5 Greatest Group Stage Upsets in World Cup History

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentMay 28, 2014

5 Greatest Group Stage Upsets in World Cup History

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    Diether Endlicher/Associated Press

    Even at the very highest level, the best teams don't have it all their own way.

    The history of the World Cup is littered with upsets, from the opening game of the tournament to the knockout rounds.

    Here's a list of the five biggest upsets in the group stages of the World Cup.

    Feel free to use the comments section below to agree, disagree and add your own. 

5. Spain 0 Switzerland 1 (2010)

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    Steve Haag/Getty Images

    European champions Spain arrived in South Africa as one of the favourites to win the 2010 World Cup.

    However, they found themselves on the back foot almost immediately after losing their opening game to Switzerland.

    The disappointment didn't last long, though. They beat Honduras, Chile, Portugal, Paraguay and Germany to reach the final, where they beat the Netherlands in extra time to win the trophy. 

4. France 0 Senegal 1 (2002)

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    France won the World Cup in 1998. Then, with almost the same group of players, they went and won the European Championship in 2000.

    The 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea proved a step too far.

    Senegal defeated the holders in the opening game, thanks to Papa Bouba Diop's goal. France didn't make it out of the group—thanks, in part, to not scoring a single goal. 

3. Italy 0 North Korea 1 (1966)

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    CARLO FUMAGALLI/Associated Press

    In 1966, North Korea turned up for the World Cup in England to fill the role of whipping boys.

    After losing 3-0 to the Soviet Union, a 1-1 draw with Chile should have been the highlight of their first World Cup appearance.

    It wasn't.

    In their final game, North Korea beat Italy to progress to the knockout rounds.

    There, they lost 5-3 to Portugal.

    It didn't matter. They had already shocked the world. 

2. Argentina 0 Cameroon 1 (1990)

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    Karlheinz Kreifelts/Associated Press

    Diego Maradona and Argentina made it all the way to the final of Italia '90. However, their campaign got off to the worst possible start.

    The holders were beaten in the San Siro by Cameroon, who won their first game at the World Cup finals.

    Francois Omam-Biyik's tame second-half header was the only goal, but it was enough for Cameroon, who ended the game with nine men. 

1. United States 1 England 0 (1950)

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    Associated Press

    A result that is remembered very differently, depending on which side of the Atlantic you happen to be on.

    England's defeat to the United States in 1950 is called "The Miracle on Grass" in America. In England, it's considered a national embarrassment.

    Walter Winterbottom's England were one of the favourites to win the World Cup in 1950. The United States were a group of amateurs.

    However, Joe Gaetjens' goal gave the United States a victory that was so improbable that English fans thought the result had been reported incorrectly when they read the newspapers.