From Russia With

GERMANY ARE OUT! THIS IS NOT A DRILL! GERMANY ARE OUT! That is correct folks, you are reading this perfectly well. All the people who thought they had nailed an instant £20 in the office sweepstake are reeling in the knowledge that the curse of the World Cup holders has struck yet again. Germany have been knocked out of the FIFA World Cup 2018.

Oh, they didn’t just get knocked out. Oh no. They finished bottom of their group, behind Sweden, Mexico and South Korea who ended Joachim Low’s tenure (probably) with a dramatic 2-0 win.

Germany had more than enough chances to secure a safe route through to the Round of 16 but seemed utterly incapable of scoring. Many folk have immediately jumped back on the allegedly in-Sane decision to leave Leroy at home, but it wasn’t so much the creating of opportunity that let the Germans down, it was their finishing. And Thomas Muller was on the bench.

For me though, the biggest takeaway from the whole match was that we finally dispell the myth that Manuel Neuer is good enough to play in midfield.

Sweden battered Mexico 3-0 in the other game meaning the Swedes topped the group and get to play Switzerland on Tuesday. The Swiss drew 2-2 with Costa Rica last night (who finally remembered where the goal was) to go through with Brazil who won their group for about the 20th time in a row. Brazil will play Mexico in a mouthwatering clash on Monday.

Today, of course, is all about the battle for second place in England’s group with England vs Belgium. No person with half a brain would recommend winning Group G when coming second seems to line up such a more favourable route. Fortunately for England, Belgium are managed by Bobby Martinez who, although perfectly capable of losing football matches, is so hell-bent on attacking that he might not realise that England are suddenly playing like Panama.

Martinez is calling the match a “celebration of football” between club-mates which, frankly, is just odd. Gareth Southgate, as you would expect, is being a lot more media savvy saying, “we haven’t won a knockout game since 2006 so why we would start plotting a better venue for a semi-final is beyond me”. Mind you, he did also follow up with “if you see me headbutting Martinez in the last minute you know we have changed strategy” so we can hope.

As I am sure everyone is now aware, the last time England got further than Germany in the World Cup was 1966 so people are calling that an “omen”. The thing is with omens, you have to be very careful when you believe them because the last time Germany got knocked out in the group stages was 1938 and things got a little tasty after that, to put it mildly.

But, on the plus side, that is one country capable of beating England on penalties that we don’t have to worry about, right?

Momentum, yes. Harry Kane winning a Golden Boot, yes. But Gareth, come on. Look at the draw and play accordingly, please.