Five biggest World Cup qualifying shocks including losses for Germany, France and the Netherlands

World Cup qualifiers are never as straightforward as they seem, and they've thrown up a number of shock upsets in recent years.

Whether it's an embarrassing loss to a minnow nation, or failing to win in a crucial deciding game, there have been a number of big upsets in recent World Cup qualifiers that have shocked the sporting world.

With the latest batch of qualifiers taking place this week, there's a number of David vs Goliath matches that could see more underdog stories take place.

In particular, Netherlands will want to guard against complacency against Montenegro, England the same against Andorra and Germany against current Group J leaders, Armenia.

In anticipation of any possible upsets, Planet Sport takes a look at five of the biggest World Cup qualifying shocks in history.

World Cup 1994 - France 2-3 Israel

The 1994 World Cup in the United States saw a number of twists, turns and upsets even before the finals kicked off.

England failed to qualify alongside Euro 92 champions Denmark, but perhaps the biggest shock of all was the sudden collapse France suffered in the final games of qualification.

With just two games to go, France were sitting comfortably in the qualification spots, and with favourable fixtures against Israel and Bulgaria up next, their spot in the World Cup seemed nailed on.

But in bizarre circumstances, Gerard Houllier's side fell behind at the Parc de Princes to Israel but managed to regain the lead before half time.

With Les Blues leading 2-1, it only seemed a matter of time until their qualification was secured, but a late double from the visitors left France trailing 3-2.

To make matters worse, it was Israel's first and only win in the groups. But France's misery didn't end there, they lost to Bulgaria in the following week thanks to a last-gasp winner from Emil Kostadinov, which spelt the end of their World Cup dreams.

The 2018 World Champions face Ukraine this week as they look to stay top of their qualification group, but the second-placed hosts will be looking to cause an upset.

World Cup 2018 - Italy 0-1 Sweden

After failing to escape their 2014 World Cup group, Italy entered 2018 wanting to bounce back from disappointment.

Drawn into the same group as Spain, the Azzurri knew it would be a tough task to qualify in first but they managed to gain 23 points in their 10 games, placing them second.

Therefore, Italy were entered into the UEFA play-offs, consisting of the best 2nd-placed teams. They were pitted against Sweden, who themselves had just pipped the Netherlands to second in their group.

Jakob Johansson handed Sweden the advantage in the first leg, and Italy failed to find a way back in a goalless second leg.

The loss meant that Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

The recent Euro 2020 Champions are on a record-breaking unbeaten run at the moment, but will have to see off Switzerland on Sunday afternoon if they are to maintain their momentum.

World Cup 2002 - Republic of Ireland 1-0 Netherlands

The Netherlands, fresh off the back of consecutive semi-final finishes in the last two World Cups, boasted a number of star players including Edwin van der Sar, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Patrick Kluivert.

However, the Oranje were struggling in their 2002 World Cup qualification and faced the Republic of Ireland in a match that would decide which of the two teams would qualify.

Louis van Gaal's side entered as strong favourites, but a goalless first half only added to the tension in Dublin.

Ireland defender Gary Kelly was sent off on the hour mark, leaving many thinking that it was only a matter of time until the Netherlands broke the deadlock.

But the hosts remained resolute and a superb performance in the heart of midfield by Roy Keane frustrated the visitors throughout.

Just 10 minutes after the dismissal, it was Ireland who found a breakthrough goal through midfielder Jason McAteer, and they managed to see out the win to send the Netherlands packing.

It was the first time the Netherlands failed to qualify for a major tournament since 1986, and was a huge shock considering they were among the favourites to win the tournament.

Netherlands currently sit second in Group G behind Turkey, and will be looking to avoid any upsets and top their group on Saturday evening against Montenegro.

World Cup 2022 - Germany 1-2 North Macedonia

One of the more recent shocks came in the qualification for the 2022 World Cup, and four-time World Cup winners Germany were on the receiving end.

Drawn against Armenia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Romania and North Macedonia, the Germans were expected to walk their way to qualification.

However, they currently sit second in their group on 9 points, having lost in a shock upset against North Macedonia.

The Lavovi qualified for their first ever major tournament just last year, after shocking the world to qualify for Euro 2020.

But just months before the tournament kicked off, they travelled to Germany and overcame the 2014 World champions thanks to goals from 38-year-old Goran Pandev and a late winner by Eljif Elmas.

The loss didn't directly mean Germany have failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, but Hansi Flick will be keen to make sure his side avoid another upset when they travel to North Macedonia on October 11.

First, though, Germany will have to avoid embarrassment against Armenia, and with the visitors currently on top of Group J, the pressure is on.

World Cup 2006 - Australia 1-0 Uruguay

After a 32-year absence from the World Cup, Australia had a huge chance to end the unwanted record in their 2005 World Cup play-off against Uruguay.

A 9-1 win in their crucial Oceania game against Solomon Islands entered the Socceroos into the inter-confederation play-offs against Uruguay, who finished fifth in the South American standings.

Uruguay entered the clash as strong favourites, and gave themselves a handy 1-0 advantage in the first home leg thanks to Octavio Rodriguez.

However, the second leg in Sydney saw an 82,000-strong crowd flood to witness their national team's must-win clash.

In a match that has now gone down in Australian history, Mark Bresciano levelled the scores in the first half, and neither side was able to find a winner, meaning penalties were required to separate the sides.

Australia's star man, Mark Viduka missed his penalty, but a superb performance from goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer saw him save two of Uruguay's penalties and send his nation to the World Cup.

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