When David and Goliath are facing off, the result is never as obvious as it seems. Especially in football, where weaker teams have many chances to win against teams that seem unbeatable based on predictions.
ARGENTINA – SAUDI ARABIA 1-2
The first match of Group C of Qatar 2022, the one between Argentina and Saudi Arabia, demonstrates this without too much difficulty. The Albiceleste arrive in the Persian Gulf after going 36 games without losing, after winning the last Copa America, and with Leo Messi planning to sign for the last world cup he will play in.
In addition, in the first half, the South Americans showed all their potential, taking the lead and seeing three goals disallowed for offside. But in the second half, Argentina falls asleep, and the unthinkable happens: Saudi Arabia scores, incredibly for live bets, two goals in five minutes, and then gives life to a ferocious and particularly successful resistance.
Even with 14 minutes to get back on track, Messi and his teammates can’t score at least one goal to tie the game.
Therefore, in spite of the very high odds reserved for the possible victory of the Saudis, the first surprise of the 2022 World Cup is served, with one of the favorites of the tournament losing against a team considered to be of a much lower level. However, it is certainly not the first time this has happened in recent decades.
ARGENTINA – CAMEROON 0-1
Indeed, one of the first such surprises occurred in 1990, when Argentina faced Cameroon in the tournament’s opening match in Italy. Maradona’s Albiceleste is the current world champion and has a team that looks like it will do well again.
The forecast is all for Diego and his teammates, but the game says something else. The first half ends 0-0, but the second half starts badly for Cameroon, who are left with ten players in the 60th minute due to the expulsion of Kana-Biyik.
Even though Argentina had more players, they somehow gave up goals. Omam-Biyik, whose header isn’t exactly unstoppable and is literally joined on goal by a not-very-good Pumpido, is the face of Providence for the Africans.
The Albiceleste wakes up at this point, but N’kono’s performance and the Africans’ tenacious defense (who even stay in nine when Messing decides to shoot down Caniggia, who caught him in speed) cause the final whistle of the French Vautrot, leading to one of the most shocking World Cup results in history.
FRANCE – SENEGAL 0-1
The first-game syndrome also affects another defending champion, France. The 2002 edition of the World Cup, the one that takes place in Japan and South Korea, opens with the match between the Transalpines and Senegal, which is making its debut in the event. It soon becomes clear that France is a distant relative of the one that lifted the cup in 1998, and the debut against the Africans takes on the contours of a nightmare for the Galletti.
In the middle of the first half, Trezeguet’s post arrives, followed in the next half hour by the sensational advantage of Senegal. Bouba Diop, who scored the first goal of the 2002 World Cup with an amazing strike after a ride on Diouf’s wing, will go down in history.
There would be plenty of time for Lemerre’s team to overturn the result, but France is not at all lucid. The rest of the game is almost a transalpine monologue, but Senegal perches as best it can and snatches victory, paving the way for the French, who finish last in their group.
ITALY – COSTA RICA 0-1
In 2014, the unexpected embarrassment fell to Italy. The Azzurri are certainly not those of 2006, but they arrive in Brazil as vice-champions of Europe, and in the first match they get the better of a high-level opponent like England.
The second match of the group pits Prandelli’s team against Costa Rica.
A draw would be enough to sail with a certain tranquility towards the round of 16, but things are going badly for Italy. The excellent defense of the Ticos and the quick restarts put the Azzurri in difficulty, with Buffon being forced into various very complicated interventions in the first half. At half an hour, Pirlo puts Balotelli ahead of Keylor Navas, but Super Mario eats the opening goal.
And just before the intermission comes the goal that condemns Italy to defeat: Ruiz makes a strong break away from Chiellini’s catch at the far post and closes the header under the crossbar after Diaz crosses.Italy was hit, and in the second half, they scared their opponents only with shots from outside and set pieces, even risking being doubled.
The first round ends in a very sad and unexpected way: Costa Rica wins its group and moves one-step closer to the semi-finals, while the Azzurri have to go home after losing the decisive game to Uruguay…
GERMANY – SOUTH KOREA 0-2
The last big surprise in chronological order still concerns a reigning world champion team. After winning the 2014 edition, Germany began the 2018 edition in Russia by losing to Mexico.
The Mannschaft gets back in the running by winning against Sweden, but to go through, they must necessarily beat South Korea in the last match of the group. After losing their first two games, the Koreans have already been mathematically eliminated, so it makes sense that the Germans will be able to bring home wins and qualify.
However, it doesn’t go like this, because South Korea honors the game and resists the real siege of the Germans. In addition, when Löw’s team rushed forward in the final minutes to score the goal they needed, the unthinkable happened.
First, on a corner kick, the German defense loses Kim, who has plenty of time to turn around and put the 1-0 into the net in the 93rd minute. Then Neuer, even in the offensive frontline, loses the ball, and Son is faster than his marker, scoring the sensational 2-0, which eliminates Germany as last in its group