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Biggest Surprises In the Euros

  • Denmark won the 1992 European Championship without even qualifying
  • England suffered a shocking defeat from Iceland four years ago
  • Greece won the Euro 2004 defeating the hosts, Portugal in the final
biggest surprises in the Euros
Image via Flickr

Though every tournament has its favorites, sometimes surprising teams can win the trophy like in the case of Denmark and Greece. While other, even smaller countries can also perform outstandingly, like Iceland did in the previous Euros. And big favorites can suffer unexpected defeats proved by England and Belgium. These are the biggest surprises in the Euros. 

In a few days time the Euro2020 will finally begin with 24 teams taking part in it. France, England and Germany are in the top favorites like usual. But we might see a different winner next month at Wembley. Just like it has already happened a few times in the tournament’s history. Denmark and Greece were huge underdogs when they managed to win the title.  English fans had to witness shocking defeats on several occasions. Probably their team’s more recent loss against Iceland had to be the most painful one. In other times, finals also ended with unexpected results. Read all surprising moments to get prepared before the start of this year’s tournament.

Biggest surprises in the Euros include Denmark’s victory

biggest surprises in the Euros
Andre Schürrle, Germany national football team – Steindy (talk) 13:18, 27 June 2011 (UTC), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1992 the Danish team didn’t even qualify for the Euros. But they were invited instead of Yugoslavia, who was disqualified due to the Yugoslavian war. No one from the squad was prepared to take part. What’s more, their best player, Michael Laudrup wasn’t even a member of their team after he had fallen out with manager Richard Moller-Nielsen.  Denmark was still absolutely amazing in the whole tournament. They defeated France in the group stage to qualify to the last four. Where they beat first the Netherlands with 5-4 on penalties, thanks to the crucial save of Peter Schmeichel. Then in the final the team defeated the current world champions, Germany with the goals of John Jensen and Kim Vilfort.

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A similar story, the victory of Greece in the 2004 European Championships also belongs to the biggest surprises in the Euros.  German manager Otto Rehhagel made a super strong defense from his players, like Dellas, Seitaridis and Fyssas. Their play might have been boring and unimaginative, but at the same time it was also very effective. As Greece beat the hosts, Portugal in the first game and went all the way to the final. Where they met again the heavy favorites, Portugal. But with the goal of Angelos Charisteas, Greece won the game 1-0 and became the champions. The Greek team didn’t qualify for this year’s tournament unlike Portugal which are mentioned in the top favorites by online sportsbooks in the UK.

England’s shocking losses

The England national team has qualified for the European Championship on 10th occasions. But they only reached the semi-final twice so far. The recent one happened in 1996 when they lost against Germany after the penalty shoot-out. It was a disappointing loss but not a surprising one. Unlike other times, when England suffered really unexpected defeats. It is enough to remember their last appearance four years ago, when they lost against Iceland 2-1 in the last 16. Even though the team had world-class players in its squad like Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney. Some of these players can try to get a better result in the Euro2020 where online gambling sites in the UK predict an English victory.

In order to win the cup for the first time in the country’s history, the team needs to perform better than its predecessors. As they suffered shocking defeats earlier as well. Eg. when England lost against the Republic of Ireland in 1988 at the group stage or against Sweden in 1992. Both times it also meant the end of their tournament. While in 1968 the team was one of only four teams to take part in the European Championship. In spite of winning the World Cup two years before, the team lost against Yugoslavia in the semi-final. But at least they won the third place play-off against the Soviet Union with the goals of Bobby Charlton and Geoffrey Hurst.

biggest surprises in the Euros
England national team World Cup 2018 – Антон Зайцев, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Other unexpected results in the tournaments

Back to the previous tournament, the Euro 2016 got other surprising results as well. Like Sweden’s and Ukraine’s poor performances and last-place finishes in their groups. Or Belgium’s loss against Wales in the quarter-final which also belongs to the biggest surprises in the Euros history. As Marc Wilmots’ team was the massive favorite ahead of the game as the second-ranked team in the world rankings. They even scored the first goal in the game thanks to Radja Nainggolan, but Wales equalized already in the first half. Then with the goals of Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes they got the 3-1 victory. Which also meant that the Welsh team reached the semi-final for the first time. in its history. Where the future champions, Portugal beat them 2-0.

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Looks like Belgium can’t really focus on the tournaments either as they also suffered an unexpected defeat against Turkey at the group stage in 2000. It was an even more tragic defeat. As it also meant that Belgium as co-hosts of the tournament didn’t even qualify for the knockout stage. While Turkey reached this stage for the first time in the country’s history. Similarly surprising was the Czech Republic’s victory over Italy in the 1996 European Championship group stage. With their win, Karel Poborsky and his co qualified for the quarter-finals, while Italy was out. The Czech team managed to get into the final where only Germany could stop them with Oliver Bierhoff’s golden goal.

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