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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Soccer Biggest Upsets: The Underdogs Who Shocked the World

Soccer Biggest Upsets – Soccer, also known as football, is the most popular sport in the world. With billions of fans worldwide, the sport has produced countless moments of drama and excitement. One of the most captivating aspects of soccer is the unpredictability of the game. Underdog teams have managed to pull off some of the most memorable upsets in soccer history, despite the odds being stacked against them.

In this article, we will take a closer look at some of these matches and the teams that made them happen.

The Miracle of Istanbul 

The 2005 UEFA Champions League Final between Liverpool and AC Milan is widely regarded as one of the greatest matches in soccer history. The Italian giants were the clear favorites, boasting a star-studded lineup including the likes of Andriy Shevchenko, Kaka, and Paolo Maldini. However, Liverpool, who had finished fifth in the English Premier League that season, had other ideas.

Soccer Biggest Upsets
Soccer Biggest Upsets

In the Miracle of Istanbul, Liverpool staged a remarkable comeback after trailing 3-0 in the first half. Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer, and Xabi Alonso scored goals to take the match to extra time. Eventually, Liverpool emerged victorious in the penalty shootout. The victory was even more impressive as Liverpool’s starting lineup featured lesser-known players like Djimi Traore and Jerzy Dudek.

Leicester City’s Title Triumph 

In the 2015-16 English Premier League season, Leicester City pulled off what many consider to be the greatest upset in the history of the sport. The Foxes, who had narrowly avoided relegation the previous season, were 5000-1 outsiders to win the league title. However, under the guidance of manager Claudio Ranieri, they defied the odds and secured the first top-flight title in the club’s history.


The story of Leicester’s title triumph is one of resilience and teamwork. Led by the goals of Jamie Vardy and the midfield brilliance of Riyad Mahrez, Leicester played with a fearless attacking style that caught their opponents off guard. Despite facing some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Manchester City, Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester held their nerve and won the title with two games to spare.

Iceland’s Euro 2016 Run 

Iceland is a country with a population of just over 300,000 people, making it one of the smallest nations in Europe. However, in the 2016 UEFA European Championships, Iceland made a big impact on the world of soccer. The team, which had never qualified for a major tournament before, made it to the quarter-finals before eventually losing to France.


Iceland built their success at Euro 2016 on a strong team ethic and a never-say-die attitude. Despite facing some of the best teams in Europe, including Portugal and England, Iceland refused to be intimidated. They played with confidence and belief that contradicted their status as underdogs. The team’s passionate supporters, who famously performed a Viking clap before each match, also played a key role in their success.

Greece’s Euro 2004 Victory 

In 2004, Greece shocked the soccer world by winning the UEFA European Championships. The Greeks were ranked 80th in the world at the time. They were given little chance of success in a tournament. The tournament featured some of the biggest names in the sport, including France, Germany, and Italy.


Greece’s success in Euro 2004 was based on a strong defense and a disciplined approach to the game. Led by manager Otto Rehhagel, the team adopted a cautious, counter-attacking style that frustrated their opponents and allowed them to grind out narrow victories. The final against Portugal was a perfect example of this, with Greece winning 1-0 thanks to a goal from Angelos Basinas.

USA’s Victory Over England in the 1950 World Cup 

In the 1950 World Cup, the United States, a team of part-time players and amateurs, caused one of the biggest upsets in soccer history by defeating England, the reigning world champions. 

USA's Victory Over England in the 1950 World Cup

The match, which took place in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, was expected to be a routine victory for England, who had a team full of top-class players.

However, the USA had other ideas. Led by goalkeeper Frank Borghi and defender Harry Keough, the Americans produced a resolute defensive display that frustrated the English. In the 37th minute, the USA took the lead through a goal from Joe Gaetjens, a Haitian-born forward who was playing for the USA. Despite heavy pressure from the English in the second half, the USA held on for a famous 1-0 victory.

Senegal’s Victory Over France in the 2002 World Cup 

The 2002 World Cup was expected to be a cakewalk for the defending champions, France. They had a star-studded squad that included players like Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry. On the other hand, Senegal was making their World Cup debut and had never won a match in the tournament before.


However, in the opening match of the tournament, Senegal shocked the world by defeating France 1-0. Bouba Diop scored the only goal of the match in the 30th minute, and Senegal held on for a famous victory. The Senegalese players were disciplined and organized, and they frustrated the French throughout the match. This upset set the tone for the rest of the tournament, and Senegal went on to reach the quarter-finals.

Costa Rica’s Performance in the 2014 World Cup 

In the 2014 World Cup, Costa Rica was drawn into a tough group that included former champions Uruguay, Italy, and England. No one expected the team to progress to the knockout stages, let alone make a deep run in the tournament.


