The World Cup is the biggest stage in football so no wonder the matches – good and bad – live longest in memory.
After Saudia Arabia’s stunning opening victory against Argentina, in Qatar, we looked back through the record books to see where it ranks in our SIX OF THE BEST World Cup upsets. Let us know if you agree in the comments…
ENGLAND 0-1 USA (Group stage, Brazil 1950) England’s first ever World Cup appearance and they came into the competition as THE form team. The USA team was made up of largely part-time footballers. The game’s only goal came from Joe Gaetjens, who was Haitian-born and played for Haiti from 1944, with his only US appearances coming at the 1950 World Cup. This result ultimately meant England were eliminated from the competition.
FRANCE 0-1 SENEGAL (Group stage, South Korea & Japan 2002) France were defending champions coming into what appeared a straight forward tournament opener as the finals were held in Asia for the first time. Senegal were also making their World Cup debut and given next to no chance against the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Zinedine Zidane. The pressure got to the tournament favourites, however, as Papa Bouba Diop’s strike after 30 minutes was enough to win the match. France failed to get beyond the group stages.
BRAZIL 1-7 GERMANY (Semi-Final, Brazil 2014) Given the stage and location of this game, this result sent shockwaves through South American football for years. An early Thomas Muller goal stunned the host nation and it preceded a five-minute spell in the that will haunt Brazil forever. Four quick-fire goals flew in for Germany, who found themselves 5-0 up within thirty minutes. Nobody quite expected the final score to be 7-1 and with the game being played on home soil for Brazil with a place in the final at stake, it was an upset of the highest order.
SOUTH KOREA 2-0 GERMANY (Group stage, Russia 2018) Just four years after their stunning triumph in Brazil, Germany were favourites again when they lined up for a group game they had to win to get out of the group stage in Russia. The pressure got to them, just as it had previous reigning champions. The first of two late injury-time goals came from Kim Young-gwon. The final nail in the coffin came from Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son, who had an even simpler tap-in to score after an error from vastly experienced goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
ARGENTINA 1-2 SAUDIA ARABIA (Group stage, Qatar 2022) Lionel Messi went to Qatar ready to be crowned the greatest player of all time by leading Argentina to a third World Cup triumph. They looked anything but champions against a Saudi Arabia making only their second appearance in the finals in their opening group game. Messi led by example, scoring an early penalty. An heroic performance from Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais ensued to keep the underdogs alive. Dramatic goals from Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari secured an unlikely comeback to spark memorable celebrations for the men in green.
CAMEROON 1-0 ARGENTINA (opening match, Italy 1990) Possibly the biggest upset in World Cup history – until Argentina lost to Saudia Arabia – when an ageing Roger Milla danced around a corner flag and Francois Oman-Biyik scored the only goal of the game to humble the mighty Diego Maradona and his seemingly invincible World Cup holders. The Cameroon side, reduced to ten men after the break, was made up largely of journeymen from the French lower divisions. They went on to reach the quarter-finals while Argentina somehow recovered to reach the final!