Germany captain evokes awkward Havertz moment after World Cup humiliation

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Germany captain evokes awkward Havertz moment after World Cup humiliation
Germany captain evokes awkward Havertz moment after World Cup humiliation

If posing with the Player of the Match trophy after being unceremoniously dumped out of the Women’s World Cup group stages wasn’t tortuous enough, Germany captain Alexandra Popp was handed a selfie-stick to ensure the angle was just right.

FIFA got their photo in the end, and, in a sensational bonus, their second shock exit in just two days. The No 2 ranked side in the world Germany joined South American giants Brazil in being the latest women's football giant to call their airlines and rearrange flights home after finishing third in Group H following a 1-1 draw with South Korea.

The Women's Euro 2022 finalists were put under immediate pressure as Cho So-hyun coolly fired her side into an early lead in the sixth minute after exploiting a consistently insipid German backline.

Popp supplied the equaliser on the stroke of half-time with a characteristic header to mark her fourth goal of the tournament. But while the goal earned the 32-year-old Tuesday evening’s Player of the Match award, the Wolfsburg striker wore a stony expression that suggested she was less than enthused about the individual accolade after her side’s second-half onslaught against South Korea saw them turn up empty-handed.

The shot of Popp had similarities to her compatriot Kai Havertz from December, when the German playmaker was also forced to pose with a Man of the Match trophy following his side’s stunning group stage exit.

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Germany’s women’s team suffered similarly in a cruel dose of deja vu. Despite clawing back a 1-1 draw against South Korea, Morocco – the team ranked 72nd in the world and whom Germany defeated 6-0 – claimed a 1-0 victory over 25th-ranked Colombia, who defeated the two-time world champions 2-1.

Germany captain evokes awkward Havertz moment after World Cup humiliationAlexandra Popp poses with her player of the match award following Germany's humiliating exit

The victory for the Atlas Lionesses earned them a ticket to the Round of 16 in place of Germany, along with surprise packages Colombia, Jamaica, South Africa and Nigeria in what has been a tournament defined by unconvincing displays from the favourites.

“To be honest, it is extremely difficult for me, off the cuff, to give analysis," said Popp afterwards. "This was not ideal. I think we are all aware of it. You’ve seen it anyway.

“If I was able to say that off the cuff, I would be much smarter than I currently am," she added when queried on the stark dip in quality since last summer's Euros. "I don’t have an answer to that. I’m sorry about that.”

Germany captain evokes awkward Havertz moment after World Cup humiliationKai Havertz also looked underwhelmed during a similar situation at the Qatar World Cup last December (Alex Caparros - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

It is another cruel end to a major tournament for Popp, who was forced to miss last summer's Euro 2022 final against England after suffering an injury in the warm-up. England would go on to claim a thrilling 2-1 victory, with Germany's firepower severely depleted in absence of Popp.

Germany's reliance on the striker once again proved the nation's downfall. Popp scored four of Germany's eight Women's World Cup goals in the group stages but was the only player to register a goal in Germany's last two performances.

Nevertheless, Popp dismissed conversations regarding whether her time on the international stage could be running its course: "I don't think I can really say anything on that topic (her international future)," she said. "As far as I am concerned, no answer at this stage."

Megan Feringa

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