The history of the FIFA World Cup is rife with moments that have defied expectations and etched themselves into the annals of football lore. The top 10 biggest upsets of all time serve as a tribute to the unpredictable nature of the beautiful game, where underdogs have risen to conquer giants on the grandest stage of them all. From stunning victories like Saudi Arabia's triumph over Argentina in 2022 to North Korea's historic win against Italy in 1966, these upsets showcase the sheer drama and excitement that the World Cup consistently delivers. Each match leaves an indelible mark on the tournament's legacy, emphasizing that in football, the unthinkable can often become reality.

Key Takeaways

  • Saudi Arabia defeating Argentina 2-1 in 2022.
  • Nigeria's victory over Spain in 1998.
  • Japan's 2-1 win against Germany in 2022.
  • Norway's stunning 2-1 upset over Brazil in 1998.
  • South Korea's 2-0 upset over Germany in 2018.

Saudi Arabia Vs Argentina 2022

In a stunning turn of events at the FIFA World Cup 2022, Saudi Arabia emerged victorious against Argentina in a gripping match that will be etched in football history. Argentina's performance seemed lackluster, failing to capitalize on possession, while Saudi Arabia's tactics were astute, focusing on quick counterattacks. The 2-1 scoreline in favor of Saudi Arabia left fans in disbelief as Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari found the back of the net, with Lionel Messi only managing a penalty for Argentina. This victory goes down as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, showcasing the unpredictable nature of football and the importance of strategy and execution on the grandest stage of them all.

Nigeria Vs Spain 1998

The FIFA World Cup encounter between Nigeria and Spain in 1998 showcased a remarkable display of skill and determination from the Nigerian team. Despite Spain being the favorite, Nigeria's resilience proved to be significant, leading to Spain's disappointment and Nigeria's progression to the Round of 16. Two standout moments defined the match: Mutiu Adepoju's pivotal goal shifted the momentum in Nigeria's favor, while Sunday Oliseh's screamer solidified their victory. The impact of these goals was immense, as they not only secured Nigeria's win but also marked their second appearance in the FIFA World Cup with a historic upset over Spain.

Japan Vs Germany 2022

The unexpected triumph of Japan over Germany in the 2022 FIFA World Cup sent shockwaves through the footballing world, showcasing a remarkable display of skill and determination from the Japanese team. Japan's resilience was on full display as they fought back from an early deficit to secure a historic 2-1 victory over the formidable German side. On the other hand, Germany's missed opportunities cost them dearly in a match where they had numerous chances to seal the win. Below is a table highlighting key statistics from the match:

Team Goals Scored Possession (%)
Japan 2 45%
Germany 1 55%

This match will be remembered as one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history.

Norway Vs Brazil 1998

Demonstrating sheer determination and tactical prowess, Norway achieved a stunning upset over Brazil in the 1998 FIFA World Cup with a remarkable 2-1 victory. This underdog triumph marked a significant moment in World Cup history, leaving Brazilian fans in disappointment. Key points to ponder regarding this match include:

  • Norway's strategic gameplay stifled Brazil's attacking prowess.
  • Tore Andre Flo's goal showcased Norway's resilience against the Brazilian giants.
  • Kjetil Rekdal's winning strike highlighted Norway's ability to capitalize on opportunities.
  • Bebeto's lone goal for Brazil was not enough to salvage the match, leading to a memorable come-from-behind victory for Norway.

South Korea Vs Germany 2018

Indisputably, the 2018 FIFA World Cup match between South Korea and Germany delivered a monumental upset that reverberated throughout the footballing world. South Korea stunned the defending champions, Germany, with a remarkable 2-0 victory, marking Germany's first early exit since 1938. The match remained tense and evenly poised until injury time when Kim Young-gwon and Son Heung-min scored to secure South Korea's triumph. Germany's downfall was a result of their inability to break down the resilient South Korean defense and capitalize on their chances. This unexpected result highlighted the unpredictable nature of football and showcased South Korea's determination and resilience on the world stage.

South Korea vs Germany 2018
Goals By Kim Young-gwon
Son Heung-min
Germany's Downfall
South Korea's Triumph

Cameroon Vs Argentina 1990

In a mesmerizing display of underdog triumph on the grand stage of the FIFA World Cup, Cameroon stunned football fans worldwide with their historic victory over Argentina in 1990. This match marked a significant turning point in the tournament, showcasing Cameroon's resilience against the defending champions and highlighting Argentina's downfall in the face of determined opposition.

