'Sorry': Germany arrives home after World Cup agony

The four-time champion landed at Frankfurt airport shortly after 3 pm (13.00 GMT), a day after its humiliating 2-0 defeat against South Korea at Russia's Kazan Arena sent it packing in the first round.

In a mea culpa on its official Twitter account, the German Mannschaft apologised to a country in agony.   -  AFP

Germany's chastened national team arrived home on Thursday after its shock World Cup exit plunged the football-mad nation into mourning and left the future of coach Joachim Loew in the balance.

The four-time champion landed at Frankfurt airport shortly after 3 pm (13.00 GMT), a day after its humiliating 2-0 defeat against South Korea at Russia's Kazan Arena sent it packing in the first round.

 

 

German media have given a damaging verdict of the titleholder's World Cup campaign, which will be remembered as the first time since 1938 that the country has failed to make it past the first round.

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“No words!” chided the best-selling Bild daily, over a picture of a despondent-looking Toni Kroos. The headline mirrors the one used four years ago after Germany's stunning 7-1 victory over Brazil at the last World Cup — but this time the nation has been left speechless out of sheer disbelief.

Anger was mounting too after a weak performance in Russia that has left commentators calling for radical changes in German football.

“Our elimination is fully deserved,” Bild wrote, lamenting the “shame” of the defending champion getting knocked out after just 10 days, “reduced to ashes and rubble”.

Other newspapers, like the Rheinische Post and Berlin's Tagesspiegel, simply went with the headline “Out”, while the Stuttgarter Zeitung spoke of a “historic debacle”.

READ: Portugal 'not interested' in Germany's shock exit, says Alves

- Off-pitch drama -

Bild said that head coach Loew's fate would be decided “in the coming days” following talks with the German football federation (DFB).

After 12 years in charge, Loew is now under fire for placing too much faith in former stars past their prime. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that only Loew's departure could give Germany the “new start” it needed.

“That the party ended before it really began is bearable — but only if German football strategists recognise the sign of the times and act accordingly,” the conservative daily wrote.

READ: 'Public corpse show', 'historical debacle' - How German media reacted to shock World Cup exit

Sports website Kicker spoke of a “collective failure”. “There was no real team in Russia,” it wrote, noting Germany's earlier lacklustre performances against Mexico and Sweden in Group F.

Alongside criticism of missed chances and the woeful performances of some veteran players, recent off-pitch drama added to a picture of a team in disarray.

Ilkay Gundogan and Mesut Ozil, both of Turkish origin, sparked a storm of controversy when they posed for pictures with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in London last month, prompting angry fans to question their loyalty to the national team.

German-born Ozil, in particular, came in for sharp criticism after an underwhelming turn. The far-right, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was quick to blame the Arsenal midfielder for the nation's heartache.

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Despite the premature end of the Mannschaft's campaign, main sponsor Adidas said that it still expects to sell around eight million football jerseys this year — more than during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The German shirts may yet be snapped up by bargain-hunters, with stores promptly hawking them on steep discount after Wednesday's defeat.

Major German shopping centre chain Kaufhof offered a 40 per cent price cut on World Cup merchandise in a promotion called “Too bad, Germany”.

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