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France bottom of Group A: How the last five holders fared at World Cups ahead of Qatar
Photo by Michael Regan - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

France bottom of Group A: How the last five holders fared at World Cups ahead of Qatar

France go into the 2022 Qatar World Cup as holders, so how did the countries who entered recent tournaments as defending champions fare?

No country has actually defended their World Cup crown since Brazil did so in 1962, beating Czechoslovakia 3-1 in Chile.

Les Bleus will be hoping this year’s tournament goes better than their last crack at going to the World Cup as champions…

Photo by Alex Livesey – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Germany went into the 2018 World Cup as holders

Germany travelled to Russia on the back of beating Argentina 1-0 in the 2014 final, thanks to Mario Gotze’s extra-time goal.

They were drawn in a group alongside Mexico, Sweden and South Korea; a pool without an obvious whipping boy but still one Joachim Low was expected to navigate with relative ease.

Hirving Lozano and Mexico stunned the Germans 1-0 in the opening round of games, before a late Toni Kroos free-kick beat Sweden and earned some kind of respite.

But Son Heung-min sealed a 2-0 South Korea victory to send the holders out in the groups, as the bottom placed since in Group F.

Photo by Alex Livesey – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Spain went into World Cup 2014 as holders

There were plenty of similarities between Germany and Spain’s journeys; the 1-0 extra-time win in the final and the group stage exit at the next tournament.

Spain were drawn against the Netherlands, Chile and Australia out in Brazil, and they were absolutely stunned in their opening match of the tournament.

Louis van Gaal’s side destroyed them 5-1, with the highlight being Robin van Persie’s flying header which was an all-time great World Cup moment.

Spain then went down 2-0 to Chile and were eliminated with a game to spare, which they did win 3-0 against Australia to come third in Group A.

Photo by /Mark Leech Sports Photography/Getty Images

Italy went into the 2010 World Cup as holders

There is a pattern emerging here.

At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Italy were drawn in Group F, alongside Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand.

With all due respect, it was hardly a group of death, but Italy came bottom.

They drew 1-1 with Paraguay and New Zealand, before going down 3-2 to Slovakia in the final round of matches.

A note for New Zealand here, who were eliminated without losing a single game, drawing all three of their games and finishing third.

Photo credit should read Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil went into the 2006 World Cup as holders

Finally, a defending champion who got out of the group stage.

Brazil were drawn in Group F, alongside Australia, Croatia and Japan, winning all three games to top the group with maximum points.

They faced Ghana in the round of 16, running out comfortable 3-0 winners to set up a quarter-final meeting with France.

But Thierry Henry’s goal ended their hopes of defending their crown, earning a 1-0 win for the French, who were beaten by Italy on penalties in the final.

Photo by Bongarts/Getty Images

France went into the 2002 World Cup as holders

France also beat Brazil in the final of World Cup 1998, with Zinedine Zidane grabbing the headlines amid Ronaldo’s injury drama.

In 2002, they were drawn in Group A, alongside Senegal, Denmark and Uruguay and their trophy defence got off to an awful start.

Papa Bouba Diop earned a 1-0 win for Senegal over the holders, before a 0-0 draw with Uruguay put France in real danger of elimination.

Denmark beat them 2-0 in the final round of games to knock out the holders goalless and winless, bottom of Group A.

It is interesting to note that four of the five most recent holders were knocked out in the group stage. Will Didier Deschamps men suffer the same fate? Only time will tell.

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