Year in Review 2020: Barca's horror night against Bayern to CSK's spectacular fall, biggest sports upsets

Blame it on the lack of fans in the stands. Or blame it on the interrupted and rhythmless nature of sporting calendars in a pandemic-affected year. When sports happened in 2020, there were upsets galore. Here are the top 10 sporting upsets of 2020.

FP Sports December 27, 2020 12:29:22 IST
Year in Review 2020: Barca's horror night against Bayern to CSK's spectacular fall, biggest sports upsets

Barcelona succumbed to an 8-2 loss against Bayern Munich in the Champions League with their player Philippe Coutinho who was on loan at Munich scoring twice. AFP

Sport, as the cliché goes, is the business of glorious uncertainties. But 2020 was a year when the possibility of sport, any sport, taking place itself was uncertain. But when it did happen, there were upsets galore. Here are the top 10 sporting upsets of 2020:

Clippers blow 3-1 lead versus Nuggets in NBA Playoffs

With the arrival of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, this felt like the year when the Clippers could put behind them decades of mismanagement and living in the shadow of their more accomplished city rivals, the Lakers. It was no surprise that they overpowered the Mavericks in Round 1 of the Playoffs and then took a 3-1 lead over Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semis. What happened next was shocking.

In Game 5, the Nuggets overturned a 15-point deficit to steal victory. In Game 6, the LA franchise took a 19-point lead at one point, before choking again to set up an all-or-nothing Game 7. In a game where the Clippers’ superstars should have stood up, reigning NBA Finals MVP Leonard scored 14 points (making just six of 22 shots) while George had 10 points (on 4-for-16 shooting). Both combined to score zero points off field goals in the fourth quarter as the Nuggets won 104-89.

Eliud Kipchoge finishes eighth at London Marathon

Eliud Kipchoge is not a man known to finish second. You’d have to jog your memory back to 2013 to find a marathon where Kipchoge had not won. So, when the London Marathon was held in October, the world record holder was expected to dominate. Moreover, his biggest rival, Kenenisa Bekele, had pulled out due to a calf injury. But lose, Kipchoge did. And how! With just under three miles to go for the finish, he fell behind the lead group and eventually finished eighth, with 24-year-old Shura Kitata winning! Kipchoge tried to explain the result away by saying, “The last 15km, I felt my right ear was blocked. I had cramp in my hip and leg.”

Dominant Bayern Munich thrash Barcelona 8-2 in Champions League

In what could be described as the club football equivalent of Germany’s 7-1 humiliation of hosts Brazil in the semi-final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, a dominant Bayern Munich handed Barcelona the thrashing of a lifetime, the scoreline of the Champions League quarter-final fixture between the two sides reading 8-2 at full time.

Year in Review 2020 Barcas horror night against Bayern to CSKs spectacular fall biggest sports upsets

Barcelona succumbed to an 8-2 loss against Bayern Munich in the Champions League with their player Philippe Coutinho who was on loan at Munich scoring twice. AFP

It was a complete mockery of the opposition’s defence as the Bavarians scored four goals to Barca’s one on either side of halftime. As if to rub salt on their wounds, Philippe Coutinho, Barca’s young recruit worth €160 million who was loaned off Bayern, scored two of those goals shortly before the full-time whistle.

The defeat all but confirmed coach Quique Setien’s sack at the end of what was a wretched season for the Catalans, and the club nearly lost the services of its star player Lionel Messi in its fallout.

Chennai Super Kings' horror run in IPL 2020

Year in Review 2020 Barcas horror night against Bayern to CSKs spectacular fall biggest sports upsets

MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in the history of the franchise in 2020. Image: Sportzpics for BCCI

The beginning was heady; Chennai Super Kings cantered to a five-wicket win over defending champions Mumbai Indians on the opening night of IPL 2020 in the UAE. Then came the storm. As defeats piled and the side continued to slide, problem areas appeared aplenty. An ageing team comprising of players who play very less cricket all year round, a skipper with fading powers, a middle-order mainstay departing before facing a ball in the tournament, a depleted bench strength, and a group short on match practice in the early part of the competition thanks to players contracting COVID-19 , the list is rather long.

None, however, could explain CSK's eight losses, a lot of them accrued on the bounce, making them the first team to go out of playoff contention. It was a storm that was two years in building, and after consecutive appearances in final, the resistance finally, and spectacularly, broke.

Top-seed Simona Halep goes down to Iga Swiatek at French Open

Not many gave Iga Swiatek a chance going into the fourth round of the French Open. And there was sound logic to the expectation: Halep was the top seed, in contention for the top rank, had spent plenty of time on clay and on a 14-match winning streak. Head-to-head went Halep's way too with the Romanian beating Swiatek by dropping just a single game at this stage.

