Tuesday 20 February 2018

World Cup shocks

Spain's recent domination of international football came to an end after their World Cup elimination at the hands of Chile
Spain's recent domination of international football came to an end after their World Cup elimination at the hands of Chile

Following Spain’s early World Cup elimination after their defeat to Chile, here are other times the holders have gone home far earlier than anticipated.

Italy - 2006 champions, eliminated in first round in 2010

Fabio Cannavaro lifted Italy's fourth World Cup in 2006 after a penalty shoot-out victory over France in a game best remembered for Zinedine Zidane's infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi. It was certainly reward for Cannavaro and Italy's defensive performances, having only conceded two goals in the entire tournament.

In 2010, the holders could have hardly asked for a kinder group, with Paraguay, Slovakia and new boys New Zealand. But it was one tournament too far for Italy's ageing squad, which included nine players over the age of 30.

They bowed out at the group stage without registering a win, with their nadir coming in an embarrassing 1-1 draw with New Zealand. The great Cannavaro, by then 36, retired after the tournament and admitted he had cried after their dismal defence of their trophy.

France - 1998 champions, eliminated in first round in 2002

France won their first World Cup on home turf in 1998, romping to victory with a dominant 3-0 victory over holders and favourites Brazil in the final.

Having gone on to win Euro 2000, there was great expectation that they would be able to retain the trophy in 2002. But the competition was an abject humiliation for the French and, after losing 1-0 to Senegal in the competition's curtain raiser, they went on to crash out in the group stage without scoring a single goal.

England - 1966 champions, eliminated in quarter-finals in 1970

The story of England's 1966 success is well known, from the resolute defending of Bobby Moore, the dynamic midfield play of Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst's hat-trick in the final which catapulted England to victory.

But hopes of more glory in 1970 in Mexico took a huge blow before the tournament even started when Moore was arrested and detained in Colombia for four days on suspicion of stealing a bracelet from a jewellery shop.

England advanced through a tough group which featured Brazil and came up against West Germany in the quarter-finals. Somehow, England contrived to throw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 in extra-time, with a blunder from stand-in goalkeeper Peter Bonetti partly responsible.

Bonetti had been drafted in as a last-minute replacement for regular keeper Gordon Banks, who was suffering from food poisoning. It was Bonetti's only World Cup appearance and he will forever be remembered as the man who lost England the chance to retain it.

Brazil - 1962 champions, eliminated in first round in 1966

Brazil won their second consecutive World Cup trophy in 1962 in Chile, retaining the majority of the players who had taken them to victory in 1958.

Inspired by the mercurial Garrincha and striker Vava, who scored four goals apiece in the tournament, they took the trophy after a 3-1 victory in the final over Czechoslovakia.

But any hope of an unprecedented third consecutive victory was quickly wiped out in England in 1966. After winning their first game against Bulgaria, the holders lost 3-1 to both Hungary and Portugal.

Pele, who had missed much of the previous tournament through injury, was hurt again in their first game in 1966 and could not save Brazil from elimination in a campaign now considered the country's worst ever.

Uruguay - 1930 champions, did not participate in 1934

Uruguay won the inaugural World Cup in 1930 on home soil with a 4-2 victory over Argentina in the final. The competition consisted of just 13 teams, but only four made the long boat journey from Europe.

In protest at their refusal to participate in 1930, Uruguay decided not to send a team to Italy in 1934, and remain the only country in World Cup history not to defend their title.

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