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The Best Matches in the History of European Championships

Kurt Hamrin
Credit: Ron Kroon

European Championship, commonly known by the abbreviation EURO, represents the second-biggest football competition for the national teams.

It is arguably the toughest tournament to win since the quality of the teams involved is higher than the quality of the FIFA World Cup participants. 

Throughout history, we have witnessed some amazing matches at Europe’s flagship event for the national teams. It is always good to recall some of the most legendary moments and this is exactly what we are going to do right now with the help of BettingPicks4You football expert John Pentin. Stay tuned and enjoy the list of the most memorable games in the history of the European Championships. Some of the games in the list will revoke pleasant memories for any avid football fan out there. 

Czechoslovakia vs West Germany 2-2 (Czechoslovakia win 5-3 on penalties)  1976 Final

We will start with the legendary 1976 EURO final between two countries that no longer exist. West Germany entered the tie as big favorites and the reigning world champions. Nevertheless, they were forced to claw their way back into the contest after conceding a couple of unanswered goals. When Bernd Holzenbein bagged the late equalizer at the death of the regular time, it seemed the West Germans would go on and complete the comeback to lift the trophy. The game, however, went to a penalty shootout where the famous “Panenka” shot from the spot was born. The man who gave birth to it was Czech midfielder Antonin Panenka. A slow chip towards the center of the goal left Sepp Maier stunned as Czechoslovakia went on to clinch the trophy. 

Italy vs Germany 2-1 – 2012 Semifinal

Italy reached the 2012 EURO semifinal with just one win in the previous four games and they were pretty big underdogs in the clash against the red-hot Germans who had won four on the spin going into the tie. Nevertheless, the German journey stopped there as two men stole the show for Azzurri. Andrea Pirlo came up with an amazing playmaking display while Mario Balotelli bagged both Italian goals. We all remember the famous celebration after his second goal in this game as Super Mario sent his country to the final of the tournament. 

Portugal vs England 2-2 (Portugal win 6-5 on penalties) – 2004 Quarterfinal

The 2004 tournament in Portugal has brought us the biggest shock in the history of the European Championships as Greece stunned the continent by claiming their maiden trophy in major competitions. This was the tournament poised for England’s success under Sven-Goran Eriksson. Unfortunately for the Three Lions’ fans, it was just not meant to be. England faced hosts Portugal in the quarterfinal. Wayne Rooney pushed them in front, bagging his fourth goal at what will prove to be his first and also the very best European Championship with the Three Lions. England conceded a late equalizer as Helder Postiga sent the game to the extra time where Rui Costa bagged another one for the hosts. Frank Lampard earned the penalty shootout series with a late leveler of his own. However, England were eliminated after misses from David Beckham and Darius Vassell. 

Spain vs Italy 4-0 – 2012 Final 

We have already gone through Italy’s semifinal win over Germany in the 2012 EURO earlier in this article. However, Azzurri went on to suffer a humiliating defeat in what was one of the most one-sided European Championship finals ever. Spain confirmed their dominance by winning their third consecutive major title (following the 2008 EURO and the 2010 World Cup). La Furia Roja’s golden generation with Iker Casillas, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Xabi Alonso, and company completely dominated the world back in the early 2010s. They demolished Italy 4-0 in the final via goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres, and Juan Mata. The fact they’ve done so without a proper striker in the team as Torres was only used as a late sub to play the final 15 minutes of the game, makes this an even more impressive victory for the Spaniards. 

England vs Germany 1-1 (Germany win 6-5 on penalties) – 1996 Semifinal 

England were all ready for revenge after getting knocked out by West Germany on penalties at the 1990 World Cup. The Three Lions hosted the 1996 EURO and they looked on way to clinch the trophy in front of their fans. England took advantage of the electric atmosphere at Wembley to go ahead just after three minutes of play when Alan Shearer put them in front. However, the Germans quickly recovered via a Stefan Kuntz equalizer. The Three Lions then created numerous chances in the second half, including Darren Anderton’s post and Paul Gascoigne’s incredible tap-in miss from close range. History repeated itself at the end as Germany advanced to the final by beating the perennial rivals on penalties. Gareth Southgate was the only man who missed a spot-kick shot on the occasion. 

France vs Italy 2-1 (After Extra Time) – 2000 Final  

France eased their way to the EURO final and they entered the tie against Italy as the favorites, following the 1998 FIFA World Cup trophy. Les Bleus had a roster packed with talent all over the place but the finals heroes came from unlikely sources. Italy thought they had won it as Marco Delvecchio’s second-half opener seemed to have made the difference between the two teams. Just when everyone in the stands were waiting for the referee to blow the whistle for full time, Sylvain Wiltord got big with a super-late equalizer in the third minute of stoppage time. France gained momentum as David Trezeguet fired the golden-goal winner in the extra-time to break Italian hearts. 

Denmark vs Germany 2-0 – 1992 Final 

We will finish with a genuine classic from the 1992 final. Germany were as big of a favorite as one team can get in the final of a major competition. They were the reigning world champions and they were a reunited nation for the first time in a major tournament. Denmark, on the other side, only qualified for the tournament thanks to the fact that Yugoslavia were disqualified for political reasons. Nevertheless, despite all odds, Denmark shocked the world by beating Germany 2-0 via goals from John Jensen and Kim Vilfort.