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The 15 Biggest Upsets in World Cup History

The 15 Biggest Upsets in World Cup History

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We are four days into the 2014 World Cup, and to relieve some of the seriousness, here is a look at the 15 biggest upsets in World Cup history.

15. Costa Rica v. Scotland, 1990

1990:  Dave McPherson (left) of Scotland tackles J Cayass (right) of Costa Rica during the 1990 World Cup match at the Luigi Fenara Stadium in Genoa, Italy. Costa Rica won the game 1-0.  Mandatory Credit: Simon  Bruty/Allsport
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15. Costa Rica v. Scotland, 1990

1990:  Dave McPherson (left) of Scotland tackles J Cayass (right) of Costa Rica during the 1990 World Cup match at the Luigi Fenara Stadium in Genoa, Italy. Costa Rica won the game 1-0.  Mandatory Credit: Simon  Bruty/Allsport
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Although Scotland has never made it past the first round of the World Cup, it is still noteworthy that a small Central American country was able to defeat a European nation. Costa Rica won 1-0 over Scotland.

14. Iran v. USA, 1998

Iranian fans in the grandstand celebrate their 2-1 victory over the U.S.A as the result is flashed on an electronic display banner during the1998 FIFA World Cup Group F match between the USA and Iran on 21 June 1998 played at the Gerland Stadium in Lyon, France. (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)
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14. Iran v. USA, 1998

Iranian fans in the grandstand celebrate their 2-1 victory over the U.S.A as the result is flashed on an electronic display banner during the1998 FIFA World Cup Group F match between the USA and Iran on 21 June 1998 played at the Gerland Stadium in Lyon, France. (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)
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Heightened by intense political tensions, Iran was grouped with the United States of America in Group F. Even from the beginning of the match, tensions were displayed when Iran was given strict orders to not shake the Americans' hands. Iran won 2-1 over USA.

13. West Germany v. Algeria, 1982

22 Jun 1980:  West Germany celebrate with the trophy after victory in the European Championship Final against Belgium at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. West Germany won the match 2-1.  Mandatory Credit: Steve Powell /Allsport
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13. West Germany v. Algeria, 1982

22 Jun 1980:  West Germany celebrate with the trophy after victory in the European Championship Final against Belgium at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. West Germany won the match 2-1.  Mandatory Credit: Steve Powell /Allsport
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West Germany was favored to win by insurmountable odds. This is the first time an African country had ever won against a European nation; Algeria won 2-1 over West Germany.

12. Bulgaria v. Germany, 1994

10 JUL 1994:  THE SCOREBOARD AT GIANTS STADIUM SHOWS BULGARIA's 2-1 VICTORY OVER GERMANY IN THE QUARTER FINALS OF THE 1994 WORLD CUP AT GIANTS STADIUM IN THE MEADOWLANDS, NEW JERSEY. Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/ALLSPORT
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12. Bulgaria v. Germany, 1994

10 JUL 1994:  THE SCOREBOARD AT GIANTS STADIUM SHOWS BULGARIA's 2-1 VICTORY OVER GERMANY IN THE QUARTER FINALS OF THE 1994 WORLD CUP AT GIANTS STADIUM IN THE MEADOWLANDS, NEW JERSEY. Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/ALLSPORT
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Clearly Germany would be viewed as the favorite against a Bulgarian side. However, Bulgaria upset one of the World Cup’s favorites in 1994 and made it to the World Cup semifinals. Bulgaria won 2-1 over Germany.

11. Uruguay v. Costa Rica, 2014

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11. Uruguay v. Costa Rica, 2014

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This year has already seen the first of hopefully many upsets. Uruguay, 2010’s fourth place team, was predicted to win comfortably over Costa Rica due to the presence of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. However, Costa Rica came back to score three unanswered goals. Costa Rica won 3-1 over Uruguay.

10. South Korea v. Italy, 2002

DAEJEON - JUNE 18:  Jung Hwan Ahn of South Korea heads the winning goal past goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon of Italy during the FIFA World Cup Finals 2002 Second Round match played at the Daejeon World Cup Stadium, in Daejeon, South Korea on June 18, 2002. South Korea won the match 2-1 with a Golden Goal in extra-time. DIGITAL IMAGE. (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images)
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10. South Korea v. Italy, 2002

DAEJEON - JUNE 18:  Jung Hwan Ahn of South Korea heads the winning goal past goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon of Italy during the FIFA World Cup Finals 2002 Second Round match played at the Daejeon World Cup Stadium, in Daejeon, South Korea on June 18, 2002. South Korea won the match 2-1 with a Golden Goal in extra-time. DIGITAL IMAGE. (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images)
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Tournament favorites Italy were slotted against South Korea in the second round of the tournament. Incredibly, South Korea was not done surprising teams in the World Cup, as they made it to the third place match against Turkey. South Korea won 2-1 over Italy.

