In 1996, England had been chosen as the host for the 9th edition of the football European Champions. English fans are hopeful that England may achieve their first-ever European champion in the penultimate stages. This success will emulate the class of 1966. The anthem of Football Is Coming Home had been recited by the English fan. The European cup will erase the traumatic failure to qualify for the World Cup 1994, a big blow for a proud footballing nation like England. This EURO is the first-ever Euro with 16 participating since UEFA had decided to increase the number of the team from 8. This number had stayed for 20 years when UEFA had opted to increase participating teams to 24 starting from Euro 2016.
England is optimistic about erasing the failure of 1994. Meanwhile, the Germans also come to the tournament to erase their shocking loss to Bulgaria in the 1994 quarter-final, which had dented their hope of defending the World Cup title that they won in 1990. The German was also hunting for their first trophies since the German reunification in 1990. Meanwhile, the shocking winner of the previous Euro Denmark had a high hope to defend their title in England as they are contesting as the defending champion. Portugal, which had its golden generation like Luis Figo, Rui Costa, Victor Baia, and others, competed in the first-ever Euro competition. France competes in the tournament with the young Zinedine Zidane in the team. The Spanish want to erase their unwanted tag as the perennial underachievers.
The tournament started with the host England drew with Switzerland. Criticism had poured on the English team managed by Terry Venables; however, in the next game against Scotland, a penalty saves by David Seaman, and a brilliant individual goal by Paul Gascoigne had given the crucial win against Scotland. The English team had carried the momentum by defeating the Netherland in the penultimate group stage match, and England had progressed from the group as group winners. Criticism had changed to optimism that England can finally achieve success in Euro.
The surprising package of the World Cup 1994 Romania and Bulgaria had performed poorly in these tournaments. Both teams had been eliminated in the group stages in which they had been drawn against France and Spain. The French and the Spanish team dominated their group were the French, who also did not qualify for the 1994 World Cup, had avenged their defeat against Bulgaria in the playoff games. France will be hosting the 1998 World Cup hence the need to get good results in the competition to have good momentum. For Romania, their fantastic run to the quarter-final of the World Cup in 1994 had ended miserably in Euro as they do not earn any winning point and only scored one goal.
The Italian, the World Cup runner-up, also joined Romania and Bulgaria as they too had been eliminated from the group stages. The Czech Republic and Croatia, which comes into existence in 1993 and 1991 respectively, had progressed from group stages. The Czech Republic had contributed to the Italian elimination, while Croatia had successfully knocked out Denmark from the group stages. Turkey, who also participated, had created an unwanted record as they become the first team to be eliminated from the group stages without winning or scoring a goal.
The group stages were completed, parallel with the increase of team from the 8 to 16; the quarter-final stages were introduced. These stages also saw the golden goal’s introduction where the team that scored the first goal win the tie. These golden goals led to defensive and cautious football, as the team did not want to concede the golden goals in the extra time. In the quarter-final, the German had knocked out Croatia while the Czech Republic had dented the hope of the Portugal golden generation to progress further. Meanwhile, the remaining quarter-final stages had been decided in penalties as France defeated Netherland in the shootout, which had been disappointing in the tournament.
In the quarter-final match against Spanish, England had won their first-ever penalty shootout in any competition and progressed to the semi-final. The hopes for the English national team had reached an astounding level of confidence, and the belief of their first-ever Euro success grew stronger. Their opponent in the semi-final is the German team. In a tense game where England nearly scored the priceless golden goal that will take them to the final once the match ended 1-1 full time, the penalty shootout is needed to determine the winner. The shootout against the Spanish team gave England a supreme level of confidence, but unlike the Spanish team, the German had a flawless record in the shootout. England unable to replicate their victory shootout against the German as German-held supreme. The hope of England winning their first-ever Euro had vanished, and German reached the final.
German opponent is the Czech Republic, who had knocked out the French team also by penalties shootout. German want redemption as the old Wembley is the stage where they had lost the final in 1966. German team hopes to win their first-ever trophies since the reunification had been under threat when the Czech Republic had scored in the 59th minutes. The German, who had been known to be resilient, had come back again when Oliver Bierhoff, the substitute, had scored the equalizing goal in the 79th minute and full time ended in a draw. In the extra time golden goal, German had scored the golden goal via Oliver Bierhoff again. The victory had given German their first-ever international football trophies since the reunification of German and their 3rd European Championship overall. The German won it in the rival ground.
England had great chances to win it but ended up knockout in the semi-final. The French team and Croatia had used the experience from these tournaments to achieve their first-ever record. The French won their first World Cup in 1998, and Croatia had reached their first-ever semi-final in the World Cup in 1998 too.