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Known by its full title of the UEFA European Football Championship, and more commonly referred to as "Euro (year)". It has been held every 4 years since 1960, coinciding with the Summer Olympic Games. This is the other primary football competition for Europe's national teams. It fills the void between World Cups by being held 2 years out of phase from each World Cup, and within Europe is nearly as highly regarded. Due to the amount of strong teams in Europe, it can also sometimes be harder to win the European Championship than the World Cup - the average FIFA ranking for Spain’s opponents on their path to winning the 2010 World Cup was 17.71, compared to average rankings of 15.67 and 12.17 for their opponents in Euro 2008 and 2012 respectivelynote .


It follows the same basic format as its worldwide cousin. Teams are first required to qualify for the tournament itself through qualifying groups, although the hosts are granted automatic entry into the tournament proper (though this is not the case in the pan-European 2020 tournament, with host cities spread over 12 countries). For the 2020 edition, the competing nations were divided into ten groups, five with six teams and the other five having five. Each group resulted in two teams qualifying for the tournament proper, with the other four coming from the new UEFA Nations League tournament.Explanation  In the finals themselves there is another group stage which results in 16 teams going through into the knockout stage. The winners are crowned European champions.


This tournament is considered possibly more unpredictable than The World Cup, due in no small part to the shocking victories of Denmark in 1992 (the team was called up a few days before the beginning after the qualified Yugoslavia were disqualified due to the war), and Greece in 2004 (participating for the second time and defeating host Portugal twice in the opening match and in the final) are considered two of the biggest upsets in football history. And then there's Iceland in 2016—the smallest country by far to ever reach the final tournament (population about 330,000), they made it to the quarterfinals, with an upset of England in the round of 16 ranking right up there with Denmark '92 and Greece '04. Least we forget, they managed to knock the Netherlands out in the qualifiers to even be at the tournament. And also Wales in 2016 managed to get to the semifinals in their first major tournament after 48 years (first British team to reach the semis in 20 years despite England).

Germany (1972, 1980, 1996) and Spain (1964, 2008, 2012) are the most successful teams with 3 victories each; Spain is the only team to have won two consecutive editions (with a World Cup victory in the middle).


  • 1960 — France
    Cities: Marseille / Paris (Final)
    Final Four: USSR / Yugoslavia / Czechoslovakia / France
    Top scorers: Viktor Ponedelnik (USSR), Milan Galić (Yugoslavia), Dražan Jerković (Yugoslavia), Valentin Ivanov (USSR) and François Heutte (France) - 2 goals each
    Original format (until 1976) had only 4 teams advance to the final stage, comprised of semifinals and final. The Soviet Union won their first and last championship against Yugoslavia, after extra time.
  • 1964 — Spain
    Cities: Barcelona / Madrid (Final)
    Final Four: Spain / USSR / Hungary / Denmark
    Top scorers: Jesús María Pereda (Spain), Ference Bene (Hungary) and Dezső Novák (Hungary) - 2 goals each
    In the final, the hosts defeated the champions. This would be the last trophy won by Spain for over 40 years.
  • 1968 — Italy
    Cities: Florence / Naples / Rome (Final)
    Final Four: Italy / Yugoslavia / England / USSR
    Top scorer: Dragan Džajić (Yugoslavia) - 2 goals
    Again the hosts end up winning the tournament, against Yugoslavia in a replay match, after the final ended 1-1. Most notably, Italy defeated Soviet Union in the semifinal thanks to the coin toss, because neither team was able to score after the end of extra-time.
  • 1972 — Belgium
    Cities: Antwerp / Brussels (Heysel Stadium [Final] / Stade Émile Versé) / Liège
    Final Four: West Germany / USSR / Belgium / Hungary
    Top scorer: Gerd Müller (West Germany) - 4 goals
    First victory for West Germany, defeating the Soviet Union (in their third final in four editions).
  • 1976 — Yugoslavia
    Cities: Belgrade [Serbia] (Final) / Zagreb [Croatia]
    Final Four: Czechoslovakia / West Germany / Netherlands / Yugoslavia
    Top scorer: Dieter Müller (West Germany) - 4 goals
    First surprising victory. Czechoslovakia was a good team, but was able to defeat the favourite team, West Germany. The final became famous because was the first ending with penalties, and Czechoslovakia player Antonin Panenka scored the last and decisive penalty using the infamous Panenka Kick (named after him), and most commonly named il cucchiaio (the spoon) in the Italian-speaking world.
  • 1980 — Italy
    Cities: Milan / Naples / Rome (final) / Turin
    Final Four: West Germany / Belgium / Czechoslovakia / Italy
    Top scorer: Klaus Allofs (West Germany) - 3 goals
    The format changed, with 8 teams advancing to the final stage, with two groups of 4 teams. The winners of each group advance to the final. West Germany won their second championship, becoming the first team to do so, against Belgium in the final.
