When Liechtenstein take on UFWC (and WC) title holders Spain on 3 September, It will be one of the biggest UFWC title mismatches in international football history.

Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in the world, and its team is the very definition of a footballing minnow. Spain indisputably has the best national football team in the world. Let’s run through a tale of the tape to see how the two teams size up:

Spain has a population of 46 million and covers an area of 195,000 square miles. Its national team is ranked 1st in the world by FIFA and 12th by the UFWC. It is the current undisputed official World Cup and unofficial UFWC champion.

Liechtenstein has a population of 36,000 and covers an area of 62 square miles. Its national team is ranked 149th in the world by FIFA and it is unranked by the UFWC. It has never qualified for a major tournament, and has played only two UFWC title matches, losing both of them.

But Liechtenstein isn’t the smallest nation ever to compete in the UFWC. That honour goes to San Marino. (However, Liechtenstein is the only country ever to have lost to San Marino, in a non-UFWC friendly in 2004…) Ten countries with populations of less than 1 million have played in UFWC title matches. Only one has ever been successful. The ten tiny countries, and their populations, are:

San Marino (30,000)
Liechtenstein (36,000)
Faroe Islands (49,000)
Andorra (84,000)
Netherlands Antilles (197,000)
Iceland (317,000)
Malta (413,000)
Luxembourg (502,000)
Montenegro (626,000)
Cyprus (870,000)

The one successful UFWC nation in that list is the soon-to-be-dissolved Netherlands Antilles, who beat Mexico in 1963.

The biggest UFWC mismatch so far has been San Marino vs Russia in 1995. The Russians won 7-0. The Faroe Islands did slightly better against Russia in the same year, losing 5-2. Russia are highly ranked in the UFWC, but they weren’t (and have never been) official world champions. So the gap between Liechtenstein and Spain seems even greater.

Liechtenstein’s previous two attempts at the UFWC title ended in defeats – 8-2 to Germany in 2000 and 2-0 to Spain in 2001. That defeat to Spain nine years ago was a World Cup qualifier. The forthcoming title match is a Euro qualifier. Anything other than a Spanish victory would be a remarkable result.

However, every football fans know that anything is possible. The Netherlands Antilles proved that it’s possible for a tiny nation to upset one of football’s big guns in a UFWC title match.

We’re calling Liechtenstein vs Spain the biggest title mismatch in UFWC history. Could it provide the biggest upset? We’ll preview the game nearer the time, and run through some classic UFWC mismatches between then and now.

About Paul Brown

Paul is a freelance journalist and author. He created the UFWC in 2003, and subsequently wrote the Unofficial Football World Champions book. He can be found on Twitter @paulbrownUK.

2 thoughts on “Liechtenstein vs Spain, and other UFWC title mismatches

  1. James

    Another favourite Liechtenstein stat:

    Liechtenstein is one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world — being a landlocked country wholly surrounded by other landlocked countries (the other is Uzbekistan).

  2. Joe

    Surely what is more exciting is the games coming after Spain’s inevitable win. A friendly against Argentina! Then if they get past them Lithuania, and UFWC All-Time Champions – Scotland.

    But maybe I am just getting too ahead of myself?

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