Biggest international shocks: Germany’s loss to Spain not even their worst

Germany suffered their heaviest-ever defeat in a competitive match when they fell to a humiliating 6-0 loss against Spain in the UEFA Nations League on Tuesday (stream the replay on ESPN+ in the U.S.).

Joachim Low, the longest-serving international coach in world football, oversaw his country’s worst defeat in 89 years, since West Germany were thrashed 6-0 in a friendly by neighbouring Austria back in 1931.

Low is now also just the third German national team boss to concede six goals in a single match, joining Otto Nerz (whose tenure lasted between 1926-36) and Sepp Herberger (who’s West Germany side lost 8-3 against Hungary at the 1954 World Cup but went on to beat the same opponents in the final).

The emphatic win saw Spain qualify for the Nations League finals, with a hat trick from Ferran Torres making the young Manchester City forward the first player to score three goals in one game against the Germans since Michael Owen in England‘s 5-1 World Cup qualifier victory in 2001.

It was a doubly grim outing for Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who conceded six goals in a game for the first time in his entire career, both at international and club level, and on the night he became his country’s most-capped goalkeeper, too.

But, believe it or not, this was not even the most shocking defeat that the four-time World Cup winners have ever suffered. Below is our verdict on which match takes that title for Germany, and for some of the other major footballing nations around the world.

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A grisly physical duel that is perhaps best remembered for Benjamin Massing’s infamous hatchet tackle on Claudio Caniggia — a “challenge” emblematic of the rough tactics on display throughout the game. Argentina were reigning World Cup champions following their triumph in 1986. Once again led by the mercurial talents of Diego Maradona, the Albiceleste were heavily backed to win again at Italia ’90. By contrast, Cameroon were 500-1 outsiders, but that didn’t stop the Indomitable Lions from giving absolutely everything they had to topple the big shots, despite being reduced to nine men by the end of play. The tactics worked — just — as Francois Omam-Biyik scored the decisive goal with a header in the 67th minute to snatch the hardest-fought of wins.

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