The Best Euro Underdog Runs

Euro 2020 is underway and plenty of fans are trying to find the perfect underdog story to get behind in our Euro betting markets.

We have only just entered the knockout stages and as always, it has delivered drama on the grandest scale.

International football tournaments always produce a Cinderella run from an underdog and we have seen a few candidates emerge already.

Switzerland stunned the World Champions France with one of the most dramatic comebacks you will ever see.

That came a day after the Czech Republic stunned the Netherlands 2-0 in their Round of 16 clash.

As far as the Euro 2020 Cinderella story however, it’s tough to go by the Swiss team’s next opponent Denmark, who lost their leader and captain Christian Eriksen in the first match of the tournament.

They belted Wales in the first Round of 16 match and will head into their Quarter Final full of confidence and very motivated.

Which side will earn a spot on this list going forward?

Check out our list of the best Euro underdog runs.

Belgium at Euro 1980

Few would have given the Belgians a chance at Euro 1980, drawn in the same group with hosts Italy as well as England and Spain.

What unfolded though, was a complete and utter bloodbath with draws wreaking havoc on Group 2.

Up first, the plucky underdogs held England to a 1-1 draw before beating Spain 2-1, which put them in pole position heading into their final Group Stage match with Italy.

Both sides were level on points and goal difference with Belgium on top due to the goals scored tiebreaker.

Knowing all they needed was a draw they held the Italians out and advanced to the final against West Germany.

It would be heartbreak for the Belgians however with an 88th minute goal to Horst Hrubesch handing the title to the West Germans.

Denmark at Euro 1992

If this Danish team is not on top of the “best underdog runs” list it is a lock for a top two spot.

Having originally missed qualification, the Danes were granted a very late entry into the tournament as runners up after Yugoslavia were disqualified less than a fortnight before the tournament began.

It would have been understandable had they come to the Euros in disarray after their late admission, lost all three matches and began their summer holidays.

Instead, thanks to the likes of Peter Schmeichel, they held England to a 0-0 draw in their opening match before losing to Sweden.

With the knockout stage now involving Semi Finals (unlike 1980), Denmark needed to defeat France in its final match, which was far from a certainty considering they had not scored a goal thus far.

Henrik Larsen got them on the board early in that match before Jean-Pierre Papin equalised on the hour mark.

That opened up the opportunity for Lars Elstrup to play the hero and score the goal that would eliminate France and England and book a Semi Final spot against the heavily favoured Netherlands.

Going against Dennis Bergkamp and Frank Rijkaard, few fancied the Danes but the Dutch needed an 88th minute goal from the latter to just send the match to extra time and eventually penalties.

Once again Schmeichel was the hero, making the only save of the shootout, denying the legendary Marco Van Basten to send the Danes to the final against Germany.

Goals from John Jensen and Kim Vilfort stunned the Germans and sent the entire Danish fanbase into raptures as they were crowned champions of Europe.

Czech Republic at Euro 1996

Competing under the banner of the Czech Republic for the first time, the nation formerly known as Czechoslovakia almost replicated the underdog heroics of the Danes four years earlier.

Drawn in a daunting group with Germany, Italy and Russia, the Czechs survived a first up defeat with Germany to defeat Italy and draw with Russia in an enthralling 3-3 encounter.

Their win over Italy gave them the tiebreaker edge and sent them to the Quarter Finals of Euro 1996 where they eliminated Portugal and then survived a nervy penalty shootout against France in the Semi Finals.

Remarkably, they briefly lead the Euro 1996 Final against Germany when Patrik Berger scored a 59th minute penalty.

That would only last for 14 minutes before Oliver Bierhoff levelled the scores before winning the tournament with a 95th minute, extra time golden goal.

While they fell at the last hurdle, the Czechs run was certainly a memorable storyline in the history of the Euros.

Greece in 2004

Perhaps the only underdog run that could match and even top that of Denmark in 1992, Greece stunned the world in 2004.

