Defending champions Germany knocked out in group stage

Germany fans react as they watch the match at a public viewing area at Brandenburg Gate.Argentina managed to survive its World Cup group stage scare, but the other 2014 finalists were not so lucky. Germany is going home much earlier than expected after a stunning 2-0 loss to South Korea on Wednesday sealed their fate in Group F. Sweden won the group with a convincing win over Mexico, leaving the Germans to wonder what went so very wrong in their country’s first-ever group stage exit from the World Cup.

Germany’s entire brief tournament was marked by frustration and disappointment, with one moment of elation in their last-second victory over Sweden. The German attack was relentless in the late stages of their 1-0 loss to Mexico, where they did everything but score, and they would have been all but eliminated in their match against Sweden if not for the last-second heroics of a Toni Kroos free kick after defender Jerome Boateng was sent off, leaving Germany with 10 players. A scuffle on the sidelines erupted at the end of the Germany-Sweden match, with Swedish officials claiming German players were taunting them and celebrating too close to their bench, though it appears Sweden got the last laugh eventually.

Defeating Sweden despite being down a man could have given Germany some confidence and momentum heading into their crucial final group stage match, but it wasn’t to be. All the Germans needed to do was defeat South Korea, which had already lost to Mexico and Sweden, but Germany came out flat against the Koreans, firing 26 shots and only hitting the net with six of them. Germany pressed forward throughout the match as word of Sweden’s impending victory over Mexico spread, allowing South Korea to sneak behind the German defense and score two late goals.

Germany was one of the betting favourites to win the World Cup, and now they join Spain, Italy, and France as countries that won the tournament over the last 20 years only to be knocked out in the group stage four years later. In fact, since the 1994 tournament, the only champions that haven’t suffered that exact fate were Brazil, who won in 1994 and 2002 and advanced to the elimination round in 1998 and 2006.