The German had been knocked out in the group stages for the first time since the group stages had been introduced in the 1954 World Cup. This is a shocking and speechless situation for some football fan as the German known for resilience, brilliant comeback wins and icy cool in any situation on the pitch, especially in the World Cup. However, one thing that had been noticed since FIFA had taken the privilege of the defending champion to qualify automatically starting from the 2006 World Cup the defending champion since then had been knocked out in the group stages. Italy winner of 2006 edition knocked out in the 2010 World Cup group stages, Spain 2010 winner knocked out in the 2014 group stage and now German knocked out in the group stage. Including the German, they are total 5 defending champions who had been knocked out in the group and surprisingly the first team to achieve this unwanted record is Brazil in 1966 World Cup. How this team is ranked, and which is the worst performance by a defending champion of the World Cup?
5.Italy in 2010 World Cup
Amid the Calciopolli scandal, Marcelo Lippi had united Italy and made them the champion in 2006. They are brilliant in the defense, their midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo had given one of the best performance in his career, Gianluigi Buffon is superb in the goal, and Marcelo Lippi tactical brilliance had seen Italy won the World Cup. Italy had beaten France via a penalty shootout in 2006 final where only David Trezeguet from France that had missed the penalty in the shootout. Italy had come as favorites but with an aging squad, they had crumbled in the first 2 game when they had drawn with Paraguay and more shockingly with New Zealand in the next game. And they had finally lost their final game against Slovakia and leaving South Africa which just 2 points, 2 draws and 1 lost.
4.Spain in 2014 World Cup.
The team is on a high when they had retained their European trophy in 2012 and become the first nation to win 3 consecutive major honors and Spain is looked like unbeatable. The started well in their first game against Netherland where they had taken the lead, however, a brilliantly executed header Robin Van Persie had leveled the game and started the rout for Spain. In the end, Spain had been defeated with a heavy scoreline of 5-1, and the next game they had been beaten by Chile and been eliminated. A final win against Australia in a meaningless and just for pride game is the only point that they had taken from the World Cup. They had left Brazil with 3 points, 2 loses and 1 win.
3.Brazil in 1966
The team of 50’s which played the brilliant samba football and become synonymous with the beautiful football game. They are favorites to make history in becoming the first team to win the World Cup for the 3 consecutive tournaments. They had started brightly in their opening game against Hungary where the two plays that defined Brazil in this period Pele and Garrincha had scored the goal. However, in the second game against Hungary, Pele was brutally assaulted by the Hungary team and was need to be carried from the pitch and Brazil had lost 3-1 and their fate had been sealed with Pele now out from these game, Portugal under their mesmeric striker Eusebio had killed Brazil hope with 3-1 win and eliminated Brazil from the tournament. Brazil had made an unwanted record of becoming the first defending champion to been eliminated from the group’s stages and they had left England with 2 point, 1 win and 2 losses.
2.Germany in 2018
The German meanwhile had started their campaign with a 1-0 lost against Mexico and needed a last-minute goal from Toni Kross to come back from behind and beat Sweden with 2-1 scoreline in the second group stages game. In the deciding group game against South Korea, German needed to win to have any chance of qualification and they had attacked the South Korean and missed chance after chance especially Mat Hummels who had 3 chances to put the tie in favor for the German. However, the 2 last minute injury time goal by South Korea had put the German out of the tournament in the group stages. The German had left the tournament with just 1 win and 2 losses and collecting just 3 points and worst of all they had finished last in their group.
1.France in 2002
France in an all-time peak performance as their talisman Zidane is in a form of lifetime , Thierry Henry had become one of the deadliest striker in the world with his performance with Arsenal, and the core of the French with the exception of Didier Deschamp whom had announced his retirement from the international game after France had triumphed in the Euro 2000. Even when Zidane injured in the warm-up pre World Cup does not make France losing their momentum. However, on the pitch thing take a quite dramatic turn when on their first game they had been shocked by the debutant Senegal, nearly been beaten by Uruguay in the second game and their fate had been sealed with a 2-0 defeat against Denmark. Even Zidane whom had been rushed to the final and deciding group game unable to rescue them form been eliminated. In the end, France had left South Korea with 2 loses, 1 draw and collecting only 1 point. What makes France performance is the worst of all the team above is they do not score any goal in the 3 groups game and this had made them as the worst defending champion ever who had been eliminated in the group stages.
Becoming the World Cup champion is the ultimate dream for any player whom playing for his national team, however, defending the title is seen as a monumental task for them. In the history of the World Cup, only 2 teams had successfully defended their title and they are Italy in 1934 and 1938 and Brazil is the last team to had successfully defended their title in 1958 and 1962. Since then the best performance by a defending champion is reaching the final in the following tournament like Argentina in 1986 and 1990 and Brazil in 1994 and 1998 but both teams had failed in the final hurdles to defend their title. The curse of defending champion since FIFA had decided to remove the privilege of the defending champion to qualify automatically will continue until any team finally broke it in the subsequent World Cup.