LONDON (Reuters) - Five major sporting upsets in 2014:
1. Brazil suffer 7-1 World Cup humiliation against Germany
“Historic Disgrace” screamed the Folha de S.Paulo’s headline, as a shocked nation digested a 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat by Germany on home soil.
While many pundits had speculated that this Brazil side lacked the sparkle of previous vintages, nobody predicted they would suffer perhaps the greatest shame in their illustrious footballing past.
Germany inflicted a swift and sudden demise, taking a 5-0 lead after 29 minutes in front of a stunned audience at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao stadium.
Perhaps out of sympathy, Joachim Loew’s eventual champions lifted their foot off the gas and coasted home, scoring just twice more in the second half, before Oscar made an apologetic mark on the scoreboard for Brazil in the 90th minute.
2. Nishikori beats Djokovic in the U.S. open semi-finals
When you have just played back-to-back five-set, four hour marathon matches, the last person you would want to face would be an iron-willed world number one with a reputation for out-lasting everyone else on the tour.
A sweltering early September afternoon in New York, however, provided the unlikely stage for young Japanese Kei Nishikori to inflict a stunning four-set defeat on Novak Djokovic and deny the Serb a fifth successive trip to the U.S. Open final.
With the mercury tipping 100 degrees Fahrenheit and in stifling humidity on Arthur Ashe court, Nishikori proved tireless in grinding down Djokovic, winning 6-4 1-6 7-6(4) 6-3 to become the first Asian man to reach a grand slam final.
3. Shaun White flops at the Sochi Winter Olympics
The major draw of the 2014 Winter Games turned out to be one of its biggest disappointments after pulling out of his first event and failing to win a medal in his second.
After talking up his chances of completing a stunning double, United States’ snowboarder Shaun White withdrew from the Slopestyle, before his eight-year reign as Olympic halfpipe champion ended in a shock fourth-place finish.
It all proved a major letdown for the fans who made the arduous journey to the Russian resort hoping to see him produce his best gravity-defying tricks.
4. Seattle Seahawks thrash Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl
A Seattle defense made up of a bunch of overlooked and unwanted players completely nullified a Peyton Manning-led offence that had set an NFL record for points in a season in one of the most one-sided Super Bowl’s ever.
The 43-8 thrashing was a performance worthy of some of the greatest defensive teams in NFL history and drew comparisons with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Steel Curtain”, the 1985 Chicago Bears with William “Refrigerator” Perry, and the Ray Lewis-led Baltimore Ravens of 2000.
“A bunch of misfits, that’s what they called us,” said defensive end Red Bryant. “A bunch of nobodies. Inexperienced. Ain’t never been there. You see what misfits get you. You see what over-achievers get you.”
5. Western Sydney Wanderers winning the AFC Champions League
Coach Tony Popovic took over at the Western Sydney Wanderers in 2012 when they had no strip, no playing staff and no facilities.
That did not prevent them going on to win the Asian Champions League title 900 days later in their maiden campaign, defying huge odds to overcome much wealthier Asian powerhouses.
A 0-0 draw against twice Asian champions Al-Hilal in front of 65,000 fans in the Saudi capital in November was enough to secure a 1-0 aggregate victory and earn plenty of plaudits for former Socceroo Popovic.
Editing by Martyn Herman