The 2018 World Cup has reached halfway stage and yesterday’s men from the group stage are the German team.
For the first time since 1938, the Germans were knocked out in the first round.
They lost 2-0 in the final group match to South Korea, but the reality is the Germans were at risk and ready to leave for home long before the tie.
The joke is normally on the England players leaving their cars in the short-stay car park at the airport, but this time around, the humiliation of failing to perform to expectations was heaped on Germany.
The German side have been one of the ever present dominant sides at the World Cup, not leaving earlier than the quarter finals at any tournament except 1978 in Argentina, when they made the second group stage.
They have lifted the trophy four times as champions – one win behind the record holders Brazil.
The final group stage match days saw the nations with less strength in depth leave the competition.
The remaining 16 teams come from Europe or South America, with the representatives from Asia and Africa bowing out and returning home except for Japan.
The knock-out stage draw is finely balanced with most of the top seeded teams on one side – France, Argentina, Portugal and Brazil must all play each other for one side to reach the final.
On the other side of the draw, Spain play hosts Russia while England face Colombia.
Favourites and top scorers
The favourites are Brazil (15/4), followed by Spain (19/4), Belgium (15/2) and England (8/1).
So far, the World Cup has seen no country playing at a superior level to the rest and the winner could really come from anywhere.
In the last group stage match, Brazil showed some flashes of brilliance to beat a steady Serbia 2-0.
England’s Harry Kane leads the strikers pursuing the golden boot for hitting the most goals in the tournament. He has grabbed five, while Romelu Lukaku of Belgium and Cristian Ronaldo of Portugal have four each. All are still in the competition.
According to the match statistics, Kane has had five shots on target and scored with each, but his tally does include two penalties.