  • 1984 — France
    Cities: Lens / Lyon / Marseille / Nantes / Paris (Final) / Saint-Étienne / Strasbourg
    Final Four: France / Spain / Portugal / Denmark
    Top scorer: Michel Platini (France) - 9 goals
    France, led by the star and by far one of the best players of the decade Michel Platini, won their first championship, defeating Spain.
  • 1988 — West Germany
    Cities: Cologne / Düsseldorf / Frankfurt / Gelsenkirchen / Hamburg / Hanover / Munich (final) / Stuttgart
    Final Four: Netherlands / USSR / West Germany / Italy
    Top scorer: Marco van Basten (Netherlands) - 5 goals
    First win for Netherlands, who defeated old rivals West Germany in the semifinals and then Soviet Union in final. This edition is famous because of Marco van Basten, Netherlands striker, who scored in the final what is considered to be the best goal of the Championship and one of the best of all time.
  • 1992 — Sweden
    Cities: Gothenburg (Final) / Malmö / Norrköping / Stockholm
    Final Four: Denmark / Germany / Sweden / Netherlands
    Top scorers: Dennis Bergkamp (Netherlands), Tomas Brolin (Sweden), Henrik Larsen (Denmark) and Karl-Heinz Riedle (Germany) - 3 goals each
    Denmark did not qualify for this edition, but was called up a few days prior to the beginning after Yugoslavia was disqualified due to the war. Probably the lack of pressure inside the Denmark team was crucial, and they defeated France in the group stages, current champions Netherlands in the semis and finally West Germany in the final, winning the trophy.
  • 1996 — England
    Cities: Birmingham / Leeds / Liverpool / London (final) / Manchester / Newcastle upon Tyne / Nottingham / Sheffield
    Final Four: Germany / Czech Republic / England / France
    Top scorer: Alan Shearer (England) - 5 goals
    Best player: Matthias Sammer (Germany)
    The format was extended, now 16 teams advanced to the final stage, with 4 groups of 4 teams each, the first two of each group advance to the knockout stage. England was considered the best candidate to win the tournament, but they lost on penalties in the semifinal against Germany (now unified), who ended up defeating the Czech Republic (surprise of this edition) in the final and winning their third championship.
  • 2000 — Belgium and The Netherlands
    Cities (Belgium): Bruges / Brussels / Liège / Charleroi
    Cities (Netherlands): Amsterdam / Arnhem / Eindhoven / Rotterdam (Final)
    Final Four: France / Italy / Netherlands / Portugal
    Top scorers: Patrick Kluivert (Netherlands) and Savo Milošević (Yugoslavia) - 5 goals each
    Best player: Zinedine Zidane (France)
    Despite having faced each other a lot of times in the past, the final between France and Italy is considered to have ignited the lifelong rivalry between the two sides. Italy, after defeating the host Netherlands in the semis thanks to the penalties (with another cucchiaio by Francesco Totti, after Panenka in 1976), was leading 1-0 in the final. France score the equalizer in the very last minute, and then scored the Golden Goal in extra time, winning the tournament.
  • 2004 — Portugal
    Cities: Aveiro / Braga / Coimbra / Faro / Guimarães / Leiria / Lisbon (Estádio da Luz [Final] / Estádio José Alvalade) / Porto (Estádio do Bessa Século XXI / Estádio do Dragão)
    Final Four: Greece / Portugal / Netherlands / Czech Republic
    Top scorer: Milan Baroš (Czech Republic) - 5 goals
    Best player: Theodoros Zagorakis (Greece)
    This edition was considered one of the biggest upsets in sports history. Greece, who were competing in just their second tournament, and who was considered by most one of the weakest teams in the tournament, was able to defeat host Portugal in the opening match and advance to the group stage, thus eliminating Spain. Then again won over France in the Quarters, the Czech Republic in the semifinals (after a last-minute goal in extra time), and defeating Portugal again in the final. This was the first time in which the opening and final matches were played by the same teams.
  • 2008 — Austria and Switzerland
    Cities (Austria): Innsbruck / Klagenfurt / Salzburg / Vienna (Final)
    Cities (Switzerland): Basel / Bern / Geneva / Zürich
    Final Four: Spain / Germany / Turkey / Russia
    Top scorer: David Villa (Spain) - 4 goals
    Best player: Xavi (Spain)
    First trophy for Spain after 44 years. The tournament was remarkable for the surprises of Turkey and Russia. The former advanced to the semifinals thank to two goals in the last minutes, against the Czech Republic in the group stage and Croatia in the quarters.
