World Cup: Brazil needs to avoid another historical upset for redemption

Story highlights

  • 1950 World Cup seen of two shockers
  • Brazil looks to redeem Germany upset
  • Serbia, Costa Rica aim to stun Brazil

(CNN)They won't be at Russia 2018, but for one day in 1950 the Americans were kings of the soccer world.

Led by a team of semi-professionals, the US pulled off a 1-0 win against tournament favorite England in front of a crowd of over 10,000 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
It was a shock then, but statistically the result still holds up as the greatest upset in World Cup history, according to data analysts Gracenote.
    The US, whose goal came from a Joey Gaetjen header in the 38th minute, had just a 9.5% chance of winning going into the match, based on Gracenote's calculations.
    It would take Team USA another 44 years and a tournament held on home soil to win a World Cup match, a 2-1 victory over Colombia.
    Gracenote's historical number crunching ranked every previous World Cup team's chances going into a match. Statistics factored in previous results, home field advantage, and the level of match importance, with friendlies given a low weighting.
    "Sometimes surprises are perhaps not as big as people think they are," says Gracenote Sports' head of analytics Simon Gleave.
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    Upsets take different shapes

    Switzerland's 1-0 win in 2010 over eventual tournament winners Spain takes second place in the Gracenote rankings. The Swiss had just a 10.3% chance of winning the match over the tournament favorites and escaped despite shooting just 6 shots on goal to Spain's 22.
    But the loss probably served to wake up Andres Iniesta, David Villa and co. enough to go on a winning run.
    Algeria's 2-1 win over a West German team led by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in 1982 is ranked the third-greatest upset of all time.
    Any Algerian old enough will remember where he or she was when the North Africans stunned one of Europe's powerhouses.
    Led by an assist and winning goal from Lakhdar Belloumi, Algeria pulled off the inconceivable in its first-ever World Cup match. West Germany eventually lost to tournament winners Italy in the 1982 final.
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    In fourth place is Ghana's win over the Czech Republic in 2006 with the Black Stars given just a 13.9% chance of beating a team led by Pavel Nedvěd.
    Making their World Cup debut, the Ghanians had already lost to Italy entering the match in Cologne, Germany. But a goal just 70 seconds in from Asamoah Gyan set the tone and Ghana won 2-0.
    Another match at the 1950 World Cup provided another major upset -- this time in the final.
    With hosts Brazil leading 1-0 and seemingly cruising to victory in front of a crowd of 200,000 in Rio De Janeiro's Maracana stadium, Uruguay scored twice in 13 minutes to claim the tournament and stun the hosts.
    Uruguay were given just a 14.3% chance of winning the 1950 World Cup decider -- not that much lower than Germany's 22% chance of beating Brazil in the 2014 World Cup seminfinals.
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    Brazil's road to redemption

    Brazil's 2014 World Cup was billed as a redemption of sorts, to do away with the bitter feelings from Uruguay's shock win 64 years earlier.
    Instead, an injury to star striker Neymar and a suspension of stalwart defender Thiago Silva, contributed to a 7-1 thumping at the hands of the eventual victors.
    Brazil's loss to Italy in 1982 was equally devastating -- but at least that happened thousands of miles away in Spain.
    Led by the likes of Zico, Socrates, Falcao, Junior and Eder, Brazil's '82 World Cup squad was probably the the most hyped World Cup team to ever lose a tournament.
    Going into its second-round battle, Italy had less than a 19% chance of winning the match. But the Azzurri picked the right time to pull of what is still its biggest World Cup upset -- putting together a perfect match behind a Paulo Rossi hattrick.
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    Italy went on to win the tournament, while the Brazilians redeemed themselves by winning the 1994 and 2002 Word Cups.
    Could redemption be in the cards again for the Brazilians after its 2014 meltdown?
    Gracenote has yet another statistic of note: There is a 35% chance that Brazil and Germany could meet again in Russia, with the two countries forming the second-most likely final matchup.
    First, however, Brazil will have to escape potential major upsets in its group stage at the hands of Serbia (10.7% chance of winning) and Costa Rica (11.4%).