Germany and Belgium Knocked Out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup

By Jeff Stinger

Two European heavyweights, Germany and Belgium, are out of the 2022 World Cup. This is a reminiscent outcome for the Germans as they record their second-consecutive elimination from the group stage. For the Belgians, it’s an embarrassing result following their impressive performances leading up to the competition. They were even ranked the second-best team at one point but failed to deliver on the big stage. Let’s take a look at what happened to the two nations during the group stage.

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Germany records second-straight early exit

Serge Gnarby opened their account with a tenth-minute goal. However, the South Americans had an answer in the 58th minute and scored the first goal of the second half. Costa Rica was up a goal after Manuel Neuer’s own goal in the 70th minute, but Germany played better offense since. Kai Havertz scored a pair of goals in the 73rd and 85th minute, while Niclas Fullkrug’s efforts worked positively for the side and put the game out of reach at the end of an 89th-minute goal.

Defensively, only Antonio Rudiger glued the final third together and looked like a good enough successor after the dominant years of Mats Hummels and company. There were multiple weak spots and the lack of real quality in the midfield has caught up with the lineup.

Just like Russia 2018, Germany is out in the group stages. Although they beat Costa Rica 4-2 in their last game of the opening round, half of their fate fell into the hands of others. After losing to Japan in their first game, the Blue Samurai put salt in the wounds and pulled off another upset victory, and beat Spain 2-1.

The only thing this game emphasized is Germany’s decline. They have been slow to adapt since the introduction of the early 2000s players. The new generation is now in place, but it will take a better part of five years before they bear positive results. Furthermore, coaching has also been an issue. Germany was wild under Joachim Low, who gradually declined during his latter years of coaching the team. The arrival of Hansi Flick brought great hope but did not deliver in the end. The innovative nature left and Flick’s questionable choices received heavy criticism. Ultimately, quality is lacking and Germany is no longer the elite squad it used to be.

End of the line for this Belgium lineup

Germany’s failure is not the only disappointment of the night. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez and his talented set of players who have repeatedly imposed themselves in the previous years lost it in the early days of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In the last five years, we’ve seen the Red Devils feature superstars like Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Thibaut Courtois. And yet they collapsed in the group stage despite being ranked world number one from September 2018 to March 2022.

We never saw that same spark from Belgium since starting in Qatar. They only won one of their three group games and only scored once. The first few games were erratic as well. The Belgium vs. Croatia game ended in a scoreless draw. The Group F favorites and 2018 World Cup bronze medalists have been eliminated from the 2022 edition earlier than expected.

Despite the dry scoreline, Belgium had a handful of opportunities come their way. Dries Mertens scrapped a chance to get ahead by shooting wide in a one-on-one situation in the 13th minute. Several attempts were deflected by the persistent Croatian defense. Nevertheless, we witnessed a lively second half behind close scoring opportunities by Romelu Lukaku. The 31-year-old joined the game as a substitute and quickly made an impact after a 49th-minute header that went into Dominik Livakovic’s hands. The Milan forward had a few more solid chances but could not finish for Belgium in the 90th minute.

Since the defeat, Roberto Martinez stepped down from his post. Croatia advances to the knockouts as +107 favorites to win over Japan. Regardless of the tournament results, in his post-match interview, Martinez said that his team can go home with its “head held high.” This might be the end of an era for this Belgium squad.

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