  • 2012 — Poland and Ukraine
    Cities (Poland): Gdańsk / Poznań / Warsaw / Wrocław
    Cities (Ukraine): Donetsk / Kharkiv / Kyiv (Final) / Lviv
    Final Four: Spain / Italy / Germany / Portugal
    Top scorers: Mario Mandžukić (Croatia), Mario Gómez (Germany), Mario Balotelli (Italy), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Alan Dzagoev (Russia) and Fernando Torres (Spain) - 3 goals each
    Best player: Andrés Iniesta (Spain)
    Spain won again, marking their third trophy in just 4 years (there's a World Cup in the middle, the first team to have done so), defeating a surprising Italy.
  • 2016 — France
    Cities: Bordeaux / Décines (Lyon) / Lens / Lille / Marseille / Nice / Paris / Saint-Denis (Paris) (Final) / Saint-Étienne / Toulouse
    Final Four: Portugal / France / Germany / Wales
    Top scorer & best player: Antoine Griezmann (France) - 6 goals
    This was the first tournament with the format extended to 24 teams, divided in 6 groups with 4 teams each, the first two of each group, and the best 4 third-place teams advancing to the Round of 16. The tournament was noteworthy for a lot of surprise teams (Iceland and Wales above all). The final was Portugal - France, with the upset win of Portugal, which advanced to the knockout phase only as a third placed team, and defeated the hosts in the final without Cristiano Ronaldo, injured after 20 minutes, winning their first international trophy after years of disappointments.
  • 2020 — Pan-Europeannote 
    Cities: Amsterdam, The Netherlands / Baku, Azerbaijan / Bucharest, Romania / Budapest, Hungary / Copenhagen, Denmark / Glasgow, Scotland / London, England (Final) / Munich, Germany / Rome, Italy / Saint Petersburg, Russia / Seville, Spain
    Final Four: Italy / England / Spain / Denmark
    Top Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) / Patrik Schick (Czech Republic) - 5 goals eachnote 
    Best Player: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)
    First itinerant tournament, organised to celebrate the 60th anniversary of UEFA (or probably because no one wanted to host the tournament due to the expensive costs and the economic crisisnote ). The Belgian capital Brussels was intended to be amongst the host cities, but political delays relating to the stadium caused the city to lose their matches in December 2017, with their games being reallocated to London. None of the countries hosting games automatically qualify, but a qualifying host will automatically be placed in the group in their country and host at least two of their group games (for example, Italy were placed into Group A and will play all three of their group games in Rome) - if both countries hosting a group qualify, an additional draw will be held to determine which country hosts the match between them.note  First to have the Nations League as a pre-qualifier fall-back. This was the first tournament to feature Finland, due to the goals of Norwich forward Teemu Pukki, whose name is allegedly an obscenity in Malaysia, and North Macedonia. It also marked the return of Scotland to major tournaments, having been absent from either this or the World Cup since 1998. Russia hosted and competed despite being banned from being represented in the Olympics and 2022 World Cup due to doping allegations. On 17 March 2020, the tournament was pushed back to 2021 due to the European coronavirus pandemic causing most leagues to be suspended - postponing it frees up space for those leagues to be able to be finished. Despite it being postponed to 2021, it's still referred to as Euro 2020; changing it to Euro 2021 would have caused a lot of branded items to be destroyed, which would go against UEFA’s aims of making Euro 2020 a sustainable event. In April 2021, due to a lack of guarantees that spectators would be able to attend matches, Dublin was stripped of its matches (its three group games were moved to St. Petersburg and the last 16 match was switched to London) and Spain’s stadium was switched to Seville. After a dramatic tournament, for reasons both footballing and otherwise (Danish captain Christian Eriksen going into cardiac arrest in the middle of the Denmark-Finland match, being saved by the sterling efforts of the stadium's medical team), Italy finally edged out England's 'Young Lions' in a penalty shoot-out at Wembley, after a tense final had ended 1-1.

This competition provides examples of:

  • And the Adventure Continues: Usually, after winning the Euro, the team raises high expectations for the World Cup. Very successfully for Spain (Euro 2008, World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2012), and West Germany (Euro 1972 and World Cup in 1974).
  • Arch-Enemy: Italy - Germany is considered by most THE rivalry in International Football. This two teams gave us some of the best International matches, the 1970 World Cup semifinal, ended 4-3 for Italy, was named the Match of the Century and still got an honorary plate in Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Unexpectedly, Germany had long failed to win an official match against Italy, but despite this the rivalry isn't one-sided and is strongly felt by Italians, due to the fact that when they met Germany they're always considered the underdogs. In 2016 Germany defeated Italy in a friendly match prior to the Euro, ending a 21-year-long losing streak, and in the Quarterfinals in France they finally got past their bogeyman... though technically it was a 1–1 draw, with Germany advancing on penalties.
    • England and Portugal, since Euro 2000 and 2004. Particularly funny considering their Binding Ancient Treaty.
    • Portugal and France, since France beat them in the semi-finals in 1984 and 2000, and even more so now that Portugal returned the favor in the 2016 final. Plus, France has a strong population of Portuguese immigrants, with Paris being the second city for Portuguese population, after Lisbon, of course.
