5 talking points from day 14 of the FIFA World Cup

Germany first-round exit, Mexico's reality check, Philippe Coutinho's inspiring performance and more in the 5 talking points from day 14 of the FIFA World Cup.

Germany forward Thomas Muller looks dejected after his side lost 2-0 to South Korea on Wednesday.   -  Getty Images

Germany's humiliating ouster

Germany crashed out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup when it succumbed to a stunning 2-0 loss to South Korea. Die Mannschaft dominated most parts of the match and maintained as much as 70% possession, but failed to find the finishing touch.

READ: Germany out of World Cup after humiliating defeat

Joachim Low left Thomas Muller on the bench and brought on Leon Goretzka in the starting XI but the 23-year-old hardly made an impact on the evening. The returning Mesut Ozil, who was dropped for the clash against Sweden, also failed to impress and lacked creativity in midfield.

The defeat marked Germany's first loss against an Asian side in the World Cup and its first group stage exit since 1938.

Reality check for Mexico?
One loss in three matches doesn't call for an inquest, but the manner of Mexico's defeat to Sweden told a different story from what the central American nation had shown in the wins over Germany and South Korea.

ALSO READ: Sweden defeats Mexico 3-0 to advance

For starters, Guillermo Ochoa has been heavily involved in each of the three matches, making important saves and saving the defence's blushes. Against Sweden, Mexico was exposed time and again that even Ochoa's best couldn't save it from suffering a heavy defeat. 

Not once before in this tournament had Mexico fallen behind, but conceding a lead — for the first time (against Sweden) — had a negative effect on Javier Hernandez and co., who completely fell apart.

As a result, Mexico, which edged its way into the Round-of-16, suddenly doesn't look in the best shape ahead of the Brazil clash. Essentially, it faces a test of character against the five-time world champion. How it reacts to the Sweden defeat could very well decide its fate in Russia. 

Costa Rica exposes leaky Swiss defence

Costa Rica put up a spirited display to register a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Switzerland in its final group match. Given that it had no chance of progressing to the knockout stage, Costa Rica played its best football of the tournament and was attacking from the get go.

ALSO READ: Switzerland goes through despite 2-2 draw

The side posted as many as twice the number of shots on target as compared to the Swiss and was able to exploit the wide open areas in the Swiss defence.

While Costa Rica picked up its first point of the tournament, Vladimir Petkovic will have to go back to the drawing board and re-think his strategy ahead of the crunch round-of-16 clash against Sweden.

Coutinho takes centre-stage

The diminutive midfielder had already made his presence felt in the group stages of the ongoing World Cup with two goals and an assist. He is the only player so far to either score or set up a goal in all three matches in the first round.

ALSO READ: Routine win takes Brazil to round of 16

With Neymar struggling for form, Coutinho has been Brazil's decisive player; being directly involved in the decisive opening goal to set the team up for victory. His ability to score goals from outside the box will make him the player to watch out for in the knockout stages.

 

Curse of champions

Germany's first-round departure wasn't the first instance of the defending champion exiting in the group stages.

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.

ALSO READ: Joachim's Germany hits a new low

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.

Spain's tiki-taka football thrilled in 2010 but the rest of the world got wise to its style in 2014, 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, before Chile dumped Vincente del Bosque's men out in the next game. A 3-0 win over Australia restored some pride but it was too little, too late.

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