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Saudi Arabia’s victory over Argentina is the greatest upset in World Cup history

The two times world cup winner Argentina, 1978 and 1986, was stuck by a surprise of a different type in Qatar 2022. La Albiceleste wrote history this year in a different way. 

Argentina’s 2-1 defeat by Saudi Arabia in their group C match is the greatest upset in world cup history. 

La Albiceleste, the Argentina football team, is led by Lionel Messi, is ranked third in the world, was unbeaten for three years, and is among the teams that were predicted to win this year’s tournament. Everyone expected Argentina to win against Saudi Arabia since there is a 48 difference in their world ranking. 

All of the pre-match talks centered on Messi, one of the world’s greatest players who are likely to be playing in his final World Cup.

Argentina’s captain converted an early penalty to put his team ahead, but two second-half goals by Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari turned the game around.

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According to Gracenote, the previous most surprising World Cup victory was the United States’ victory over England in 1950, when the American team had a 9.5% chance of winning.

However, Saudi Arabia’s chance of victory on Tuesday was estimated to be 8.7%, putting the Green Falcons in the first place.

Gracenote stated that it makes use of the company’s “proprietary football ranking system to identify the most shocking upsets over the course of the World Cup’s storied 92 years.”

But what have been some of the World Cup’s other big upsets?

Italy 1990: Cameroon 1-0 Argentina

Cameroon's victory at Italia 90 changed the world's perception of African football.

Diego Maradona had taken the world by storm in 1986, delivering a string of spectacular individual performances as Argentina won its second World Cup.

Four years later, Italy hosted the World Cup, and Maradona had just led Italian club Napoli to an iconic Serie A title.

Argentina faced a Cameroonian team that had been eliminated in the group stages of that year’s Africa Cup of Nations and had recently recalled a then-38-year-old Roger Milla, who had not played for the Indomitable Lions in three years.

Cameroon didn’t let Maradona play, practically fouling him every time the Argentine magician touched the ball to the point where the African team was reduced to nine players by the end of the game.

However, Francois’s Omam-second-half Biyik header was enough to give Cameroon a famous victory.

South Korea and Japan 2002: Senegal 1-0 France

El Hadji Diouf was African player of the year in 2001 and 2002.

France won the World Cup on home soil in 1998, defeating Brazil 3-0 in the final. Two years later, France won Euro 2000 and was a strong favorite to retain its world title in South Korea and Japan.

France’s first game was against a Senegal team making its World Cup debut.

The former French colony was clearly eager to compete. Senegal went for the throat of its much-fancied opponent with iconic players such as El Hadji Diouf, Khalilou Fadiga, and current Teranga Lions head coach Aliou Cisse.

Diouf was spectacular, but it was the unheralded Papa Bouba Diop who scrambled home the game’s only goal to secure Senegal’s stunning victory.

Things went from bad to worse for France as the defending champion failed to reach the knockout stages, finishing bottom of its group.

Brazil 1950: USA 1-0 England

The 1950 US team reached the semifinals, the country's highest ever finish at the tournament.

Football had been fully professional in England for decades prior to the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, but this was the English team’s first appearance at a World Cup, having opted out of the previous three tournaments.

England faced a team of semi-professional and amateur players from the United States, including a grave digger, a dishwasher, and a postman.

But it was the amateurs who pulled off the first great World Cup upset, as Joe Gaetjens’ glancing header near the end of the first half was enough to secure the US a remarkable victory.

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