Disastrous World Cup title defences
Spain joins Italy, France and Brazil in humiliating early exits
Spain’s elimination of the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament was shocking, to say the least.
The defending World Cup champions were humiliated by the Netherlands — its final foe in 2010 — in the opening Group B match by a stunning 5-1 defeat. Looking to regroup, the Spaniards showed little resistance in losing 2-0 to Chile on Wednesday, ending their title defence in feeble fashion.
But this isn’t the first time a defending World Cup champion has crashed and burned four years later.
Here are three other champions whose title defences ended in horror:
Brazil (1966 in England)
Remember this was a team that fielded a 25-year-old Pele. But after opening the tournament with a 2-0 win over Bulgaria in Group 3 (FIFA used numbers back then), Brazil suffered consecutive 3-1 defeats at the hands of Hungary and Portugal. The disappointment was short lived as the nation rebounded to captured the 1970 World Cup title.
France (2002 in South Korea/Japan)
Revelling in its 3-0 championship win over Brazil on home soil four years earlier, the French appeared to be a shoe-in to advance out of Group A. However, France’s first indignity occurred in the opening match, a 1-0 defeat to Senegal. Following a scoreless draw to Uruguay, the French were bounced out of the tournament with a 2-0 loss to Denmark.
Italy (2010 in South Africa)
Much like France eight years earlier, Italy was expected to breeze through its Group F opponents, teams that including Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand. But it was clear from the start the Italians had little to give after its title in 2006. Italy began with a pair of 1-1 draws against Paraguay and New Zealand. Then with everything on the line, the Italians were unceremoniously booted out of the World Cup by losing 3-2 to Slovakia.