As seismic shocks in the world of football go, Germany’s exit from Russia 2018 was pretty much off the Richter scale. Die Mannschaft were supposed to be ruthlessly efficient, the one side utterly immune to a World Cup upset, having last been knocked out at the group stages at a World Cup 80 years earlier.
And yet there was an inability to break down South Korea, a VAR decision against them, and Sweden’s hammering of Mexico later… and Joachim Loew’s men followed the fate of the three previous reigning champions from Europe. France, Italy, Spain had all gone out at the group stages four years after winning the tournament.
Yet is this not, at least partly, why we call it the “Beautiful Game”? There is little pretty about the diving or the constant heckling of referees, but there is certainly romance in the fact that South Korea, even though they were not able to qualify for the next round, could put in a performance of such heart and knock Germany to its knees.
For those who are still in the competition, this sends a message that anything is possible, and that they can all, even England, lift the trophy in Moscow.