2018 marks the first time in history that none of Brazil, Germany or Argentina were represented at a World Cup semi final.
With France, Belgium, England and Croatia possessing just two world titles between them, it was the least experienced quartet of teams since 1966.
Croatia are undoubtedly the underdogs ahead of Sunday’s final against France, but teams have upset the odds before. Here are seven teams who weren’t expected to triumph but did so triumphantly.
7. Bolivia – Copa America 1963
Granted this was a long time ago when football and indeed this competition was a very different game but that’s not to undermine the achievement of the small South American nation. Brazil had won the two previous World Cups and Argentina had won the three previous South American Championships (as they were then known).
The two South American giants were hot favourites to contest the tournament but Bolivia shocked the continent by lifting the trophy. Bolivia went unbeaten throughout the tournament, defeating Argentina 3-2 and Brazil 5-4 as they were crowned champions.
6. Kuwait – AFC Asian Cup 1980
The tournament had been dominated by Iran, who had lifted the three previous titles going into the Asian Cup in Kuwait. The host nation had reached the final the year before but optimism was dashed a little when they could only emerge second from the group stage behind South Korea.
That 3-0 defeat to Korea set up a rematch of the previous final with Iran in the next round but this time Kuwait emerged victorious and met the Koreans once again in the final. Kuwait incredibly mastered a reverse of their group stage defeat, winning the final 3-0.
5. Denmark – European Championship 1992
The Danes have never really made a mark at the World Cup, blowing a huge opportunity again this summer. They had also only ever qualified for the European Championships three times before 1992, but did reach the semi finals in two of those three attempts.
After being eliminated in the group stage of the previous tournament, not many fans were holding out hope for glory. They faced the current World Champions Germany in the final but against the odds managed to engineer a 2-0 victory.
4. Canada – Gold Cup 2000
The CONCACAF Gold Cup has only ever had three winners since its inception. Mexico have won it seven times, USA have won it six and then there was the one other occasion in 2000.
Canada won their group but faced a tough challenge in the form of the competition’s most successful nation Mexico in the next round. Winning gave them the momentum they needed to get past Trinidad and Tobago to face Colombia in the final. Even then the Canadians were comfortable underdogs but their spirit triumphed as they ran out 2-0 winners.
3. Greece: European Champions 2004
Greece had never won a competitive game at any major tournament before the 2004 European Championships. Being drawn alongside hosts Portugal and dark horses Spain in the group stage did not bode well for the Greeks, but a shock opening victory against Portugal put them in good stead.
They advanced from the group stage beating France and Czech Republic on route to a final rematch against Portugal. Greece replicated the success in that group stage match beating Portugal once again.
2. Tahiti – OFC Nations Cup 2012
The OFC Nations Cup has also been dominated by two nations since its inception but with the most successful of those Australia having left the continent prior to this tournament it was wide open. New Zealand were confident of adding to their four previous titles with their old rivals out of the way but Tahiti had other plans.
In fact previous finalists New Caledonia eliminated New Zealand in the semi finals, ensuring their would be a new winner of the Oceanic tournament. Tahiti won the contest 1-0 in 2012 final and remain the only other side to have lifted the trophy to date.
1. Zambia – Africa Cup of Nations 2012
Zambia had reached the final twice before, once in 1994 and once in 1974 but nobody expected them to go all the way in 2012. Zambia advanced to the semi finals fairly comfortably where they met the previous finalists and 2010 World Cup quarter-finalist Ghana.
Zambia just edged the contest 1-0 to set up a final against an Ivory Coast side that boasted talent such as Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure. The less recognisable Zambia side held the contest to a draw before triumphing on penalties to be crowned African champions.