To the joy of many football fans around the world, Germany - infuriatingly, consistently excellent Germany - fell out of the World Cup early. Some thought the 2014 champions were poised to repeat that feat. Virtually none predicted their elimination in group play. Retaining the World Cup is harder than winning it. High expectations weigh heavily. Arriving with an older squad and stale strategies add to the burden. Arrogance does not help either - Joachim Löw, Germany's manager since 2006, admitted it contributed to the team's defeat. The humbled Löw presents too neat a metaphor for Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel. She too has had a long run, and under her leadership Germany has become one of the world's strongest economies. But political, if not economic, stagnation has set in and the chancellor looks vulnerable. Unusually long extra time was not enough for Löw to steal victory against South Korea. It may not be enough for Merkel either. Merkel's coalition partners, Bavaria's an...

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