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Thursday, June 28, 2018

World Cup champion’s curse strikes Germany in Russia

Germany’s elimination from the group stage on Wednesday following a 2-0 loss to South Korea marks the first time since 1938 that they have failed to make it beyond the first round of a World Cup. It is also the sixth time that a defending champion has failed to make it past the first round of a World Cup. Out of these instances the past three have happened in the last four World Cups.
Italy 1950
The 1950 World Cup was the first to be held after the Second World War. Italy had won the two previous editions which were held in 1938 and 1934. This tournament was held in Brazil and the Italians had elected to sail over the Atlantic after Superga air disaster of May 1949 that decimated the great Torino side of the time. The players were out of shape after the long travel and played just two matches losing one and winning the other. They never got past the firest round.
Brazil 1966
Brazil won the 1958 and 1962 World Cups, which remains the last instance of a team winning the tournament two times on the bounce. The team that travelled to England for the 1966 tournament included the likes of Pele, Garrincha, Gilmar and Gerson among others . Pele, though, picked up injuries after Brazil’s match against hard-tackling Bulgaria and had to sit out their second game against Hungary. Despite not being fit, he was brought back for the decisive final match against Portugal. Pele was the target of hard tackles there too and Brazil lost that match, thus confirming their first round exit. Pele vowed never to play in the World Cup again, but he reversed that decision and led Brazil to victory in the 1970 World Cup.
France 2002
France’s 2002 side was made of the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Marcel Desailly and so on. But this team were dumped out of the World Cup without even scoring a single goal, let alone win a match. Their most famous defeat was against Senegal, who were playing their first ever World Cup match. France lost that match 1-0
Italy 2010
Brazil had bucked the trend in 2006 but it came back to haunt Italy in 2010. Italy had won the 2006 World Cup despite coming into the tournament on the back of the Calciopoli scandal that racked European football and led to the relegation of Juventus. The presence of veterans like Gianluigi Buffon and Fabio Cannavaro and that of Marcello Lippi on the bench could not prevent Italy from being humbled in the group stage as they failed to win any of their matches. After having to come from behind to draw with Paraguay and New Zealand, Italy’s fate was sealed as they suffered a humiliating 3-2 loss at the hands of Slovakia, who advanced at their expense.
Spain 2014
The curse of the champions struck again four years ago in Brazil, as Spain’s all-conquering side were stopped in their tracks. Vicente del Bosque’s team arrived in South America having won three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012, but this proved a step too far for a side lacking the hunger of old. They knew they were going home after just two matches of a disastrous trophy defence, as a 5-1 humbling at the hands of the Netherlands was followed by a 2-0 defeat against Chile at the Maracana. But this exit resulted in an outpouring of sympathy for the Spanish team with the likes of Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso and David Villa all retiring from international duty after that.