Heading into Euro 2004, Greece were certainly not fancied to cause any shocks, with them priced at 150/1 to take home the summer showpiece.
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Having never won a match at a major international tournament prior to their first match in Portugal, their run to glory was built on Otto Rehhagel’s tactical discipline and the players’ commitment.
Overcoming hosts Portugal 2-1 in their opener set them on their way, giving them vital momentum and confidence that they could achieve great things. Obtaining a vital point in their next clash with Spain, who they’d impressively beaten in qualifying for Euro 2004, was then a super result to back up their win over Portugal.
All they needed was a win over a struggling Russia in their final group contest to guarantee progression, but things didn’t go to plan whatsoever, with Russia taking an early lead and going on to defeat Greece 2-1. Thankfully, however, Portugal ousted Spain 1-0 to ensure Greece went through in second place.
Action Shot from the Euros
A star studded France awaited in the quarter-finals, that included names such as Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, David Trezeguet, Claude Makelele and Lillian Thuram. Putting in another determined and spirited shift, Greece ran out surprise 1-0 victors.
Up next in the semis was the talented Czech Republic side, who’d drawn plentiful praise due to their offensive exploits, with Pavel Nedved, Milan Baros, Jan Koller and Tomas Rosicky among their star men. Shutting down another super offensive force, Greece nullified their more fancied opponents, with Traianos Dellas’ extra time winner securing their passage to the final, where they’d play Portugal again.
Once more they defied the odds to triumph, as Angelos Charisteas’ 57th minute goal was enough for them to be crowned champions of Europe. Leaving the host nation devastated, with their big names of Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Pauleta and Ricardo Carvalho left to rue what might have been.
Greece’s Goal in the Final
Although they weren’t the prettiest team to watch, their immense character, unity and grit saw them triumph against all odds. Tailoring a perfect tactical plan to shut down some of the finest offensive units, Rehhagel certainly deserves immense credit for masterminding one of the most unforgettable triumphs in football history.