At long last the Euros are here after a five year wait. I love this tournament as it provides so many underdog moments. You will find some of them in this compilation below. England have never won it but Denmark, Greece and Russia have won it which is egg on the face of the country that invented soccer. Germany , France and defending Champs Portugal are grouped together with Hungary which will be bruising I am sure. These below are my top five matches from the Euros.
5. ENGLAND VS NETHERLANDS EURO 96 GROUP STAGE
If there was ever a time the English were supposed to win this trophy was in 1996. At home and boasting a team that has Shearer, Gascoigne, Sheringham, Anderton and young up and comers Beckham and Neville they were pretty formidable. They showed this by playing quick attacking, go on the front foot style of soccer. The scoreline was unbelievable back then. The Dutch had Champions league winners Blind , Kluivert and Seedorf in their side as well as one Dennis Bergkamp. What a touch to set up the consolation for Holland. bSadly football never made it home at the end but hey this match is a saver.
4.GERMANY VS DENMARK EURO 1992 FINAL
One of the all time great shocks of world sports. Denmark were wild card entries into the tournament in Sweden after Yugoslavia’s ban for political reasons. They scrapped through the knockout stages and were now up against world champions Germany. A classic smash and grab (I mean literary, just watch the first goal). Desire and will to win can trump any lack of skill one might have. This tournament so the emergence of Denmark as a serious footballing nation with the likes of Schmeichel and Laudrup brothers becoming becoming household names. A sidebar. There is a hint of handball in the second Danish goal which VAR would have spotted a mile away TODAY.
3.RUSSIA VS NETHERLANDS EURO 2008 QUARTERFINAL
Here come the Dutch again. The pain continued at Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland with a 3-1 humbling against unfancied Russia. It took a Dutch coach (Gus Hiddink) to get one over his homeland. The Dutch missing countless of chances. The Russians clinical. This is the match that probably made the scouts’ mind to take Arshavin and Pavlyuchenko heading to North London. Ruud Van Nistelrooy showing his predatory instincts. Netherlands forgetting the art of defending at the crucial moments. Somebody forgot to tell them you can’t be offside from a throw in. Seriously?
2.FRANCE VS PORTUGAL EURO 2000 SEMI FINAL
Before there was Christiano Ronaldo, there once was a Portugal with Figo as the talisman. Before there was Guedes there was Nuno Gomes. France were bidding to hold the Eros and World cup at the same time. They were heading towards the exits in Euro 2000 in Belgium and Netherlands after falling behind to a Nuno Gomes goal earlier on. But this French side had a rare combination of flair and grit. Spearheaded by the likes of Makelele. Viera, Henry and Zidane. Henry equalized just after half time and the match headed to extra time and cue the controversy. With three minutes to go to penalties, Mozambique born Abel Xavier was adjudged to have handled the ball from a Sylvain Wiltord shot from the acutest of angles. Questions. Did Xavier know anything about it? Was he trying to get out of the way? Was the shot going to end in the back of the net? All the same well spotted linesman. France went on to win the whole shebang by the way.1
- ENGLAND VS PORTUGAL EURO 2004 QUARTERFINALS
CR7’s first major tournament. England failing to exorcise the penalty shoot out voodoo after pretty much being the better team over 120 minutes. Michael Owen the best finisher in England history. England will look back at Sol Campbell’s disallowed goal with regret and anguish. Rui Costa’s bullet. Frank Lamprd sending the game to penalties with a typical recycled ball strike. Oh, and everyone blaming the pitch for a penalty miss. Need I say more.