The UEFA Euro Underdogs Adventures: When Cinderella Puts on Her Football Boots
23 June 2024
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Everyone knows that thrill of anticipation when you wait for that Tailor Swift or Kanye West tour (make your pick) for a couple of years, and it never disappoints. But it’s not the good old hit songs that grab your attention, but a small snippet of a new material that has a lot of potential to become one. Football fans know that feeling, right? A feast of national football that is UEFA Euro is conducted every 4 years, and it’s hard to wait for the next one. Thankfully, the memories of the small teams who slay giants in a fair fight, like this year’s Georgian win against Portugal, stay with us through the time. Who knows, maybe Georges Mikautadze will score more, having already netted 3, hence its an interesting event to place a bet you on at hollywoodbets betway, and forward would even become the top scorer of the tournament. So let’s delve right into the stories of the underdogs in the history of Euros.

Greece 2004: When tzatziki was served ice cold

Imagine inviting your neighbour over for a barbecue and he ends up stealing your house. That’s how Portugal must have felt when Greece turned up for Euro 2004.

Coach Otto Rehhagel, also known as “King Otto”, moulded a team that was more cohesive than feta on a Greek salad. They defeated hosts Portugal twice, sent the French roosters home and crushed the Czechs’ beer dreams.

Greece’s tactics? Defence as tight as a bureka dough and counter-attack faster than a kebab vendor at closing time. It worked!

Denmark 1992: From beach holiday to trophy ballad

In 1992, the Danish players were as far from winning the European Championship as a polar bear is from Siberian forests. They weren’t even qualified! But then Yugoslavia was disqualified and suddenly it was “Go Denmark!” instead of “Holiday time, guys!”

Led by Richard Møller Nielsen, a man with a smile that won the hearts of the most picky fans, Denmark shocked the world. They sent the Dutch tulips home to wither and crushed the German in the final.

Who says you can’t win the European Championship on two weeks of preparation and a diet of beer and red sausages?

Czechoslovakia 1976: Panenka’s perfect trick

The 1976 final between Czechoslovakia and West Germany went to a penalty shootout. Up stepped Antonín Panenka, a man whose name would later become synonymous with either genius or madness, depending on whether the ball goes in or not.

Panenka looked at German goalkeeper Sepp Maier, a man so intimidating that even the ball would normally ask for permission to go in. But Panenka? He chipped the ball as gently as if it were a declaration of love. Luckily for him (and the future of Czechoslovakian football), it worked out well.

Ireland 1988: When the green men came to Stuttgart

In 1988, Ireland decided it was time to show the world that they could do more than just produce Guinness and lucky leprechauns. Led by Jack Charlton, a man whose tactics board consisted mainly of drawings of long balls and tackles, they shocked England.

Ray Houghton, a man so small he could hide behind the ball, scored the decisive goal. English football has never looked back since. Well, actually they have, but that’s another story.

Wales 2016: The dragon that refused to be knighted

In 2016, Wales decided to remind the world that they are more than just sheep and difficult place names. Led by Gareth Bale, a man whose golfing skills are more famous than his football achievements, they marched through the tournament.

They sent the Belgians home with a layer of bitter icing and reached the semi-finals, where even Cristiano Ronaldo’s hair gel couldn’t outshine them.

The eternal underdog dream

Unlike club football, national team matches have a much more unpredictable nature, as you can see. Think about what is easier: to prepare a team that is gathering almost every day together at the club base with the help of tactics or those who see each other at the rare training camps several times a year? The answer is obvious. This creates a ground for such miracles as the Greece or Denmark trophy campaign.

It makes you wonder – maybe it’s not about how huge your country is, but how big of a dream you have and do you have enough courage to fight for it. So perhaps sometimes being an underdog does you good – others underestimate a real power you might have.