Thunderbolt on planet football. Respectively ranked 2nd and 11th in the FIFA rankings, Belgium, third in the last world in 2018, and Germany, world champion in 2014, will not see the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar. At the heart of these early eliminations that defy predictions hides a common root: the failed mix of different generations.
Belgium and its “too old” players
Three small games and then go away. All with a bang. If the comparison with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the French team may seem daring, there are similarities. The Belgian selection, semi-finalist of the last Russian World Cup, went through the back door and left Qatar in the group stages, after its draw against Croatia (0-0). The selection pays for its failed start to the World Cup, after a narrow victory against Canada (1-0) and a crushing defeat against Morocco (2-0).
Beyond the poor sporting performance, the Red Devils have been undermined by internal conflicts, symbol of a golden generation at the end of the cycle. The Belgian metronome, Kevin de Bruyne, distinguished himself, at the end of the match against Morocco, with a resounding declaration, stipulating that his selection was not capable of winning a World Cup because the players were “too old”. The next day, the Belgian press relayed that in the locker room a fight had broken out between the latter and one of his teammates, veteran Jan Vertonghen (35), who had obviously had little taste for the words of his compatriot.
Bad results, murderous statements, tensions in the locker room… All the ingredients for an early exit from the road were there. The fate of the coach, the Spaniard Roberto Martinez is already sealed: the latter resigned this Thursday, December 1st.
Germany and the heavy heritage
Another major nation eliminated, Germany. The Mannschaft no longer had its destiny in hand since its inaugural defeat against Japan (2-1). In fact, the unexpected victory of the same Japan against Spain, obtained with the same score and with a disputed second goal, eliminated them, despite the victory of the Germans against the Costa Ricans (4-2). Spain, she is doing, leaving her Germanic rival on the sidelines.
For the 2014 world champion, the blow is hard. This second consecutive elimination from the group stages of a World Cup, after 2018, is a “absolute disaster” who “hurts unbelievably”acknowledged striker Thomas Müller after a meeting led by French referee Stéphanie Frappart, the first woman to lead a men’s World Cup match.
Less than two years before organizing Euro 2024, the German selection must transform. An operation already launched by coach Hans-Dieter Flick who took over the reins of the selection in August 2021, after fifteen years spent under the leadership of Joachim Löw. By no longer selecting certain 2014 world champions, the new coach wanted to make way for a whole new generation of talent.
But the method proved unconvincing, forcing him to review his copy during complicated playoffs. After three years without selection, Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels were recalled. Germany qualifies but does not wipe the doubts. Two generations, the veterans and the youngsters, must learn to play together but cannot find the level displayed by the Mannschaft during the Brazilian World Cup.
Realistically, Thomas Müller mentioned, at the end of the match against Costa Rica, his possible end to his international career: “For me, it’s an absolute disaster, if it were to be my last game. It hurts incredibly, because our result could have been enough. We have a feeling of helplessness. » Evasive, the emblematic striker could not hide a touch of emotion: “I did it with love (wearing the jersey of the selection), but for the rest I must first think. »
An emotion shared by football fans, who see two great nations fall prematurely. The two behemoths will have two years to rebuild, before the Euro. Until then, this amazing Qatari World Cup should hold other surprises.