A general rule in these tournaments is to give the host nation a winnable match first up and Portugal was served up a Greek team that most fans could not pick out of a lineup and were only ahead of Latvia in the overall tournament betting odds.

Nobody gave Otto Rehhagel the script and his Greek side stunned Portugal 2-1 in the opener which gave them a platform to pip the highly fancied Spanish side for second spot in Group A on goals for.

Their football in the knockout stages was not what you would call enthralling but it was effective.

A resolute backline kept three consecutive clean sheets against some of the continent’s best attackers, starting with the defending European champion French.

Traianos Dellas was the hero in the Semi Final against the Czech Republic, scoring the lone goal of the match in the first half of extra time.

That booked a rematch with Portugal in the Final and most expected the Portuguese to gain some revenge for the tournament opener however once again, the Greek defence would not be breached.

Angelos Charisteas popped up with the only goal of the match, just like in the Quarter Final against France and gave Greece the unlikeliest of European titles.

Turkey, Croatia and Russia at Euro 2008

Euro 2008 gave us three phenomenal underdog stories with Turkey, Croatia and Russia all giving underdog punters something to get behind.

While Croatia may have gone into Euro 2020 as one of the big name sides, it was a very different story 13 years ago when they stunned Germany to finish on top of Group B with a perfect three for three record.

Turkey may well be the most entertaining side to feature at a Euros tournament, having lost to Portugal in their opening match, they defeated Switzerland thanks to a 92nd minute goal from Arda Turan followed by one of the craziest group games you will see against the Czech Republic.

Both sides needed a win to advance to the knockout stages, the Czech’s looked like they were cruising, holding a 2-0 lead with 15 minutes to play.

Turan stepped up again and got one back before Nihat Kahveci swung the entire group, scoring in the 87th and 89th minutes to send Turkey to a Quarter Final clash with Croatia.

Turkey’s penchant for late drama continued into the knockout stages, playing out a scoreless 118 minutes against Croatia before Ivan Klasnic seemingly won the match for Croatia, however Semih Senturk scored in stoppage time of extra time to send the match to penalties.

Seemingly unpurtubed by the drama that had unfolded in their last three matches, the Turkish side held their nerve and won the shootout 3-1.

Unfortunately for Turkey, their luck at Euro 2008 ran out in the Semi Final, although they came close to pulling off another miracle, with Semih levelling the match at 2-2 in the 86th minute before Philipp Lahm broke Turkish hearts with a 90th minute goal.

On the other side of the draw another underdog run was taking place with Russia making a Semi Final run of their own.

Lead by Roman Pavlyuchenko and Andrei Arshavin, who would use this tournament as a springboard for a move to Arsenal, the Russians finished as runners up to Spain in their group, ahead of Sweden and Greece.

In the knockout stage they overran the powerful Dutch side in extra time before having no answer for the Spanish juggernaut.

Iceland in 2016

Who could forget the famous Icelandic Viking Clap that took over the sporting world for a few weeks in June 2016 (or the number of other teams that have tried to co-opt it since)?

The Icelandic side actually finished ahead of the eventual champions Portugal in Group F, recording a 1-1 draw with them in their opening fixture before going on to draw with group winners Hungary and defeating Austria courtesy of a 94th minute goal to Arnor Traustason.

Safe to say the commentator lost his cool.

Then came the Round of 16 where England were expected to roll them quite convincingly.

That line of thought made complete sense until you remembered it was England at a major tournament.

Wayne Rooney opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the fourth minute but that lead barely held for 120 seconds.

Iceland took the lead after 18 minutes and held on for one of the most famous victories in their nation’s history.

Gummi Ben the commentator was in full flight in the final seconds of the match.

It also brought about this iconic celebration.

Unfortunately that was where the celebrations would end as they ran into a French buzzsaw in the Quarter Finals, going down 5-2.