Spain and the 10 Biggest World Cup Letdowns

Spain and the 10 Biggest World Cup Letdowns

Spain v Chile: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
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Few people foresaw Spain being knocked out in the Group Stage of the 2014 World Cup after winning three straight major tournaments, making their performance one of the biggest letdowns in World Cup history. Of course, this wasn’t the first time a defending champion was knocked out early, and it wasn’t the first time a Spanish team had a disappointing performance at a World Cup. Here are 10 of the biggest letdowns in World Cup history.

10. USA - 1998

Alexi Lalas
Jerome Miron - USATODAY Sports

10. USA - 1998

Alexi Lalas
Jerome Miron - USATODAY Sports

After making a major breakthrough in 1994, U.S. soccer failed and then some to take another step forward in 1998. The low moment of the tournament was an embarrassing loss against Iran that the Americans suffered on their way to finishing dead last in the 32-team tournament.

9. Spain - 1998

Spain v Tahiti: Group B - FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013
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9. Spain - 1998

Spain v Tahiti: Group B - FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013
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The Spanish team in 1998 had high expectations but was quick to fall apart, losing the opener against Nigeria and playing a scoreless draw against Paraguay. It was only after their fate was out of their hands that they crushed Bulgaria 6-1, only to get eliminated in the Group Stage and become another under achieving Spanish side.

8. Kaka's 2 World Cups With Brazil

Kaka Balotelli AC Milan Chievo Serie A
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8. Kaka's 2 World Cups With Brazil

Kaka Balotelli AC Milan Chievo Serie A
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Kaka was once one of the best players in the world, but he failed in two tries to take Brazil deep into the World Cup. In both 2006 and 2010, Brazil were eliminated in the quarterfinals, and in his World Cup career, Kaka has as many goals as he does ejections: one. That goal came in his first World Cup game, and it was all downhill from there, making Kaka one of the biggest World Cup letdowns.

7. Spain - 1982

Spain v Chile: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
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7. Spain - 1982

Spain v Chile: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
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Spain hosted the 1982 World Cup, but were huge disappointments, winning just one of their five matches and suffering a loss to Northern Ireland as well as a draw against Honduras. This tournament was another example of Spain having a chance to make an impact on the world stage and failing to do so.

6. Portugal - 2002

Portugal Flag
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6. Portugal - 2002

Portugal Flag
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Before the days of Cristiano Ronaldo, this was Portugal's golden generation, and 2002 was supposed to be their year. But losses to the U.S. and South Korea knocked them out, and even a 4-0 win over Poland couldn't save them, as the Portuguese team went home early in 2002 in great shame at their missed opportunity.

5. France - 2002

France
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5. France - 2002

France
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France entered the 2002 World Cup as the defending world champions, but they suffered a shocking loss in the tournament opener to Senegal and then they were knocked out in the Group Stage without scoring a single goal in what was one of the most embarrassing performances of any world power at a major tournament.

4. Qatar Being Awarded The 2022 World Cup

Sepp Blatter
GEPA - USATODAY Sports

4. Qatar Being Awarded The 2022 World Cup

Sepp Blatter
GEPA - USATODAY Sports

This was a huge slap in the face to any country that's actually qualified for a World Cup and any country that can build stadiums without workers dying at a rate of one per day. Growth of the game is great, but that doesn't mean tiny countries with no soccer tradition and unbearable heat should host the World Cup. FIFA announcing that Qatar would host in 2022 was a huge letdown for soccer fans all over the world.

3. Colombia - 1994

USA V COLOMBIA
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3. Colombia - 1994

USA V COLOMBIA
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This was Colombia's golden generation, and they entered the World Cup as a dark horse to win the tournament. But those high hopes came crashing down in a hurry after they lost their opening game to Romania and were then stunned by the U.S. on their way to getting eliminated in the Group Stage. The letdown turned into tragedy with the murder of Andres Escobar following the tournament after he scored an own goal against the U.S.

2. Italy - 2010

Reasons Italy Wil Win 2014 World Cup
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2. Italy - 2010

Reasons Italy Wil Win 2014 World Cup
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Italy's world championship in 2006 was followed up by a pure disaster in 2010. It's not so much that the Italians failed to win a game and get out of the group, but they did so in a group that featured Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand, which wasn't exactly filled with heavyweights. Getting knocked out of such a weak group without winning game as the world champions was a huge letdown.

1. Spain - 2014

Spain v Chile: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
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1. Spain - 2014

Spain v Chile: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
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Spain's performance in this year's World Cup has to be considered the biggest letdown in World Cup history. Being eliminated with a game left to play is unprecedented for a defending champion, much less a team that won three straight major tournaments. Not only have Spain been sent packing early, but they've been outscored 7-1 in two games, which is a low moment, even for a nation that's suffered plenty of World Cup letdowns.

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