    • England and Germany, with Germany being the bogeyman for England (usually with a penalty win) until 2021, when England sent the Germans packing in the round of 16, which was the first time that had happened in a knockout match for 55 years. However the rivalry is felt more on the English side.
      • As pointed out by QI, the England-Germany rivalry is very much one-way only. The Germans' biggest rivals are actually Italy and the Netherlands (especially in the past 20 years)
    • Italy and Spain have a Slap-Slap-Kiss one. Fans from each country will say the worst about the other before a match, but after it's done, the defeated side will happily cheer for the victor in the next stage.
    • Another famous rivalry, despite being born in recent years (after 1998 World Cup) is Italy - France (Euro 2000 Final, 2006 World Cup Final).
    • And, of course, England and France. As is standard for these countries, they will never miss the opportunity to kick the hell out of each other. And then, naturally, the winner will gloat about it. Loudly. And at great length.
      • The only exception so far was in the Friendly match just three days after the Paris gun attacks in November 2015. The English welcomed the French team by lighting up Wembley in the colours of the Tricolour, emblazoning the motto of the Republic on the side of the stadium, replacing the traditional giant St. George's Cross in the home end with a Tricolour, impeccably observing the traditional minute's silence, before joining in loudly and enthusiastically with 'La Marseillaise', the French national anthem (fittingly, a rousing call to arms) - and 70,000 football fans can sing extremely loudly. When French midfielder Lassana Diarra (who had lost a close cousin in the attack) was brought on later in the game, the entire stadium rose to its feet in a standing ovation. And then they didn't make a peep about their unexpected victory afterwards (the first one in nearly ten attempts since the late 1990's). Some things are more important than football. In June 2017, England played France in Paris, having suffered the Manchester bombing and London Bridge/Borough Market attacks in the three weeks leading up to the game, and the French repaid the favour.
    • England and Scotland, England being Scotland's 'Auld Enemy'. Their matches are basically just a continuation of a rivalry that's been going for over two thousand years and shows no signs of stopping any time soon - though, as with the England-Germany rivalry, most of the vitriol is going one way, because most England fans consider Scotland to be beneath their notice.
      • England and Ireland too, with Ireland winning their first Championship match against England. Generally, there's a strong rivalry between any Pretanic Isles teams. In 2016 England and Wales faced off in the group stage for the first time, with England winning, and Wales defeated Northern Ireland in the round of 16.
  • Big Game: The final stage usually takes three weeks (at least since 1996, when it began to be disputed with 16 teams in the final stage).
  • Bookends: Amazingly, in Euro 2004, organized by Portugal. They lost against Greece in the opening match of the tournament, but they won every single one later, including an amazing match against England. Then, they reached the final, where they met... Greece. Greece won, causing shock across Europe and causing Cristiano Ronaldo (at the time, he was 19 years old and scored his first international goal in the opening match) and Eusébio, among many others, to cry. The Greeks won the opening match by 1-2 and the final match by 0-1.
    • Ironically, in 2016 Portugal reached the Final, in a very surprising way, and faced the host France, and despite being considered the underdog managed to win, reflecting in a certain way the Greece win in 2004 (although the 2004 Greece team was far weaker with respect to Portugal than the 2016 French). Greece and Portugal also both relied on a defensive style of play derided by others as "unmodern" (Greece) or "anti-soccer" (Portugal) and played many games to a tie with the win coming in extra time or penalties.
    • Also the Spain - Italy rivalry can be considered this. After symbolically starting their gold run in 2008 defeating Italy in the quarterfinals, Spain proceeded to win the Euros, and then the World Cup in 2010. In 2012 they won their third tournament in a row (first National Team to do so) against Italy in the Final - having also played each other in their opening game. Finally in 2016, Italy defeated them in the Round of 16, marking an end to Spanish football dominion (after the 2014 WC flop).
  • The Chew Toy: In the final stage, Yugoslavia in 1984, Turkey in 1996 and 2020, Denmark in 2000, Bulgaria in 2004, Republic of Ireland and Netherlands in 2012, Ukraine in 2016, and North Macedonia in 2020.
    • When it comes to the qualification phase, we usually have: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, and ESPECIALLY San Marino, who have never won a match in official competitions (and have only ever drawn three matches - as a result, they've spent time as the worst national team in the world). Gibraltar might be on the way to becoming a rival to San Marino in this department. However, in the Nations League tournament that would become a fall-back tournament to precede Euro qualifiers from 2020, only San Marino failed to earn a point out of this lot - Gibraltar beat an Armenian side featuring Arsenal's Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Of those lot, Luxembourg came closest to claiming a play-off spot and were only denied it when Kosovo (one of the Group D winners) lost to the Czech Republic, ending the Kosovans' chances of qualifying automatically.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience
  • Consolation Prize: There used to be a third-place match. The last time it was played was in 1980 (Czechoslovakia won against Italy in a penalty shootout after being tied 1-1. The result on penalties: 9-8).
