Biggest upsets in World Cup history

Germany's players celebrate won of their goals in the 7-1 win over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals.
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There have been 22 editions of the FIFA men's World Cup and only eight winners.

Brazil are five-time champions, while Italy and Germany have each won it on four occasions, Argentina now have three victories, Uruguay and France boast two apiece, with England and Spain on one each.

Not too many surprises there, then. History has shown us that, in the end, the best teams usually come out on top.

But not always. There have been some huge upsets in the World Cup over the years, even in semi-finals and finals. Here, a look at the tournament's biggest shocks...

32. Germany 1-2 Japan (2022)

Japan players celebrate Doan Ritsu's goal against Germany at the 2022 World Cup.

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With Germany 1-0 up through an Ilkay Gundogan penalty, Joachim Low's side seemed set for victory in their 2022 World Cup opener. But Japan had other ideas.

Doan Ritsu levelled with a quarter of an hour to play and Takuma Asano completed an unbelievable turnaround to hand all three points to the Japanese. And just to prove it was no one-off, the Asian side went on to defeat Spain as well, with Germany  eliminated at the first time of asking.

31. Spain 2-3 Nigeria (1998)

Nigeria's Sunday Oliseh celebrates his winner against Spain at the 1998 World Cup.

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Spain were one of the favourites to win the 1998 World Cup, but La Roja never recovered from a shock 3-2 defeat to Nigeria in their opening game.

Although Spain led twice, Nigeria kept coming back and the Super Eagles sealed an unexpected win following a calamitous own goal from 'keeper Andoni Zubizarreta and a Sunday Oliseh winner in the closing stages. Spain thrashed Bulgaria 6-1 in their final group game, but the damage was done and La Roja were eliminated after Paraguay beat Nigeria.

30. Italy 0-1 Ireland (1994)

Jack Charlton and his Ireland staff celebrate victory over Italy at the 1994 World Cup.

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Ireland made it to the quarter-finals of Italia 90, eventually losing out to the hosts in a 1-0 defeat as Golden Boot winner Salvatore Schillaci netted the only goal.

Four years later, Jack Charlton's side got their revenge in a 1-0 victory in the group stage as Ray Houghton scored and the Boys in Green defended heroically against Roberto Baggio et al. Ireland reached the last eight again, while Italy would go all the way to the final.

29. USA 3-2 Portugal (2002)

USA fans mock Luis Figo during their team's 3-2 win over Portugal at the 2002 World Cup.

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With the likes of Luis Figo and Rui Costa in their ranks, Portugal were considered dark horses by some at the 2002 World Cup, but their campaign got off to a dreadful start.

In their opening game against USA, Portugal found themselves 3-0 down inside 36 minutes and although they mounted a fightback, the team in red and green could not avoid a 3-2 defeat. The Portuguese bounced back with a 4-0 win over Poland in their next match, but crashed out in the group stages after a 1-0 loss to South Korea.

28. Italy 3-2 Brazil (1982)

Paolo Rossi on the ball for Italy against Brazil at the 1982 World Cup.

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In one of the greatest games in World Cup history, Italy beat Brazil 3-2 in Barcelona to advance to the semi-finals and knock out Tele Santana's entertaining side.

Both teams had defeated Argentina in their opening match of the second group phase, but Brazil's superior goal difference meant they needed only a draw to advance. Italy therefore had to win and pulled off a shock 3-2 victory thanks to Paolo Rossi's hat-trick. Brazil had kept on attacking at 2-2 and allowed spaces for the Azzurri, but coach Santana said afterwards he would prefer to stay true to his style even in defeat. Brazil's side are remembered as the best never to win a World Cup. Italy went on to take the trophy.

27. Ghana 2-0 Czech Republic (2006)

Asamoah Gyan celebrates after scoring for Ghana against Czech Republic at the 2006 World Cup.

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Czech Republic played some superb football at Euro 2004, eventually losing out in the semi-finals to Greece, and were expected to impress again at the 2006 World Cup.

But after a 3-0 win against USA in their opener, the Czechs found themselves behind inside 70 seconds against Ghana and were unable to recover as goals from Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari sealed a famous win for the Black Stars. Czech Republic were eliminated in the group stages, while Ghana ended up advancing to the last 16.

26. Wales 2-1 Hungary (1958)

Wales take on Brazil and Pele in the 1958 World Cup quarter-finals.

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Prior to their qualification for the 2022 World Cup, Wales had played in the tournament only once before – and they made it to the quarter-finals.

After a 1-1 draw in their opening game against 1954 finalists Hungary, the two teams went on to finish level behind Sweden. In a play-off match, the Hungarians took the lead, but Wales came from behind to seal a 2-1 victory as Terry Medwin netted the winner. The Welsh lost by a single goal to eventual champions Brazil in the last eight.

