Upsets and the World Cup have become synonymous

As Switzerland defy odds to shock European champions and favourites Spain 1-0 in the final first round match, Bikash Mohapatra argues the trend of upsets has become so synonymous with the World Cup that an edition sans one such result does lose some of its lustre.

It might pass off as a quiz question.

Which unheralded team got the better of England at the 1950 World Cup?

Those of you who follow football will promptly come up with the answer.

And you all are right, it is the US team.

But the point doesn't lie in the answer but the trend the result set.

The American squad was made up of amateurs, and they were supposed to have no chance against one of the best teams in the world then.

But Joe Gaetjen's famous goal in Belo Horizonte not only ensured a stunning win for the underdogs but also marked the first instance of an upset in World Cup football.

Uruguay's win in the final that year against hosts Brazil at a packed Maracana stadium was a similar result.

And so was West Germany's come-from-behind win over the Ferenc Puskas-inspired Magical Magyars (Hungary) in the final four years later.

Upset results have since become synonymous with the World Cup.

Scratch your heads and you will recall Pak Do Ik's goal which gave North Korea a surprise win over Italy in the 1966 edition, Algeria getting the better of the mighty West Germans in their maiden appearance in 1982, or for that matter Omam Biyik ensuring unheralded Cameroon a shocking 1-0 win over holders Argentina in 1990.

The trend has become such that an edition sans an upset result does lose some of its lustre. Yes, we are definitely hinting at Germany (2006), the only recent edition without an upset.

Switzerland's 1-0 win over European champions and favourites Spain is the latest addition to the list of upsets.

The Swiss had never beaten the Spaniards, unbeaten in 12 prior games and one of the favourites to win, in 19 previous attempts - dating back to 1925 - but Wednesday's result at Durban ensured the biggest shock of the ongoing edition.

As a Swiss celebrate and the Spaniards plot a comeback, we take a look at the some of the biggest upsets in the World Cup in recent years.

Image: Switzerland's Fernandes celebrates after scoring against Spain's goalkeeper Casillas
Photographs: Reuters