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: While there are too many examples in the qualification phase, in the final stage we have: France beating Belgium and Denmark beating Yugoslavia by 5-0 (1984); hosts England beating The Netherlands 4-1 in the group stages (1996); Sweden beating Bulgaria by 5-0 (2004); Netherlands beating Italy by 3-0 (2008); Spain beating Ireland by 4-0, and, in the final, by 4-0 as well, against Italy (2012); Belgium defeating Ireland 3–0 and Hungary 4–0, Spain beating Turkey 3–0, Wales beating Russia 3–0, Germany beating Slovakia 3–0, and France ending Iceland's dream run 5–2 (2016); Spain defeating Slovakia 5–0, Denmark beating Wales 4–0, England beating Ukraine 4-0, plus five different 3-goal margins (2020).
  • Dark Horse Victory: The titles by both Denmark (last hour addition replacing the warring Yugoslavia) and Greece (hadn't qualified in 24 years, winning both the berth and title on a Boring, but Practical game focused on defense).
    • Portugal's win can be considered this. Despite being a respectable National Team and despite having Ronaldo in their squad, Portugal faced this Euros with a very few hopes. The 2014 World Cup was a major flop, the team was in the midst of generational transition, and other teams like Germany, France, Belgium and Spain were considered the absolute favourites despite them. The Group Stage run did it worst, with Portugal drawing all three matches and advancing to the Round of 16 only as one of the third placed teams. However in the knockout phase they defeated Croatia, Poland, Wales and finally the host France, making a huge and unpredictable win.
  • David Versus Goliath: Greece in 2004. Between the opening match and the closing match, they went through over Spain on goals scored and defeated the defending champions France in the quarter-finals and Czech Republic (who had won all three matches in the group stage) in the semi-finals.
    • A minor example can be found in the debut of Croatia in 1996 (having defeated defending champions Denmark by 3-0 in the group stage). However, they lost in the quarter-finals against Germany.
    • And you can now add Iceland in 2016 — a country with roughly the population of Leicester or St. Louis, with fewer registered players (male and female) than the U.S. state of Rhode Island, and a dentist serving as co-manager (OK, he's also a veteran player and coach). They qualified by finishing second in a group that included the Netherlands (which they beat twice), the Czech Republic, and Turkey. And then in the tournament itself, they made it to the knockout stage, with a draw against Portugal and a win over Austria along the way, and then stunned England in the round of 16... before reality ensued against the hosts France.
  • Determinator: Portugal's win against England in 2000. Portugal were already losing 2-0 after 18 minutes and many considered the match more or less over. Portugal won 3-2, in an astonishing match.
    • The Turkish team in 2008 was labelled "the comeback kings" for this reason. Having losing to Portugal in the first match, Turkey seemed all but out after going 0-1 down to hosts Switzerland in the second, until Sentürk equalized in the 57th minute and Turan scored the winner in injury time. Two further goals by Nihat in the last four minutes of the next match turned a 1-2 loss to the Czech Republic into a 3-2 victory to the Turks and let them advance to the next stage, where they met Croatia. The match was goalless until Croatia scored in the 119th minute, only for Turkey to equalize a minute later to force a penalty shootout, which they won. However, Turkey's luck ran out in the semi-finals as the Germans beat them at their own game, scoring a last-minute goal to win 3-2.
    • The Denmark and Finland teams in 2021. They were almost halfway through their Group match when one of the Danish players, Christian Eriksen, suddenly collapsed on the pitch, and needed to be resurrected there and then. The match was abandoned at that point, only, to the amazement of everyone, for both teams to come back out on the pitch two hours later, determined to finish the match they had started.note  Denmark lost 1-0, but considering what that happened to their teammate, and where their headspace was at the time, the result was immaterial. As one Danish newspaper’s headline said: Denmark lost, but life won.
    • And it didn't stop there for the Danes. After a narrow loss to Belgium in their next match, they had to beat Russia in their final group match and hope for a favorable result in Finland–Belgium. Denmark took a 2–0 lead, but at 70 minutes, Russia took back a goal, and Finland–Belgium was scoreless (a draw would have knocked Denmark out). However, in the last 20 minutes, both Denmark and Belgium got 2 goals while their opponents failed to score again, putting the Danes through to the knockout stage in second place. Where they proceeded to destroy Wales 4–0, then beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in the quarterfinals, keeping their dream run alive, until they got knocked out by England in the semifinals.
