These instances of teams punching above their weight and heavyweights biting the dust have become part of football folklore.
The 2018 World Cup has had it all to make it one of the most remarkable World Cups of all-time. For example, Germany, the defending champions were humiliated not once, but twice. Firstly, by Mexico and then by South Korea. Like everything else, such upsets have been part and parcel of the mega event’s previous editions as well. But, not every time have defending champions been made to bite the dust.
So, Khel Now takes a look at five of the most notable upsets in FIFA World Cup history.
5. Cameroon 1-0 Argentina (Italy 1990)
Defending champions and eventual runners-up of the edition, Diego Maradona’s Argentina were brought down to their knees by Cameroon on a night that saw two players getting sent off. Yes, you read it right! All of it happened that night at the San Siro, as the Cameroonians proved to the world that they were not in Italy just to make up the numbers.
Watch: Cameroon 1-0 Argentina highlights
The lone goalscorer of the game, Francois Omam-Biyik, famously ranted about the Europeans making the game a more memorable one. The Cameroonian forward said, “We hate it when European reporters ask us if we eat monkeys and have a witch doctor. We are real football players and we proved this tonight.”
4. South Korea 5-3 Spain (P) (Korea and Japan 2002)
South Korea beat Spain on penalties after the scores were tied at 0-0, to reach the last four in Gwangju. The Koreans scored all their allotted penalties whereas Joaquin missed the fourth for Spain. While the win marked one of the greatest or maybe the greatest achievement of any Asian team at a World Cup, it also spurred some of the greatest controversies the tournament hs ever witnessed.
Spain had two goals disallowed and many more disputable offside decisions hindered the attacking prowess of La Roja. The Koreans had an unforgettable tournament, where they beat the likes of Portugal, Spain and Italy, albeit all the victories were marred by controversy.
3. Italy 3-2 Brazil (Spain 1982 final)
Unlike the other games, this one has two big teams involved. But the quality of the Socrates led Brazil was so much greater than that of Italy, that it made the Azzuri look like minnows before the game.
Watch: Italy 3-2 Brazil highlights
Italy rode on the brilliance of Paolo Rossi, who had already made 1982 his World Cup with swashbuckling performances. His hat-trick in the final and the masterclass of Claudio Gentile at the back ensured that the most likely winners were humbled by the underdogs.
The Brazilian side, featuring the likes of Socrates, Zico and Falcao all in one team, still is referred to be one of the greatest sides not to have won the World Cup.
2. Slovakia 3-2 Italy (South Africa 2010)
The Azzuri were the defending champions this time around. They were paired with New Zealand, Slovakia and Paraguay in the group. After having drawn their first two games 1-1 with New Zealand and Paraguay, Italy had to beat Slovakia to qualify for the knockout stages.
But, what happened left the whole country in despair as the Slovakians ran riot iwith Robert Vittek being the main protagonist. A late fightback from them wasn’t enough and the defending champions were sent packing very early in the tournament.
1. South Korea 2-0 Germany (Russia 2018)
Watch: South Korea 2-0 Germany highlights
It was again the Koreans causing the upset and again a defending champion being the victim. After having lost the first game against Mexico 1-0, the Germans needed to win the next two games to ensure safe passage into the latter stages of the tournament. But, Son Heung-min’s Korea had some plans.
After containing the German attack for 92 minutes, Shin Tae-yong’s men finally decided to launch some attacks of their own. The Taeguek Warriors scored two injury-time goals to end the German challenge at the 2018 World Cup.