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Euro 2024: Top 10 Euro Championship Upsets!

Euro 2024

Ready to take a wild ride down memory lane? Buckle up as we revisit the biggest jaw-droppers in UEFA European Championship history! The Euro, Europe’s premier football carnival held every four years, is no stranger to thrilling surprises and dramatic twists. As Euro 2024 approaches, we brace ourselves for another dose of football magic and mayhem. Let’s rewind and revel in ten epic upsets that shook the tournament to its core.

From the Soviet Union’s unexpected glory in 1960 to Iceland’s giant-slaying run in 2016, these moments are a testament to football’s unpredictability. Whether it’s underdogs rising to the occasion or giants tumbling spectacularly, these stories are why we love the beautiful game. Get ready to relive the glory, the shock, and the unforgettable moments that have defined the Euros over the years. Let’s revisit ten of the biggest upsets that have defined the competition’s legacy.

The Soviet Union’s Triumph in 1960

The first event in 1960 did not look like the circus it is in Euro 2024 with many more contests to follow. However, a major turnover was on the horizon. In the final which was a very tense encounter against Yugoslavia.

soviet union first euro uefa
Soviet Union team won their first euro uefa in 1960

With Gavriil Kachalin leading the team, the Soviet Union came out as champions. Yugoslavia was leading 2-0 and against the Soviet equalizers twice and finally, Viktor Ponedelnik scored the winning goal in extra time.

Also Read: Top 5 Scorers of UEFA Champions League

Iceland’s Heroic Run in 2016

UEFA Euro 2024 is going to be great but the Euro Cup 2016, the Euros is Europe’s most prestigious footballing spectacle. Iceland bet small nation status to become one of the competition’s most endearing stories.

They matched with powerhouse countries, Portugal/Hungary, and outscored Austria in the group stage, in addition to shocking England in the Round of 16. They failed to progress through to the semi-finals but, collective memories were made and the famous Viking fire-up song would go down in the annals of football folklore.

The Netherlands’ Golden Moment in 1988

This can be considered one of the first proud moments of a Dutch team till Euro 2024 that has had several bitter international experiences in the past. As expected, having finished their European Championship campaign unbeaten. They performed with flair thanks to Rinus Michels. Aided by talents like Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten among others.

euro 1988
euro 1988, Marco van basten hoding winning cup of uefa

Following their group-stage defeat against the Soviet Union. They beat England and the Republic of Ireland to advance to the final against the Soviets. Where, in a spectacular, Van Basten performed a trademark volley to win the trophy.

Also Read: greatest moments in sports history

The Night the Irish Roared in 1988

Just like UEFA Euro 2024, Expectations were high when England began Euro 1988 preparation with a talented team. However, they were humbled by their close neighbors; The Republic of Ireland in the first round of the group stage. Ray Houghton’s opening goal within a mere 7 minutes of the match clinched the victory for the Irish.

Even though the Englishmen overpowered possession throughout most of the match till Euro 2024. This upset was feared and the muses of England started a dismal run till the UEFA Euro 2004. Meanwhile, Ireland progressed to the quarter-finals.

The Fall of the Azzurri in 1996

To some extent, it is easier to draw attention to an outstanding event that occurred earlier at the culmination of a championship, for example, the unexpected outcome of the group stage of the 1996 Euros. While the team was formed after the break up of Czechoslovakia the opponent was studded with famous European talents such as Roberto Baggio and Paolo Maldini. 

Many did not expect a stern confrontation this time around but with support from their home crowd the Czech team. Thanks to the indomitable performance by Pavel Nedvěd, strokes twice, Jan Suchopárek and Pavel Kuka pulled off a surprise victory that was thoroughly deserved.

Sweden Downs the Three Lions in 1992

UEFA Euro 2024 to 1992 was not only about Denmark’s true story. Taking England for example, they were once again the acknowledged favorites but were drawn to face Sweden in their first match of the group stages.

Tomas Brolin who scored a brace made sure the Swedes won a thrilling match 2-1 Nullifying the home advantage of the English fans and planting a seed of doubt in their team.

Romania’s Upset Victory over England in 2000

England’s aim for Euro 2000 was to do better than its CE Neighborhood semi-final appearance in 1996, which was not a possibility with technique. This is how Italy found themselves needing to beat Romania in the final group match after a defeat.

By Portugal and a rather lucky victory over Germany in the middle of the tournament. However, had the Romania team shown some determination and backed by a seemingly lucky last-daddy penalty to win the match 3-2 have sent England packing and Romania progressing.

Portugal’s Unexpected Triumph in 2016

Portugal was expected to be a team from the dark horses, they only qualified for the tournament as a team that got third place on the group stage. It was a lucky ride – coming back from behind to win a tie against Croatia thus having a 2-1 score after the 117th minute or winning on penalties against Poland. 

Till Euro 2024, Their best performance was recorded when they played in the semi-finals against Wales and they emerged 2-0 winners. However, after a 1-0 victory to France in the finals Ronaldo succumbed to sequel injuries. Portugal stood their ground and scored in the 109th minute by Eder thus emerging as the champions of the Euro 2016.

Denmark’s 1992 Fairytale

This is a story of David vs Goliath which shows the importance of championing the underdogs in society. Denied the luxury of preparation time due to being only invited following Yugoslavia’s disqualification, Denmark had it tough.

They qualified further from the group stage with equal performance results and then beat the defending champions. The Netherlands on penalties after the Titan drew 2-2 in a semi-final match.

So in the final, they performed a miracle – they beat the German team. The winner of the previous World Cup 2:0. John Jensen and Kim Vilfort scored for Denmark ending one of the most fascinating fairy tales in football history for UEFA Euro 2024.

Greece’s Unbelievable Victory in 2004

This upset could arguably go down as one of the greatest in the history of UEFA Euro 2024. Greece is a team that is especially identified with an intellectual style of play. Which involves relying mostly on defense; and they stunned everyone to win Euro 2004 in Portugal.

Guided by their mastermind manager Otto Rehhagel, they emerged through the phase with determination, tenacity, and spirit capturing the imagination of soccer fans when they defeated Portugal 1-0 in the inaugural match. It served this purpose after defeating France and the Czech Republic in consecutive knockout stage matches and then meeting Portugal for the second time in the final.


These are the ten moments that give a peek into the history of the European Championship upsets that are sure to evoke some memories. They only armed us with the thought that in football, everything can happen and it does not take unbeatable teams to win championships and titles. As we approach the Euro 2024 another round of giant-slaying along with the birth of new upsets to be witnessed for the European teams. Football is one of the most exicitng Sports in the world, so enjoy reading more updates related to it on Global Newswala.


Q. When and where is Euro 2024 taking place?

Euro 2024 will be held in Germany from June 15th to July 15th, 2024.

Q. Which teams have qualified for Euro 2024?

The qualifying rounds are still ongoing, so the final list of participating teams is not yet confirmed. Yet, Germany (as the host nation) has already secured their spot.

Q. How can I watch the Euro 2024 matches?

Broadcast details will vary depending on your location. Check with your local broadcasters or streaming services to see which ones will be airing the matches.

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