    • Switzerland were 3-1 down to France in their last 16 match in the 2020 edition, with 10 minutes left to play, when they scored two goals to take the match into extra time, and then onto penalties, where they preceded to dump the French, who were favourites to win the tournament, out. Their next match against Spain also went to penalties, but that time, the Spanish won.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Spain's win in 2008, a team until then described as incapable of achieving regularly and consistently good performances, despite having consistently good and great players. Extra morbidity came with the fact that Spain's coach Luis Aragonés had been the target of a smear campaign by part of the sports press and Real Madrid fans because he had decided to not cap Real's captain Raúl González, and he answered to this pressure by ignoring it and sticking to his guns. Early defeats in the qualifying stage were practically cheered on and the seconds before Aragonés was booted counted. So when Spain unexpectedly beat Italy on penalties in the quarter-finals, the country was in shock. By the time Iker Casillas lifted the trophy, everyone had apparently forgotten that there was even a player called Raúl.
    • In 2020, coach Luis Enrique again did not cap any Real Madrid players, especially capitain Sergio Ramos, and instead assembled a team of mostly young and inexperienced players, with a star, Pedri, that had just become 18. After being unceremoniously knocked out in the very early stages in the 2014 and 2018 World Cups and the 2016 Euro, the Spanish press was ready to ask for his head after a poor start (two ties in the group stage, with just one goal scored). Cue 12 goals in the following matches, including an epic 5-3 against the current world runner-ups, Croatia, and by the time the team missed out on qualifying for the final on penalties against Italy, the criticism had mostly evaporated, with some of the newspapers who were leading the attacks suddenly switching places and attacking the 'idiots' who had had so little faith.
    • Denmark in 1992 - they had failed to qualify for the tournament, but were called up as a late minute replacement for Yugoslavia, having been disqualified due the passing of a UN resolution which - amongst other things - had banned Yugoslavia from taking part in sporting events. (Contrary to popular belief, they weren't on holiday when they were reinstated - the CISnote  had arranged a friendly match against them.) Having already drawn their first game and lost to the host nation in their second, they had to win their final game against France to qualify, which they duly did. They then defeated the defending champions the Netherlands on penalties in the semifinal, before defeating Germany in the Final.
    • Greece in 2004 - having been drawn with hosts Portugal and perennial dark horses Spain, nobody expected them to even qualify from the group. They beat Portugal in the opening match of the tournament and drew with Spain. They looked to be heading out of the tournament until Portugal beat Spain (having themselves lost to Russia), and would have been eliminated had they not scored a consolation goal. They then defeated defending champions France in the quarterfinals and beat the Czech Republic with a silver goal at the last possible minutenote  in the semifinal. In the Final, they met Portugal again and beat them again.
    • Portugal in 2016 - Despite being drawn in what appeared to be an easy groupnote , they had drawn all three of their matches and qualified as one of the best third-placed teams. They then went to extra time to beat Croatia and needed penalties to see off Poland in the quarter-final. They then beat surprise package Wales in the semifinal - which would be their only win in 90 minutes - before beating France in the final in extra time, with their star player Cristiano Ronaldo being taken off injured after 25 minutes.note 
  • Down to the Last Play: France winning against Portugal in 1984. At the end of regular time, there was a 1-1 tie. In extra time, at the 98th minute, Portugal takes the lead. France then ties at the 114th minute. And, just as the penalty shootout was looming, at the penultimate minute, Platini scores. The match is considered one of the greatest matches in the history of European football.
    • Again France, in the Euro 2000 Final against Italy, scored the equalizer in the last minutes, and then won the whole thing with the golden goal of David Trezeguet.
    • Sweden v Ukraine in 2020, where Artem Dovbyk scored the winning goal in the 121st minute (i.e. in stoppage time of extra time).
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out: England, (in)famously. They only managed third place in 1968 (at a time when only four teams qualified) and the semi-finals in 1996 (when they hosted it). And then they crashed out to Iceland in 2016, leading to countless Brexit jokes (the loss occurring in the same week as the UK's vote to leave the EU) including from the Icelanders' commentator in a viral rant, despite the island not being an EU member (though it is a part of the Common Market); it was frequently referred to as "England's second embarrassing exit from Europe".
    • However, they did manage to make the final in 2020/21 much to the bafflement (and excitement) of an entire nation, only for the inevitable to happen, when they lost in a penalty shootout to Italy.
    • Before 2016, Portugal counted as well. They reached the final as hosts in 2004 only to lose to Greece. They reached the semi-finals in 1984 (it was remarkable though, since this was their first final stage appearance), 2000 (these two, 1984 and 2000, happened against France) and 2012 (against Spain, who won their second consecutive title). Portuguese people wondered for a long time if they were ever gonna get a title, here or in The World Cup, until they beat the hosts France in extra time in the final and won their first ever major international title.
  • Golden Path: In terms of a team winning all games before the title - i.e. no draws, losses or winning on penalties - only the hosts France in 1984 achieved it, with 5 victories (but one of them in extra time).
