For a mesmerising display of pure athleticism and true grit, the Euros is the competition to watch. European football culminates in a tournament, called the European Football Championship (Euros), which UEFA organises every four years. An intense process requires teams to play qualifying matches held throughout Europe to choose the 24 club participants, which compete for championship status. Here are the winning teams for the Euros during the last five championship competitions.
This was an intense game of skill, pitting a two-time championship team against a hungry opponent, France vs Portugal. In 2016, on France’s home turf, Portugal reigned supreme, defeating the host country in overtime, with a 1-0 final score. It was sweet redemption for Portugal, a team that lost the championship to Germany in 2004 while hosting the competition. France joins Portugal as one of only two teams to lose the final while hosting the Euros. Ninety minutes of play ended in a draw, a testament to the fierce rivalry of finely tuned athletes, with specialised football skills. In the end, Portugal’s controlled pace bested France’s fast-break rhythm, earning the team a place in history, along with other elite champions.
Spain is a three-time Euros winner, capturing the top prize in 2012, 2008, and 1964. It is the first time in the tournament’s history that a team won back-to-back championships. Fending off Italy in a dominant performance, Spain earned the championship win with a decisive 4-0 victory. Playing aggressively from the start, Spain took the lead early in the final when David Silva sent the ball to the net six yards out. The first score set the tone for the game, which Italy was never quite able to overcome. Spain’s goalkeeper fiercely protected the net, preventing Italy from scoring. The final tally is the widest margin in Euros history for a final’s match-winning score.
Spain also dominated Germany in 2008. The close 1-0 final score belies the action-packed, controlling play of the victorious Spaniards. In Austria, the teams battled it out in an exchange of possession. During the match, Spain dominated ball handling, denying Germany a score for the entire game. Spain took 15 total shots, compared to only four goal attempts by Germany, which reflects Spain’s tough defence and definite winning edge. Striker Fernando Torres’ singular goal put Spain in a position to win the game and to earn the distinction of the only club to take home consecutive titles, after the 2012 victory.
Portugal hosted the 2004 Euros. The staunch defence played a role in Greece’s ultimate victory over Portugal in this year. Portugal was favoured to win, but intense goalkeeping by the opposing club kept Portugal from scoring. Greece’s forward Angelos Charisteas set his team up for the win with a corner shot, the only goal of the match. Portugal attempted to respond with aggressive play and controlling possession down the field. However, the club was no match for Greece’s exemplary play during the final. Portugal’s team lost, making it the first hosting club to lose a final championship game in the tournament’s history.
In 2000, the Netherlands and Belgium co-hosted the Euros. Clubs competed in qualifying rounds to choose the finalists. In the end, Italy and France faced off in a battle that spectators won’t forget. France overcame a point deficit towards the end of the game to tie and finally beat Italy for the championship win. The final 2-1 score is a result of a golden goal. In this case, the winner is decided by the first team to score after the game’s regulation time ends with a tied score, and the subsequent extra thirty minutes of play also elapses with the score still tied. Striker David Trezequent scored the winning goal, cementing the victory for France, placing the team in elite company as Euros champions.
Internationally recognised as one of the most amazing displays of sport, the European Football Championship combines high-scoring action with elite professional athletes in a memorable experience for football enthusiasts. Every four years, nations compete to determine which team is football’s best. The championship is a hard-fought tournament, showcasing skill against fierce competitors. These five clubs can boast of having obtained this victory, ensuring each team’s place in the history books as the best to play the game.