25. Spain 1 (3) - 1 (4) Russia (2018)

Spain players look dejected as Russia celebrate their win on penalties at the 2018 World Cup.

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Spain were in turmoil at the 2018 World Cup, with coach Julen Lopetegui removed from his post on the eve of the tournament after it emerged he had agreed to join Real Madrid later that summer.

But before the start of the World Cup, La Roja had been among the favourites and Russia were the lowest-ranked team in the tournament. Spain looked in control after taking an early lead, but Gerard Pique conceded a penalty with a clumsy handball and Russia scored. Later, the hosts won in a shootout.

24. Scotland 3-2 Netherlands (1978)

Archie Gemmill scores for Scotland against the Netherlands at the 1978 World Cup.

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Scotland's 1978 World Cup campaign got off to a terrible start as Ally MacLeod's men were beaten 3-1 by Peru – and a 1-1 draw with Iran in their next match wasn't much better.

More was expected of a talented team featuring the likes of Kenny Dalglish, John Robertson and Archie Gemmill. Needing a minor miracle in their final group game against 1974 finalists the Netherlands, Scotland found their feet and went 3-1 up, with Gemmill's goal one of the best of the tournament. One more would have seen the Scots advance and the Dutch out, but the Oranje scored next to scrape through and went on to make the final.

23. Slovakia 3-2 Italy (2010)

Slovakia players celebrate their second goal against Italy, scored by Robert Vittek, at the 2010 World Cup.

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A group containing Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia appeared to pose little threat to defending champions Italy at the 2010 World Cup, but the Azzurri endured a dismal campaign in South Africa.

After 1-1 draws with both Paraguay and New Zealand, Marcello Lippi's side lost 3-2 to Slovakia in their final group game, having been 2-0 and 3-1 down in that match. The Azzurri finished bottom of their sector and 26th out of 32 teams overall.

22. South Korea 2-0 Germany (2018)

South Korea's Son Heung-min sinks to his knees after victory over Germany at the 2018 World Cup as Toni Kroos looks dejected.

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After a 1-0 defeat to Mexico and a 2-1 win over Sweden, Germany needed to beat South Korea in their final group game to advance to the quarter-finals at the 2018 World Cup.

The Koreans, already out, had only pride to play for but frustrated the defending champions for 90 minutes and as Joachim Low's side committed men in search of a late winner, Kim Young-gwon and Son Heung-min struck in added time to seal a shock win for the Asian side and leave Germany bottom of Group F in Russia.

21. Morocco 1-0 Portugal (2022)

Portugal defender Pepe looks dejected after Youssef En-Nesyri's goal for Morocco in the teams' World Cup quarter-final at Qatar 2022.

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Morocco produced several shocks at the 2022 World Cup. The Atlas Lions beat Belgium 2-0 in the group stages and then knocked out Spain on penalties – but there was still more to come.

In the quarter-finals, Youssef En-Nesyri's header gave Morocco a 1-0 win over Portugal as Cristiano Ronaldo started on the bench for the Europeans. Ronaldo was later brought on, but the Portuguese could not find a goal and Morocco became the first African nation to advance to a World Cup semi-final. Historic.

20. France 1-2 South Africa (2010)

South Africa striker Katlego Mphela scores against France at the 2010 World Cup.

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Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong for France at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as the 2006 finalists crashed out in the group stages.

Striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home following an outburst at coach Raymond Domenech during the 2-0 defeat to Mexico. France's players then refused to train and in their final group game, Les Bleus lost 2-1 to hosts South Africa, having played with 10 men since the 27th minute after Yoann Gourcuff was sent off. A World Cup to foget.

19. Italy 0-1 Costa Rica (2014)

Bryan Ruiz heads past Gianluigi Buffon to give Costa Rica victory over Italy at the 2014 World Cup.

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Costa Rica were the surprise package at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, emerging from a difficult group against all odds and going on to reach the quarter-finals.

The Central Americans beat Uruguay 3-1 in their opening match, before stunning Italy as Bryan Ruiz's goal defeated the four-time winners in a tight game. After a draw with England in their final group game, Costa Rica went on to beat Greece on penalties in the last 16, eventually losing to the Netherlands in a shootout in the quarter-finals.

18. East Germany 1-0 West Germany

East German player Konrad Weise (left) prevents a goal against West Germany in the teams' group match in Hamburg in the 1974 World Cup.

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West Germany won the World Cup on home soil in 1974, coming from behind in the final to beat the Netherlands 2-1 in Munich to claim the title for a second time.

But in the first group stage, the West Germans lost to their neighbours from the East. Already qualified for the second phase, West Germany dominated but conceded a goal to Jurgen Sparwasser in the 77th minute. It was the only time the two teams met and meant East Germany went into the tougher half of the draw, but was a moment of history and huge pride for the underdogs in a difficult time for the entire nation.

