- North Korea 1-0 Italy (England 1966)
A little over 30 years before Italy’s shock 2-1 defeat to South Korea, the Italians came unstuck once again against the Koreans when the North beat them 1-0 in 1966. Arguably one of the most surprising World Cup scorelines ever, Italy were short odds to give the Asian minnows a real hiding. Before the game, North Korea’s leader, Kim Il-Sung, told his troops: “European and South American nations dominate international football. As representatives of the Asian and African region, as coloured people, I urge you to win one or two matches.’” With these words ringings in their ears, the Koreans went on to beat Italy and knock them out of the World Cup.
2. South Korea 2-0 Germany (Russia 2018)
The unthinkable happened, Germany, reigning world champions, the consummate tournament team, are out of the World Cup at the group stage. Their failure to beat South Korea last Wednesday, combined with Sweden’s comfortable win over Mexico, saw Joachim Low’s men fall at the first hurdle in Russia, their first World Cup elimination at this point for 80 years. Germany suffered the embarrassment of finishing bottom of Group F with Sweden the surprise winners and Mexico also heading through to the round of 16.
3. Brazil 1-7 Germany (Brazil 2014)
How things change! Four years ago at the quarter-finals, it was a result no one predicted, and one that left Brazilian fans and players alike in tears. Brazil, hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950, were hoping to reach the final and win the trophy in their own backyard. Five German goals in the space of half an hour quickly put paid to that dream as Brazil were savaged and dumped out of the tournament before even half-time. In the end they settled for seven, as Brazil were absolutely humiliated in front of their own fans.
4. Spain 1-5 Netherlands (Brazil 2014)
Reigning world and European champions Spain were expected to go all the way in this tournament. When Xabi Alonso gave Spain the lead from the penalty spot after half an hour against the Netherlands, it looked like business as usual. But Robin van Persie restored parity just before half-time with a sublime acrobatic diving header before goals from Arjen Robben, Stefan de Vrij and a second from van Persie completed a 5-1 rout. It did so much damage to Spain that they tumbled out of the group stages following another defeat to Chile days later.
5. USA 1-0 England (Brazil 1950)
In 1950, long before the establishment of the MLS as a globally accepted and respected league, a team of amateur and semi-professional footballers from the US beat the mother of football, England. To put this into perspective, you need to imagine what it would be like if Barnsley had beaten Bayern Munich to understand what this result meant back then. It was the single-most embarrassing moment in England’s history, and the result has a lasting legacy. England played in blue shirts that day and after the defeat to America they never played in blue again.
6. Cameroon 1-0 Argentina (Italy 1990)
In one of the World Cup’s most stunning moments, an unheralded team of journeymen from France’s lower leagues vanquished Diego Maradona’s Argentina at the 1990 World Cup. Argentina were the reigning World champions, and this game was expected to be a polite completion of formalities. Like so many more shock results on this list, it was anything but. Omam-Biyik had given the Cameroonians the lead and the African nation somehow managed to hold on to the win and inflict utter humiliation of the Argentinians despite the fact they had been sent down to nine men.
7. France 0-1 Senegal (South Korea/Japan 2002)
Coming off a 1998 triumph on home soil, Les Bleus were one of the favourites four years later. Boasting plenty of world class players such as Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet they opened the tournament with a match against Senegal, who had never even played at the World Cup before. A first-half goal from Papa Bouba Diop was enough to give the massive underdogs a 1-0 win, and France went on to struggle to a goalless draw with Uruguay before losing to Denmark 2-0, and going home bottom of their group.
8. Italy’s pain (South Africa 2010)
Italy completed a stunning World Cup run in 2006 by beating France in the final, but arrived in South Africa in 2010 as a fractured and ageing squad. They were still expected to see off Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia in the group. But they fell behind in each of their first two games before coming back to draw against Paraguay and New Zealand before a 3-2 loss to Slovakia left them last in the group.
9. S. Korea 2-1 Italy (S. Korea/Japan 2002)
The Italians have a pretty dreadful track record against the Koreans. In 2002, joint-hosts South Korea were in buoyant mood as they staged the World Cup alongside Japan. Still, the unfancied Asian nation were expected to be rolled over. It never happened. Christian Vieri scored first for Italy but Seol Ki Hyeon pounced in the 88th minute with the most unlikely of levellers.The game went into extra time and Ahn Jung-hwan scored a dramatic winner.
10. Colombia tragedy (USA 1994)
The Colombians were drawn against USA, Romania and the Switzerland in the Group A of the tournament. Defeats in the first two fixtures meant they had to win against the Swiss and hope that USA defeat the Romanians. However despite Colombia doing their share of the work, USA were unable to beat the Romanians which meant they finished bottom of the group. Andres Escobar was shot dead outside a pub on his return to Medellin. It is widely believed that Escobar was shot because of his own goal against the USA.