11/28/2022
FIFA World Cup: Check out the instances when teams progressed to knock out round despite losing group stage opener on myKhel.com.

While Lionel Messi’s Argentina were stunned 1-2 by Saudi Arabia in their Group C opener on Tuesday (November 22), just 24 hours later Japan shocked Germany by the same margin in the Group E opener.

Messi opened the scoring from the spot to give Argentina the lead going into half time, but Saudi Arabia clinched the tie thanks to second half goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari.

In the Group E encounter, Germany went into the break with a 1-0 lead via a penalty converted by Ilkay Gundogan, but Japan fought back in the second half as Bundesliga players Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano came off the bench to stun the four-time champions.

Now, the two teams will need to win their remaining ties to stand a chance to progress. But they are no strangers to this situation with Argentina doing something similar three times in 1974, 1982 and 1990, while Germany have done it in 1982, when they finished runners up. Argentina also finished runners up in 1990.

So, all hope is not lost. But Germany will have a mountain to climb as they will need to beat Spain and Costa Rica by a healthy margin to progress now. Argentina will have to get past Mexico and Poland in tough fixtures to advance to the knock out rounds.

The only time a team that has lost the opening match and went on to lift the title was in 2010, when Spain lost the opener to Switzerland, but went all the way to beat Netherlands in the final to lift their first-ever World Cup.

Apart from Spain, Germany and Argentina, there are many other teams, who have achieved progression to the knock out rounds despite losing the group stage opener in different World Cup editions.

Here is a look at when teams progressed to the FIFA World Cup knock out or second round despite losing their group stage opener:

Team Edition Group Position World Cup Finish Yugoslavia 1962 2nd 4th Place England 1962 2nd Quarterfinal Hungary 1966 2nd Quarterfinal North Korea 1966 2nd Quarterfinal Argentina 1974 2nd Second Round West Germany 1982 2nd Runner Up Argentina 1982 2nd Second Round France 1982 2nd 4th Place Soviet Union 1982 2nd Second Round Spain 1986 2nd Quarterfinal Argentina 1990 2nd Runner Up Romania 1990 3rd Round of 16 Yugoslavia 1990 2nd Quarterfinal Bulgaria 1994 2nd Semifinal Italy 1994 3rd Runner Up Saudi Arabia 1994 2nd Round of 16 Mexico 1994 1st Round of 16 Turkey 2002 2nd 3rd Place Ukraine 2006 2nd Quarterfinal Ghana 2006 2nd Round of 16 Spain 2010 1st Champions Uruguay 2014 2nd Round of 16 Greece 2014 2nd Round of 16 Algeria 2014 2nd Round of 16 Colombia 2018 2nd Round of 16

Here is a detailed look at those instances:

Yugoslavia and England (1962)

Yugoslavia lost 0-2 to Soviet Union in the group stage opener, but progressed to the knock out round after a 3-1 win over Uruguay followed by a 5-0 win over Colombia with the back-to-back wins helping them finish second in the group behind Soviet Union. Yugoslavia finished with 4 points. Yugoslavia also reached the third-place play-off, which they lost to Chile.

England lost to 1-2 Hungary in the group stage opener, but secured a 3-1 win over Argentina and a goalless draw over Bulgaria to progress to the knock outs. Although they were level on points with Argentina, the superior goal average helped England advance. The Three Lions, however, exited the tournament in the quarterfinals following a defeat to Brazil.

(Note: A win in group stage was awarded 2 points and a draw 1 point)

Hungary and North Korea (1966)

Lost group stage opener 1-3 to Portugal, but finished second in the group with four points and progressed to the knock outs after back-to-back 3-1 wins over Brazil and Bulgaria. They exited the tournament in the quarterfinals.

North Korea lost 0-3 to Soviet Union in the group stage opener, but drew 1-1 with Chile and registered a 1-0 win over Italy to reach the knock out round after finishing second in the group with four points. They exited the tournament in the quarterfinals. (Note: A win in group stage was awarded 2 points and a draw 1 point)

Argentina (1974)

Lost group stage opener 2-3 to Poland, but advanced to the knock outs or second round by finishing second in the group after 1-1 draw against Italy followed by 4-1 win over Haiti. They finished last in the second round group stage. (A group stage second round was played that year instead of the traditional knock outs)

West Germany, Argentina, France and Soviet Union (1982)

West Germany lost opener 1-2 to Algeria, but still managed to progress to the knock out round as the second placed team following a 4-1 win over Chile and 1-0 win over Austria in the remaining matches. They finished runners up that year after a defeat to Italy in the final.

