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HERO TO ZERO

A brief history of World Cup holders completely flopping four years later

Following their defeat to Mexico on Sunday, Germany have joined an exclusive club of reigning World Cup champions who went to pieces in their tournament opener

We’re all Mexican fans today, aren’t we?

Their shock 1-0 win over reigning World Cup holders Germany at the weekend will probably go down as one of the biggest shocks of this year’s tournament.

You’d expect more from this lot, wouldn’t you?

Getty - Contributor
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You’d expect more from this lot, wouldn’t you?

Many of us predicted the Germans to defend their title in Russia, but now we’re not even sure they’ll manage to get out of the group.

And history really isn’t on their side, as a few recent World Cup holders have completely flopped when trying to defend their title four years later.

Just look at France, Italy and Spain.

2002 – France

He can’t believe it

Reuters
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He can’t believe it

At the time, it was considered one of the great World Cup shocks.

France, the reigning World champions as well as winners of Euro 2000, finished bottom of Group A without scoring a single goal.

That’s right, despite having the likes of Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet in attack, the French lost to Senegal in their opening match – courtesy of a goal from the brilliantly named Papa Bouba Diop – followed by a goalless draw to Uruguay and a 2-0 defeat to Denmark.

AFP or licensors
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A thigh injury to Zinedine Zidane prevented their talisman from playing in their first two matches, and he was rushed back for their third despite not being fully fit.

Not that we’re making excuse them for them, or anything.

2010 – Italy

Italy were worthy winners in 2006, with Fabio Cannavaro captaining the Azzurri to triumph over France in Germany, although Zidane’s moment of headbutting madness in the final certainly helped.

Dry your eyes, mate

AFP
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Dry your eyes, mate

But four years later in South Africa, the Italians were dumped out of the World Cup by Slovakia and Paraguay, with even New Zealand finishing above them in their group.

In fairness, they weren’t quite as redundant as France in 2002, drawing their first match against Paraguay before losing 3-2 to Slovakia.

But over all, they finished the tournament with just two points and four goals and that’s simply not what you’d expect from that great Italy side.

2014 – Spain

By the time the 2014 World Cup rolled around, we were all well sick of Spain.

World Cup winners in 2010, they’d also won Euro 2008 and 2012, while their style of play and strength in depth changed everything we knew about football.

RVP showing ’em how it’s done

AP:Associated Press
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RVP showing ’em how it’s done

But their terrific run came to an abrupt end in Brazil when they were humiliated in their group opener against Holland, losing 5-1 to Louis van Gaal’s stylish side.

The tiki-taka trailblazers were then stunned by Chile in their second game to well-and-truly signal the end of an era.

2018 – Germany

It’s a real head-scratcher

EPA
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It’s a real head-scratcher

Of course, it’s not over for Germany just yet.

Following their defeat to Mexico, they face Sweden and then South Korea in their remaining Group F games and will surely fancy themselves to get the better of them both.

But we’re definitely not putting anymore money on them.

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