When the underdog had its day – Recent World Cup and Euros shocks & surprises


Algeria shocked the giants of West Germany 2-1, one of their two victories in the group stage. However, they were denied qualification when Germany beat Austria 1-0 in controversial circumstances – the result conveniently allowed both teams to progress at the African nation’s expense. In subsequent tournaments, the final two games in each group have always been played simultaneously.


The first African country to reach a World quarter-final, Cameroon dramatically won the tournament’s first match, 1-0 against Argentina, despite having two players sent off. Then two goals from Roger Milla, accompanied by his unforgettable goal celebrations, saw them to a second round win over Colombia, setting up a quarter-final with England. Bobby Robson’s team were lucky to progress after equalising with a late penalty and sealing the match in extra time via another spot kick.


Undoubtedly one of the most remarkable stories from any Euro finals. Many of the Danish players had departed on holiday when, at a few weeks notice, they were invited to compete in the finals following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Denmark began unremarkably, failing to score in their first two matches, but a 2-1 win over France saw them through to the semi-finals. A brace from Henrik Larsen gave them a 2-2 draw with an exceptionally strong Netherlands team, and Larsen was again on target in their successful penalty shoot-out. A 2-0 win over Germany completed the Danish fairytale.


This East European nation has only progressed beyond the group stage at a major tournament on one other occasion, but led by the talismanic Hristo Stoichkov, they reached the semi-finals here.

Hopes were not high following a 3-0 loss to Nigeria, but Stoichkov proceeded to score in every game thereafter. The victories over Argentina in the group stage and Germany in the quarter-final surely rank as the greatest occasions in Bulgarian football history. Their tournament ended with defeat to Italy in the last four. Stoichkov, with Barcelona at the time, was the joint winner of the tournament’s Golden Boot and was later crowned European Footballer of the Year for 1994.


Co-hosts South Korea topped their group having beating Poland and Portugal, but they hadn’t finished making the headlines. A 2-1 round of 16 victory over Italy duly followed, however Ahn Jung-Hwan’s reward for scoring the winner was to be sacked by his Italian club Perugia!

The upsets continued as the Koreans beat Spain on penalties, before losing 1-0 to Germany in the last four. Park Ji-Sung, who has had an excellent career with Manchester United, was one of the players who sprung to prominence.


150-1 outsiders Greece shocked the footballing world by emerging as tournament winners in 2004. They scraped through the group stage, but then 1-0 wins over France, Czech Republic and Portugal took them to an unlikely title. Much of their success was built on a well-organised defence and the tactical expertise of their German coach Otto Rehhagel, but in Georgios Karagounis and Angelos Charisteas, Greece had two skilful players capable of mixing it with the best.

England vs Bulgaria: Three Points A Must For Fabio Capello’s Men

England continue their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign this week with fixtures against Bulgaria and Wales promising to give the fans a better idea of the nation’s chances of competing in Poland and Ukraine next year. With Fabio Capello’s men locked at the top of Group G on 11 points with Montenegro and an away day in Podgorica still to come, the Three Lions can ill-afford many more slip-ups.

The Italian coach has selected a number of promising youngsters in his squad for the match in Sofia, and it will be interesting to see whether the likes of Manchester United pairing Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley are trusted to start the match. Chris Smalling has impressed the former Real Madrid coach thus far this term, and should also pick up his international debut at right back. With no Rio Ferdinand to call upon, it will be a toss up between Jones, Lescott and Cahill to who partners skipper John Terry in the heart of the English rearguard.

In attack Wayne Rooney will harbour the responsibility of getting the goals to win the match, and the United striker has started the season in blistering form, with a hat-trick against Arsenal last Sunday ensuring the 25-year-old goes into the game full of confidence. Darren Bent is an injury concern so Andy Carroll may accompany the former Everton man up front.

Bulgaria were put to the sword at Wembley in the return fixture back in September 2010, with Jermain Defoe scoring three in a comfortable 4-0 win. The away match will be no walk in the park however, as the luxury and familiarity of Wembley will be traded in for the hostility of the Stadion Vasil Levski.

The home side no longer have all-time top goalscorer Dimitar Berbatov to call upon, who quit the international set-up back in May 2010, but despite this Bulgaria will have some strong players on show come Friday. Stiliyan Petrov will be a familiar face for the away midfield, and the likes of Scott Parker or Gareth Barry will need to get close to the Aston Villa midfielder, who has the ability to shoot from distance or create chances for others. Former Manchester City forward Valeri Bojinov has not been selected in the squad, but Bolton’s Martin Petrov may feature.

The match will be given an extra bite by the fact that the home coach Lothar Matthaus has been vocal in the media this week and will motivate his players to get three points on Friday. The former Germany international got the better of England in his playing days, and will look to replicate this in his managerial tenure, despite the fact that Bulgaria are almost assured of missing out on Euro 2012.

A win would go far to alleviating fears of a do or die game in Montenegro next month, a draw is not ideal but would be acceptable and a loss would put the nation’s chances of competing in the European Championships in jeopardy. Expect a hostile reception from a passionate home faithful, and Bulgaria to come out of the blocks quickly, but if England can weather an early storm they should have the players and the experience to see them home.

Published – http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/opinion/85363/england-vs-bulgaria-three-points-a-must-for-fabio-capellos-men.html

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