Even though Euro 2020 tournament has entered only the quarter-final stage, some big nations have already fallen.
IANS looks at the biggest upsets of the tournament, all of which have come in the Round of 16 stage. In fact, half of the eight pre-quarterfinals sprang surprises.
France beat Switzerland:
The 2018 world champions were expected to win Euro 2020 and emulate what their predecessors did over two decades ago — win World Cup and follow it up with Euro title. France, who had the talismanic Zinedine Zidane in their midst in those days, had won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and then followed it up with the Euro 2000 title. The current team, full of biggest stars of contemporary times, though expected to coast to title, fell at the Round of 16 stage against Switzerland. France are world No. 2 and Swiss are ranked 13th. After leading 3-1, the French conceded two late goals to let the Swiss take the game into extra-time and then to penalties where France’s big star Kylian Mbappe missed a penalty.
Czech Republic beats the Netherlands:
The Dutch, who are 16th and 24 places above Czech Republic in FIFA rankings, had looked dominant throughout the league stage. They were one of the only three teams, besides Italy and Belgium, who entered the Round of 16 with an all-win record. However, the Oranje brigade was shocked 2-0 by the eastern European nation at their home in Amsterdam. Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick scored in the second half as they saw their team through to the quarter-finals.
Belgium beat Portugal:
It wouldn’t come out as a surprise if FIFA rankings were considered. Belgium are the top-ranked team while Portugal, include the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo, are No. 5. However, the fact that the Portuguese are the defending champions and their defeat surprised soccer fans. The title holders enjoyed 56 per cent ball possession and made 24 attempts, which was four times than their rivals. But they lacked efficiency, accuracy and also luck that could earn them victory. Thorgan Hazard, younger brother of ace Belgian footballer Eden, scored for the winners.
Ukraine beat Sweden:
Ukraine, who are ranked 24th, are six places below Sweden who are 18th and they qualified for Round of 16 as one of the third best-placed teams unlike the Swedes, who finished top of their pool. But the Ukrainians punched above their weight to first hold the Swedes in regulation time and then beat them in the dying minutes of extra time. This is Ukraine’s first entry into the Euro quarter-finals. This is only the third time they are playing in the tournament. After failing to qualify for the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 editions, they competed in 2012 and 2016 but without much success.