  • Cameroon defied the odds with a remarkable 1-0 victory.
  • Francois Omam-Biyik's goal sealed the shocking result.
  • Despite facing adversity, Cameroon managed to secure the win with only 9 players on the field.
  • The game saw two red cards for Cameroon, adding to the dramatic narrative of their triumph.

East Germany Vs West Germany 1974

The clash between East Germany and West Germany in the 1974 FIFA World Cup marked a historic moment in football history with its intense rivalry and unexpected outcome. Against the backdrop of Cold War dynamics, the match symbolized more than just a sporting event; it represented the ideological divide between the two German nations. East Germany's victory over their Western counterparts, with Jurgen Sparwasser scoring the winning goal, was a significant upset considering it was East Germany's World Cup debut. The intense rivalry between the two teams added an extra layer of drama to the match, showcasing how political tensions could spill over onto the football pitch. This unexpected result highlighted the unpredictability of football and the influence of external factors on the game.

North Korea Vs Italy 1966

Considered a surprising turn of events, North Korea's victory over Italy in the 1966 FIFA World Cup sent shockwaves through the football world. This underdog story left a lasting cultural impact and holds significant historical significance in the domain of soccer. The tactical strategies employed by North Korea showcased their determination and ability to outwit a strong opponent like Italy. The victory of North Korea over Italy in the 1966 World Cup demonstrated that in football, anything is possible, emphasizing the unpredictable nature of the sport. This match remains a memorable moment in World Cup history, highlighting the essence of perseverance and the thrill of witnessing an unexpected triumph on the grand stage.

Switzerland Vs Spain 2010

Switzerland's stunning victory over Spain in the 2010 FIFA World Cup marked a historic moment in football history. Despite Spain's domination throughout the match, a goalkeeping blunder and Switzerland's defensive tactics led to a 1-0 upset. Gelson Fernandes capitalized on a rare mistake by the Spanish goalkeeper to secure the win. The Swiss resilience and disciplined defensive strategy frustrated the Spanish attack, denying them any goals. The unexpected result shocked football fans worldwide, as Spain, the eventual champions, faced a shambolic defeat in their opening game. Switzerland's triumph over the reigning European champions highlighted the unpredictable nature of the World Cup and showcased the importance of tactical discipline and seizing opportunities in football's biggest stages.

Northern Ireland Vs Spain 1982

In a surprising turn of events during the 1982 FIFA World Cup, Northern Ireland achieved a remarkable upset by defeating Spain. Despite Spain's strong lineup, Northern Ireland managed to secure a historic victory, leaving football fans in awe of their performance. This unexpected outcome showcased the unpredictable nature of the World Cup and the potential for underdog teams to shine on the global stage.

  • Gerry Armstrong's goal proved to be the decisive moment in the match
  • Mal Donaghy's red card added an extra layer of complexity to Northern Ireland's triumph
  • Spain's defeat highlighted the importance of staying focused throughout the tournament
  • The match between Northern Ireland and Spain remains a memorable chapter in World Cup history

Frequently Asked Questions

How Did the Losing Team React to the Upset?

Following the upset, losing teams displayed a range of player emotions from shock to disappointment. Coaches immediately strategized team adjustments to prevent future defeats. Some faced supporter backlash, while others focused on regrouping for upcoming matches.

Were There Any Controversial Referee Decisions in the Match?

Upon review, the Argentina vs Saudi Arabia match raised concerns of Referee Bias due to questionable decisions. Video Review could have rectified vital calls. In-depth analysis is needed to ascertain the impact of such controversial officiating on the game's outcome.

Did the Weather Conditions Impact the Game?

The weather impact on gameplay can greatly alter field conditions, influencing strategy. Extreme heat or rain can slow the pace, affect player performance, and lead to unexpected outcomes. Teams must adapt tactically to weather challenges for success.

Were There Any Key Player Injuries or Suspensions?

In the midst of high-stakes matches, player absences or team adjustments often play crucial roles in shaping outcomes. Key player injuries or suspensions can greatly impact a team's dynamics, necessitating strategic adaptations for success.

What Was the Post-Match Reaction From Fans and Analysts?

In the aftermath of the match, fans expressed profound disappointment, while analysts pointed out tactical errors and lack of team cohesion. The upset stirred a mix of disbelief and scrutiny, with many questioning Argentina's performance.


In the unpredictable world of FIFA World Cup, upsets have become a common occurrence, showcasing the beauty and excitement of the sport. As the saying goes, "Expect the unexpected," these top 10 biggest upsets remind us that in football, anything is possible. Each tournament brings forth new surprises, leaving fans in awe and making the World Cup a truly thrilling spectacle for all.

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