The FIFA World Cup is the most significant soccer competition in the world, with millions of people tuning in to watch the best teams battle it out for the prestigious trophy every four years.
Over the tournament's history, there have been countless moments of drama, passion, and skill that have captured the imagination of soccer fans around the world. However, there have also been moments of shock and surprise, where the underdog has emerged victorious, or the favorite has suffered a stunning defeat. In this article, we will explore five of the most shocking moments in World Cup history.
United States 1-0 England (1950)
The England vs USA soccer match at the 1950 World Cup is widely considered one of the biggest upsets in soccer history. The match was played on June 29, 1950, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and was part of the group stage of the tournament.
At the time, England was considered one of the strongest soccer teams in the world and had never lost to an amateur team. The USA, on the other hand, was considered a complete underdog and had been given odds of 500-1 to win the tournament.
Despite the odds, the USA played a remarkable game, with goalkeeper Frank Borghi making several outstanding saves and the team's defense holding strong against the English attack. In the 37th minute, Joe Gaetjens scored the only goal of the match for the USA, giving them a stunning 1-0 victory over England.
The result was seen as a massive shock, and newspapers around the world ran headlines like "The Miracle on Grass" and "Soccer Sensation!" The USA's victory is considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history and is still remembered today as a landmark moment in soccer.
This game and the U.S. team were profiled by author Geoffrey Douglas in his book The Game of Their Lives, which was made into a film of the same name (later renamed The Miracle Match).
North Korea 1-0 Italy (1966)
The match was played on July 19, 1966, in Middlesbrough, England, and was part of the group stage of the tournament. Italy, one of the strongest teams in Europe at the time, were strong favorites, while North Korea was a relatively unknown team that had only qualified for the World Cup once before, in 1960.
Despite the odds, North Korea played an exceptional match, taking a 1-0 lead after 25 minutes through a goal from Pak Doo-ik. The result was seen as a massive upset, and the Italian press called it "The Shame of Middlesbrough."
North Korea's victory over Italy remains one of the most significant upsets in World Cup history and is still remembered today as a landmark moment in soccer. North Korea went on to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament before losing to Portugal.
Algeria 2-1 West Germany (1982)
This match was played on June 16, 1982, in Gijon, Spain, and was part of the group stage of the tournament. Germany, the reigning European champions, were the strong favorites, while Algeria was making its first appearance at the World Cup.
The Germans, having drawn against Tunisia at Argentina 78, inexplicably chose to belittle Algeria in the run up to the match.
“If we don't beat Algeria, we’ll take the next train home,” said coach Jupp Derwall, clearly a man who does not believe in tempting fate. Or, for that matter, researching the opposition.
Famously, one player found a way to be even more condescending: “We will dedicate our seventh goal to our wives, and the eighth to our dogs.”
Despite the odds, Algeria played an exceptional game, pressing the German team high up the field and creating several chances. In the 54th minute, Algeria took the lead through a goal from Rabah Madjer, and just three minutes later, they doubled their lead with a goal from Lakhdar Belloumi.
Germany managed to pull a goal back in the 74th minute, but Algeria held on for a famous 2-1 victory. The result was seen as a massive shock, and it had significant repercussions for the rest of the tournament.
The game was controversial, as some have suggested that Germany and Austria conspired to keep Algeria from advancing to the next round. Before the final group match between Germany and Austria, it was known that Germany only needed to win by one goal to advance to the next round, but a 1-0 victory would also have been enough for Austria to advance. In their subsequent match, Germany and Austria played out a 1-0 result that allowed both teams to advance at Algeria's expense.
That match between Germany and Austria is still remembered as "The Disgrace of Gijon," and it led to FIFA changing the rules of the tournament to ensure that the final group matches are played simultaneously.
Senegal 1-0 France (2002)
The defending champions France were stunned by Senegal in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup. Senegal, playing in their first ever World Cup, scored the only goal of the game to secure a famous victory.
The Senegal vs France match at the 2002 World Cup was a significant upset that is still remembered as one of the most surprising results in World Cup history.
The match was played on May 31, 2002, in Seoul, South Korea, and was the opening match of the tournament for both teams. France, the reigning World Cup champions, were the strong favorites, while Senegal was making its first-ever appearance at the World Cup.
Despite the odds, Senegal played an exceptional game, defending well and taking advantage of their limited chances. In the 30th minute, they took the lead through a goal from Bouba Diop, who tapped in a rebound from a corner. France pushed forward in the second half but was unable to find an equalizer, and Senegal held on for a famous 1-0 victory.
The result was seen as a significant upset, and it had significant repercussions for the rest of the tournament. France went on to have a disappointing tournament, failing to win a single game and crashing out in the group stage. Senegal, on the other hand, made it all the way to the quarterfinals before losing to Turkey.
The victory of Senegal over France is still remembered today as a landmark moment in soccer and is seen as an inspiration for other African nations to excel at the World Cup. Sadly goal scorer Papa Bouba Diop passed away in 2020, due to a long illness.
Germany 7-1 Brazil (2014)
The Brazil vs Germany match at the 2014 World Cup was a historic and shocking match that is still remembered as one of the most remarkable results in World Cup history.
The match was played on July 8, 2014, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and was a semifinal match of the tournament. Brazil, the host nation and five-time World Cup champions, were favored to win, while Germany was a strong team but not seen as a clear favorite.
However, from the opening whistle, Germany took control of the game and scored five goals in the first 29 minutes. The goals came from Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos (2), and Sami Khedira, and they stunned the Brazilian fans who had expected their team to win.
Brazil attempted to stage a comeback in the second half, but it was too late, and Germany ultimately won the match 7-1. The sixth and seventh goals came from substitute Andre Schurrle, who scored a stunning one in the 79th minute.
The result was seen as a massive shock and was described as a "disaster" and a "national shame" in Brazil. It was the largest margin of defeat in Brazil's World Cup history and is still remembered today as a significant moment in the country's soccer history.
The victory propelled Germany to the final, where they defeated Argentina to win their fourth World Cup title. The match remains one of the most remarkable results in World Cup history and is seen as a testament to Germany's dominance and Brazil's fall from grace.