Search icon


17th Jun 2018

World Cup Comments: Germany’s embarrassing defeat to Mexico shows anyone can win it

In 90 short minutes Germany went from untouchable to painfully vulnerable

Wayne Farry

“Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win”

The conventional wisdom in football is that despite the chaotic nature of the sport, despite all the shocks we have witnessed, you can always rely on Germany to go about their business in an efficient and ruthless manner.

History has shown us this time and time again, and recent years have only cemented the theory, with Joachim Low cementing Die Mannschaft as one of the slickest and most consistent sides ever seen on the international stage.

Sure, there has been the occasional blip, such as their defeat to a Shane Long inspired Ireland during the 2016 European Championships qualifiers, but even that slip up took place in a game, which on any other day, the Germans would have won convincingly.

It is this, the idea of the German national team which we have grown accustomed to over the years, that made their defeat to Mexico in the World Cup Group F opener so shocking.

Far from being a fluke game that Germany would have won on a luckier day, the game rarely saw them threaten their opponents and exposed flaws that few of us had recognised before.

From the outset at the Luzhniki Stadium, Germany were overrun by a more intense, quick-witted and cohesive Mexico side which threatened from the first minute.

Throughout the first half you expected the Germans to arrive – eventually – as they inevitably do, but it simply never came. Mexico pressed and harried Low’s side up and down the pitch, were significantly sharper in attack and were unfortunate not to score before they eventually did.

The goal in question merely emphasised the difference between the two sides. Moving out from defence after stifling the German attack, Mexico broke with the sort of efficiency and speed we have come to associate with Germany, before a quick one-two on the edge of the box left the ball at Hirving Lozano’s feet.

The PSV Eindhoven man took his time, unperturbed by the approaching and anxious German defence, and swept the ball past Manuel Neuer. Germany were left gobsmacked, as the world looked on.

The measure of a team is how they respond to adversity, and it is what followed that will leave Germany’s management team most concern and give genuine hope to rivals such as France, Spain, Brazil and – yes – even England.

Because, despite Mexico tiring after a relentless hour of football, they were utterly incapable of finding a way through. Sure, they pushed a little harder, pressed a little more, and threatened with more frequency, but not once did they ever look like seriously equalising.

Mexico were increasingly weary as the game approached its final touches, but Germany were unable to break down a tired side and increasingly looked leggy themselves.

For a team with the majority of its footballers playing in the European league with the fewest games and longest winter break, it was damning.

Above all, though, it showed that any illusions of infallibility around this Germany side are just that. This is a team which, despite winning all 10 World Cup qualifying games, suddenly looks not just human, but vulnerable.

In the space of 90 minutes, Germany went from being revered like Spain’s 2010 World Cup winning side, to being faced with the pity and schadenfreude that befell the Spanish side of 2014.

Will they bounce back from their humbling today? They very well may. But right now it is clear that Germany are there for the taking, and the World Cup might be too.