by Pawan Atri
France became the second major team to exit the Euro 2020 tournament after they were upset by underdogs Switzerland on Tuesday. Earlier, defending champions Portugal were sent packing by Eden Hazard-led Belgium in the Round of 16.
French striker Kylian Mbappe, who became a hero after leading his team to a spectacular World Cup triumph in 2018, has turned into a villain after his missed penalty against Switzerland resulted in the Les Blues’ sudden ouster from the European Championship.
In what is regarded as the biggest upset of the Euro 2020, Switzerland clawed their way back from a virtual defeat. They were 1-3 down in the match, before levelling the proceedings with help from Haris Seferovic and Mario Gavranovic who scored goals in the 81st and 90th minute respectively.
As both teams failed to score a goal in overtime, the match moved into a penalty shootout. But Mbappe missed the decisive shot after Paul Pogba, Olivier Giroud, Marcus Thuram, and Presnel Kimpembe put the contest on an even keel with their successful penalties.
Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer’s brilliance was the major factor behind Mbappe’s missed penalty as he made a near perfect dive to stop Mbappe’s strike from hitting the back of the net.
As Sommer’s save sent the reigning World Champions home from the Euro 2020 tournament, we take a look at the biggest upsets in the iconic competition’s history.
1992 Final: Denmark 2-0 Germany
In the first place, Denmark didn’t even qualify for Euro 1992 but ended up stunning the world by capturing the title in 1992.
The Danish team’s victory was all the more piquant, as they were only able to participate because Yugoslavia was forced to abandon the tournament. This had occurred after the UN slapped sanctions on the Yugoslav government for military operations against Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
All these regions had declared independence from Yugoslavia.
John Jensen and Kim Vilfort were the heroes for Denmark, as they dismantled favourites Germany in the final.
The Danish side’s historic triumph is considered to be the biggest shock in the history of the tournament. After all, the Danes were in no position to qualify, let alone win the whole competition, yet they beat the best side in the world at that time.
“We couldn’t fail because there were no expectations”, Vilfort said after Denmark won the event in surprise fashion.
Ex-India skipper Renedy Singh dubbed Denmark’s Euro 1992 triumph against Germany as the biggest upset ever in football.
“Not even in their wildest of dreams, the Danish side would have thought of winning the tournament in 1992”, he told Sputnik on Tuesday.
“It completely came out of the blue because the Danes barely qualified. But they eventually ended up winning the competition. For me, it is the most surprising result in the game’s history”, he added.
2004 Final: Portugal 0-1 Greece
In 2004, Greece astounded many sports lovers by winning the tournament after beating hosts Portugal 1-0 in the final in Lisbon.
This was despite the fact that before the championship started, the odds of Greece winning were 150-1. But their solid defence helped them win all their knockout matches by 1-0.
The Greeks replicated a similar strategy in the final, something they had been following throughout the tournament. The ploy was to score a minimum of one goal against the opposition before taking care of their own defence so that the other team couldn’t score a goal.
And that’s what they managed to achieve as Angelos Charisteas’s header proved to be more than enough to beat Portugal on home turf.
Many Cristiano Ronaldo fans remember this match for the young superstar’s tears, who wept inconsolably after the hosts lost to Greece in the final.
“The opponent was technically better than us, but we took advantage of our chances”, Greece manager Otto Rehhagel said after his team stunned the home crowd in the Portuguese capital.
Former Indian midfielder Mehtab Hossain told Sputnik on Tuesday: “Greece’s victory was all the more impressive because it came against heavy favourites and tournament hosts Portugal”.
“The reason Greece could achieve such a huge upset was their clear mind while executing their plans”.
“The Greeks knew they didn’t have too many world-class strikers, so they relied on their solid defence to win the tournament and achieved their goal by implementing their strategy with 100 percent accuracy”, he stated.
2016 Round of 16: England 1-2 Iceland
With Wayne Rooney as skipper, England arrived in France with the belief that they could win their maiden European Championship there.
But the Three Lions encountered a spirited Iceland in the Round of 16, who proved to be their biggest stumbling block in the tournament.
After a Rooney penalty put England ahead in the fourth minute, even the pundits and the fans thought Roy Hodgson’s men were well on their way to creating history, but they didn’t.
What happened next was simply unbelievable because Ragnar Sigurdsson equalised in the seventh minute before Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s 18th minute goal gave Iceland an improbable 2-1 lead in the game.
Despite England’s all-out attack in the second half, the Icelanders kept their composure and denied them the much-needed second goal to achieve the biggest win of their footballing career.
“They thought this would be a walk in the park”, Sigurdsson said later.
The Icelandic team proved England wrong.