Loss to South Korea is final stunning setback for Germany, eliminated in Group Play for first time since 1938
There are worse things that can befall a nation. Famine and pestilence, corruption and bankruptcy immediately come to mind.
But let’s imagine living in Germany on Tuesday, just about ready to sit to dinner after another taxing trip along the Autobahn.
Could there possibly be anything more important to Germans than their World Cup team? Likely not. Just four years ago in Brazil, Mario Gotze’s goal in the 113th minute gave Germany a 1-0 win over Argentina and its fourth World Cup championship, its first since 1990.
And because of this, particularly with an experienced returning corps, ambitions were soaring when its side reported to Russia to defend its title. A model of consistency, the Germans had won a medal at every World Cup since 2002, every European championship since 2008.
Then it happened: Tied at nil heading into injury time on Tuesday — a result which already had guaranteed Germany’s exit from Group F — Kim Young-Gwon’s strike was followed when Son Heung-Min rolled the ball into an empty net at 95:52, the latest in a match the Germans had allowed a goal in their World Cup history, excluding overtime.
South Korea 2, Germany 0. It was the first time a German team had lost to an Asian team in World Cup history.
For the first time since 1938, Germany, the land of Beckenbauer, Klinsmann and Schweinsteiger, was eliminated in group play.
The gentleman covering the match for Reuters, Ian Ransom, perfectly condensed the sentiments of the homeland, by referring to manager Joachim Leow team as “the sorry side.”
Sorry, indeed. The two goals scored by the Germans in their three matches were the fewest by a defending champion since France was completely shutout in 2002.
Of course, no one has repeated as World Cup champion since Brazil in 1962. And three of the last four champs – Spain, Italy and France – didn’t even advance to the knockout rounds.
Still, the Germans came to the tournament ranked No. 1 by FIFA. South Korea was ranked No. 57. No matter. Sweden finished top of the group with Mexico second and South Korea third.
In the end, Germany’s stars, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos, weren’t able to capitalize despite their team taking twice as many shots as South Korea. The same was the case against Mexico.
How bad was it: The shutouts pitched by Mexico and South Korea were as many as Germany had endured in its last 15 World Cup matches.
With Sweden beating 3-0 against Mexico in the other Group F game, Germany knew it had to score to survive. A win for Germany would have knocked out Mexico, which opened play with a 1-0 win over the Germans, on goal differential.
This already had been a difficult stay for Germany. After losing to Mexico, an event which apparently caused some seismic tremors in Mexico City, the German team hid from its media on Monday after getting blasted in the German press following the loss.
And in its second match against Sweden, the Germans recovered from a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 on Kroos’ goal five minutes into second-half added time.
So there’s nothing left to say now by Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland.