Germany in 2018 and 15 Other Embarrassing World Cup Exits

When it comes around every four years, the World Cup showcases the best soccer teams and their players for the ultimate prize. Fans never expect the worst-ranked teams to do anything, but when a powerhouse goes down, it’s a surprise. Germany’s 2018 performance and the United States in 1998 aren’t the only embarrassing World Cup exits we’ve seen.

As we’ll see, the team at No. 6 probably had the worst performance we’ve ever seen from a world power!

16. Argentina

Argentina fan

Fans definitely weren’t this happy with Argentina’s embarrassing World Cup exit in 1958. |Julian Finney/Getty Images

Year: 1958

Group points: 2

Goals scored: 5

Argentina made its first World Cup appearance since 1934 at the 1958 tourney in Sweden, but it might as well have stayed away. It was among the favorites to win the tournament, but it didn’t even leave the group stage. A 6-1 humiliation against Czechoslovakia in the third game contributed to 10 goals against, a -5 goal differential, and to one of the most embarrassing World Cup exits of the 20th century.

Next: Not what you’d expect at all from this South American powerhouse.

15. Brazil

Pele won three World Cup titles with Brazil, but 1966 wasn’t one of them. | Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Year: 1966

Group points: 2

Goals scored: 4

Brazil’s 1966 World Cup team included Pele in his prime long before he retired plus a host of other talented players. The two-time defending champs were favorites to win again, but all the got was one of the most embarrassing World Cup exits ever, especially when you consider the team’s history of success.

Brazil defeated group doormat Bulgaria in the first game but lost 3-1 against both Hungary and Portugal to end the tourney. That showing was only the second time the country failed to advance from the group.

Next: High hopes came up short.

14. Spain

The Spanish flag. | Getty Images

 

Year: 1978

Group points: 3

Goals scored: 2

The Spanish went 1-1-1 in group play in 1978, good for three points in the days when wins earned two points and tied one. A 2-1 loss against Austria in the first World Cup game was too big of a setback for Spain, which entered with high hopes but left with one of the most embarrassing World Cup exits ever.

Next: A long winning streak came to an end.

13. Colombia

Colombia could have used James Rodriguez’s help in 1994. | Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Year: 1994

Group points: 3

Goals scored: 4

Colombia entered the World Cup with a 30-match winning streak and the potential to have the country’s best showing ever at the tournament. Instead, a terrible own-goal against the United States contributed to a 2-1 loss, and even a 2-0 win against Switzerland in the third group game wasn’t to save the Colombians’ tournament.

Next: Going home early for the first time in a long time.

 

12. Belgium

There wasn’t much of this for Belgium in the 1998 World Cup. | Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Year: 1998

Group points: 3

Goals scored: 3

The Belgians didn’t lose at the 1998 World Cup in France, but they didn’t win either. Three points are sometimes enough to advance a team through group play, but Belgium wasn’t so lucky. After making the final 16 three straight times, the Red Devils went home with a disappointing showing.

Next: A squandered chance for one of the world’s largest countries.

11. United States

United States U.S. soccer fans

U.S. fans enjoyed the 2010 World Cup, but 1998? Not so much. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Year: 1998

Group points: 0

Goals scored: 1

In a group with Germany, Iran, and Yugoslavia, the United States had a great chance to make it out of the group. Instead, the U.S. squandered its opportunity to make it to the final 16. A late goal in a 2-1 loss against Iran was the lone tally for the Red, White, and Blue, and it finished last in the group with one of the most embarrassing World Cup exits ever.

Next: A win and a tie weren’t enough to avoid an embarrassing showing.

10. Argentina

Lionel Messi Argentina soccer

Argentina’s Lionel Messi wasn’t around in 2002, but he had to be disgusted with the team’s showing that year. | Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Year: 2002

Group points: 4

Goals scored: 2

In the days before Lionel Messi became one the top World Cup players ever, Argentina struggled at the 2002 tournament. The tourney started well with a win against Nigeria, but a loss and a tie in the two other group games sent the team packing with one of the most embarrassing World Cup exits in history.

Next: This team was a power before a current star showed up, but one World Cup didn’t end well.

9. Portugal

Without Cristiano Ronaldo in 2002, there was a lot of this going on for Portugal’s World Cup team. | Getty Images

Year: 2002

Group points: 3

Goals scored: 6

Believe to or not, Portugal was an elite team before Cristiano Ronaldo showed up. Experts believed this squad would easily top the group on its way to a deep tournament run, but instead, it had one of the most embarrassing World Cup exits of all time.

Next: A world power goes down in flames in what might be the worst World Cup showing ever.

8. France

Zinedine Zidane France soccer

Zinedine Zidane was no help during France’s terrible 2002 World Cup. | Michael Steele/Getty Images

Year: 2002

Group points: 1

Goals scored: 0

France won the 1998 World Cup and made the final in 2006, the same year the legendary team captain Zinedine Zidane won the tournament’s Golden Ball award. But without a healthy Zidane in 2002, the French lost twice and didn’t score a goal in what might be the most embarrassing World Cup showing ever.

Next: A forgettable showing, but not totally dreadful.

7. Italy

There was no trip to Parliament for Italy’s 2010 World Cup team. | Getty Images

Year: 2010

Group points: 2

Goals scored: 4

The Italians started the 2010 World Cup with a pair of 1-1 ties against Paraguay and New Zealand, and they had a chance to move on from the group with a win against Slovakia. Instead, the defending champs never led in the game and only made the 3-2 loss look respectable thanks to a goal in the waning seconds. The 2010 tournament was bad for Italy, but not as dreadful as the team we’re about to discuss.

Next: A European squad falls flat on its face.

6. France

Hugo Lloris

This was what practically every keeper who played against France in 2010 looked like. | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Year: 2010

Group points: 1

Goals scored: 1

The French reached the final game in the 2006 World Cup, but 2010 was a complete disaster. The coach dismissed the captain from the team, the players revolted because of it, and Les Bleus mustered just one point (in a 0-0 draw against Uruguay) in one of the most embarrassing World Cup exits we’ve ever seen.

Next: This team’s star player was all but absent in 2014.

5. Portugal

Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo embarrassing World Cup exits

Cristiano Ronald couldn’t save Portugal from a bad World Cup showing in 2014. | Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Year: 2014

Group points: 4

Goals scored: 4

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best (and one of the wealthiest) soccer players out there, but he wasn’t in top form in 2014. He scored just one goal — a late-game winner in the final group stage game against Ghana. Portugal tied with the United States for second in the group, but the U.S. advanced on goal differential and Ronaldo and his teammates went home.

Next: It started off bad and never improved.

4. Spain

Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona and Shakira poses with the trophy after FC Barcelona won the Copa del Rey Final match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club at Camp Nou on May 30, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.

There wasn’t anything for Gerard Pique and Spain to celebrate in 2014. | David Ramos/Getty Images

Year: 2014

Group points: 3

Goals scored: 4

The 2010 World Cup champions didn’t last long at the 2014 tournament. The first game was probably the worst — a 5-1 loss against the Netherlands. The Spaniards won against Australia in their final game, but the Aussies gave up the most goals (9) in group play, so that was hardly anything special.

Next: Not even close to past glories.

3. Italy

Italy Soccer Mens National team 2017

Italy went home early at the 2014 World Cup. | Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Year: 2014

Group points: 3

Goals scored: 3

The Italians appeared in six World Cup title games between 1934 and 2006, but they didn’t even come close in 2014. They followed a 2-1 win against England with a pair of 1-0 losses against Costa Rica and Uruguay and went home early.

Next: Same year and the same group as Italy, but with far worse results.

2. England

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge takes his turn in goal up against a member of the Wildcats Girl' Football programme

The English might as well have had Prince William in net in 2014. | Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Year: 2014

Group points: 1

Goals scored: 2

The 2018 World Cup already has its share of remarkable upsets, but 2014 isn’t far behind. The English totally bombed that year with two losses and a 0-0 tie, and they finished last in their group in one of the most embarrassing World Cup exits of all time.

Next: No. 1 in the world, but not for long.

1. Germany

Thomas Mueller of Germany looks on during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.

Thomas Mueller and Germany got knocked out of the World Cup early in 2018. | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Year: 2018

Group points: 3

Goals scored: 2

The most recent of the embarrassing World Cup exits is right up there with the worst ever. The 2014 champions picked up one group win, a 2-1 victory against Sweden, but it took a goal in the waning seconds to get it. Germany was thoroughly embarrassed in shutout losses against Mexico and South Korea, and it finished last in the group. Failing so hard wasn’t supposed to happen to such a valuable team ranked No. 1 in the world entering the tourney.

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