However, Costa Rica shocked the world by winning their group and reaching the quarter-finals. They defeated Uruguay and Italy and drew with England to top their group. In the knockout stages, they defeated Greece on penalties to advance to the quarter-finals, where the Netherlands eventually knocked them out.

Costa Rica’s success in the tournament was built on a solid defense and a disciplined team ethic. They worked hard for each other and were not afraid to play with courage and determination. Their performances in the tournament were a reminder that in soccer, anything is possible, and that underdog teams can sometimes shock the world.

Cameroon’s Victory Over Argentina in the 1990 World Cup 

The 1990 World Cup in Italy saw Cameroon, a team from Africa, make their debut in the tournament. They were placed in a group that included Romania, the Soviet Union, and the reigning champions, Argentina.

cameroon's-victory-over Argentina-in-the-1990-world-cup

Cameroon faced Argentina in the opening match of the tournament, considering them one of the favorites to win the tournament. The Cameroonians, led by their captain, Stephen Tataw, produced a stunning performance to defeat Argentina 1-0. Francois Omam-Biyik scored the goal in the 67th minute, and Cameroon held on for a famous victory.

Cameroon’s success in the match relied on a solid defense and a well-organized team structure. They frustrated the Argentineans and limited their chances. Cameroon’s victory over Argentina set the tone for the rest of the tournament. They reached the quarter-finals but England eventually knocked them out.

This upset was significant for African football, as it showed that teams from the continent could compete at the highest level and beat some of the world’s best teams. Cameroon’s victory over Argentina remains one of the biggest upsets in soccer history. People still remember and cherish it as a proud moment for African soccer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1: What makes upsets so exciting in soccer? 

Upsets in soccer are exciting because they involve the unexpected defeat of a team considered to be superior. The drama of an underdog team defying the odds and triumphing over a more fancied opponent is one of the most captivating aspects of the sport.

2: What is the most famous upset in soccer history? 

There are many famous upsets in soccer history, but one of the most memorable is Leicester City’s title triumph in the 2015-16 English Premier League season. The Foxes, who were 5000-1 outsiders to win the title, defied the odds and secured their first top-flight title in the club’s history.

3: What qualities do underdog teams need to pull off an upset in soccer? 

Underdog teams that pull off upsets in soccer typically display a combination of resilience, teamwork, and tactical discipline. They must be willing to work hard and fight for every ball, and they must be able to adapt their tactics to nullify the strengths of their opponents.

4: What factors contribute to an upset in soccer?

Several factors can contribute to an upset in soccer. One factor is the difference in quality and talent between the teams involved. The underdog team may exploit weaknesses in the favorite’s gameplay or capitalize on defensive errors. Additionally, the underdog team’s motivation and determination, along with the favorite’s lack of complacency, can play a significant role in producing an upset.

5: Are upsets more common in cup competitions or league matches?

Upsets tend to be more common in cup competitions rather than league matches. In cup competitions, teams have limited opportunities to face each other, and the underdog may employ a specific game plan to counter the favorite’s strengths. Cup matches are often one-off encounters, which increases the possibility of unexpected outcomes. In contrast, league matches allow for a longer season where the overall quality of a team can shine through, making upsets less frequent.

6: Are there any instances of upsets in international tournaments?

Yes, international tournaments have witnessed numerous upsets throughout history. For example, in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Germany, the reigning champions. Germany, one of the tournament favorites, suffered elimination in the group stage, finishing last in their group. South Korea, an underdog in the tournament, defeated Germany 2-0, contributing to their shock exit. These upsets highlight the competitive nature of international tournaments and the potential for underdog teams to create surprising results.

7: Can weather conditions impact the likelihood of upsets in soccer?

Yes, weather conditions can sometimes play a role in producing upsets in soccer. Extreme weather, such as heavy rain or strong winds, can significantly impact the gameplay. It makes it more challenging for the favored team to execute their usual strategies. Underdog teams can benefit from adapting their tactics to suit the conditions. It creates a more level playing field and increases the chances of an upset.

8: What are some memorable upsets in domestic cup competitions?

Domestic cup competitions have seen their fair share of memorable upsets. In the FA Cup final of 1988, Wimbledon, a team from the lower divisions, defeated the mighty Liverpool. Liverpool were the reigning English champions at the time. Wimbledon’s disciplined defense and a goal from Lawrie Sanchez secured a 1-0 victory. It stands as one of the biggest upsets in FA Cup history.


Soccer is a sport full of surprises. The upsets that occur on the field are some of the most memorable moments in the sport’s history. Matches like the Miracle of Istanbul and Leicester City’s title triumph remind us that anything is possible in soccer. Underdogs can sometimes come out on top. Upsets may be rare, but they make soccer captivating and unpredictable. They are a testament to the determination and spirit of the teams that pull them off.

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