Argentina lost the opener 0-1 to Belgium, but bounced back with a 4-1 win over Hungary and 2-0 win over El Salvador to reach the knock outs or the second round. However, they exited the tournament in the second round.

France lost opener to England by a 1-3 margin, but got out of the group as the second placed side after 4-1 win over Kuwait and 1-1 draw with Czechoslovakia. The French side lost to West Germany via penalty shootout in the semifinal and lost the third place play-off 2-3 to Poland. (A group stage second round was played that year instead of the traditional knock outs)

Soviet Union lost their opening match 1-2 to Brazil, but fought back to finish second in the group and progressed thanks to a superior goal difference. However, they exited the tournament in the second round. (A group stage second round was played that year instead of the traditional knock outs)

Spain (1986)

Lost the opener 0-1 to Brazil, but finished second in the group, progressing to the knock out round after 2-1 win over Northern Ireland and 3-0 win over Algeria. They exited the tournament in the quarterfinal stage.

Romania, Argentina and Yugoslavia (1990)

Romania, Argentina and Yugoslavia progressed to the knock out round despite losing their group stage openers. Argentina lost to Cameroon, but secured win over Soviet Union and a draw with Romania, who also beat Soviet Union to finish as second and third placed teams in the same group.

Meanwhile, Yugoslavia, who lost their opener to West Germany, registered wins over UAE and Colombia to progress to the next round. Argentina finished runners up after losing final to West Germany, while Romania exited in the round of 16 and Yugoslavia bowed out in the quarterfinal.

Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Mexico (1994)

Bulgaria lost opener 0-3 to Nigeria, but still managed to finish level on points with group leaders after back-to-back wins over Greece and Argentina.

Saudi Arabia bounced back with wins over Belgium and Morocco after the group stage opener loss to Netherlands. Italy and Mexico, on the other hand, progressed as the third-placed team and group winner respectively despite losing their opening matches.

Italy beat Norway and drew with Mexico, who beat Northern Ireland. Italy finished as runner up, while Bulgaria lost to them in the semifinal. Saudi Arabia and Mexico did not get past the round of 16.

Colombia achieved progression in 2018

Turkey (2002)

Lost group stage opener 1-2 to Brazil, but progressed as the second-placed team in the group after 0-3 win over China and a 1-1 draw with Costa Rica. They also won the third-place play-off that year.

Ghana and Ukraine (2006)

Ghana lost opener 0-2 to Italy, but found a way through to the knock outs after 2-0 win over Czech Republic and 2-1 win over USA. Ukraine, meanwhile, lost the opener 0-4 to Spain, but bounced back 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia and 1-0 win over Tunisia to progress. Ukraine lost in the quarterfinal, while Ghana bowed out in the round of 16.

Spain (2010)

Lost group stage opener 0-1 to Switzerland, but fought back to win the group after 2-0 win over Honduras and 2-1 win over Chile. The La Roja also became the first team to lose the opening game and win the title, their first, beating Netherlands 1-0 after extra time in the final.

Greece, Uruguay and Algeria (2014)

Greeece lost their group stage opener 0-3 to Colombia, but bounced back with a 0-0 draw against Japan and 2-1 win over Ivory Coast to advance to the next round.

Uruguay, meanwhile, lost their opener 1-3 to Costa Rica, but went on finish second and progressed to the knock outs after 2-1 win over England and 1-0 win over Italy.

Algeria lost their group opener to Belgium, but a 4-2 win over South Korea and 1-1 draw with Russia saw them reach the knock outs. All three teams, however, did not cross the round of 16.

Colombia (2018)

Colombia lost the group stage opener 1-2 to Japan, but still won the group after 3-0 win over Poland and 1-0 win over Senegal. They were, however, dumped out in the round of 16 after a penalty shootout loss to England.