World Cup: Champions curse continues as Germany crash out in World Cup group stages
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Germany has crashed out of the World Cup group stages for the first time since 1938 following a devastating and humiliating 2-0 defeat to South Korea.
The day also saw Sweden stun the current group leaders, Mexico, 3-0, completely rejigging the final group standings, with Germany falling unexpectedly at the bottom. Group F looked sealed before the first game.
Mexico and Germany were expected to ease to victory, but a bout of shacking results left everyone able to qualify in the final group match. Despite it being common knowledge, that Germany could face a shocking elimination, not many believed it could happen.
It was hard to foresee a scenario whereby the German's would face an early elimination, as the entire world has witnessed first-hand the German class and skill that earned them their crowns at the last World Cup.
The sheer class and talent exemplified by Toni Kroos' last-minute winner against Sweden failed to turn up to a game that saw the world-class German players face a stunning defeat.
A lot rested on Germany qualifying into the last 16, factors that looked achievable. The best-case scenario would see Mexico beat Sweden and Germany beat the South Koreans, and worst case would see the Germans match or beat the Swedes in their game against Mexico.
Joachim Low's German's knew what they needed to rake in a few goals against the South Koreans to achieve a comfortable qualification. It appeared as though the Germans were counting on a Korean team that had no drive left, as the Koreans faced a near impossible ascent to the final 16.
With Korea having failed to claim victory in their first two matches, they aimed to fight ferociously to go home with at least a point and their pride and throughout the game they broke down German attacks that were coming thick and fast.
The first half saw plenty of German attempts on goal, with a few Korean attacks too. Both sides seemed to lack any real finishing power that could turn their opportunities into goals. Germany looked classier than the Koreans who seemed to lack experience and ideas in front of the German defence.
The first half fizzled out with a miserable 0-0. Despite the statistics reflecting a German domination, When it came down to the moments that mattered, Germany failed to produce the goods, utterly leading to their spectacular humiliation in the last 45 minutes. The next half passed with much of the same German frustrations.
The footballing stars of some of the best teams in the world were failing to make any headway against a South Korean team that lost to Qatar and China in the qualification rounds. It was a pathetic attempt by the Germans, who were praying for Toni Kroos to score a last-minute winner like he had done against Sweden.
The Korean keeper, Hyeon-Woo, did his nation proud, continually deflecting and saving the Germans attempts.
As the last 45 minutes came to an end, Sweden had already thumped the Mexicans 3-0, securing their spot in the final 16, with the competition now falling between Germany and Mexico for the last spot. If Germany won, Mexico would be sent home, if Germany were held to a draw or somehow lost, the Mexicans would proceed.
All the drama came in the dying moments of the game when Mats Hummels threw away his chance at bringing Germany back into the final 16 when his header flew passed the Korean goal.
The final minutes seemed to drag out for what seemed like years, with the Koreans looking content with the draw. What followed may be one of the defining moments of the tournament. The Koreans crossed the ball in from a corner that led to a heated tussle in the German box, Kim Young-Gwon found a sense of closure to pass the ball round
The Korean camp went crazy despite the linesman throwing his flag up, a decision that ultimately went to VAR. In moments like these, the widely controversial tool has proven its worth, eliminating a potentially devastating moment for the Koreans, such as a decision that allowed Maradonna's 'Hand of God' goal to stand. VAR saw the 90th+2-minute stand, all but sending the Germans home.
In the dying moments of the game, every German player was firmly planted in the Korean half, seeking to ease the pain of defeat by clawing back at least one goal.
With the Koreans battling the Germans off the ball, they managed to break, and the ball was fired to Tottenham's Son, who simply tapped the ball into the back of Neuer's empty net.
And just like that, the footballing world had fallen to its knees, with the World Cup holders crashing out before the competition had properly begun.
Image Credit - Wikipedia Commons