The Portuguese have played only one Final in their history: the 2004 European Championships that they lost to Greece in a tournament they hosted. Between 2000 and 2008, the Portuguese had a crop of players that were referred to as “The Golden Generation” because of the depth of talent. They won nothing. But the 2016 team have ridden their luck, and fate may have just one more surprise waiting for the football world.
Portugal are due some luck. The country that paraded Eusebio, Luis Figo, Nene, Fernando Chalana, Fernando Couto, Deco, Paolo Futre, Rui Costa, and Cristiano Ronaldo should have had more say in world football affairs over the years, and should have won one trophy, at least. But this has not been the case. Maybe this time, fate will take a hand, and Portugal will realise a dream that looks impossible!
Portugal have not been fantastic, but here we are… the Greek team that triumphed in 2004 faced the verbal wrath of pundits at every turn: their football was not only negative, it was also inadequate. But they beat the hosts (Portugal) twice, and managed to get rid of France and Croatia on the way to the title. Pure providence. This Portuguese team is better.
The French are favourites, just like Portugal were in 2004. The Golden Generation of Portuguese football were on track to receive the greatest honour in the nation’s football history: they’d lost to Greece in the opening game, and surely lightening will not strike again in the Final? After the loss to Portugal, they’d gone on to defeat Russia, Spain, England and Holland. Greece shouldn’t be a problem. France have proved their title credentials by knocking off World Champions Germany, surely, misfiring Portugal shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Team work, over egos. Danish players were recalled form vacation to replace disqualified Yugoslavia in 1992, and ended up Champions. Greece were unfancied in 2004, but stood alone on the podium at the end of the tournament. Portugal were outside bets at best to be Champions when the 2016 edition kicked off. All three sides have strong team ethics.
Finally, there were 12 years between 1992 and 2004, and there are 12 years between 2004 and 2016. Is it time for other things, apart from footballing reasons, to determine the next Champions of Europe?