How many time have Germany been knocked out in the World Cup group stage?

Jamie Spencer
Germany had a disastrous 2018 World Cup
Germany had a disastrous 2018 World Cup / SAEED KHAN/GettyImages

Germany have been a model of consistency at the World Cup in the competition’s 92-year history.

They have lifted the trophy on four occasions – only Brazil (five) have won it more – and have never actually failed to qualify for the finals. Germany were absent from the inaugural World Cup in 1930 of their own accord, as was most of Europe, while they were banned from the 1950 qualifying campaign in the wake of the Second World War.

Germany won the World Cup at their first post-war appearance in 1954. Between 1966 and 1990, they got at least as far as the semi-finals at six out of seven tournament and played in five finals.

More recently, a similar run saw them reach the semis or further at four consecutive World Cups from 2002 until 2014, winning outright at the latter.

Given their decades-long record of success on the global stage, it is always a shock if Germany don’t perform at the World Cup. But even their poor standards have usually been better than most.

Even after a disastrous 2022 finals in Qatar, Germany have been knockout out of the World Cup at the first round on three occasions from 20 appearances at the finals.

The first of those was way back in 1938 when the World Cup was very different to how it is now. The 15-tournament (Austria withdrew from the 16 qualifiers) was a straight knockout bracket.

Germany were drawn against Switzerland in the first round. That game ended in a 1-1 draw and, in the days before extra-time, an impromptu replay was organised five days later. On that occasion, Switzerland prevailed 4-2 winners to progress to the next round.

As reigning champions, Germany didn’t have a great World Cup in 1978, scraping through from the first group stage into the second but only winning one of the six games they played.

But it wasn’t until 2018 that Germany were again knocked out in the first round of a World Cup. It wasn’t a straight knockout tie as it had been in 1938, but defeats to Mexico and South Korea either side of victory over Sweden wasn’t enough to secure a top two finish in the group.

However, the unthinkable happened in 2022 when a German team still in transition exited a World Cup at the group stage of the second tournament in a row. An opening loss against Japan, who later also beat Spain, proved critical, as did failure to put away chances in a draw with Spain.