The Top 20 Most Amazing Upsets of
Ozren Podnar reports on the most amazing soccer upsets
Greek win in Portugal the biggest stunner of all time
Greece are the reigning European champions. Artmedia Petrzalka
and Thun are competing in the Champions' League. Once Caldas won
the Copa Libertadores last year. Hello!? Where is soccer going?
But, upsets are nothing new.
There have been quite a few in history:
Denmark won a European championships without even qualifying. Italy
lost to Korea. North Korea. Albania stopped Germany. Steaua beat
Barcelona in Seville by 2-0 and that was on penalties. Mechelen
won a Cup Winners' Cup. Here comes the ultimate selection of the
biggest upsets since the Second World War, according to the Soccerphile's
Top 20 Greatest Football Shocks
1. Greece wins Euro 2004
It's been 16 months since the event and many still cannot believe
how such an utter underdog carried away one of the biggest prizes
in the world of sports. Without a single international star, with
several good club players in Haristeas, Zagorakis, Yannakopoulos,
Basinas, Karagounis and an extraordinary coach in Otto
Rehhagel, the Greeks succeeded on the basis of tactical discipline,
fanatical commitment and supreme fitness. At the final tournament
they beat Portugal twice, and France and the Czech Republic between
the two wins over the hosts. It was a miracle of miracles, but a
2. Italy kicked out by Korea. North Korea. (1966)
Italy needed a point to reach the quarterfinals of the 1966 World
Cup in England, but the Koreans, whose tallest player measured about
169 cm, won their only World Cup game at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough.
Pak Doo Ik was the guy who scored the winner and he got an automobile
for that from the North Korean government. The Italian squad on
their return to Rome met with a shower of tomatoes and eggs.
3. US beat England. Not in basketball. (1950)
England faced a US team at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. Had it
been a World Cup in basketball, well, the US would have been expected
to win big. It was soccer though and an English walkover was in
order. But, a group of eleven guys from the States defeated eleven
top professionals from the cradle of soccer. Gaetjens scored the
winner in the 38th minute. Borghi even saved a second half penalty
from Stan Mortensen. However, only a few Americans know of this
game, despite the movie, The
Game of Their Lives. Too bad for them.
4. Denmark champions of Europe (1992)
It isn't that Denmark were bad, not at all. But, they were far
from the best team in the final stage in Sweden and no-one counted
on them in the first place because they had not qualified. Yugoslavia
finished ahead of them. After the qualifiers, Yugoslavia fell apart
and its remains, Serbia and Montenegro, earned themselves severe
UN sanctions over the war in Bosnia. UEFA was forced to follow suit
kicking out the rump-Yugoslavia and bringing in Denmark instead.
With a week's worth of preparations, without their top player Michael
Laudrup at odds with coach Möller-Nielsen, the Danes started
poorly, but picked up and went on to beat France, Holland and finally
the world champions Germany.
5. Uruguay on top of the World (1950)
Maybe Uruguay would have been the favourites on their soil, but
not at a Brazilian World Cup. During the tournament, Brazil had
been running riot (4-0 against Mexico, 6-1 against Spain, 7-1 against
Sweden) while Uruguay were barely scraping through. In the decider
the hosts, with 200,000 fans behind them, needed just a point to
finish as winners. They were even 1-0 up midway through the second
half. But, the visitors turned the things around to 1-2 causing
a ghastly silence at Maracaná.
6. Albania stops West Germany (1967)
In the qualifiers for Euro 1967 West Germany, World Cup runners-up,
had to beat Albania in Tirana to qualify ahead of Yugoslavia. They
had already beaten the Albanians 6-0 so there was no question how
the game would end. Amazingly, Albania held on to a 0-0 draw playing
for mere prestige, unless then friendly neighbouring socialist countries
had arranged a bonus or something.
7. Once Caldas win Copa Libertadores (2004)
* Boca Juniors play Once Caldas in the Copa Libertadores finals.
* On-ce Cal-das.
* Ok. Let us know by how many goals Boca won, because Boca are five
times South American champions, and we don't know about Once Caldas.
* So, what was the score?
* Once Caldas won.
* On-ce Cal-das, of Colombia.
* But it's unbelievable!
* So it is.
8. Artmedia 5-0 Celtic (2005)
Artmedia Petrzalka. Slovakian champions. The Scots must have been
laughing their heads off when they drew this team in the second
preliminary round of the 2005/06 Champions League. Then they lost
to them in Bratislava by five goals to nil. Artmedia later knocked
out Partizan Belgrade and went on to beat Porto by 3-2 away from
home. Their future wins will not cause any more surprise, but that
5-0 against Celtic was the big summer story of 2005.
9. Steaua wins Champions Cup (1986)
Barcelona had never been European champions but surely they were
going to be now. The finals was played in Seville and the 60,000
crowd at Sanchez Pizjuan stood firmly behind Barcelona. But, the
arrogant Spaniards underestimated the Romanian army team, backed
by Valentin Ceausescu, the more normal of dictator Nicolae's two
sons. Steaua played it safe for 120 minutes waiting for the penalty
shootout, where Helmut Duckadam performed some magic tricks by stopping
all four Barça's penalties. The final result was 2-0 for
Steaua and Bucharest saw the biggest celebrations until the 1989
10. Faroe Islands drown Austria (1990)
Tiny Faroe Islands played their first competitive game on September
12th 1990 against Austria. They received the Austrians in Landskrona,
Sweden, as there were no playable pitches in the Faroe Islands.
