World Cup Biggest Upset Matches that Shocked the World


Posted: June 2, 2014

Updated: June 2, 2014

The World Cup evokes tremendous amounts of excitement in millions of people, however upset matches create something divine for the spectators.

One of the most heartbreaking moments in World Cup competitions would befall the country that is recognized by the majority as the superior and favorite team, but then end up losing to a second rate opponent.

World Cups are known to showcase such matches every once in a while. History shows us just how unlucky or unprepared a big national side may be in face of a smaller opponent.

On the other side of the coin, those who bet on sports in the UK, Europe or elsewhere tend to put their money on the favored sides. This risk-averse behavior often pays off, but those with the courage to put money on an underdog can occasionally be rewarded with a huge payout.

Usually upsets occur due to chance or a simple fluke, as the smaller team lacks greatly in quality, but manages to beat the dominating side when they are not at their most vigilant state.

Although it does disrupt the players’ confidence after losing, certain teams have shown that it is still possible to overcome that barrier and reach the final stages of the tournament.

Bulgaria vs Germany 1994

In 1990 West Germany were crowned champions of the world. However they failed to live up to expectations following the reunification with the East. In fact, a unified Germany became of the biggest disappointments in World Cup history.

Although many expected Germany to conquer another title, there were those that could see the hidden potential in Bulgaria’s team of 1994. There was a certain cluster of players that made the Bulgarian side resemble a diamond in the rough.

Lead by the explosive power of forward Hristo Stoichkov coupled with Yordan Letchkov’s magic feet and Krasimir Balakov passing talent, the team possessed the qualities many today consider to be the essentials in winning matches.

The Bulgarians showed a fine display of attacking football, as they overcame the mighty Germans with a final result of 2-1.

West Germany vs Hungary 1954

The Hungarian team that dominated world football during the 1950s were the undisputed team to beat. They were as good as Germany are today.

Bulgaria vs Germany 1994 – Bulgaria’s golden generation

West Germany vs Hungary 1954 – favorites do not always win

Argentina vs Cameroon 1990 – early result doesn’t affect overall


Although the Netherlands team of the 1970s are usually credited with starting “Total Football,” some evidence shows that Hungarians were in fact, the first ones to experiment with the innovative football philosophy.

The new footballing concept allowed legendary players such as Kosics and Puskas to bring out the best in them. They conquered team after team, so once they reached the final of the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, everyone expected them to win the game against the West German side.

However, they were not so fortunate, as the Germans defeated the “Magnificent Magyars” 3-2, a match that is commonly known as one of the biggest World Cup upset matches in history.

Senegal vs France 2002

By defeating Brazil in the final of the 1998 World Cup, France clinched their first title on home soil. The team had a plethora of what can be considered beautiful players in the game of football. Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschemps, Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit were among the prominent players to feature for the fearsome French team.

So when the World Cup commenced in Korea and Japan in 2002, the world anticipated an easy win for France. Rather what happened was that France conceded a goal by the brilliant effort from Papa Bouba Diop in the opening game of the competition.

It was a shock for France, as the result reverberated throughout the globe, while million watching could not believe just how the reigning world champions could not overcome a side that many considered to be inferior in numerous aspects. But then, again other would comment by saying, “that’s football!”

Argentina vs Cameroon 1990

Just like the French, the Argentines entered the 1990 World Cup in Italy with great ambitions to defend their world title crown. Maradona was once again at the forefront of the confident Argentinian team, as they went out to the pitch with the same objectives as before: to win and conquer.

The opening match did not favor the previous victors, as a 66th minute header from Francois Omam Biyick served a crushing blow to the pride of the “Albicelestes.”

Argentina wasn’t able to score throughout the rest of the match, which meant that the final result finished 1-0 for the Cameroonians. For many betting enthusiasts, it was gambling news that they would never forget.

Nevertheless, this was not the end for them, as Argentina fought through the World Cup and proceeded all the way to the final, where they faced West Germany. Unfortunately, they were denied successive title glory by the Germans, as the game finished 1-0.

If we are to judge by history, a trend emerges showing that several times smaller nations are able to pull off a miracle against superior teams in the opening games of the World Cup.

This year’s World Cup in Brazil will kick off the tournament with a game featuring the hosts against Croatia. The small Mediterranean country with a significant football passion might just be able to score a goal and employ the old-school “Catenaccio” or even make use of the passing game considering their boast midfield maestros like Modric, Rakitic and Kovacic.

After all, upset matches should be coveted as one of the main attractions of the tournament, considering that they make way for added competition and more exciting World Cup.

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