We all know the favorites for Qatar 2022. But every World Cup throws up a few surprises along the way, and this year is certain to be no different. Here, we look at some of the most memorable and surprising World Cup results from the past 20 years.
2002 – France go home goalless
France went into the 2002 World Cup in Seoul on top of the world. The defending champions had also won the European Cup and the team showcased some of the great talent of the era, legendary names like Thierry Henri, Zinedine Zidane and Patrick Vieira. They also had a relatively easy draw in Group A.
It all collapsed with incredible rapidity. France were eliminated at the group stage without scoring a single goal, and it all began with Senegal’s spirited but completely unknown team taking them by surprise in the opening game. Papa Bouba Diop, who tragically passed away in 2020, inked his place in the history books by finding the back of the net in the 30th minute.
2014 – Netherlands upset Spain
Brazil 2014 was one of the great World Cups for surprises. Spain were the defending champions and were warm favorites to finish comfortably atop Group B. Everything went to plan for the first 44 minutes of the first group match, as they sat on a 1-0 lead. On the stroke of half time, the Netherlands equalized, before scoring four more in the second half. Spain never recovered from the blow, and a further loss to Chile meant they were on the plane home.
As for the Netherlands, they were simply doing what they do so well. If you like to place sports bets and are looking to back a dark horse in Qatar, the Netherlands have a favorable draw in Group A and are capable of doing some giant killing in the knockout stages. They are currently quoted at 11/5 to repeat their 2014 heroics and once again to make the semi final stage, which are tempting odds.
2014 – Germany rout Brazil
The Netherlands were stars of 2014, but it is the other semi final that caused the uproar. Many were saying that Germany vs Brazil should have been the final, and that it would be a hard-fought tussle to the final whistle, and probably beyond.
The World Cup Gods had other ideas. Germany were 5-0 up at half time, and had added two more before Oscar’s consolation goal in the dying seconds. It was the manner of victory, rather than the result, that left the football world stunned.
2018 – The champion’s curse continues?
We’ve noted that in 2002 and 2014, the title holders were knocked out at the group stage. When Germany lost their opening group match to Mexico, the writing seemed to be on the wall. However, victory over Sweden left the group wide open, and Germany needed only to beat South Korea to proceed. In what the BBC described as one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history, South Korea scored twice in injury time having held the Germans to a stalemate for 90 minutes.
Will the Champions curse rear its head again in Qatar? On the face of it, France should proceed from Group D with ease, but after everything that’s happened over the years, we’re ruling nothing out.