FIFA World Cup: France breaks the ‘Champions curse’
Dimapur, Dec. 1 (EMN): The ongoing FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 saw France break the ‘Champions curse’ by winning their group stage matches and progressing onto the Round of 16.
So what is the ‘Champions curse’? Since 1998 when France lifted the FIFA World Cup, champions from Europe have always exited the tournament in the group stage.
The only exception to the curse is Brazil (South American team), who won the World Cup (WC) in 2002 but made it past the group stages during the 2006 WC and was eliminated by France in the quarter-final.
The curse is also aptly known as the ‘France curse’ in the World Cup because it started with France winning in 1998.
France: World Cup 1998 champion, group stage exit 2002 WC
France beat Brazil 3-0 in the final of the 1998 WC and went on to win the UEFA Euro 2000 defeating Italy 2-1 in the final. Going into the 2002 WC, the team carried a lot of expectations riding on back-to-back trophies but failed miserably.
In their first match against Senegal, who were playing their first WC, France lost 1-0. The second group match saw a frustrating 0-0 draw with Uruguay and finally, losing to Denmark 2-0 sent the team home.
It was the first time that a defending champion was eliminated from the tournament in the group stage and which started the ‘champions curse’.
Italy: World Cup 2006 champion, group stage exit 2010 WC
Italy won the 2006 WC after defeating France 5-3 on penalties as the match ended in a 1-1 draw at regulation time.
During the 2010 WC in South Africa, Italy drew 1-1 with New Zealand and Paraguay in their group stage matches, lost to Slovakia 3-2 in their final group stage match and were eliminated from the tournament.
Spain: World Cup 2010 champion, group stage exit in 2014
Spain were eliminated from the group stage during the 2014 WC despite coming from a back-to-back trophy win streak having lifted the 2008 UEFA Euro, 2010 WC and the 2012 UEFA Euro.
The Spaniards won the 2010 WC after defeating Netherlands in extra-time in the final but come 2014 WC, Netherlands exacted revenge by thrashing Spain 5-1 in their opening match as the defending champion.
Their second match loss against Chile sealed their exit out of the tournament. Spain’s only consolation in the 2010 WC was defeating Australia 3-0 in their final group stage match though they were already confirmed to exit.
Germany: World Cup 2014 champion, group stage exit 2018
Germany was crowned world champion for a fourth time in 2014, making them and Italy the joint second highest World Cup winners but during their 2018 WC campaign as defending champions, Germany lost their opening match to Mexico 1-0.
The team defeated Sweden 2-1 in their second match but another shock defeat to South Korea 2-0 sealed their fate and they were eliminated from the tournament.
Germany were never knocked out of the WC during the group stage before that.
France as defending champions
Just as the ‘champions curse’ started with France, it was ended by France in this year’s WC. The team kicked off their campaign with a thumping 4-1 win over Australia and defeated Denmark 2-1 in their second match.
The Les Blues lost their final match 1-0 to Tunisia but were the first to qualify for the Round of 16 at the 2022 WC.