“Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans no longer always win. Previous version is confined to history,” Gary Lineker updated his famous quote from 1990 when England were eliminated in the World Cup semi-finals by Germany.
One is still strugglling to come to terms with the harsh reality that Germany are humiliated and knocked out in the Group stage of the World Cup.
They began defence of their title won in Brazil four years ago on June 17 in Moscow with shock 1-0 defeat to Mexico.
On June 23, they needed a goal in the dying seconds of the match to get past Sweden and four days later, on June 27, when they needed a win against the Korea Republic to make it to the Round of 16, they lost 0-2 after conceding twice in the stoppage time.
World No 1 side will now return home after just 11 days in Russia following a catastrophic campaign which left their coach Joachim Loew shocked as he expressed that his side deserved to be eliminated.
“I’m shocked. Shocked because we didn’t manage to pull it off and beat Korea and we lost this game. At the moment it is hard to say (why we have been eliminated). The disappointment of us being eliminated is just huge,” he said in a post-match press conference.
“We didn’t deserve to be winning the World Cup once again, we didn’t deserve to move into the Round of 16.”
“Our team in this encounter was missing the ease of play and the classiness that we normally display. Also, the dynamism that led to the goal scoring opportunities was not there, so we deserve to be eliminated,” said the 58-year-old coach.
Loew, who’s been in charge of the side after the 2006 World Cup in Germany, recently signed a contract extension to lead the Die Mannschaft till the 2022 FIFA World Cup which will be held in Qatar.
The record of four times Cup winners is also incredible under Loew, as they made it to at least semi-final of all the major tournament they played.
Winning the World Cup in 2014 is still the highlight of German efficiency in recent times and winning 2017 Confederations Cup with a second-string side just showed the talent pool at Loew’s disposal. The dejected coach refused to talk about his future but said that he will consider his position as the coach.
“How do we go from here? We’ll have to talk about it calmly and I think it’s premature for me to say something. It will take me some hours to come to terms with it and I’m incredibly disappointed by this elimination,” he said.
“Do I think this will bring about a dark time in German football? No, I don’t think so. I think we have young players who are very talented, and some have the potential to go forward. This has happened to other nations before, we just have to draw the right conclusions and make it better going forward,” he further added.
Early signs of disaster
July 7, 2016 was the last time Germany had lost any football game when they were defeated by France in Euro 2016.
After that, they embarked upon a 20-match unbeaten streak, winning all 10 of their World Cup qualifying matches, scoring a record number of 43 goals in the process, being a relentless machine that swept everything in their path.
But then wheels turned, they drew against England and Spain until their unbeaten run was halted by Brazil on March 27 with a 1-0 victory over the World Champions. In the build-up to the World Cup, they lost 1-2 to Austria and were lucky to come away with a 2-1 win against Saudi Arabia.
What went wrong for Germany?
In the hindsight, one can say everything right from the final 23 names, as Premier League’s best young player of the year Leroy Sane was left out, much to the surprise of everyone. Striker Sandro Wagner, who had done well in the Confederations Cup was overlooked in favour of Mario Gomez.
What cost them so dear? Complacency, arrogance, and overconfidence, that defending World Cup crown would be a thing like turning on the light bulb.
The overconfidence cost them their opener against Mexico and Loew still remained optimistic that they would not suffer the same fate as previous two champions - Italy and Spain.
Germany lacked the natural leader out on the field, Manuel Neuer is a great leader, but out in the middle of the park, they lacked someone like Bastian Schweinsteiger or Philipp Lahm.
Schweinsteiger’s 2014 World Cup final performance is still considered as his best and an example of how to play the World Cup final. They lacked the character of Basti.
The core of the 2014 campaign—Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos all looked the pale shadow of their former self, who lifted the coveted trophy at the Maracana Stadium.
Their win against Sweden also came with a slice of luck as throughout the tournament they remained vulnerable on the counter and conceded three out of four goals in that manner. For the two goals scored in the group phase, they took 76 shots on goal, with a conversion rate of three per cent.
One can talk about all the statistical jargon, at the end of the day only one statistic that matters in the match result and one win, two losses, a goal difference of -2 and rock bottom place in the table.
There will be an uproar about the apocalypse which took place here in Russia as it is as big a shock as Italy failing to qualify for the World Cup.
As Jogi Loew said, a lot of things that were put in place since 2006 will come under a scanner. Germany are already back home but come September, when international break come into effect, Germany will look to rise again from the abyss.
A new meme mocking Germany is already out, saying that, “History repeats, Germans cannot win on Russian land.”
But Die Mannschaft will be out again, to prove Gary Lineker right, after catastrophic 11 days in Russia...