Saudi Arabia and Japan added to the growing list of the biggest heists in the tournament.

We are just three days into the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the tournament has been lit with some thrilling performances. We have witnessed big one-sided results, dull draws and most of all upsets. Is there anything that delights a fan more than upsets in football? Minnows or small football nations killing giants is what makes football the greatest sport in the world. FIFA World Cup 2022 has been no different. After Saudi Arabia’s shocking win over tournament favourites Argentina on Tuesday, Japan stunned Germany earlier today.

In both instances, the winning team came from behind to shock the more prominent side and script history. Here in this article, we take a look at the five greatest upsets at the FIFA World Cup over the years.

2022 World Cup – Germany 1-2 Japan

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is proving to be one for the underdogs. November 22 will forever be remembered as the greatest day in Saudi Arabian football history. Following their famous win over Argentina, the Saudi King declared a day’s holiday in honour. Looks like a similar reaction will be met today in the streets of Tokyo, as Japan has pulled off a remarkable victory over Germany, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

The Germans took an early lead through Ilkay Gundogan’s first-half penalty and looked to be in total control. However, like the Saudis, Japan showed grit and character to stage a remarkable comeback. The Samurai Blue scored late through Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano respectively to pull off an upset.

Until 2018, Germany hadn’t gone out from the group stages at FIFA World Cups since 1938. A loss to Spain on Sunday could mean yet another group-stage exit for Germany. 

2022 World Cup – Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia

Lionel Messi’s swansong International tournament went off to the worst possible start as Argentina succumbed to a 2-1 loss against Saudi Arabia. The South American champions were coming into the World Cup, full of confidence and belief with the tag of being the favourites. However, a Lionel Messi first-half penalty was overturned by an inspired Saudi Arabia side in the second half.

The Asian side were aided by a commanding performance from Goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais, who made five crucial saves to ensure a famous win. The ignominious defeat also broke Argentina’s 36-game unbeaten run.

2018 World Cup – South Korea 2-0 Germany

The 2014 defending champions Germany came into the tournament with high expectations like every World Cup. However, they were in for a rude awakening as they fell to a new “Loew” under Manager Joachim Loew, and crashed out of the group stages. Germany finished bottom in a group with Sweden, Mexico and South Korea.

With qualification on the line in their last group-stage game against South Korea, Germany succumbed to a 0-2 defeat. It was the Asian side, who under the guidance of experienced Dutch Guus Hiddink, pulled off a defensive display of the highest order, despite only playing for pride.

After resisting the German blitzkrieg for the entire game without conceding, South Korea scored two goals in injury time to pull off a miraculous victory. This ensured, that it was the first time since 1938 that Germany didn’t make it past the group stage.

2014 World Cup – Costa Rica 1 – 0 Italy 

If there was an underdog story written by the footballing gods, it had to be for the Central American minnows, Costa Rica. Not only did they pull off a 1-0 upset victory over four-time winners Italy, but also ended up topping the group consisting of England and Uruguay. They eventually reached the quarter-final stage and lost to the Netherlands on penalties.

However, their defining moment was unquestionably beating the 2012 Euro finalists in Italy. Bryan Ruiz’s 44th-minute header was the difference on the night. The win ensured that they qualified for the knockout stages for the first time in 24 years. On the other hand, the much-fancied European pair of England and Italy were knocked out.

2002 World Cup – Senegal 1-0 France

If someone can still ruminate over the greatest footballing night in Senegalese Football history, it’s the current coach Aliou Cissé. The former midfielder was part of the golden generation of Senegalese players consisting of goal scorer Papa Bouba Diop, El Hadji Diouf, Henry Camara etc. They pulled off an epic win 1-0 over its former colonisers France, on a famous night at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.

France were the reigning World and European champion, while Senegal was making their debut in the competition. The French eventually went out of the group stage, while Senegal reached the quarter-finals. There hasn’t been a greater upset pulled off ever since.

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