The just concluded 2018 World Cup will go down as one of the best in recent memory. Fans were treated to breath-taking action, lots of late goals, disallowed goals, own goals and even theatrics from top goalkeepers.
What also stood out from this World Cup was the many number of upsets by the so called ‘smaller’ nations. Many betting companies surely got good value for their trade during the World Cup.
Any sort of past dominance and football pedigree was left by the wayside in Russia. It was a tournament for new forces to emerge and put the old guards in their place. Who could have predicted that a nation like Croatia would contest in a World Cup final?
The unpredictable nature of the World Cup kept fans entertained and there was no telling which side would prevail. These three upsets left fans in disbelief and epitomised what unfolded in football’s biggest tournament.
#3 Mexico 1-0 Germany
World champions Germany were one of the tournament favourites heading into the competition. They had a near flawless run in the qualifying round and were the top ranked side in the world. The only glitch for the Germans was the inclusion of Manuel Neuer in the squad as he was out injured for nearly a year and did not play competitively.
The Mexicans played with passion and lots of energy as the underdogs in this encounter at the Luzhniki Stadium Moscow.
Germany as expected bossed matters for majority of the match but it was the Mexicans who were more dangerous on the counter attack. In football, it is said that it only takes one chance to change a game and this was manifested in the match.
In the 35th minute, Sami Khedira was dispossessed off the ball by Hector Herrera deep into the Mexican half. This initiated a quick counter attack on the other end with Hector Moreno feeding Javier Hernandez.
Lozano easily dummied Mesut Ozil to his right before firing past the hapless Neuer. The Mexicans held on for the win and defended bravely.
#2 Russia eliminated Spain
Hosts Russia were probably the surprise team of the tournament by reaching the quarter-final. The nation had a poor record in their previous ten matches prior to the World Cup.
No one expected them to progress, and fancied Egypt and giants Uruguay to make the cut from Group A. However big wins in their opening match against Saudi Arabia and Egypt instilled some belief into the side.
They were the odds on favourites to prevail. On July 1st 2018 the two nations squared off at the Luzhiki Stadium. Eleven minutes into the match, it looked like business as usual for the Spanish.
Marco Asensio’s free kick from the right flank was turned into his own goal by Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich under pressure from Sergio Ramos.
Dzyuba stepped up to score the resultant penalty as the match ended 1-1 in normal and extra time. Russia prevailed 4-3 on penalties to dump out Spain from the World Cup.
#1 South Korea 2-0 Germany
The then defending champions Germany were again caught out twice in the space of two weeks. After their shock opening Group F loss to Mexico, they redeemed themselves with a last gasp 2-1 comeback win over Sweden in their second match.
On June 27 2018, they faced South Korea needing a vital win to qualify for the last 16. South Korea had lost their other two group matches and were already eliminated from the World Cup.
With time running out, panic started creeping into the German camp and they duly conceded. First, Kim Young-gwon was left unmarked following a corner and he was able to steer the ball past Neuer from two yards out.
Son Heung-min sprinted half the length of the field to score into the empty net with no marker in sight. The South Koreans were eliminated with pride as Germany finished rock bottom of the group.