  • Heads or Tails?: 1968. Italy, against the Soviet Union, won by this method after their semi-final ended 0-0. It was the first and only time that this method was used.
  • Heroic Rematch:
    • 20 years after Czechoslovakia won in the final against West Germany, Germany and the Czech Republic met again in the 1996 final. This time, it was Germany who made history.
    • Also, the semi-final matches of 1984 and 2000 between France and Portugal. France, however, won both (and in extra time). Portugal got a measure of payback by taking them down in the 2016 final.
  • History Repeats:
    • Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia vs Germany/West Germany (2 wins for the Czechs and 3 wins for the Germans, with both having won one final (see Heroic Rematch).
    • Germany vs the Netherlands (2 wins for each side, 1 draw).
    • Italy vs Spain (3 wins for the Italians [2 in normal time, 1 on penalties], 1 draw, 2 wins for the Spanish [1 each in normal time and on penalties] - the most recent win by Spain happened in 2012; see Loser Leaves Town).
    • Italy vs Germany (1 win for Italy, 2 draws, 1 win for Germany on penalties)
    • England lost the 2020/21 instalment’s final on a penalty shootout to Italy at Wembley, which happened to be 25 years after their manager Gareth Southgate had missed the vital penalty in a shootout at the semi-finals of Euro '96. That also took place at Wembley, though it was against Germany.
  • Home Field Advantage: In most cases, the hosts tend to perform well, usually reaching at least the semi-finals:
    • In terms of the winners, we have Spain in 1964, Italy in 1968 and France in 1984.
    • In terms of runners-up, we have Portugal in 2004 and France in 2016.
    • In terms of the semi-finals (we'll only count the post-1976 finals, which have more than 4 teams in the final stage), we have Italy in 1980, West Germany in 1988, Sweden in 1992, England in 1996 and the Netherlands (co-host) in 2000.
    • Though in recent years, this has been averted. See Austria and Switzerland in 2008 and Poland and Ukraine in 2012.
    • Despite the fact that it was meant to be a Pan-European tournament, all four of the semi-finalists in 2021 had played their group matches at their home stadiums, with England playing all their matches bar one (a QF against the Ukraine in Rome) at Wembley.
  • Instant-Win Condition: The "Golden Goal" rule used in 1996 and 2000. If a match went to extra time, the next goal decided the winners. This method ended up deciding the winners of both tournaments:
    • In 1996, the final was between the Czech Republic and Germany. The Czechs took the lead, but Oliver Bierhoff equalized, forcing extra time. In the 95th minute, Bierhoff scored again, thus granting Germany their third Euro trophy (but their first as a unified country). Even more impressive, considering that he came off the bench in the 69th minute, and scored the equalizer four minutes later.
    • Then in Euro 2000, in the semi-finals, France beat Portugal 2-1 in extra time through a controversial Zinedine Zidane penalty (it was later proved that Portuguese defender Abel Xavier touched the ball with his hand). In the final, Italy were winning until the final minute when Sylvain Wiltord scored a vital equalizer. In the 103rd minute, David Trezeguet scored with a first-time shot into the roof of the net, thus granting France their second Euro trophy, two years after their World Cup title.
  • International Showdown by Proxy: Especially in the case of a team from one side of the Curtain facing one from the other side (i.e. Spain vs. Soviet Union 1964).
  • Kryptonite Factor: England and penalty shootouts do not mix well together, to the point where it’s become a cruel Running Gag. For the record, they have had five penalty shootouts to date at the Euros, and have only won one - against Spain, whose record is almost as bad. Two of those losses were absolute heartbreakers: one during the Euro ‘96 semi final, and the other in the 2020/21 final. England don't fare much better in The World Cup shootouts either.
  • Loser Leaves Town: Rematches in the knockout stages of countries that met in the group stages:
    • Netherlands vs. Soviet Union in 1988. The latter won the match between them in the group stage (0-1), though the former won the final (2-0).
    • Germany vs. Czech Republic in 1996. Germany won both (2-0 in the group stage, 2-1 after extra-time in the final).
    • Portugal vs. Greece in 2004. See Bookends. The irony being that the loser didn't literally leave town (Portugal were the hosts).
    • Spain vs. Russia in 2008. Spain thrashed Russia in both matches (4-1 in the group stage, 3-0 in the semi-finals match).
    • Spain vs. Italy in 2012. They tied in the group match (1-1), but Spain thrashed Italy in the final (4-0).
  • Music at Sporting Events: Every match is preceded by the playing of both teams' national anthems. Much national pride ensues, especially when the fan contingent from one country is large enough and sings along loud enough to be heard on television. Italy in particular are pretty well-known for singing their hearts out during this.
  • Nominal Importance: Name any other player besides Platini who won the Euro 1984 in and for France. He scored 9 goals in this tournament, a record for a single tournament which wasn't surpassed in a career until 2021 by Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo... and it took him five tournaments to do so.
