Germany, the No. 2 ranked team in the world, shockingly crashed out of the 2023 Women’s World Cup group stages on Thursday after being held to a 1-1 draw against South Korea.
The result sends the Germans, one of the tournament favorites, home at the group stage for the first time ever. Star playmaker Alexandra Popp held her face in her hands as over the 100 minutes of play, she and her teammates missed countless chances against a South Korea side that had already been eliminated from the competition.
South Korea took the lead in the sixth minute, exposing the German defense as Lee Young-ju picked out Cho So-hyun with a pass. So-hyun slipped in between the German full-back line and took on goalkeeper Merle Frohms.
Popp, the German captain, responded just before the break with a goal of her own as she headed home the equalizer in the 42nd minute.
Popp had three more headers at goal, one denied by the offside flag, one hit the post, and one ended up in the safe hands of Kim Jung-mi. The captain knew what was at stake for her side as the clock ran down and despite dominating with 71% of the possession, the Euro 2022 finalists could not get the job done.
“I don’t know what to say since I do not understand what has happened here,” Popp said (h/t The Guardian). “It was bumpy for us, this was not our goal, but I cannot say why this has happened.”
Die Nationalelf made a promising start to the campaign, thrashing Morocco 6-0. They then suffered a humbling defeat to Colombia, who stole a last-minute winner. This squad has failed to meet its high expectations for two World Cups in a row. In 2019, they were beaten in the quarterfinals by Sweden.
Meanwhile in Perth on the opposite coast of Australia, Morocco waited in anticipation for a result. A draw for Germany would be enough to make Morocco the first Arab nation to qualify for the Round of 16. As the news made its way around the stadium, the Moroccan players fell to their knees in tears.
Morocco and Colombia progress into the Round of 16 from Group H.
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