The twelfth European Championship was played in 2004 in Portugal and by all estimates, the host was seen as the champion! In addition to Portugal, several other national teams competed for the first place, but not Greece, which the bookmakers gave a 100/1 chance to become the champion! In previous appearances at European and world championships, Greece did not record a single victory and many considered their placement in this championship to be a success in itself.
But, once again, everyone was wrong!
In Denmark and Greece – a football success story – second part, I will describe to you the success of the Greek national team, which, in relation to Denmark, was not given any chance of success!
How did it all start?
Greece was in a strong Group A, hosted by Portugal, Spain and Russia. In the first game, Greece shocked everyone by beating Portugal 2: 1! Everyone thought it was a coincidence and that it was all from this national team. In the next game, they played a draw 1: 1 against Spain and then made many wonder if there was a new surprise at the pomolum, because they also remembered the Danish fairy tale in 1992. In the third and last game in the group, the Greeks lost to Russia 2: 1 and, with a better goal difference, were slightly better than Spain, taking second place, which enabled them to pass to the elimination phase!
In the quarterfinals, they were awaited by the national team of France, the current European champion, which was one of the contenders for the title. However, then a change began that surprised everyone. The Greeks defeated the favored French with 1: 0 and advanced to the semifinals. Everyone was in shock because, it is a selection that did not show in any way that it is able to make such a surprise!
In the semifinals, the Czech national team was waiting for them, also one of the favorites. Since 1996 and the European Championship in England, when the Czechs were runners-up, they have not had a better team. The Czechs put a lot of pressure and constantly attacked, but the Greeks did not give up and introduced the game in overtime. And then another shock followed! In the 105th minute, with the so-called silver goal, Greece let everyone know that it did not accidentally win a place in this competition! They won 1: 0 and advanced to the grand final where the host Portugal was waiting for them.
There was talk in all the media about the Greek national team! They tried to find out what is the secret of their success? Great credit for that goes to the German coach Otto Rehhagel, who taught Greek football players discipline, work and perseverance. But their greatest strength was team spirit. Greece did not have famous football players, but that did not burden it. On the field, they were all as one and with such an approach to the game, their self-confidence grew and they became more and more motivated to reach the championship as far as possible!
The day of the finals has come! The host had great support from his fans, but also from the fans of the defeated teams who wanted Portugal to do what their players failed to do! The first match of the championship was played by Portugal and Greece. By the game of fate, the same teams are in a position to play the last game in the championship, in which Portugal wanted to take revenge for the defeat in the group stage!
And it all went towards that! From the beginning of the match, Portugal started strongly in the desire to break the successful story of Greece and, for the first time, won the European Championship. The Greeks defended themselves and did not want to give up for a single moment. They waited for their chances to punish the opponent, as they had done in the previous games. And they repeated it again! In the 57th minute of the game, after the center shot, the Greek football player, Angelos Charistmas, sent the ball into the net with his head and brought his national team to the lead, 1: 0! The stadium where the fans of Portugal were, was as dumb as many who watched the match on television! Although they achieved great success with their fighting spirit and perseverance and qualified for the finals, few expected that they would be close to triumph!
Portugal went for all or nothing and put tremendous pressure. The Greeks defended themselves frantically and managed to save the result! When the referee played the end of the match, the great celebration of the Greek football players began, who prepared another, even bigger miracle than Denmark, twelve years earlier!
They showed and proved that in sports, the favorites do not always win and that a team that has a strong team spirit, which is motivated and believes in itself, in most cases, achieves great results.
Today, as we stated in the first part of this topic, the sixteenth European Football Championship begins, where twenty-four national teams will compete, two of which are competing in the championship for the first time: Finland and Northern Macedonia!
Whether these or some of the other national teams will prepare the third miracle, we will find out on July 11, 2021, when the grand final will be played in London!
“The bigger the opponent, the bigger the victory.” – An Indian proverb
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