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.