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The Worst Thing You Can Do Is Finish 3rd at the World Cup (Unless You’re Germany)

Holland's failure to qualify for next year's European Championship Finals was as spectacular as it was unexpected, culminating with an embarrassing 3-2 home defeat to Czech Republic last night, with Robin van Persie's comical own goal the sealing their humiliation, just over a year on from their triumphant run to third place in the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

But it turns out that it wasn't altogether unexpected.

We all remember Italy's triumph over Bobby Robson's England in 1990; Sweden's glorious 4-0 win over Bulgaria in USA '94; Croatia's excellent third place at France '98 and Turkey's unlikely 'bronze' medal in the unpredictable tournament that was Japan & South Korea in 2002.

What we might forget is that they all immediately failed to qualify for the European Championships that followed. Going further back, 1982 third-placers Poland and 1986 bronze-medallists France also followed a triumphant tournament with a dismal qualification blunder. It's a truly amazing run of results.

However, naturally, there is one team that bucked the trend.

Yes, you guessed it, the Germans.

After sealing third place in both 2006 and 2010, they eased to qualification for both ensuing Euros, making it to the final of Austria-Switzerland 2008 and the semi-finals of Poland-Ukraine 2012.

So the moral of the story is, if you reach the World Cup semi-final and lose - for God's sake take it easy in that third/fourth place play-off - it's simply not worth it.

(Image: Getty)

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