Newspapers in Germany have reacted to the national team’s ‘embarrassing’ group-stage exit from the World Cup – the side’s second in as many world championships.
Germany are four-time World Cup winners but have followed their most recent triumph, in 2014, with back-to-back exits in the first round.
After steering the team to the trophy in 2014, coach Joachim Low oversaw their group-stage elimination in Russia, where his side finished bottom of their group after losing to Mexico and South Korea – either side of a victory over Sweden. And Low’s successor, Hansi Flick, saw his team suffer the same fate in Qatar on Thursday (1 November), as their 4-2 win against Costa Rica proved insufficient to send them into the last 16.
Having opened their account in Qatar with a shock 2-1 defeat by Japan, Germany bounced back to draw 1-1 with Spain, who had thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 in their tournament opener. But the final Group E matchday saw Japan stun Spain 2-1 to top the pool, as the Germans were eliminated in third place – behind the Spanish on goal difference.
“How embarrassing! We’re out!” read a headline by German tabloid Bild on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote: “German football is at rock bottom again, four years after a historic first-round exit.”
Football magazine Kicker, meanwhile, noted, “Only a 10-2 win would have helped. Germany crash out in the World Cup group stage again,” referencing the team’s insufficient goal difference.
Reacting to the defeat, manager Hansi Flick said Germany only had themselves to blame and was made to answer questions of his future ahead of the team hosting the European championships in 2024.
“Honestly, we have just been eliminated, but if you know me and know my team, you know that we can get up quickly and recover from that,” Flick said. “That is very important and very decisive for the future.
“In light of the 2024 European Championship, it is difficult to talk about that right after an elimination. Now we need to assess our work here at the World Cup, head into a different direction, and this is the next step that we are going to undertake and we will do that very soon.”
Germany forward Thomas Muller meanwhile hinted that he had played his last match for the national team following their World Cup exit. “If that was my last game for Germany, a few words to the German fans: It was a tremendous pleasure,” he said.“Thank you very much. I always tried to show heart on the pitch. Sometimes there were tears of joy, sometimes pain. I did it with love. I need to think about everything else now.”
Midfielder Joshua Kimmich admitted it was “the worst day of his career”. The Bayern Munich star added: “We blew the World Cup in 2018 and the Euros last year too. I’m afraid I’ll fall into a hole. It makes you think that these failures are connected to my person.”
Japan, in securing first place in Group E, will play Group F runners-up Croatia in the last 16, four years after the Croats reached the final – where they lost to France.
Meanwhile, Group F winners Morocco will take on Spain after Luis Enrique’s side finished second in Group E.
Belgium drew 0-0 with Croatia earlier on Thursday to suffer their own shock exit in the group stage, having finished third in Russia four years ago.
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