Oh boy, this is Germany’s first World Cup qualifying loss in twenty years.
There’s a reason everyone adores the qualifying stages of the World Cup. While many results pan out as expected, there’s always an outlier that will shock the world. In this case, Macedonia accomplished what many would deem to be impossible by defeating Germany in Germany in a thrilling 2-1 victory that will be spoken about for years to come.
The enigmatic 2-1 victory arrived as Eljif Elmas’s 85th-minute belter earned the Balkan country their greatest win ever. It’s not top say the game was one-sided as Germany maintained 70% of possession in the first half. An unfortunate Leon Goretzka hit the crossbar which left the visitor’s 37-year-old forward Goran Pandev unmarked in the box, who scored during the first-half stoppage time.
The second half of the match would be to many German fans a nightmare of great proportions. While the Germans levelled the score in the 63rd minute, Ilkay Gündogan converting after Leroy Sané had been brought down in the area. Timo Werner missed a golden opportunity 10 minutes from time. A stroke of good fortune favoured Emre Can who was fortunate enough not to concede a penalty for a handball. While a World Cup qualifier requires a stroke of luck, a dash of brilliance and no shortage of stamina, Germany was overwhelmed by Napoli midfielder Elmas who found space in the box to bag the winner. The win has lifted Macedonia above Germany on goal difference in Group J.
“These lads have made North Macedonia proud against the winners of four World Cup titles and three European Championships,” the North Macedonia coach, Igor Angelovski, said. “We’ve never beaten a team with so many titles. Now we have to get some rest as what we have accomplished still hasn’t sunk in.”
How can you blame them? The significance of the win is only strengthened by Germany’s home record, as their last loss was to England in 2001.
In other World Cup qualifying news, Spain has moved to the top of group B after a sizeable win against Kosovo, having drawn with Greece a game before, Spain were seeking a stronger performance. Italy are showing no signs of slowing down etching a 100% start to qualifying with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Lithuania in Group C. It helps when you score two minutes into a game, Stefano Sensi struck the opener in just that amount of time. France are also in the driver’s seat of group D as Antoine Griezmann struck again, with an away win against Bosnia-Herzegovina. There’s no anxiety for Denmark fans as they convincingly top group F with a 14-0 aggregate score after demolishing Austria 4-0 in Vienna. In the last group J game Iceland cruised to a 4-1 victory in Liechtenstein.