The biggest upsets in World Cup history

Saudi Arabia's remarkable upset of Argentina at the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup was one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

Avignyan Mukhopadhyay
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The biggest upsets in World Cup history: Cover | Sportz Point

Saudi Arabia's remarkable upset of Argentina at the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup was the latest, and one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

World Cup history is full of memorable David vs. Goliath wins, dramatic comebacks and defending champions suffering embarrassing defeats, as tournament dreams are made and broken.

Qatar 2022 offers a host of other potential shocks in the Middle East, with the hosts featuring in their first ever World Cup, and defending African champions Senegal tipped to be the continent's first ever World Cup winners.

Sportz Point gives our take on the biggest upsets in World Cup history:

5. South Korea 2-1 Italy (2002)

The biggest upsets in World Cup history: Italy | Sportz Point

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Despite four successive winless group-stage exits between 1986 and 1998, confidence amongst hosts South Korea hinted at a shock in the 2002 tournament.

Roared on by a fanatical home support, Guus Hiddink's side topped their group, with impressive wins over Poland and Portugal.

However, a showdown with Italy in the last 16 looked to be a major test of their capabilities, as Hiddink's side survived a barrage of Italian pressure.

The host nation stayed in the game, as Italy struggled to build on their 1-0 lead, before Seol Ki-hyeon's equaliser forced extra time and Ahn Jung-hwan's golden goal won it.

Despite the huge acclaim for South Korea's shock, the post-tournament chat was dominated by allegations of corruption in their subsequent quarter-final win over Spain.

4. Cameroon 1 - Argentina 0 (1990)

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Defending champions Argentina arrived at Italia '90 looking to win a third title in 12 years and become only the third side to defend the World Cup.

Led by Diego Maradona, La Albiceleste eventually lost out to West Germany in the final, but they were dealt a major shock in their opening fixture.

Cameroon were aiming to build on a poor World Cup debut in 1982, and they sucker-punched an off-form Argentina in Milan, as François Omam-Biyik netted a late winner.

Valery Nepomnyashchy's side were eventually knocked out by England in the last eight, as they broke new ground for African nations at the World Cup.

3. Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia (2022)

Argentina were fancied for the title by many when they arrived in Qatar as Copa America winners under the captaincy of seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi.

Against a Saudi Arabia team ranked 48 places below them in the FIFA rankings, Lionel Scaloni's side made an ideal start when Messi converted a 10th-minute penalty.

There were few signs of danger until Saleh Al-Shehri slotted in with 48 minutes gone. Five minutes later, the shock was on when Salem Al-Dawsari's stunning strike sent the green shirts in the crowd into delirium.

Scaloni's players needed to avoid defeat to equal Italy's record of 37 international matches unbeaten, and they were expected to break it against Mexico in their subsequent game.

As it was, their resolute opponents deservedly held on for one of the most memorable results in history, and according to US bookmaker BetMGM the biggest odds upset of all tine.

2. Senegal 1 - France 0 (2002)

The biggest upsets in World Cup history: France | Sportz Point

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Senegal, playing in its first ever World Cup, defeated the overconfident French squad in the tournament opener.  France had won the previous World Cup.

Roger Lemerre's France were to suffer the curse of the defending champions ahead of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

Les Bleus build up was dogged by minor controversies, and despite the talents of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, they struggled without Zinedine Zidane in their opener.

Senegal took full advantage of France's stage fright. to announce themselves on the World Cup stage, through Papa Bouba Diop's iconic winner.

1. USA 1 - England 0 (1950) 

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It was dubbed the, "Miracle on Turf".  The United States had lost seven straight international matches by a combined score of 45-2 coming into this one, so you can easily see why they would have been considered the underdogs. 

However, the English players were a little too cocky for their own good.  But this was America's only win at the World Cup that year, but who cares.

Despite only making their World Cup bow at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, England were tipped to upset the established order, against an unfancied United States side filled with part-time players.

Joe Gaetjens' goal sealed a 1-0 win for the US, but the narrative of the game continued for decades after, with The Game of Their Lives book and film dedicated to the major shock caused by Bill Jeffrey's side.

This completes our list of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. Follow Sportz Point.

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