Germany is one of the most successful countries in the history of the World Cup.
They have competed in all but two World Cups over the course of 92 years, opting out of the first tournament in 1930 like most European nations. They were later banned from competing in the qualifiers for the 1950 Finals in the aftermath of World War II.
After the split between West and East after the conflict and the formation of East Germany, the German national team was usually referred to as West Germany.
Under this unofficial name, Germany won its first World Cup title in 1954, followed by a second in 1974. In 1990, Franz Beckenbauer became one of the few people to win a World Cup both as a player and coach when he led Die Mannschaft to another title.
Political reunification took place in the fall of 1990, although it was 2014 before a reunified Germany won its first World Cup.
Germany’s World Cup chemistry has become legendary for decades. From 1966 through 1990, they reached at least the semi-finals in six out of seven tournaments and played in five finals. Again between 2002 and 2014, they reached the last four or better each time.
But things haven’t been easy for Germany lately. Their 2018 championship as defending champions was a disaster and 2022 started in similarly disappointing fashion.
Germany won its first World Cup match in 1934, comfortably beating Belgium 5–2 in the first round of what was then a straight knockout bracket. They were eliminated in the first round in 1938, but technically drew their opening match against Switzerland and only lost a subsequent replay.
After World War II, the Germans beat Turkey in their first match in 1954, followed by Argentina in their opening match in 1958. They drew 0-0 with Italy to start 1962, before back-to-back wins over Switterland and Morocco in 1966 and 1970 respectively, before kicking off their first Finals. World Cup hosts by defeating Chile in 1974.
Germany drew four of their six matches at the 1978 World Cup, one of their worst matches of the 20th century, including their opening match against Poland. They reached the final in 1982 but really started off with one of the world cup shocks ever, losing 2-1 in qualifying for the first time. Algeria.
Germany did not lose another World Cup opener until 2018. In the years since, it has racked up major victories in starting tournaments, including an 8-0 win over Saudi Arabia in 2002 and 4-0 victories over Australia and Portugal in 2010 and 2014. Straight.
The 2018 tournament was a disaster for Germany, as it started with a 1-0 loss to Germany Mexico Hirving Lozano scored the only goal of the game in the 35th minute. That set the tone as defeat by South Korea at the end of the group stage sent them home early.
2022 didn’t start any better, losing to Japan. Germany had scored the first goal through Ilkay Gundogan from the penalty spot, but two unanswered Japanese goals in the second half turned the game around and condemned De Mannschaft to defeat 2-1.
In all, Germany have lost three of their 20 opening matches at the World Cup, an astonishing record.
Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Griez Khan and Jack Gallagher for a look at France 98 as part of their ‘Our World Cup’ series. We’re taking a trip down memory lane – join us!
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