The Semifinals of any competition is a nerve wracking affair. Put in the best teams of Europe, unannounced underdogs and crowd favorites and you get a cocktail of some of the best matches in the history of the game. That’s exactly what’s on the agenda today as we take a look at the Top 10 Semifinals of the UEFA European Championships.
10. Denmark 2 – 2 (5 – 4) Netherlands, 1992 UEFA European Championships Semifinal
Denmark and Netherlands were two of the most entertaining teams of the 1992 Euros. Both played attractive attacking football and dominated possession.
They faced each other in the Semis of the Euro, and the match ended 2-2 after extra time. The Dutch responded twice to strikes from Denmark. Denmark prevailed 5-4 on penalties.
9. France 2 – 1 Portugal, 2000 UEFA Euro Semifinal
France were European champions in 1984, and then Zinedine Zidane led them to World Cup glory in 1998. They were favorites for the 2000 UEFA Euro.
However, things fell apart in the semifinal when Portugal got an early lead through Nuno Gomes. France couldn’t find a way back until Henry scored in the 51st minute.
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The game went to extra time and Zidane’s penalty off a handball offence, still one of the most controversial moments, was the goal that separated the two sides.
8. France 2 – 0 Germany, 2016 UEFA Euro Semifinal
France became the World Champions in Russia in 2018. Two years back, they were pitched to become European champions, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal snatched victory in the dying moments to deny France.
However, many still argue that the baton of World Champions was passed from Germany to France in their semis meetup in Euro 2016. France rode a brace from talisman Antoine Griezmann to clinch an easy 2-0 win over heavyweights Germany.
7. Italy 0 – 0 Soviet Union, 1968 UEFA Nations’ Cup Semifinal
It is a game that still sparks a whole lot of controversy, especially from the Russians, who were the defending champions of the European Championships at the time.
While fierce rivals Yugoslavia got past England in the other Semifinal, Soviet Union’s fate was decided on the basis of a coin toss after their semifinal with Italy finished level after extra time. Italy skipper Giacinto Facchetti called correctly.
6. Spain 2 – 1 Hungary, 1964 UEFA Nations’ Cup Semifinal
Spanish teams Real Madrid and Barcelona were dominating the European club circuit. Yet, the Spanish national team was yet to bring home a major trophy.
Part of that plan seemed to fall apart when they drew the mighty Hungarians in the semis of the competition. Yet, after a grueling battle that lasted for 120 minutes, Spain prevailed, powered by Amancio’s 112th minute strike. They eventually went on to win the tournament.
5. Germany 1 – 2 Italy, 2012 UEFA Euro Semifinal
Mario Balotelli was tipped to be a great by many. From Roberto Mancini to Carlo Ancelotti, every great Italian manager wanted the youngster in his team.
Balotelli turned up for Italy in the Euro 2012 and wrecked havoc in the semis clash over favorites Germany with a couple of stunning strikes that left everyone shocked.
This was the same German team that would go on to be World Champions two years later. Even an extra time penalty goal from Mesut Ozil wasn’t enough to save Germany.
4. Germany 3 – 2 Turkey, 2008 UEFA Euro Semifinal
Turkey were the fairy-tale story in the 2008 UEFA Euro in Switzerland. Nobody expected them to go as deep as the semifinals of the tournament.
They did and they went down fighting against a robust German line-up that won it in injury time thanks to a Philipp Lahm goal. Turkey fell behind twice and came back on both occasions, only to be pegged back in the dying minutes.
3. Greece 1 – 0 Czech Republic, 2004 UEFA European Championships Semifinal
Every match Greece played in the 2004 Euros was a spectacle. For the sheer delight of a team rising unexpectedly to catapult the biggest teams on one of the biggest platforms, fans and neutrals related alike.
Greece looked down and out in the semifinals against Czech Republic as the game went to extra time. But, Dellas’ goal in the 116th minute meant Greece were meeting Portugal in the Final, a Final they won, thanks to amazing ambition and determination.
2. Germany 1 – 1 (6 – 5) England, 1996 UEFA European Championships Semifinal
England were the hosts of the 1996 edition of the tournament and the home crowd expected the English to win it on home soil.
They went pretty far, but Germany held their nerve in the Semis to win 6-5 on penalties after an entertaining game between the sides, that ended locked at 1-1 with goals from Alan Shearer and Nico Kuntz.
1. Sweden 2 – 3 Germany, 1992 UEFA European Championships Semifinal
One of the best Euro semis ever, Germany and Sweden played out an entertaining match in Ullevi, Gothenburg.
Germany scored thrice through Hagler and Riedie while the Swede response came from Brolin and Andersson. In the end, it was a hard fought clash determined by individual talent and brilliance.