In this piece, PUNCH He looks at the five biggest shocks in World Cup history.
1. Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia (2022)
Argentina were one of the favorites to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but they were stunned in their opening game as they were beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia.
The Copa América winners had arguably the world’s greatest player, seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, battled throughout the match and were unable to get a point, with Messi’s penalty being the key. only one goal for the South American team
Scaloni’s players needed to avoid defeat to equal Italy’s international record unbeaten run of 37 games, which they hoped to break in their next game against Mexico. Indeed, their staunch opponents deservedly held on for one of the most memorable results in history.
The Saudi Arabian team turned the game around immediately after the restart of the second half with Saleh Alshehri’s goal in the 48th minute to equalize with Argentina and Saleh Aldawsari’s winning goal in the 53rd minute.
2. Senegal 1-0 France (2002)
At the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Roger Lemerre’s France struggled without Zinedine Zidane in the opening game despite the talents of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.
Senegal took advantage of France’s stage fright to announce themselves on the World Cup stage through Papa Bouba Diop’s iconic winner.
3. Switzerland 1-0 Spain (2010)
Spain’s Euro 2008 win put La Roja among the favorites in South Africa, but Vicente del Bosque’s side struggled on their opening night in Durban.
An unknown lack of cohesion opened the door for the Swiss, Gelson Fernandes confused them in front, and Spain did not react.
In the end, the defeat did not deter Spain, but del Bosque’s influence in refocusing his players was clear as Andres Iniesta claimed his first world title.
4. Republic of Ireland 1-0 Italy (1994)
Ireland’s run to the quarter-finals of Italia ’90 put the Boys in Green on the international football map, but defeat to the hosts lives long in the memory.
Jack Charlton had revenge on his mind as they faced a rematch with Italy in the sweltering New Jersey heat.
Ray Houghton’s volley from the blue put Ireland ahead early on, but as Italy laid siege to the Irish goal, they were repeatedly put off by a Paul McGrath wall.
Paolo Rossi produced one of the greatest individual performances of the World Cup with a ruthless hat-trick to knock Brazil out and propel his team to glory in the final.
5. Cameroon 1-0 Argentina (1990)
The Argentinian champions reached Italy ’90 after winning their third title in 12 years and becoming the third team to defend the World Cup.
Led by Diego Maradona, La Albiceleste eventually lost to West Germany in the final, but were dealt a blow in the opening game.
Cameroon were looking to build on a lackluster World Cup debut in 1982, beating an out-of-form Argentina in Milan with François Omam-Biyi’s late winner.
Valery Nepomnyashchy’s side were eventually knocked out by England in the round of 16 as they broke new ground for African nations at the World Cup.