World Cup curse strikes Germany — who are the other victims?

World Cup curse strikes Germany — who are the other victims?
By Jordan Jones
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Germany have become the latest team to fall to the tournament curse that hits reigning World Cup champions.


Germany's 2-0 defeat by South Korea sent Die Mannschaft toppling out of this year's World Cup. Not only was this a bitter disappointment for German fans, but it also confirms the existence of the "World Cup Curse", under which the previous champions fail to make it out of the group stages next time around.

Germany won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but finished bottom of their group after the surprise loss to South Korea on Wednesday. Joachim Loew's men needed only one goal going into the match, but two stoppage-time goals from the Asian side put paid to their ambitions.

Die Mannschaft join four countries — three of them European — who have been knocked out in the group stages after lifting the trophy at the previous World Cup.

How it all started

Italy were the first side to win a World Cup and then get knocked out of the group stages at the following tournament.

After winning the World Cup back-to-back in 1934 and 1938, it would be another 12 years before the next World Cup due to World War II.

Tragedy then struck the new Italian team when the Superga air disaster claimed the lives of the entire Torino football team, whose players made up most of the Azzurri. The crash happened one year before the 1950 World Cup, and the team, still rattled by plane travel, headed to Brazil by ship. Italy went on to lose 3-2 to Sweden in their opening game and a win against Paraguay in the group stage wasn't enough to salvage their title hopes, forcing them to bow out.

1966 was memorable for England — but not for Brazil

Brazil won two consecutive World Cups in 1958 and 1962. But when Pele and his teammates arrived in England for the following tournament, it was a shock group stage exit for Brazil. They started things well, beating Bulgaria 2-1, but Pele picked up an injury. His absence proved costly, as Brazil lost 3-1 to Hungary.

In a crucial last group stage match, Pele made his return but was brought off again after a heavy tackle. A repeat scoreline of the last match, this time to Eusebio's Portugal, meant an early elimination.

This generation: France, Italy, Spain


France won the World Cup on their own turf in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. The host beat Brazil, thanks to two goals from Zinedine Zidane and a stoppage-time third goal from Emmanuel Petit at the Stade de France, Saint-Denis.

Four years later, when playing in Japan and South Korea, they finished bottom in a group consisting of Denmark, Senegal, and Uruguay. The only point they picked up was a goalless draw with Uruguay.


Italy, who won the 2006 World Cup in Germany on penalties against the French, may be remembered most for Zidane's headbutt on Materazzi.

Like France, the Azzurri rounded the bottom of their group in South Africa. Draws with Paraguay and debutants New Zealand, as well as a 3-2 defeat to Slovakia, sent Italy home early in 2010.


Spain won two UEFA European Championships in a row, trophies that straddled their World Cup success in 2010.

Move forward to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and they were placed in a proclaimed Group of Death. The 2010 World Cup finalists, the Netherlands, had their revenge on Spain, beating them 5-1 in the opening game. Spain then lost to Chile. The only real moment of their World Cup defence was beating last-placed Australia.

Germany in 2018

Mario Goetze's World Cup-winning goal against Argentina in 2014 was all that was needed to end Die Mannschaft's dry spell.


For Goetze though, he wasn't included in this year's World Cup, despite his heroics in Brazil.

Defeat to Mexico in their opening game meant that Germany had to get a result against Sweden. They did so — and in dramatic fashion. A layoff from Reus to Kroos, who had cancelled out Toivonen's delicate chip, gave Germany a chance in the final group stage match.

It was a horror for German fans, as Joachim Loew and his men were sent packing despite all their attacking endeavour, beaten by South Korea by two stoppage-time goals.

The exception to the rule

Brazil won their fifth World Cup in 2002 in Yokohama, beating Germany 2-0 thanks to two goals from Ronaldo.

They scoffed at World Cup curse, winning all three of their group stage games. A slight win over Croatia and Australia, whilst they hammered Japan, saw them progress to the next round. Brazil reached the quarter-finals in South Africa, having beaten Ghana 3-0 in the Round of 16. But they were later knocked out by World Cup finalists France.

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