The best known man in their national team was the Dane Alan Simonsen,
1977 Golden Ball winner. The Faroes beat Austria by 1-0, although
Simonsen was just the coach.
11. Sunderland 1-0 Leeds (1973)
Sunderland, a 250-1 pre-tournament underdog, pulled off the biggest
upset in FA Cup history by coming out of the Second Division to
beat the defending champions Leeds United 1-0. Sunderland were the
first Second Division team to win the trophy for 42 years and their
achievement was all the greater for being achieved against a terrific,
all-conquering Don Revie's side containing 11 internationals.
12. Mechelen win the Cup Winners' Cup (1988)
In the mid-eighties tycoon John Cordier took over this small Belgian
provincial side, injecting several dozen million dollars into the
team. It was wonderful because Mechelen recruited internationals
from all over the place and went straight to the top of Belgian
and European soccer. In their first ever appearance, they won the
trophy without a defeat, beating Ajax in the finals 1-0. Soon the
European Supercup followed to the small stadium romantically named
Behind the Barracks. A few years later Cordier decided the deal
was not paying off. Today, Mechelen are a respectable third-division
13. UEFA Cup to Galatasaray (2000)
Turkish grounds are hot and the red-and-yellow stripes on Galatasaray's
shirts reflect the fire burning in fans' hearts on Ali Sami Yen
stadium. Still, "Gala" did not look like a cup-winning
material when Chelsea beat them 5-0 away early in the season. Worse,
Milan were winning by 2-1 in the decisive game for a UEFA Cup place
with ten minutes to go. Then "Gala" sensationally turned
the score to 3-2 to stay in Europe and stage a magnificent upset
in spring. Sükür and Hagi led Galatasaray in the finals
in Copenhagen where Arsenal were beaten 4-1 on penalties.
14. Senegal 1-0 France (2002)
France came to Japan and Korea carrying three trophies: World Cup,
European Championship and Confederations Cup. However, they were
stunned on their debut by Senegal, whose midfielder Pape Bouba Diop
scored the only goal after 30 minutes. The French were also unlucky;
Trezeguet hit a post while it was 0-0, and Zidane limped off early
with an injury.
15. Slovan edges Barcelona (1969)
Slovakia had another Artmedia in the late sixties. In fact, two
Artmedias, because Spartak Trnava made it to the Champions' Cup
semifinals in 1968/69. But, Slovan of Bratislava went all the way
in the Cup Winners' Cup. In the finals, they shocked Barcelona (and
everyone else) in a magnificent display in Basle. These were the
beautiful times of equality in European soccer.
16. Verona's scudetto (1985)
Inter, Milan, Juventus, Torino, Fiorentina, Napoli. These were
the big Italian clubs of the eighties. But, in 1984/85 the League
title went to aclub from a deep footballing province: Hellas Verona!
The romantic city from the north saw its second great love story.
Unlike the one about Romeo and Juliet, this one had a happy ending.
17. Videoton in the UEFA Cup finals (1985)
Ah, the mighty Videoton! Few people had heard of them before that
magical season, but the Hungarian provincials had a special inspiration.
They felled Paris SG, Partizan Belgrade and Manchester United before
reaching the finals against Real Madrid. The Spaniards duly won
the first leg in Szekesfehervar by 3-0 but the Hungarians struck
back by 1-0 at Bernabeu, saying goodbye to Europe on a high note.
Before returning to utter anonimity.
18. Maribor trounces Lyon (1999)
The creation of the big Olympique Lyon was nearing completion
and a place in the Champions' League was expected as early as the
autumn of 1999. But, the Lions were perhaps confused by the Slovenes'
defeat to Ajax by 9-1 just two years earlier. It must have been
terrible for the future kings of French soccer to lose to the Slovenian
minnows twice, 0-1 at Gerland and 0-2 in the second leg in Maribor.
19. Panathinaikos European runners-up (1971)
Nobody feared Panathinaikos in 1970/71. To be the champions of
Greece meant little to the European continent. The team coached
by mythical Ferenc Puskas took advantage of their rivals' arrogance,
knocking out one after another: Slovan Bratislava, Everton and Red
Star Belgrade. Particularly shocking was the semifinal clash against
Red Star who had travelled to Athens with a 4-1 advantage, only
to lose out on the away goals rule. In the finals at Wembley, Ajax
fulfilled the expectations coming out winners by a deserving 2-0.
20. Cameroon 1-0 Argentina (1990)
Argentina were the world champions from Mexico, Cameroon just
a likeable African squad. At the 1990 World Cup opening at San Siro,
the play did not reflect the huge difference in the teams' reputations.
Omam-Biyik staggered Argentina and the world with a goal in the
67th minute, inflicting a shameful defeat on the champs. Later,
wily Argentinians, albeit struggling, soldiered on and reached the
finals, while Cameroon were to lose in the quarterfinals in that
gigantic game with England.