  • Older and Wiser: Ex-players returning as coaches. With the exception of José Villalonga Llorente (Spain, 1964) and Richard Møller Nielsen (Denmark 1992), all winners were former professional players. (Villalonga and Nielsen played as amateurs, but never professionally.) Among the many, we have:
    • Fernando Santos (played mostly for Estoril Praia, with a season at Marítimo) for Portugal in 2016;
    • Vicente del Bosque (played for Real Madrid), for Spain in 2012;
    • Luis Aragonés (played for Real Madrid and Betis, among others), for Spain in 2008 (he was also a reserve for the team who won the 1964 trophy, in Spain, of course);
    • Otto Rehhagel (played for Hertha Berlin and Kaiserslautern), for Greece in 2004;
    • Berti Vogts (a legend for Borussia Mönchengladbach, nicknamed "Der Terrier"), for Germany in 1996;
    • Rinus Michels, a big legend both as a football player (for Ajax) and as a coach (he was nicknamed "The General" and had a high IQ), for the Netherlands in 1988. He also developed Total Football, a kind of tactical strategy that consisted in ever-changing positions between adaptable players in a solid structure. He lost the 1974 World Cup against West Germany, led by equally legendary Helmut Schön;
    • Helmut Schön, way more legendary as a coach than a football player, for West Germany in 1972 and also the 1974 World Cup;
    • Ferruccio Valcareggi (played for Fiorentina and Bologna, among others) for Italy in 1968. Lost the World Cup final in 1970 against Brazil, which is not that bad.
    • Morten Olsen, the captain and libero of the Danish team in 1984 and 1988, was the coach of the Danish side in the 2004 and 2012 tournaments. Denmark didn't win, though.
    • Gareth Southgate, famous for missing a penalty for England in the Euro 96 semi final shootout against Germany that sent the English crashing out, returned as England’s head coach in Euro 2020/21. They did actually manage to knock Germany out in the last 16 on their way to the final, which they then lost on a penalty shootout to Italy.
    • Roberto Mancini, manager of 2020/21 winners Italy, played most of his pro career at Sampdoria, also with stints at Bologna and Lazio plus a cup of coffee at Leicester City.
  • Running Gag: Cristiano Ronaldo inadvertently set one of these off during a press conference at Euro 2020 when he removed two Product Placement Coca-Cola bottles placed in front of him, and shouted “Agua! Drink water!” The next day, Scotland midfielder John McGinn walked into his press conference and noticing the lack of coke bottles asked “Nae Coke?”. That was then followed the next day by Ukrainian striker Andriy Yarmolenko pulling two bottles towards him, and asking the company to get in touch during his press conference. Then Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka was spotted drowning an entire bottle of the stuff before his side’s penalty shootout win against France. Incidentally, Ronaldo's little stunt actually wiped $5.2 billion off Coca-Cola’s share price.
    • France’s midfielder Paul Pogba also removed a bottle of Heineken that was in front of him during one of his press conferences. Unlike Ronaldo, however, this wasn’t because of some healthy eating message he was trying to get across - Pogba is a practising Muslim, and didn’t want to be seen promoting alcohol.
  • Shirtless Scene: Famously by Italian striker Mario Balotelli after scoring a goal against Germany in 2012. The internet had a field day with it.
  • Sibling Team: Twins René and Willy van de Kerkhof (Netherlands, 1976–1980), Brian and Michael Laudrup (Denmark, 1996), another set of Dutch twins in Frank and Ronald de Boer (2000), Gary and Phil Neville (England, 1996–2004), Murat and Hakan Yakin (Switzerland, 2004), Romelu and Jordan Lukaku (Belgium, 2016), Eden and Thorgan Hazard (Belgium, 2020), and Stefan and Milan Ristovski (North Macedonia, 2020).
    • We also had a Sibling Rivalry in 2016 with Taulant and Granit Xhakanote , who played for different teams—older brother Taulant for Albania and Granit for Switzerlandnote . In fact, the two teams were drawn into the same group, with Switzerland winning a somewhat ill-tempered match.
  • Tempting Fate: Ahead of the 2012 final, Italy's Mario Balotelli bragged that he would score 4 goals against Spain. Indeed, there were 4 goals in that match. All in Italy's net.
  • Token Black:
    • Jean Tigana for France in 1984.
    • Marcos Senna for Spain, Gélson Fernandes for Switzerland and David Odonkor for Germany in 2008.
    • Mario Balotelli for Italy in 2012, and Theodor Gebre Selassie for the Czech Republic in 2012 and 2016.
    • Marlos for Ukraine in 2020.
  • Use Your Head: In the 1984 edition, Manuel Amoros (France) headbutted Danish midfielder Jesper Olsen in the opening match. He was sent off and banned for three matches, and only returned in the final against Spain.


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