With the European season reaching the sharp end, there are few big surprises in the major championships. Manchester City and Liverpool are duking it out in the Premier League, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are doing the same in the Bundesliga, and the Champions League is the usual showdown between the big guns, with the added addition of an exciting Ajax team.
It’s football at its best, and it shows that the cream usually rises to the top. However, the romantic in us always enjoys those victories against the odds that sometimes come in the early stages. As well as providing a potentially huge payday from those who decide to back the underdog using Betway sportsbook, it shows that even in the corporate world of professional sport, there is still room for a little magic and for dreams to come true. Here are three of our favourite Cinderella stories.
South Korea vs Italy (2002)
Prior to hosting the event in 2002, South Korea had appeared in five World Cup finals but had never won a single match. Victories over Poland and Portugal in the group stages were, therefore, stunning enough, but there was more to come as Ahn Jung-hwan’s golden goal sent Italy out in the round of 16 and propelled the hosts into the quarter-finals. Incredibly, they went on to beat Spain and make the semis, but it is that victory over Italy that everyone remembers best.
Wigan vs Manchester City (2013)
The FA Cup has a habit of producing some upsets in the early rounds, but by the time it reaches the final, the minnows are expected to be long gone. Lowly Wigan somehow made it to the final in 2013, but the only question in most people’s minds was just how large Manchester City’s margin of victory might be. After all, Wigan was a team consigned to the Premier League relegation zone and destined to be playing Championship football the following year.
Yet from the first whistle, the mighty City with its all-star line up of Touré, Tevez, üAgero and Silva, seemed to be on the back foot. If Wigan had taken their chances, they could have been 2-0 up at half time, but as it was, a late goal by Ben Watson in stoppage time sealed the deal and guaranteed their place in history.
Faroe Islands vs Greece (2014)
The Faroe Islands is a team that knows how to spring a surprise, having won its first ever competitive game against Austria back in 1991. Yet when it comes to disparity in rankings, the tiny island nation’s win over Greece in 2014 is statistically the biggest footballing shock of all-time.
The result spelt the end of Claudio Ranieri’s brief tenure in charge, axed the day after the match after only four games at the helm. As for the Faroes, the victory was a deserved one, with the team creating more chances and making better use of them. They proved the result was no fluke by winning the return match the following year, too.