17. Romania 3-2 Argentina (1994)

Gheorghe Hagi on the ball for Romania against Argentina at the 1994 World Cup.

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Argentina had started the 1994 World Cup in impressive fashion with a 4-0 win over Greece and followed it up with a 2-1 victory against Nigeria as Diego Maradona scored in the first game and set up both goals in the second.

But Maradona tested positive for ephedrine after the Nigeria match and was sent home. Argentina subsequently lost their next group game to Bulgaria and reeling from the blow of losing their best player and leader, they never recovered. In the last 16, the South Americans were beaten 3-2 by Romania.

16. Portugal 3-1 Brazil (1966)

Eusebio celebrates after scoring for Portugal against Brazil at the 1966 World Cup.

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Brazil had won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962. With Pele and Garrincha in their ranks, the South Americans were fancied again ahead of the 1966 tournament.

Their two stars were on the scoresheet as Brazil beat Bulgaria 2-0 in their opening game, but Pele was subjected to some brutal fouls and was unable to play against Hungary. In his absence, the holders had two goals ruled out and lost 3-1. Garrincha, now a fading force, was dropped for the decider against Portugal and with Pele repeatedly kicked again, the Europeans won by the same scoreline. Brazil were out and Pele, so incensed by the officiating, thought about giving up football.

15. Algeria 2-1 West Germany (1982)

The Algerian team pictured ahead of the 1982 World Cup.

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One of the biggest shocks in World Cup history came on the opening day of the 1982 tournament in Spain as Algeria stunned West Germany in a 2-1 win.

Algeria became the first African or Arab team to beat a European side at a World Cup, but found themselves controversially knocked out as West Germany conveniently defeated Austria 1-0 in the teams' final group game, allowing both to progress. The match became known as the Disgrace of Gijón and since then, group games are played simultaneously in the final round.

14. Spain 0-1 Switzerland (2010)

Joan Capdevila, Carles Puyol, Iker Casillas and Gerard Pique of Spain are stunned after conceding a goal by Gelson Fernandes of Switzerland during the 2010 World Cup.

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Spain went into the 2010 World Cup as European champions and pre-tournament favourites, but La Roja's campaign in South Africa got off to a sticky start.

Vicente del Bosque's side dominated against Switzerland in their opening game, but missed chances and conceded a goal to Gelson Fernandes in the second half. The Swiss held on to win 1-0, but Spain recovered to top the group and went on to win their first World Cup a few weeks later.

13. Bulgaria 2-1 Germany (1994)

Iordan Letchkov celebrates after scoring the winner for Bulgaria against Germany in 1994.

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Despite not playing their best football, Germany were in the last 16 of the 1994 World Cup and had edged ahead against Bulgaria through a Lothar Matthaus penalty.

But Berti Vogts' side were left reeling by a late Bulgaria comeback as Hristo Stoichkov and Iordan Letchkov struck in the space of three second-half minutes to send the holders home empty-handed in a huge shock.

12. Italy 1-2 South Korea (2002)

South Korea players celebrate after their winner against Italy at the 2002 World Cup.

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With time ticking away in Daejeon, Italy appeared on course for a place in the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup after Christian Vieri's 18th-minute goal against co-hosts South Korea.

But Seol Ki-hyeon levelled after 88 minutes to force extra time and just as it looked as if a penalty shootout was on the cards, Ahn Jung-hwan popped up with a golden goal to send South Korea to the semi-finals. Ahn, on loan at Italian side Perugia, had his contract cancelled the next day by owner Luciano Gaucci.

11. Spain 1-5 Netherlands (2014)

Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas looks dejected as Robin van Persie celebrates his goal for the Netherlands in the 2014 World Cup.

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Spain's opening game against the Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup was a repeat of the final from four years earlier – but with a very different outcome this time around.

The defending champions took the lead through a Xabi Alonso penalty, but went on to concede five in a crushing defeat to the Dutch, with Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie each on target twice. Spain had not let in five in a game since 1963, but La Roja endured a miserable afternoon. Vicente del Bosque's side, also European champions in 2012, were eliminated in the group stages.

10. Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia (2022)

Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates with his team-mates after scoring for Saudi Arabia against Argentina at the 2022 World Cup.

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Argentina entered the 2022 World Cup as pre-tournament favourites after winning the Copa America the year before and putting together a 36-match unbeaten run.

All appeared normal as Lionel Messi put Argentina in front from the penalty spot in their opening game against Saudi Arabia and the Albiceleste had three goals ruled out in the first half. But after the break, Lionel Scaloni's side were stunned as the Saudis scored twice to seal a shock win. Their coach, Herve Renard, said afterwards that Argentina would emerge from the group and also win the World Cup. He was right on both counts.

