France ‘02, Spain ‘14, Germany ‘18! The curse of the World Cup champions

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Laurence Griffiths
Nobody has retained the trophy since Brazil in 1962, while four of the past five champions have been eliminated in the group stage

From champs to chumps! Following Wednesday's shock loss to South Korea, Germany have become the latest victims of the curse of the World Cup winners.

Three of the past four champions had bowed out at the group stage, and Joachim Low's side joined that unwanted list with their second defeat of an awful attempt to defend their trophy.

Germany started their campaign in the worst fashion, going down to Mexico in a 1-0 shock loss that could have been even more convincing if El Tri showed more cutting edge in front of goal. 

They also flirted with elimination having gone 1-0 down to Sweden, although goals from Marco Reus and Toni Kroos kept them in the hunt with a comeback win. 

But there was to be no great escape in 2018, as South Korea took advantage of late desperation to hit twice in quick succession and make Germany the latest side to fail miserably in their defence attempt.

France won the World Cup for the first time in 1998, when they defeated Brazil in Paris thanks to two headed goals from Zinedine Zidane and a late breakaway effort from Emmanuel Petit. 

However, they were humiliated in Japan and South Korea four years later after failing to get out of a group featuring Senegal, Denmark and Uruguay. Indeed, their 1-0 loss to The Lions of Teranga ranks as one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.

A Ronaldo-inspired Brazil triumphed in that tournament but the Selecao then suffered a tame exit themselves in 2006, losing 1-0 to France in the quarter-finals.

That was nothing, though, compared to Italy's dismal exit in 2010, with the Azzurri failing to win a single game in a group containing Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia – just four years after their emotional triumph in Germany.

Spain's demise in Brazil in 2014 was even more shocking. La Roja had won three major tournaments in a row: two European Championships and a World Cup.

However, Vicente Del Bosque's side never truly recovered from a catastrophic 5-1 loss to Netherlands in Salvador, with a 2-0 defeat to Chile ending their bid to retain their crown.

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Germany ultimately prevailed in Brazil, defeating Lionel Messi's Argentina in the tournament decider. However, they are now also packing their bags after their worst World Cup since 1938.

That means Brazil in 1962 will remain for four more years the last team to successfully defend the World Cup.

And this latest failure only adds more mystique to the curse of the World Cup winners!

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