Germany sip from the 21st century World Cup chalice
If recent World Cup history has told us anything, it's that the holders of the famous trophy have no entitlement to do well four years later.
Wednesday 17 June 2018, shortly before 18:00 CEST. The final two matches of Group F in Russia's World Cup had come to their conclusions and once again the holders of the title were on an early flight home.
The results on the afternoon in question saw Mexico lose to Sweden 0-3 and South Korea surprising Germany 2-0. Those scores moved Sweden to the top of the group, Mexico qualified for the last 16 in second place, and Germany were left embarrassed, bottom of the pile.
Although very few could have expected this to have happened - it wasn't seen as a complicated set of fixtures to maneouvre them through to the knockout phase - but maybe we could have all taken a note from relatively recent history. In the last five World Cups, all those that have taken place in the 21st century including this year's, the holder has been eliminated in the group stage.
The poisoned World Cup winning chalice
2002 - France | an opening day 0-1 loss to Senegal, a goalless draw with Uruguay and a 2-0 defeat to Denmark saw the French bid adieu to hosting countries South Korea and Japan. Bottom of the group.
2010 - Italy | there was a ciao from the Azzurri after sharing two goals with Paraguay, repeating that against New Zealand and then being beaten by Slovakia. Bottom of the group.
2014 - Spain | an incredible 1-5 reverse by the Netherlands shocked the world. Defeat to Chile (0-2) in game two meant a three-goal win over Australia meant nothing. Finished third.
2018 - Germany | a single-goal loss to Mexico wasn't the desired start but a last gasp Kroos goal seemed to get things back on track as they beat Sweden 2-1. South Korea's win and Sweden turning over Mexico ended their dreams of retaining their title. Bottom of the group.