardt,Matts Hummels ,Sami Khedira,Mesut Ozil from the first match against Mexico with Jonas Hector,Antonio Rudiger,Sebastian Rudy,Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan in the second match versus Sweden. In the final group encounter against an average South Korean team he made five changes in Matts Hummels,Sami Khedira,Mesut Ozil,Leon Goretzka while dropping Thomas Muller,Julian Draxler,Ilkay Gundogan and Antonio Rudiger. Nicklas Sule came in for suspended Jerome Boateng. These changes in the final match unsettled the team totally. Julian Brandt who looked the brightest player amongst all German players never started a match. He was always introduced late in the game.
- The German forward line will look back and will regret their wastefulness in front of goal. They have missed chances galore to their own peril. It has happened for the first time in Germany’s World Cup history when they have not scored a single goal in the first half. A lot was expected of German forwards Timo Werner and Thomas Muller but they failed miserably. Timo Werner and Muller wasted sitters all through the tournament. Loew’s over dependence on an inexperienced one season wonder Timo Werner proved to be very costly. Thomas Muller too had a shocker of a tournament. Loew should have started with Mario Gomez instead who looked more deadly in front of the goal than the other two.
- In my opinion Germany underestimated their opponents. And the culprits were a handful of senior players in Mesut Ozil, sami Kedira and Manuel Neuer to some extent. Ozil and Khedira badly failed against the Mexicans as they were slow with their build up play and were often dispossessed off the ball. Ozil spent too much on the ball and his lazy runs down the middle was easily dealt with. In the second match Loew dropped them against Sweden and we could easily see a fluidity in Germany’s buildup play. It did not make any sense for Loew to break his winning combination in a do-or-die match and reinstate players whose game play actually was detrimental to the team. Ozil in particular looked sloth and slow and spent too much time on the ball before making a pass. He wasted Moreover Loew’s stubbornness to start Manuel Neuer over the inform Andre Ter Stegen backfired badly.Manuel Neuer who came directly into the starting eleven from an injury lay-off of more than eight months looked unusually shaky at goal. He tried but lack of match practice let him down. There have been some strong rumors of unrest within the team as Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan were under scrutiny for needlessly participating in a publicity stunt with the Turkish President Recep Erdogan ahead of the Turkish elections this month.
It was the first time since 1938 in the history of FIFA World Cup when Germany could not qualify from the group stage and the only time they have finished last in the group. We have always witnessed the pedigree of Germany’s football as ‘never say die attitude’ with a fiery team spirit and a fast paced modern gameplay. But now the current holders have become the latest infamous team to exit the tournament from the group stages. Arguments will continue in the footballing world regarding their historic downfall but one thing is for sure that this current German team lacked team spirit, flair and looked extremely complacent in all the matches they played in Russia.