5 Shock Early World Cup Exits

Spain’s shock 2-0 defeat to Chile on Wednesday meant the reigning World Cup champions became the first side to be eliminated from this summer’s tournament. The heavily backed favourites, who have dominated world football in recent times, are not the first team who have underperformed and crashed out early in World Cup history…


5) England 1950


England first took part in a World Cup during the 1950 finals in Brazil. It may sound strange these days, but England were the 3/1 favourites to win the tournament. The side, which contained future World Cup winning manager Alf Ramsey, got off to a winning start with a 2-0 win over Chile. Then came one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history, as England went down 1-0 against the USA- whose team back then consisted of amateurs. The result was so improbable that when it was printed in the English newspapers, fans back home presumed it was a typo which should have read 10-0. A 1-0 defeat to Spain in the Maracana meant that Spain progressed and England crashed out at the first hurdle.


4) Argentina 2002

Sweden celebrate

Argentina began their 2002 World Cup campaign as 2nd favourites, despite being put in a tough group comprising of England, Sweden and Nigeria. They began well with a 1-0 win over the Super Eagles, before falling 1-0 to England, thanks to David Beckham’s infamous penalty. That meant the Argentines had to win their last group game against Sweden to avoid an early exit. They drew 1-1, finishing 3rd in the group. The team hadn’t been humiliated, but had underperformed and therefore failed to progress in a tournament in which many had expected them to do well.


3) Brazil 1966

Brazil 1966

Brazil entered the 1966 tournament as current holders, and with the likes of Pele, Tostao and Garrincha in their side, were expected to do well. Their campaign got off to a winning start with a 2-0 win over Bulgaria, in a game which was marred by an injury to Pele. However, 3-1 defeats in their final group matches against Hungary and Portugal meant the Brazilians crashed out in the group stages.


2) Italy 2010


Having gone into the 2010 finals as defending champions, and with what appeared to be an easy group comprising of Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand, few could have predicted Italy’s poor campaign 4 years ago. Marcello Lippi’s men began with 2 1-1 draws against Paraguay and minnows New Zealand, before Slovakia sent the Azzurri onto the plane home with a 3-2 defeat. Shocked and humiliated, it was a campaign to forget for the Italians.


1) France 2002


Having shocked the world 4 years earlier by claiming World Cup glory in 1998, the 2002 tournament was a nightmare in contrast for the French. Heavily backed to repeat the feat of 98, France went down 1-0 in a shock opening night defeat against Senegal. A goalless draw with Uruguay followed, before a 2-0 loss to Denmark meant the defending champions crashed out in the group stages. Humiliated and despondent, the French finished the campaign without a win and bottom of the group.


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