WELCOME to the continuing ”ª#JoySports”¬ buildup ahead of UEFA EURO 2016, which kicks off on June 10 in France. The series started on May 10, and lasts until kickoff. Get ready for blasts from past Euro tournaments! Our coverage is brought to you by Pepsi.
Greece were so unfancied to get anywhere near the title that the betting companies put the odds at 250/1 before the tournament. That wasn't surprising because they had never won a match in the finals in their history before Euro 2004.
In fact they were more than unfancied, they weren’t even considered a possibility to qualify from their group which included hosts Portugal.
And then in the opening game they went and beat the hosts 2-1. Surely just a flash in the pan? But then in their second game they went and drew 1-1 with Spain. Now people were beginning to take notice.
A 2-1 loss to Russia in the final group game should have eliminated the Greeks but a lone Nuno Gomes goal for Portugal against Spain was enough to send the rank outsiders through on goal difference.
And that’s when the 2004 Greece team really came into their own. Put simply, the next three games were three tactical masterclasses from manager Otto Rehhagel. People say that Greece played boring, defensive football once the tournament reached the knockout stages but does it really matter if it’s effective?
Perhaps the most interesting stat is this: Greece won their quarter-final 1-0, their semi-final 1-0 and the final 1-0. All three goals were headers and all three headers came from crosses from the right wing.
Relying heavily on a man-marking strategy with a sweeper that’s virtually unseen in football nowadays, Greece were able to stifle the immensely talented attacks of France, Czech Republic and Portugal to pull off the shock of the century.
With Giourkas Seitaridis on the left and Takis Fyssas on the right operating as wing back, Greece were able to stretch their opponents and deliver dangerous crosses towards striker Angelos Charisteas.
And it was Charisteas who made himself the hero in both the semi-final and the final when twice he rose to head home crosses from the right and give Greece 1-0 victories.
The 2004 Greece team doesn’t get enough credit for the incredible shock it pulled off. People will always remember Denmark in 1992 because of their ferocious attacking style whereas Greece were the antitheses of that.
Well-drilled and playing to their strengths they stifled opponents of a far superior class and pulled off one of the greatest shocks football has ever seen.
READ THESE IN OUR SERIES:
When Portugal crashed England's golden generation in 2004
Euro '88: Van Basten's injury to glorious superstardom story
When Denmark stunned the world to win Euro 1992
When Zidane led France to edge Figo's Portugal at Euro 2000
When Germany broke English hearts at Euro '96
When Bierhoff checked Czechs at Euro '96
19-year old Ronaldo leads Portuguese to beat Holland
Pirlo's outrageous panenka in 2012
The #JoySports Euro buildup series is brought you by Pepsi, Still 1 Ghana cedi pε!