Germany lost their opening match of a World Cup for the first time since 1982 as Mexico recorded one of their greatest ever victories by shocking the world champions in Moscow.
It was a deserved victory for El Tri, who attacked with dynamism and defended with every sinew. Germany looked a shadow of the team that won the World Cup four years ago and now find themselves in danger of becoming the third consecutive world champions to exit at the group stages.
Here are four things we learned from Sunday’s game.
1. This Could Be the Year Mexico Make it to Game 5
Six times in the last six World Cups, Mexico have progressed beyond the group stages. Six times, they have gone out in the last 16. The elusive ‘game 5’ is always the target for El Tri and on the basis of this performance, 2018 could be the year they finally lay that particular ghost to rest.
If they can hold their nerve, win the group and avoid Brazil in the last 16, they will have a golden opportunity to reach the quarter-finals. There’s a lot of football to play before then of course, but if Mexico play like this they can cause trouble for anyone.
2. Germany Are Missing Miroslav Klose Already
When Germany went 2-1 down to Ghana in the group stages four years ago, they sent on Miroslav Klose. Within two minutes, he had them level. On Sunday in Moscow, Klose was watching on from the bench as a coach, and Joachim Low must have wished he could turn to Germany’s all-time top scorer to save the day.
Timo Werner’s World Cup debut was one to forget and Thomas Muller, who has scored goals for fun at the last two tournaments, turned in one of his worst international performances. Klose could always be relied upon and the worry for Germany is that they no longer have a player who can make a difference in tight games.
3. And They’re Missing Somebody Else Too…
It’s the elephant in the room, but it has to be addressed. After Joachim Low left Manchester City winger Leroy Sane out of his squad, the decision was always going to be referred to whenever things went against Germany. But nobody expected it to come under the microscope quite so soon.
Julian Draxler and Mesut Ozil turned in very poor performances in Moscow and it’s hard to imagine that Sane’s pace and invention wouldn’t have helped in breaking down Mexico’s resistance. Low has a lot of goodwill in the bank but if Germany’s campaign goes from bad to worse, this is the decision that will come back to haunt him.
4. This World Cup is There for the Taking
The only two big teams to have found their rhythm so far at this World Cup are Portugal and Spain – and neither of them won. In fact, France are the only one of the traditional superpowers to have 3 points on the board, and they did so in very unconvincing fashion.
Argentina were thwarted by Iceland, Brazil drew with Switzerland and even the ever-dependable Germans have lost. Nobody has really put their stamp on the tournament yet and it looks increasingly like it’s there for one team to take by the scruff of the neck. Your move, England…