Where Saudi Arabia’s win ranks among biggest World Cup upsets – NBC Chicago


Well, no one saw it coming.

Saudi Arabia shocked the world with their 2-1 win over Argentina on Tuesday. It was quickly ranked as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history – No.51-ranked Saudi Arabia had won just three World Cups, while Argentina , ranked No. 3, was riding a 36-game unbeaten streak.

Lionel Messi’s squad is not yet finished in Qatar, with two must-see virtual games against Mexico and Poland. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, now have a realistic chance of advancing to the knockout stages for the second time in their history.

Apart from Argentina’s stunning defeat on Tuesday, here’s a look at five of the biggest upsets in World Cup history:

2002: Senegal 1, France 0

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Pape Bouba Diop heads the ball during the Senegal-France opening match for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan in Seoul, May 31, 2002. Diop scored the first and only goal of the match, leading his team to a victorious victory against France.

After a World Cup victory in 1998, France’s title defense was quickly thwarted. In the opening match at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, France lost 1-0 to Senegal in a thrilling contest. Bouba Diop scored for Senegal in the 30th minute, while goalkeeper Tony Sylva held off the dominating duo of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira. France were eliminated in the group stage.


1990: Cameroon 1, Argentina 0

Diego Maradona of Argentina and Andre Kana-Biyik of Cameroon battle for the ball during the FIFA World Cup Italy Group B match between Argentina and Cameroon at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on June 8, 1990 in Milan , Italy.

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Diego Maradona of Argentina and Andre Kana-Biyik of Cameroon battle for the ball during the FIFA World Cup Italy Group B match between Argentina and Cameroon at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on June 8, 1990 in Milan , Italy.

Another defending champion went down in their opening game in 1990. As in 2022, Argentina entered their first game in 1990 as heavy favorites before missing out. Cameroon ended up winning the group, while Argentina advanced narrowly after finishing in third place. Diego Maradona’s side turned things around and reached the final before losing to West Germany.


1982: Algeria 2, FRG 1

Where Saudi Arabia's win ranks among biggest World Cup upsets - NBC Chicago

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West Germany’s Paul Breitner, right, battles for possession with Algerian midfielder Mustapha Dahleb during the World Cup first round soccer match between West Germany and Algeria on June 16, 1982, in Gijon, Spain. Algeria won over West Germany 2-1.

World Cup debutants Algeria beat two-time champions West Germany in the opening match of the 1982 World Cup. Algeria took the lead in the 54th minute with a goal by Rabah Majer. The Germans equalized in the 67th minute, but Alergia quickly regained the decisive advantage a minute later. West Germany, like Argentina in 1990, lost in the final after their first upset defeat.


1966: North Korea 1, Italy 0

North Korean striker Pak Doo Ik, far left, scores from 20 yards during North Korea's World Cup match against Italy at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough, England on July 19, 1966.

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North Korean striker Pak Doo Ik, far left, scores from 20 yards during North Korea’s World Cup match against Italy at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough, England on July 19, 1966.

On their World Cup debut, North Korea stunned Italy in the third and final match of the group. The game determined who would advance to the knockout stage alongside the Soviet Union, which made this surprise even bigger. Italy won the World Cup in 1934 and 1938, with a rich history of football in the country. It was the fifth consecutive World Cup where Italy did not reach the knockout stage after their back-to-back titles.


1950: United States 1, England 0

England midfielder Thomas Finney, center, tries to head the ball past USA defenders Charlie Colombo and Edward John McIlvenny during the World Cup first round match between England and USA on June 29 1950. The United States rout heavy favorites England 1–0 with a goal scored by striker Joseph Gaetjens.

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England midfielder Thomas Finney, center, tries to head the ball past USA defenders Charlie Colombo and Edward John McIlvenny during the World Cup first round match between England and USA on June 29 1950. The United States rout heavy favorites England 1–0 with a goal scored by striker Joseph Gaetjens.

An American team full of part-timers beating the nation that invented the game? Yeah, it’s a huge upheaval. It was England’s World Cup debut as they were non-members of FIFA in the first three tournaments, but they were one of the favourites. Both nations failed to make it out of Group 2 after each posting a 1-2 record.

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