As hard as it may be to defend a Premier League title (no repeat champion since 2008-09), defending a World Cup title is even harder. Brazil in 1962 and Italy in 1938 were the only two repeat champions, ever, and in four of the last five editions, the defending champions have failed to even make it out of the group stage.
Germany joined that sad parade on Wednesday with a shock 2-0 loss to South Korea. — France in 2002, Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014, and now Germany in 2018 — in fact the only world champions to buck that trend in the last 20 years have been Brazil, in 2006 and in 1998 as well. The Selecao were in action on Wednesday as well, taking care of business against Serbia, 2-0, and qualifying past the initial group stage as they have done so in every World Cup since 1966.
1998: France WIN WC— Paddy Power (@paddypower) June 27, 2018
2002: France OUT at Group Stage
2006: Italy WIN WC
2010: Italy OUT at Group Stage
2010: Spain WIN WC
2014: Spain OUT at Group Stage
2014: Germany WIN WC
2018: Germany Out at Group Stage
2018: England WIN WC
2022: Hell freezes over
With Germany heading home, Antonio Rudiger, who was back on the bench after Saturday’s heroics, joins Victor Moses and Kenneth Omeruo as Chelsea players who now get to begin their summer vacations.
The defending champions needed to win after dropping their first game of the tournament to Mexico, but instead conceded two late goals, including one given after video replay and a literal empty-netter to lift a page from ice hockey, to the worst team in the group. Historic, shocking, dramatic in every sense of the word.
Germany’s loss meant that Mexico advance as well, despite getting dismantled 3-0 by Sweden, who end up winning the group. El Tri will now face Brazil while Sweden play Switzerland, who finished second to Neymar & Co after a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica.
Willian, as usual, started for Brazil and played the full 90. They have not looked as good as they did in qualifying, but they’re safely through and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Tite will ride his preferred lineup to victory or defeat, but at a World Cup where almost none of the favorites are living up to their top billing just yet, the name of the game is survive and advance.
It has been a fun and exciting first two weeks to the 2018 World Cup; probably more fun and more exciting than many had foreseen or expected. Tomorrow brings Belgium vs. England and the last two groups to be decided before a rest day on Friday. The Round of 16 begins on Saturday, and one can only imagine the drama we might witness.