The Biggest Euro Upsets

By: Bob Henry

Let's face it. While many tout the FIFA World Cup as the greatest sports tournament in the world, even the most rabid football fanatic has to admit that it's hardly the most open or competitive. Only seven teams have won the tournament in over 70 years of competition. In fact, smaller football playing countries have about as much chance of winning the World Cup as poor, principled, ethical patriots have of winning the US presidential elections.

Which may explain why Europe is currently being gripped by an unprecedented outbreak of European Championship fever. Unlike the World Cup, where the rich and famous reign supreme, the European Football Championships tend to produce frequent upsets, and already 9 different countries have claimed the spoils at the 12 tournaments played to date.

With many sportsbooks pricing Germany as short-odds favourites for the Euro 2008, Gambling Guru takes a look back at the two biggest upsets in the history of the tournament, as an illustration of the perils of backing only the big guns at the European Football Championships.

Euro 1992 - Denmark

1992 marked the first, and probably last, occasion that the European Football championships were won by a team that failed to qualify for the tournament. Denmark was supplemented into the tournament at the last moment at the expense of Yugolslavia, who required their players to participate in the Balkans' other major recreational past-time - civil war.

Denmark not only reached the second round despite losing their first game to Sweden, but went on to beat Netherlands by penalties in the semi-finals. The final saw Denmark stun Germany, scoring a goal in each half and keeping a clean scoresheet to claim the Euro 1992 championship.

Euro 2004 - Greece

Greece proved that football miracles do happen by winning the European Championship in 2004. Greece finished tied for second with Spain on 4 points in Group A at the conclusion of the group stage, but then earned a place in the quarterfinals as the only team in the group to beat Group A winner, Portugal.

Having found themselves making an unexpected appearance in the semi-finals, the Greeks decided to focus on defence, a tactic that flummoxed their quarterfinal opponents France, who promptly exited the tournament in a 1-0 defeat. Having sent the stunned French packing, the Greeks set their sights on the Czech Republic, and bored the eastern-Europeans into submission, 1-0, in a dreary, defensive semi-final.

The final match of the tournament saw the Greeks up against a rampant Portuguese team playing in front of a home crowd. The Greeks' defensive game served them well against the fluent attack of Portugal, and they scored the only match point of the game against the run of play in the 57th minute, sparking celebrations in Greek communities around the world.

Euro 2008 Championship Info

Sixteen national teams have qualified for the 2008 UEFA European Championship, and the winners will have to survive four stages of gruelling competition to claim the new Henri Delaunay trophy and a cash prize of 7,5 million Euros. Euro2008 kicks off on Saturday, 7 June 2008.

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