Explained: The "Champions Curse" In FIFA World Cup. Can France Evade It?
The "Champions Curse" has already hurt a few FIFA World Cup champions. Germany were eliminated in the group stage in 2018 and France would hope to avoid going through the same in the 2022 edition of the tournament.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar on November 20 (Sunday) with the hosts taking on Ecuador in the opener at the Al Bayt Stadium. France are the defending champions of the tournament, having lifted the trophy in 2018. While France are heading into the tournament as one of the favourites to go the distance, not just the opponent teams but a 'curse' will be looking to stop Les Bleus from progressing in the tournament. The said curse is called the "Champions Curse" that has already hurt a number of 'defending champions'.
France defeated Croatia in the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in Russia, to lift the trophy for only the second time in their history. In the same tournament, Germany had arrived as the 'defending champions' having lifted the trophy in 2014 when the tournament was held in Brazil.
But in Russia, the Germans couldn't even go past the group stage of the tournament, finishing bottom of Group F which consisted of teams like Sweden, Mexico, and South Korea.
It wasn't the first time the 'defending champions' got knocked out in the group stage itself. Since 2002, every defending champion team in the FIFA World Cup suffered the same fate, barring Brazil (in 2006).
2002: France eliminated in the group stage
2010: Italy eliminated in the group stage
2014: Spain eliminated in the group stage
2018: Germany eliminated in the group stage
2022: Does fate have the same in store for France?
France aren't going into the 2022 Qatar World Cup with their strongest squad. The likes of Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante and Presnel Kimpebe were already out of the tournament while Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku suffered injuries in practice sessions that led to their exit.
Will the "Champions' Curse" strike again?