The Greatest FIFA World Cup Upsets: Biggest Shocks In FIFA Tournament History

Five days of competition at the Qatar World Cup 2022 have already produced two significant FIFA World Cup upsets in the greatest and most prestigious competition in football. The Japanese squad stunned the Germans with a tenacious 2-1 victory, and Saudi Arabia pulled off a stunning upset by defeating Argentina 2-1 and snapping La Albiceleste’s 36-match unbeaten streak.

For supporters of the losing teams, these outcomes are like moments to be forgotten, but for the victorious teams and all neutrals, these outcomes are what make the World Cup great.

We examine some of the greatest shockers in FIFA World Cup history:

USA FIFA world cup upset England by winning 1-0 (1950)

It is known as the “miracle on grass” and is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in FIFA history. The United States had dropped seven consecutive international games before shocking everyone with a victory in which their goalkeeper was the standout player.

Argentina lost to Cameroon 1-0 in 1990

Argentina won the World Cup in 1986 and was considered the favourite going into the 1990 competition. They did, however, lose the competition’s opening game, which a downed Cameroon won 1-0. Even so, Argentina made it to the championship game, where they fell to Germany.

North Korea 1-0 Italy (1966)

In their first world Cup appearance, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stunned everyone by defeating two-time champion Italy. They eliminated Italy in the group stage of the 1966 FIFA World Cup, but they fell to Portugal in the quarterfinals and wouldn’t play again until 2010.

Senegal defeats France 1-0 in 2002

This was one of the most unexpected outcomes of the FIFA World Cup, as anyone who has followed football in the last two to three decades will recall. The Senegal team was competing in their first World Cup while France was the reigning champion. Senegal was ranked 68th at the time. However, a goal in the first half by Papa Bouba Diop earned them the win and allowed them to go to the quarterfinals.

Germany is defeated by Bulgaria (1994)

In 1994, Germany made its first participation as a unified country after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and they were hoping to defend their title. Hristo Stoichov of Barcelona led the surprise team of the tournament, Bulgaria. Before losing in the semifinals, they overcame Germany 2-1 in the quarterfinals.

Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina 2-1 in 2022

Snapping the 36-match unbeaten streak of the two-time World Cup champions and pulling off a major shock at the World Cup in Qatar. Argentina’s lone goal came from Lionel Messi on a penalty kick, but Saudi Arabia produced an incredible comeback by scoring two goals in the space of five minutes to tie the game.

The Argentines suffered a setback after having three goals disallowed, and Saudi Arabia’s second-half surge led to the tournament’s most improbable outcome.


The FIFA World Cup, which was first played almost a century ago, has gained popularity among football fans in part because it frequently produces unexpected outcomes. With the hosts competing in their first World Cup and defending African champions Senegal expected to become the continent’s first World Cup champions, Qatar 2022 offers a number of additional potential surprises in the Middle East.

Tanya CH

Tanya is a senior content writer in KEIZO.

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