People who aren’t very familiar with the game might complain that football must be boring because it is such a low scoring game. There are usually only a few goals scored per game, so the rest of the time must just be mindless running they assume.
In reality, the low scores add to the excitement because they mean that there is always a chance for an underdog team to sneak that one goal through that changes the entire game. There is always a chance for a team to beat the odds.
This ability for a game to change in an instant also makes betting on football more interesting. The odds might clearly favour one side just for a lot of talent and a little bit of luck to change everything. Finding the best bookmakers online can at least give you a leg up before it all kicks off.
If you’re watching the FA Cup finals or the last weeks of the Premier League with clenched jaws and a hint of despair, these examples of football teams that beat the odds to come out on top just might give you a bit more hope.
USA vs England, 1950
Let’s start out in the early days of the World Cup, all the way back in 1950. Uruguay won that year, reclaiming the title from the host nation, Brazil. While that match was exciting, one of the biggest upsets of the World Cup had already happened in the Group stage.
On June 29, the ragtag team from the United States, most of whom had other jobs and only played football part-time were set to play the English team that was regarded as the best team in the world. The Americans were expected to lose badly, very, very badly.
In the opening minutes of the game, England dominated possession and took numerous shots on goal. However, Americans held their own though and in the 38th minute, Joe Gaetjens scored with an assist from Walter Bahr. It was the only goal of the match.
In the end, neither team made it out of the Group stage, both teams losing to Spain and Chile. For the scrappy little team from the USA, however, the win against England meant everything.
Liverpool vs AC Milan, 2005
The 50th season of the Champions League tournament was always going to be historic, but no one had any idea quite how dramatic the final match would be. AC Milan and Liverpool had both performed well in the Round of 16, Quarter Finals and Semi-Finals, but AC Milan looked like the stronger team.
The first half of the match reinforced expectations that Milan would win. Captain Paolo Maldini had scored in the first minute of play and Hernán Crespo’s two goals before the half appeared to seal Liverpool’s fate.
Whatever was said in that dressing room during the half should be passed down as one of the most effective bits of coaching in history. By the 60th minute, Liverpool had equalised thanks to goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Šmicer and Xabier Alonso.
After no scoring in extra time, the game went to penalties. Both teams had previously won European Cups after winning penalty shoot-outs, so there was no way to tell how this would end. Liverpool made three to AC Milan’s two and the match is considered one of the greatest finals in football history.
Leicester City, Premier League Champions 2015-16
The Premier League has produced no shortage of amazing players, though often the names that get remembered are the stars of the biggest teams. If a win earns a team the nickname “The Unbelievables”, however, those players deserve to be remembered and celebrated.
Leicester City had been promoted from the Champions League after the 2013-14 season and had come very close to relegation the following season. Expectations were low going into the 2015-16 season — bookmakers had set the odds of a Leicester City win at 5,000 - 1.
It was a season where everything came together. They won 23 matches and only lost three, drawing the other 11. New manager Claudio Ranieri was able to inspire something special in his players, especially young Yorkshire-born captain Jamie Vardy and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Between those two players, Leicester City had some of the best stats of the season. Vardy was the second highest scorer in the league with 24 goals and Schmeichel had earned 15 clean sheets for his team.
The Foxes haven’t been able to reach the same heights since, though they did win the FA Cup title in 2021. The story of the The Unbelievables, however, will live on no matter what the future holds for the club.
North Macedonia vs Italy, 2022
Already being described as “one of the biggest soccer [sic] stunners of all time”, North Macedonia’s win over Italy is the latest example of history being made in a moment. That moment happened to be the 92nd minute of play when Aleksandar Trajkovski scored the only goal of the match.
Not only did North Macedonia show the world what they’re capable of on the pitch, in doing so they ended Italy’s hopes of making it to the World Cup. This will be the second year in a row that Italy has failed to qualify, something no one saw coming.