But what transpired was a surprise show from Swiatek as she converted four break points and allowed Halep just three games. She continued that momentum to win her maiden Slam.

Serena Williams loses to Qiang Wang at Australian Open

Keeping with the theme of crushing defeat to stunning upset is Qiang Wang's win over Serena Williams at Australian Open in the third round. This was Serena's quickest exit from Melbourne Park since 2006 and just the fourth time she had lost before the fourth round in Australia. But most importantly for Serena, the wait for a record 24th Grand Slam continued. Her conquerer? Wang who won 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 had been beaten 1-6, 0-6 by Williams at the US Open just a couple of months ago. That match lasted a mere 44 minutes!

Diego Schwartzman (finally) conquers the 'King of Clay' in Rome

Diego Schwartzman got a surprise win over King of Clay Rafael Nadal at the Rome Masters. The Argentine beat Nadal 6-2, 7-5 in just over two hours. For context: Schwartzman had a 0-9 head-to-head against Rafa. Nadal is a nine-time champion in Rome. The Spaniard had dominated their meetings winning 22 of 24 sets. But worth mentioning that this was Nadal's first tournament back after a lengthy break induced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Aston Villa dish out a thrashing to the reigning champions

Liverpool have been a real force to reckon with over the past 18 months or so. In the 38 Premier League matches they played in the 2019-20 season, the Reds lost just three, eventually coasting to the title with a massive 18-point lead over second-placed Manchester City.

With many expecting them to continue that dominant streak of results in this season, it came as a huge shock to just about everyone when humble Aston Villa, who only months ago were battling relegation, put seven goals past the reigning champions in a 7-2 mauling at Villa Park.

Ollie Watkins scored a hat-trick, Jack Grealish bagged a brace, and Ross Barkley and John McGinn scored a goal apiece in a fixture that is bound to go down in Aston Villa history as the day that proved that miracles truly do happen.

India 36 all out against Australia in Adelaide Test

In an innings any Indian would like to forget, Virat Kohli-led India were bowled out for their lowest-ever Test total of 36 during the tour-opening pink-ball Test against Australia in Adelaide. This was just the second instance when all of the visitors' batsmen failed to register double-figure scores.

India elected to bat after winning the toss, and they put up 244 runs in the first innings, thanks to Virat Kohli (74) and Cheteshwar Pujara (43). R Ashwin (four wickets) and Umesh Yadav (three) then did well to restrict Aussies to 191, maintaining a 53 run lead. In India's second innings, they lost out-of-form Prithvi Shaw (4) early, and nightwatchman Jasprit Bumrah was brought in at No 3, towards the end of Day 2.

While all the talk was about India gathering momentum by gaining a decent lead, it so happened otherwise. Pat Cummins (4 wickets) and Josh Hazlewood (five) ran riot on Day 3 of the Test as they allowed none of the batsmen to settle. Kohli was dismissed for just four runs, while Rahane went for a duck as India endured a disappointing show with the bat like never before. The target for the Aussies was just 90, and they did so quite comfortably with eight wickets and two-and-a-half days to spare. Joe Burns returned to form with an unbeaten 51 as the hosts took a decisive 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

VfB Stuttgart thump Dortmund 5-1

If there was one defeat that Borussia Dortmund would have liked to avoid, it was the one that came in their Bundesliga encounter against VfB Stuttgart on 12 December. Dortmund were looking to close the gap on Bayern Munich at the top of the table, but was not meant to be as they succumbed to a 5-1 thrashing against VfB Stuttgart-Their worst-ever defeat under then manager Lucien Favre.

Stuttgart started strong, and were awarded a penalty after Dortmund’s Emre Can brought down  Mateo Klimowicz inside the box. Silas Wamangituka would then take the penalty with ease, sending goalkeeper Roman Buerki the wrong way by scoring at the right corner of the net.

Dortmund, who were missing Erling Haaland due to injury, were effective at creating scoring opportunities from through balls, but offside errors and conceding free-kicks cost them.

While Giovanni Reyna did level scores in the 39th minute, Wamangituka would once again give the visitors a  2-1 lead in the 52nd minute. This would begin a Stuttgart rampage, with Philipp Forster and Tanguy Coulibaly scoring two more goals in the next 10 minutes to make it 4-1-Thereby making it an improbable task.

Errors haunted Dortmund in defence, and it was Nicolas Gonzales who took advantage in stoppage time to make it 5-1.

Lucien Favre was eventually sacked following the nightmarish defeat, and replaced by former assistant coach Edin Terzic.

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