If there’s one thing that is guaranteed at the World Cup it’s surprise results and this year was no different. Eventual champions, Argentina, looked to be in for a rough ride when they were defeated by Saudi Arabia in their opening match, Morocco beat both Spain and Portugal on their way to reaching the semi-finals, and 2014 Champions, Germany, crashed out of the World Cup finals in the group stage.
Let’s take a minute to look back through some of the biggest shocks in the competition since the year 2000:
5. Nigeria 0 England 0 – 2002 South Korea and Japan.
When England met Nigeria in the Group-stage at the 2002 World Cup, the game looked a sure win for the three lions. Sure, Nigeria had Jay-Jay Okocha in their squad, but England had a star-studded team including Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen, and the great David Seaman in net to name just a few. England qualified from their group in second position, but got knocked out in the quarter-finals by Brazil. Nigeria failed to win a game and finished last in the group with just a single point.
4. Italy 0 Costa Rica 1 – 2014 Brazil
Italy travelled to Brazil with confidence. In their last international tournament, they finished runners up to Spain at the European Championships in 2012 and when put into a group made up of England, Costa Ric,a and Uruguay, they would have felt they would qualify alongside England for the knockouts (they didn’t!). Despite Italy boasting a squad including the likes of Buffon, Chiellini, Pirlo and Marchisio, they couldn’t handle Costa Rica and ended up failing to make it out of the group-stages alongside England. Costa Rica topped the group with 7 points and went all the way to the quarter-finals, where they lost on penalties to the Netherlands.
3. Senegal 1 France 0 – 2002 South Korea and Japan.
One of the biggest world cup shocks of all time came when the Euro 2000 winners France lost to Senegal in their opening game of the 2002 World Cup. France had a fantastic team made up of players such as Thierry Henry, Patrick Viera, Emmanuel Petit, and Marcel Desailly. Despite not having any real household names in their squad, a 30th minute goal from Papa Diop saw Senegal win their opening match. France finished bottom of the group, while Senegal made it through to the quarter finals where they lost 1-0 to Turkey.
2. Netherlands 5 Spain 1 – 2014 Brazil.
Spain were looking untouchable when they travelled to Brazil in 2014. Having won the 2010 World Cup in South Africa 4 years earlier and then followed that up with a 4-0 win over Italy in the final of Euro 2012 they were flying high. Spain had a world-class team including Gerard Pique, David Silva, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and Sergio Ramos just to name a few, this was a formidable force for any team to take on. Netherlands didn’t have as impressive a team as Spain, but 2 goals a piece from Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie plus a goal from Stefan de Vrij saw Netherlands pick up a huge win. Spain exited the competition in the group stage, while the Netherlands went on to finish 3rd after beating hosts Brazil 3-0 in the 3rd place play-off.
- Brazil 1 Germany 7 – 2014 Brazil.
In at number 1 is arguably the biggest shock defeat in World Cup history. Hosts Brazil were without Neymar in this Semi-final tie, but still had a very good squad that included the likes of Oscar, Marcelo, David Luiz, and Fernandinho. Euro 2012 runners-up Germany had a squad full of stars including Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Klose, Mesut Ozil, and Manuel Neuer. Thomas Muller opened the scoring in the 11th minute and by the time the half-time whistle blew, Brazil were 5-0 down. Germany calmed down a bit in the second half but still won in incredible style. Germany went on to beat Argentina in the final while Brazil lost 3-0 to the Netherlands in the 3rd place play-off.
Do you agree with this list? What game do you think has been the most shocking in this millennium? Have your say in the comments section below!