9. Brazil 0-3 France (1998)

Zinedine Zidane celebrates after scoring his second goal for France against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final.

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Brazil were big favourites ahead of the 1998 World Cup final against hosts France, but the South Americans were plunged into chaos before kick-off after Ronaldo suffered a seizure.

Their star striker was removed from the line-up and subsequently reinstated. He shouldn't have played and was understandably off colour. His team-mates seemed to be affected too and France went on to win 3-0 as Zinedine Zidane scored twice to spark incredible scenes in Paris.

8. Spain 0-1 Northern Ireland (1982)

Gerry Armstrong in action for Northern Ireland against Yugoslavia at the 1982 World Cup.

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Spain scraped through the first group stage at the 1982 World Cup, edging out Yugoslavia on goals scored after picking up just one win from their three games.

And on June 25th at Mestalla, the hosts were stunned in front of almost 50,000 fans at Mestalla as Gerry Armstrong's goal gave Northern Ireland a 1-0 win. Spain even played the last half an hour against 10 men after Mal Donaghy was sent off, but could not prevent a huge upset in Valencia.

7. Argentina 0-1 Cameroon (1990)

François Omam-Biyik scores a header for Cameroon against Argentina at the 1990 World Cup.

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Defending champions Argentina were stunned by Cameroon in the opening game of the 1990 World Cup as the African nation registered a shock 1-0 win.

François Omam-Biyik rose to score from a header in the second half as goalkeeper Nery Pumpido somehow let the ball slip through his hands. Cameroon ended with nine men as Biyik's brother André Kana-Biyik and Benjamin Massing were sent off for brutal fouls on Claudio Caniggia, but the Indomitable Lions held on for a famous victory.

6. France 0-1 Senegal (2002)

Senegal defender Aliou Cisse celebrates after his side's 1-0 win over France at the 2002 World Cup.

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France came into the 2002 World Cup as defending champions, having won on home soil in 1998, and were looking for a third consecutive tournament success after victory at Euro 2000.

But Les Bleus were rocked on the eve of the tournament as Zinedine Zidane suffered an injury and was ruled out for two games. Worse was to come for France as Bouba Diop's goal gave Senegal a famous win. Zidane returned for France's game against Denmark, but Roger Lemerre's side lost and crashed out in the group stages. Senegal went all the way to the last eight.

5. Brazil 1-2 Uruguay (1950)

Juan Alberto Schiaffino scores for Uruguay against Brazil in the teams' World Cup decider in 1950.

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Watched officially by 173,850 at the Maracana and probably by more than 200,000, Brazil's decisive clash with Uruguay at the 1950 World Cup is the match with the highest attendance in football history.

And those present were in for a shock. With the tournament decided by a group stage instead of a one-off final, Brazil needed just a draw to be crowned champions. The hosts took the lead early in the second half, but Uruguay came back with goals from Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia to silence the Maracana.

4. North Korea 1-0 Italy (1966)

North Korean players celebrate after beating Italy at the 1966 World Cup.

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Italy and North Korea went into their final group game at the 1966 World Cup on two points apiece and the winner would earn a place in the quarter-finals.

Two-time world champions Italy were clear favourites, but lost captain Giacomo Bulgarelli to injury and with no substitutes back then, had to play on with 10 men. Cheered on by the locals at Middlesbrough's Ayresome Park, North Korea went on to create a massive upset thanks to a Pak Doo-Ik winner after 42 minutes.

3. England 0-1 USA (1950)

The captains of England and USA, Billy Wright and Ed McIlvenny (right) exchange souvenirs at the start of their match on June 29, 1950 in Belo Horizonte.

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England were appearing in the World Cup for the first time and were expected to easily overcome a United States side made up of part-time players in 1950.

But Joe Gaetjens' goal gave the USA the lead at the break in Belo Horizonte and as locals heard news of a possible shock, the crowd grew in size in the later stages to witness one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.

2. West Germany 3-2 Hungary (1954)

Max Morlock scores for West Germany in the 1954 World Cup final against Hungary.

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Germany may be a football powerhouse these days, but at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland it was Hungary who were the tournament's most feared team.

Hungary had thrashed England 6-3 at Wembley the previous November and in the group stages, the Mighty Magyars had trounced West Germany 8-3. The final was a different story, though, as the Germans ran out 3-2 winners in a match which became known as "The Miracle of Bern".

1. Brazil 1-7 Germany (2014)

Brazil's players look dejected during their team's 7-1 defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals.

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Brazil were hosting the World Cup for the second time and there was huge pressure on their players to deliver – especially after what had happened in 1950.

But if defeat to Uruguay back then had hurt, the Seleçao's 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-finals in Belo Horizonte somehow seemed even more dramatic. Amid a sombre atmosphere at the Estadio Mineirao, Joachim's Low's side humbled the hosts in an extraordinary encounter.

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