Belgium bowing out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup during Group play was a shocking enough result for the international soccer community digest early Thursday.
Hours later, another European giant fell. This time it was Germany, the four-time tournament champion.
The 2014 winners have now missed the knockout stage in consecutive World Cups.
Group E was pegged as possible Group of Death before the World Cup begun. Japan turned that narrative on its side, defeating both Germany and Spain is finish atop the group. Spain is through to the round of 16 after edging Germany based on goal differential, largely thanks to a 7-0 win over Costa Rica in the opener.
Germany did its part in their final match, defeating Costa Rica 4-2. But they didn’t control their own destiny, instead relying on Spain to beat Japan — which obviously did not happen.
Qatar marks another disappointing moment in recent German football history. Since winning the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, Germany has failed to win a major tournament. They didn’t advance out of the group stage at the 2018 World Cup, struggled in the UEFA Nations League from 2019 through 2021 and lost in the round of 16 at the UEFA Euro 2020.
Belgium, meanwhile, let its supposed “Golden Generation” pass through another major tournament without a trophy. They had encouraging results at the World Cup in 2014 (quarterfinals loss) and 2018 (third place), but never advanced any farther. They lost in the quarterfinals at the 2016 and 2020 European Championships.
Both football-crazed nations will undoubtedly be frustrated with the results from Qatar. Each squad has a number of stars exiting their prime, including Germany’s Thomas Müller (33) and Belgium’s Eden Hazard (31).
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