The European Championships’ best underdog stories


When it comes to the Euros, there have been plenty of great stories over the years. From scintillating squads of players to plucky underdogs, it’s rare that a European Championship goes by without some kind of drama taking place.

Here, we’re going to focus on a few of the great underdog tales from past European Championships. Every sports fan loves an underdog, and there have been a number of teams who have punched well above their weight at the Euros and defied the UEFA European Football Championship betting. Read on, as we look back at a few of the most memorable overachievers.

Greece win in ‘04

What better place to start than Greece’s sensational triumph at Euro 2004. Barely fancied before the tournament began, Greece stunned Europe by beating hosts Portugal in the opening match of the tournament, and from there they kicked on and let momentum lead them all the way.

They qualified for the knockout stage ahead of Spain, and then beat France and the Czech Republic to make it to the final, where they would face Portugal once again. Despite Greece’s victory in the opening match, most fancied the hosts to get the job done in the final, but Greece pulled off another upset. Three successive 1-0 wins in the knockout stage represented a tactical masterclass from coach Otto Rehhagel and his team, and they were deserving winners.

Wales’ French odyssey

When Wales reached the main event at Euro 2016 in France, it was the first time they had qualified for a major international tournament since the 1958 World Cup, so it was understandable that little was expected from them.

However, under the guidance of Chris Coleman, Gareth Bale and co. proved everyone wrong by making it all the way to the semi-finals. After beating Slovakia and Russia to qualify from their group, Wales ground out a 1-0 win in the last 16 against fellow home nation Northern Ireland. It was expected that Belgium would beat them comfortably in the quarter-finals, but Wales stunned them with a 3-1 victory. The semi-final against Portugal proved to be one step too far, but it was a remarkable achievement from all involved.

Great Danes

One team who did manage to go all the way and win the Euros was Denmark in 1992. Originally, the Danes weren’t even supposed to be in the tournament, but after Yugoslavia were disqualified due to ongoing conflict in the region, the door was opened.

After producing a memorable win against France to seal their passage from the group stage, Denmark beat defending champions the Netherlands on penalties to reach the final. They delivered a thoroughly professional performance to beat Germany in the final, and against all the odds they found themselves lifting the trophy in Gothenburg.

Czechs bouncing in ‘96

Euro 96 saw football head home to England, and the tournament is remembered fondly as one of the most entertaining European Championships of all time. The Czech Republic certainly remember the tournament with fondness, as they made it all the way to the final, narrowly losing to Germany in the decider at Wembley.

Having beaten Italy in the group stage, as well as contesting a hugely entertaining 3-3 draw with Russia, the Czech Republic overcame Portugal to make it to the last four. There they came up against a talented France side, who would go on to win the World Cup two years later. But the Czechs held their own, and progressed to the final by virtue of a penalty shootout triumph. It wasn’t meant to be in the end, but it was a memorable journey nonetheless.


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