The Biggest Upsets in FIFA

What are the top upsets in the history of the FIFA World Cup? The word itself tells a story, and this article explores the most shocking.

North Korea 1-0 Italy World Cup, Group Phase, 19 July 1966

Ayresome Park, Middlesbroughs’ old home, was host to the upset which took place during the World Cup in 1966, as the powerful Italian team were upstaged by the North Korean debutants.

The only goal for the game was scored by Doo-Ik Pak 41 minutes in, and the outcome for this game is still a very happy memory in North Korea, but not so much in Italy…

Cameroon 1-0 Argentina World Cup, Group B, 8 June 1990

The Italia 90 tournament was one in which defence ruled, and negative football was the theme. However, there was an incredible result right in the first match to be played, when the Argentinean holders suffered an incredible defeat by Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions.

The physical approach of the Cameroonian team initially seemed like it would backfire, with Andre Kana Biyik seeing red very early on in the 2nd half of the game, thanks to Claudio Caniggia’s bad challenge. Mere moments later, Francois Oman Biyik managed to escape his marker thanks to a free-kick, and went on to guide a header right past Nery Pumpido. Diego Maradona was well-marked out of this game, and the team from Africa held on for an incredible result, even though Benjamin Massing’s fierce tackle on Caniggia earned him a blatant red card in the game’s final stages.

Had the kind of online betting NZ has to offer been as big then as it is now, a lot of money would have been seen by punters who took a chance and didn’t back the favourites!

Costa Rica 1-0 Scotland World Cup Group C, 11 June 1990

Scotland has a rather awful record for major tournament football games, but even so, they were expected by and large to beat Costa Rica, thanks to the fact that the latter team’s appearance in the 1990 World Cup was their first.

Disappointingly, and in what has become a depressingly Scottish tradition, they did not manage to do so, instead falling victim to an incredible upset in the opening game for their Italia 90 competition.

The Costa Ricans were at that point managed by Bora Milutinovic, who had famously been in charge of guiding the Mexican team all the way through to the quarter-finals of 1986, and their brilliant defence just after the interval saw them take the lead opened up by striker Juan Arnaldo Cayasso.

Germany 1-2 Bulgaria, World Cup, Quarter-final, 10 July 1994

When the World Cup took place in 1994, the Bulgarian team had yet to win a match in the Finals. Thanks to the fact that they had managed to triumph against both Mexico and Argentina in the Group Stages of the competition, however, they were matched with the world champions at the time, Germany, and, as Letchkov gave a penalty away, dispatched by Matthaus, the game seemed to be going predictably.

The Eastern European team, however, fought back, showing excellent character and levelling thanks to the talisman figure of Hristo Stoichkov. He managed to sneak out in front of his marker, and power a header right past Bodo Illgner, against the odds, and the Bulgarians went on to win the game.

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