Wheels and Goals

News, updates, features and opinions on football and motor sport

The Curse of being World Cup holders

World Champions Spain were dumped out of the World Cup last night after losing 2-0 to Chile in their second group match.

The 2010 winners also lost their opening match 5-1 against Holland, meaning that they needed to at least draw last night’s match. Unfortunately Spain once again did not turn up on the night and were rightfully beaten by a hard-working Chile side.

This is not the first time that the reigning champions have gone out in the group stage however:

Italy 2006
Italy’s 2010 campaign in South Africa turned out to be one of their worst ever performances at the World Cup. The Italians finished bottom of a group that included Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia.

Italy drew both of their opening matches 1-1 (against Paraguay and New Zealand) before losing their final match 3-2 against the Slovakians. This was the first time in their history that Italy had failed to win a match at the World Cup Finals.

Marcello Lippi, who had led the Italians to glory in 2006, stepped down following the tournament’s conclusion.

Dejected Italy players as Slovakia celebrate

Dejected Italy players as Slovakia celebrate

France 2002
The French went into the 2002 World Cup as the reigning World and European Champions and expectations were high that they could continue their tremendous run.

Their 2002 campaign turned out to be a nightmare though as France were knocked-out in the group stages without scoring a single goal. The French were hit with an injury to star man Zinedine Zidane before the tournament started and then went on to lose their opening match 1-0 against World Cup newcomers Senegal.

France’s second match against Uruguay ended 0-0 with Thierry Henry receiving a red card mid-way through the first-half. Finally in their final group match, the French were well beaten by Denmark despite the return of Zidane. France’s time at the top of international football was over.

Brazil 1966
The Brazilian side had problems leading up to the World Cup held in England, with all of the major teams in Brazil wanting to see their players represented in the competition.

After finally cutting down the squad to the permitted 22, Brazil then faced problems on the pitch as the other nations introduced a tougher way of playing.

After scoring in the 2-0 win over Bulgaria, Pele was forced to missed their second match against Hungary, through fatigue after being constantly fouled in the opening game.

Brazil went on to lose against Hungary before Portugal defeated them 3-1 in their final match. Pele was once again targeted in this match and vowed never to play at the World Cup again.

Pele and Brazil went out early in 1966

Pele and Brazil went out early in 1966

Italy 1950
Italy had won the last two World Cups before the War but were never really in contention for the 1950 competition held in Brazil due to tragic events off the field.

The airplane carrying the Torino team, who had won 5 straight Serie A titles, crashed into Superga Hill killing 18 players. 10 of the tragically killed in the event were apart of the regular starting 11 used by the national team.

Not only did Italy not have any regulars in their team, but they also had to travel to Brazil by boat as air travel had been discarded due to the fear of a similar incident occurring.

As a result Italy lost their opening match against Sweden, although they did win their second and final match 2-0 against Paraguay. Sweden’s draw with Paraguay however meant that Italy’s World Cup was over.


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