France 2002, Italy 2010, Costa Rica 2014… These surprises that we didn’t see coming to the draw

In football as in other sports, it is fashionable to draw conclusions from the draw of a major competition. And this, even if the hens are known several months before the event, as for this 2022 World Cup, for which the draw takes place on Friday April 1. France, Italy and Portugal, for example, have had bitter experience of this over the past twenty years.

France 2002: All together in mediocrity

What do Adidas and Johnny Hallyday have in common? Both saw the French team win at the 2002 World Cup. Reigning world and European champions, the Blues come with the top scorers in Division 1 (Djibril Cissé), Premier League (Thierry Henry) and Serie A (David Trezeguet). The print is, in addition, lenient on paper. With a Denmark beaten four years earlier, a more globalist Uruguay for eight years and a novice Senegal at this level, the Blues have not « no complaints »breathed Marcel Desailly at the time.

Like all of his teammates, David Trézéguet lacked success in 2002. (PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

Yes, but the sequel, tirelessly narrated, is catastrophic. Orphan of Zinedine Zidane, injured, France falls in opening against Senegal (0-1) of Papa Bouba Diop. It’s barely better against Celeste (0-0) and even worse against Denmark: despite the return of « Zizou », the Blues fall (0-2). They leave South Korea and Japan through the very small door, but All together, as Johnny Hallyday sang before the competition.

Portugal 2002: on the mat despite Figo and Pauleta

Luck in the draw, instructions for use. Absent from the World Cup for sixteen years, Portugal inherited South Korea, the United States and Poland in 2002. Not enough, a priori, to frighten the exciting semi-finalist of Euro 2000. Yes, but the Seleção is trapped from the start by Team USA (2-3). It’s much better against the Poles (4-0, including a hat-trick from Bordeaux Pauleta), but not enough: to pass, you have to beat South Korea.

The distress of Luis Figo, after the surprise elimination of Portugal in 2002. (CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP)

But against the host country, Portugal is scuttled: João Pinto and Beto are excluded, and Park Ji-Sung returns the band to Luis Figo at home (0-1). Like France and Argentina, the Portuguese are on the mat from the first round. The beginning of an exceptional course for the Taeguk Warriors which leads them to the semi-finals, offering themselves the scalp of Italy and Spain. And this, even if these last two matches are marred by arbitration controversies. « The referee eliminated us, not Korea »will even say Francesco Totti, expelled during the round of 16.

Italy 2010: the start of the transalpine setbacks

After the draw for the 2010 edition, the Nazionale, reigning world champion, can saber the Prosecco : Paraguay released in the first round of the German World Cup four years earlier, the unknown New Zealand and Slovakia never qualified, are on the menu. Unconvincing in terms of qualifications and deprived of maestro Andrea Pirlo, injured, Italy misses its entry against Paraguay (1-1). Worse, Marcello Lippi loses his goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon during this first match.

Fabio Cannavaro and Fabio Quagliarella are inconsolable: Italy left the 2010 World Cup in the first round.  (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / FILES)

The Squadra Azzurra thinks of catching up against Kiwis absent from the World since 1982, but it falls again from above: surprise at the start and without ideas, Italy can not do better than a new draw (1-1). Back to the wall, the Italians definitely hit rock bottom against Slovakia (2-3) and come out of the pools for the first time since 1974. The heroes of 2006 Cannavaro, Gattuso, Zambrotta or Camoranesi bow out in selection on this bitter failure . Without them, Italy has still not played a single round of 16, twelve years later.

Costa Rica 2014: the Ticos have spice

Four years later, the Nazionale, finalist of the Euro two years earlier, is revengeful. But the Italians inherit a full-bodied group: there are Uruguay, winner of the Copa América 2011, England and Costa Rica. Faced with this casting halo of seven World Cups, we do not give much of the skin of Ticos. « The most difficult opponent is Costa Rica, because we don’t know anything about them », launches the transalpine coach Cesare Prandelli. Bryan Ruiz and his family immediately send a message by overthrowing Uruguay in the first match (3-1).

The joy of the Costa Ricans after their first exploit against Uruguay.  (DANIEL GARCIA / AFP)

A feat without a future? Nay, Keylor Navas, then in the woods of modest Levante, disgusts Italy, and the Ticos boast a second time (1-0). A draw for butter against an already eliminated England (0-0), and the trick is played: as Navas had predicted, Costa Rica finished « first of this group without problems ». The great adventure continues until the quarters, where the Costa Ricans come out with the honors on penalties against the Netherlands.

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