9. South Korea v. Spain, 2002

GWANGJU - JUNE 22:  South Korea celebrate victory after the FIFA World Cup Finals 2002 Quarter Finals match between Spain and South Korea played at the Gwangju World Cup Stadium, in Gwangju, South Korea on June 22, 2002. The match ended in a 0-0 draw after extra-time, with South Korea winning on penalties 5-3. DIGITAL IMAGE. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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9. South Korea v. Spain, 2002

GWANGJU - JUNE 22:  South Korea celebrate victory after the FIFA World Cup Finals 2002 Quarter Finals match between Spain and South Korea played at the Gwangju World Cup Stadium, in Gwangju, South Korea on June 22, 2002. The match ended in a 0-0 draw after extra-time, with South Korea winning on penalties 5-3. DIGITAL IMAGE. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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South Korea was given another tall task after the victory over Italy. South Korea now had to play Spain. The game would end up going into a penalty shootout while South Korea won 5-3 on penalties.

8. Spain v. Northern Ireland, 1982

16 Oct 1985:  Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings and Northern Ireland Manager Billy Bingham share a joke before a World Cup qualifying match against Romania in Bucharest, Romania. Northern Ireland won the match 1-0.  Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
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8. Spain v. Northern Ireland, 1982

16 Oct 1985:  Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings and Northern Ireland Manager Billy Bingham share a joke before a World Cup qualifying match against Romania in Bucharest, Romania. Northern Ireland won the match 1-0.  Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
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In 1982, Spain was the host country of the World Cup. Northern Ireland was at a disadvantage due to the environment and the inability to bring George Best out of retirement. Despite the added pressure, Northern Ireland proved solid against the host team. Northern Ireland won 1-0 over Spain.

7. Argentina v. Cameroon, 1990

1990: F. BIYIK OF CAMEROON SCORES AGAINST ARGENTINA DURING THE 1990 WORLD CUP IN ITALY.  Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/ALLSPORT
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7. Argentina v. Cameroon, 1990

1990: F. BIYIK OF CAMEROON SCORES AGAINST ARGENTINA DURING THE 1990 WORLD CUP IN ITALY.  Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/ALLSPORT
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Argentina, the reigning world champions of 1986, took on Cameroon. Argentina had the indomitable Diego Maradona, but he was not enough for the scrappy Cameroon side. Cameroon won 1-0 over Argentina.

6. USA v. Colombia, 1994

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6. USA v. Colombia, 1994

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Colombia, a highly talented team, was the favorite to win Group A and advance, but proved dismal with a previous loss to Romania. Colombia looked to bounce back against the United States of America, but due to an Andres Escobar own goal and Earnie Stewart goal, USA went on to win. USA won 2-1 over Colombia.

5. Spain v. Switzerland, 2010

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5. Spain v. Switzerland, 2010

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During group play, Spain and Switzerland were placed in Group H. Spain, a favorite to win the whole tournament and eventual champions, lost to an unknown Switzerland team. Although Switzerland did not advance into the knockout stages, the team will surely admire the victory. Switzerland won 1-0 over Spain.

4. Senegal v. France, 2002

SEOUL - MAY 31:  Papa Bouba Diop of Senegal celebrates scoring the winning goal against France during the first half of the France v Senegal Group A, World Cup Group Stage match played at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, South Korea on May 31, 2002. Senegal won the match 1 - 0. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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4. Senegal v. France, 2002

SEOUL - MAY 31:  Papa Bouba Diop of Senegal celebrates scoring the winning goal against France during the first half of the France v Senegal Group A, World Cup Group Stage match played at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, South Korea on May 31, 2002. Senegal won the match 1 - 0. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Obviously 2002 was a year full of upsets, as this is the third time the 2002 World Cup is on this list. France, the reigning World champions of 1998, was placed in the opening game against Senegal. France was a disappointment throughout the tournament, only achieving one point and scoring no goals. Senegal won 1-0 over France.

3. Italy v. North Korea, 1966

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3. Italy v. North Korea, 1966

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Italy, the 1966 World Cup favorite, tops the list again, this time at the hands of North Korea. North Korea won 1-0 over Italy.

2. USA v. England, 1950

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2. USA v. England, 1950

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In 1950, although this would be England’s first appearance in World Cup history, England was heavily favored over the USA. However, the USA would stun the English and would famously go down in history. USA won 1-0 over England.

1. West Germany v. Hungary, 1954

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1. West Germany v. Hungary, 1954

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This is a switch; usually one would believe West Germany would be the favorites, however, during the 1954 campaign, Hungary was actually the best team in the world and was unbeaten in six years of international play. This is No. 1 by far. West Germany won 3-2 over Hungary.