The 2014 World Cup turned into the best football tournament in history when Germany routed Brazil 7-1 during the semis at Belo Horizonte. The Deutsch would seal the championship against Argentina five days later with a dazzling strike from Mario Götze during extra time, clinching their fourth World Cup.
Germany’s made the quarterfinals in 17 of 18 tournaments, the best rate of all nations. However, despite World Cup betting lines listing the Germans as a top-four favorite, all signs point to disappointment in Russia. After a concerning 1-0 loss to Mexico to start the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Deutschland appears overrated at +650, unlikely to proceed deep into the knockout rounds.
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History Doesn’t Favor A German Dynasty
Most major sports leagues and international competitions feature dynasties which string together consecutive championships. The World Cup hasn’t witnessed a true dynasty since the days of Pelé and Garrincha. Brazil won the 1958 and 1962 tournaments, along with the 1970 edition of the World Cup, the last team to win consecutive championships. Somehow, England won their only trophy in 1966, limiting Brazil to three wins in four attempts.
Argentina nearly earned consecutive World Cups during the late 80s and Brazil were close during the late 90s – even Maradona and the original Ronaldo weren’t enough to lift their sublime teams to dynasty.
The only other club to win consecutive World Cups were the Italians in 1934 and 1938, featuring all-time great Giuseppe Meazza in an era which he dominated lesser competition. As the preeminent worldwide sport, the globalization of football increased the difficulty of forging a dynasty.
Expanded Competition Shrinks Margin Of Error
As the popularity of football exploded, FIFA responded by increasing the number of teams participating in the tournament. In 1982, 24 sides were admitted into the competition; in 1998, the field grew to 32 clubs. The 2026 World Cup in North America will welcome a whopping 48 teams into the finals.
Instead of diluting the competition, the quality of football represented at the biggest tournament on earth improved. Strong results from non-traditional World Cup nations like Ghana, Columbia, Mexico, Croatia and South Korea prove the value of broadening the beautiful game.
With 48 nations competing in 2026, the difficulty of winning the World Cup will only grow. Teams like Italy, Netherland and the United States won’t be left on the sidelines again. Certainly, those sides didn’t deserve to qualify under current rules, but they still present a threat to most clubs given the opportunity to compete.
Knockout rounds offer the most brutal challenge for sides attempting to repeat. A single bad play and a few nasty bounces could be enough to derail any contender in a win-or-go-home format. An expansion of knockout rounds would add to the already considerable World Cup gauntlet.
Questionable Fitness And Momentum
Any football tournament featuring Germany will include the nation as a favorite to win. In 2018, vital members of their club haven’t appeared as sharp as usual. Toni Kroos sprained knee ligaments, likely during a Real Madrid Champions League win over PSG. Mesut Ozil was cleared to return from a knee ailment shortly before the Russian World Cup. Central midfielder Sami Khedira has been dogged by injuries for months, with his most recent issue a tear in his right thigh.
As evidenced during their opening loss to Mexico, Germany didn’t possess their usual discipline in terms of ball control, leading to several sharp counters from the Mexicans – including the game winning strike.
This sparked a long player’s meeting amidst calls for Ozil’s removal from the starting XI. Manuel Neuer, star keeper and captain for Bayern Munich and the German national side, mentioned that he’s never experienced this level of locker-room tension in his nine years with the club.
Injuries prevented Germany from entering the tournament with momentum. Instead, key contributors struggled to maintain fitness before the first kickoff. Winning consecutive World Cups with this type of turmoil appears impossible.
Brazil Waits For Revenge
Coach Jogi has a chance to correct course during the group stage. Even if the Germans regain form, Brazil’s waiting for vengeance early in the knockout rounds. Group E and Group F pair off against each other during the round of 16 and the quarters. At this juncture, there’s a good chance that Germany’s first knockout game will be against Brazil on July 2nd in Samara.
In response to the horrible disappointment of their previous tournament, Brazil’s invested in a new style of play. Coach Tite spent time touring Europe, learning about systems from various football luminaries. He returned to Brazil with a new game plan, emphasizing a closed, disciplined defensive shape. La Seleção experienced their own letdown with a draw against the talented Swiss sleeper squad, but they didn’t break down like the Germans.
If Germany advances out of their group, Brazil will relish an opportunity for even a modicum of revenge.
France And Other Talented Sides
Les bleus may not be the favorites to win the 2018 World Cup, but they might feature the most talented lineup in the tournament. Griezmann’s one of the finest attackers in the world; M’Bappe boasts rare breakout speed; Dembele’s an elite striker with Barca and the luxury of Giroud allows the French to throw multiple looks at defenders. Pogba’s looking to cement his international reputation, while defenders like Umtiti rise into vital roles.
Teams such as Belgium and Croatia feature top international competitors in their prime. Switzerland’s been a revelation, while Spain could regain their elite form at any moment. Will Messi drag Argentina to another final? Will Portugal rise Ronaldo’s continued excellence to another major international win? Or does Uruguay leverage a weak group into their first World Cup in more than a half-century?
Given the issues facing the German squad, too many question marks exist for a realistic shot at repeating as World Cup champs.