Champions curse strikes again as Germany exit World Cup

Winning the World Cup is the pinnacle of international football but, as Germany found out, there is a curse that comes with it.

Thomas Mueller looks dejected following his side's exit from the World Cup.   -  Getty Images

Germany became the latest nation to fall foul of the champions curse at the World Cup as it bowed out at the group stage in Russia.

Joachim Low's side's thrilled in Brazil four years ago with a stunning semi-final destruction of the host, before pipping Argentina to the crown in Rio.

The defending champion sailed through qualification winning all 10 of its matches, scoring 43 goals and conceding just four.

However, Germany crashed out of the finals at the first hurdle following defeats to Mexico and South Korea, finishing bottom of Group F.

It is not the only defending champion to suffer such embarrassment, though, with three other recent winners also going the same way.

READ: Germany out of World Cup after humiliating defeat

AU REVOIR FRANCE

After the glory of winning its first world crown on home soil in 1998, France came thudding back down to earth in South Korea and Japan.

An opening day defeat to Senegal was followed by a 0-0 draw with Uruguay, before a 2-0 reverse against Denmark saw it catch the first plane home.

CIAO ITALY

Brazil avoided the curse in 2006 but it struck again in South Africa as a lacklustre Italy failed to reach the heights of four years earlier.

The Azzurri was drawn in what appeared to be a winnable group with Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand, but it could only claim two points from its three matches.

ADIOS SPAIN

Spain's tiki-taka football thrilled in 2010 but the rest of the world got wise to its style, and La Roja failed to dominate in a similar way in Brazil.

A stunning 5-1 loss to Netherlands in its opening match raised the alarm, and when Chile also claimed three points Spain was out. A 3-0 win over Australia restored some pride but it was too little, too late.

READ: Who is Kim Young-gwon? The man who sent Germany packing

AUF WIEDERSEHEN GERMANY

And so to Germany, the seemingly unstoppable holder who had not gone out in the first round of a World Cup since 1938. Surely it would not suffer a similar embarrassment to previous defending champions when it took the field in Russia? 

An opening defeat to Mexico gave it a mountain to climb but Toni Kroos' stoppage-time winner against Sweden on matchday two gave Low's men hope.

Victory over South Korea to seal another progression to the knockout rounds should have been a formality, but Germany could not score and was twice caught on the counter-attack in stoppage time as a 2-0 loss ended its defence.

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