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    19 June 2023

    Ranking the Most Surprising International Upsets: Can North Macedonia Repeat Their Success?

    North Macedonia and the Biggest Upsets in International Football

    If you thought international football was predictable, think again. Every now and then, a team comes out of nowhere to upset the odds and pull off an incredible victory. And that’s exactly what North Macedonia will be hoping to do when they face England in their Euro 2024 qualifier on Monday.

    The Unpredictable Nature of International Football

    While North Macedonia may not be one of Europe’s traditional powerhouses, there is no denying that they have caused a few upsets over the years. In fact, if they were to beat England at Wembley on Monday, it would surely go down as one of the biggest shocks in international football history.

    This isn’t the first time that North Macedonia – or FYR Macedonia as they were known back then – have given England a scare. During qualifying for Euro 2004, they twice led England at St Mary’s before earning a hard-fought draw thanks to Artim Sakiri beating David Seaman direct from a corner.

    In Euro 2008 qualifying, Steve McClaren’s side were held to a goalless draw by North Macedonia at Old Trafford – a result which played its part in their failure to reach the final tournament.

    The Greatest Shocks in Modern International Football History

    Of course, North Macedonian are far from being alone when it comes to causing upsets on football’s biggest stage. Here are some other examples:

    • Honduras vs Brazil (2001 Copa America) – Honduras were only invited to take part in the tournament as a last-minute replacement for Argentina. However, they defied all expectations by beating Brazil 2-0 in the quarter-finals, before eventually losing to Colombia.
    • Senegal vs France (2002 World Cup) – Defending champions France were stunned by Senegal in the opening game of the tournament. Papa Bouba Diop’s first-half strike proved enough for the African side to claim a memorable victory, while Les Bleus crashed out at the group stage.
    • South Korea vs Italy (2002 World Cup) – Hosts South Korea pulled off one of football’s greatest upsets when they knocked Italy out of the tournament at the last-16 stage. The Koreans came from behind to win 2-1 after extra time thanks to Ahn Jung-hwan’s golden goal.
    • Latvia vs Germany (2004 Euro Championships) – Germany could only manage a goalless draw against European Championship debutants Latvia, who had two penalty appeals turned down and also saw a goal-bound shot saved by Oliver Kahn. Neither team made it out of their group.
    • Greece vs Portugal (2004 Euro Championships Final) – Otto Rehhagel’s Greece side produced one of football’s biggest fairy tales when they beat Portugal 1-0 in Lisbon to lift their first major international trophy. Angelos Basinas scored from the penalty spot after Angelos Charisteas was fouled by Ricardo Carvalho, while Traianos Dellas put on an outstanding defensive display.

    In conclusion, North Macedonia will be hoping that they can add their name to this illustrious list when they face England on Monday night. While it would be a huge shock if they were to come away with all three points, the unpredictable nature of international football means that anything is possible.

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