EURO 2004 : UNEXPECTED ENDING

Greece won the 2004 Euro by playing an ultra defensive style

With ten teams winning the Henry Delaunay trophies, the Euro had produced some unexpected winner like Czechoslovakia in 1976, Denmark in 1992 and Portugal in 2016. However, this triumph does not compare to the feat that Greece accomplished in these editions of Euro. Although team like Czechoslovakia, Denmark and Portugal had been the unexpected winner, they had some excellent player in their ranks. Also, they had qualified for many Euro and World Cup editions. The first major tournament that they qualified is the Euro 1980 and the World Cup 1994, and in both of this competition, they were eliminated from the earlier stages without a single win to their name.

The story of the Greece football team started with a German manager named Otto Rehengal. He is a former player, and we were appointed as the manager in 2000. The England team will remember Greece as the team where David Beckham scored his famous freekick that sent England to the World Cup in 2002. Buoyed by the rugged polished performance against England, which saw England struggle to get a foothold, Greece was improving and determined not to become a laughing stock of the footballing world again.

Their road to their ultimate triumph began against the host Portugal where a Portuguese win is expected. However, the host had been defeated in the game, creating a massive shockwave among the football fan. For Greece, this their first win in a major competition. Greece next game will be between the Spanish, whom they had held for a 1-1 and completed their group with their only defeat in the tournament against Russia in these editions. The loss does not hinder Greece progression to the quarter-final stages as they joined Portugal to the next round.

Joining Portugal and Greece in the quarter-final is France, England, Czech Republic, Sweeden, Netherland and Denmark. England under Sven Goran Eriksson had been defeated in the opening game against France via two quick injury-time goals by Zinedine Zidane. England had come back from these defeats and winning their remaining two games against Switzerland and Croatia. Sweeden and Denmark progressed from a group that had Italy in it. Italy had become the first big-name casualty to be eliminated from the group, paving Sweeden and Denmark’s progression.

The runner up of the World Cup in 2002, German had a dismal tournament, and the footballing community had precipitated the fall of the might German from the grace. The German had never been eliminated from the group stages for two straight tournaments in their proud history. Drawn together with Republic, Czech, and Netherland, the German had an embarrassing moment as they had been eliminated from the group stages without any win. The German, a regular contender in any tournament’s knockout stages, was eliminated from the group stages for two straight games. This embarrassing moment had paved the way for a colossal change in German football.

In the quarter-final, the silver goal had been introduced with the replacing the arduous golden goal. In the silver goal, the team that scored the most in either half of the extra time won the match. The silver goal rule had produced an entertaining game between Portugal and England that saw the famous Christiano Ronaldo wink, which had seen as premeditated that had contributed to the Wayne Rooney sending off. England had fought bravely; however, they had been eliminated again in a  penalty shootout.

The biggest shock comes in the quarter-final between Greece and France. France is the defending European champion which still had Zidane in the team. France is expected to win as the footballing world had predicted that Greece luck wins run out in the knockout stages. However, a glorious header by Angelos Charisteas had eliminated the defending champion, and Greece progressed to the semi-final. A team that had not won a major tournament game had reached their first-ever semi-final.

The Czech Republic had been tournament favourites, eliminates Denmark with a display worthy of a potential champion. However, in the semi-final against Greece, Czech Republic held back by the ultra-defensive Greece team and unable to broke the deadlock in the regular time. In the first half of the extra time, Greece had scored the silver goal and progressed to the final. Another major upset happened with Greece. Their opponent will be Portugal, who had beaten the Netherland in the semi-final. For the first time in the tournament history, the final will be the repeat of the opening group stages match.

Greece is not expected to win by any footballing fan as no host of European champions lost the final when they reached it. Portugal had gained their form at a crucial time. However, the thing did not turn out as expected. Using their ultra-defensive and extreme man-marking tactics that served them well throughout these tournaments, they had kept Portugal quiet. In the second half, Greece had scored the winning goal again from Angelos Christenasi due to the goalkeeping error from Ricardo, the Portuguese goalkeeper. Greece held on and miraculously won the game and their first-ever major tournament. Portugal had made an unwanted record as they become the first host team to lost the final.

Greece triumphant is the ultimate fairy tale in football. A team that had not progressed beyond the group stages, not having a single win in any tournament and only reached three major competition, had won a significant competitor in their first-ever final. Although Greece’s style of football is not to entertain, it is a winning football that had created the miracle where a team that had been deemed a non-hoper and as laughing stock have eliminated several top teams and made the fairytale triumph. When it comes to the consensus for the most unexpected win ever in a sporting tournament, Greece triumph in these tournaments will be at the top for long years to come.

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