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OLIVER HOLT: It may be hard to accept that Germany are also-rans, but the evidence is mounting

Germany were stunned on Wednesday as Japan came from behind to beat them 2-1

OLIVER HOLT: Antonio Rudiger was frozen in SHOCK after doing showboating shortly before… it may be hard to accept that Germany has become a hiker as well, but the evidence is mounting

At the final whistle, Antonio Rudiger, the defender many of us associate with the indomitable modern German, froze in place in the Japanese area.

The Japanese players celebrated all around him and Rudiger stood there, frozen in shock at what had happened. Shortly before, he had galloped down the wing, showboating as he headed a ball, making a play on how easily he found he edged his Japanese opponent. Now he didn’t feel so confident anymore. Now Germany had become the second victim of a giant murder in as many days.

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Perhaps the shock of their loss to this accomplished Japanese side didn’t quite have the seismic feel of Argentina’s loss to Saudi Arabia the day before. Even though the introduction of Mario Gotze as a second-half substitute brought back memories of past glories, Germany aren’t what they used to be. They didn’t come here as favorites and when they left for Doha last week there was indifference.

Germany were stunned on Wednesday as Japan came from behind to beat them 2-1

Germany were stunned on Wednesday as Japan came from behind to beat them 2-1

Antonio Rudiger looked shocked as the Japanese players celebrated their late winner

Antonio Rudiger looked shocked as the Japanese players celebrated their late winner

The Real Madrid defender had been showboating minutes before his team imploded

The Real Madrid defender had been showboating minutes before his team imploded

Remember, this is a German team that was dismissed with relative ease by England at the Euros last year.

At the last World Cup, Germany were eliminated in the opening round for the first time since 1938. They also lost their first game four years ago against Mexico, before falling to the South Korea.

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Those of us who were brought up by the success of West Germany and Germany, often at the expense of England, may find it hard to accept that we are now also rans , but the evidence is mounting. For much of this match, they looked dull, flat and tired. They were too dependent on Jamal Musiala’s quick feet and brilliant brain, but when his improvisation dried up, they offered very little.

The result leaves Germany's chances of reaching the knockout stages hanging by a thread

The result leaves Germany’s chances of reaching the knockout stages hanging by a thread

They are a team in decline, struggling to recover from their 2014 World Cup success

They are a team in decline, struggling to recover from their 2014 World Cup success

Germany dominated possession but ran out of ideas as the game progressed. Perhaps it’s a sign of how they’re struggling to move on from past greatness that Thomas Muller is still a mainstay in the 33-year-old squad and that Gotze, who has never regained the form he he showed at the 2014 World Cup, is still suspended. around the fringes.

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At least Germany got a win, even if it was before kick-off.

In contrast to England’s weak response to the threat of sporting penalties from Fifa if Harry Kane wore a OneLove armband, the German players posed for a pre-game photo with their hands over their mouths to signify they had been gagged.

Their protest will have embarrassed FIFA’s petty bullies, who pretend to talk about diversity but have done everything to stifle it in this tournament.

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