Skip to main content

Greece stun Europe. 

At odds of 250/1 before the tournament and having never won a match in the finals in their history it’s safe to say that Greece were not among the favourites, or even outside bets, for Euro 2004. In fact they were more than unfancied, they weren’t even considered outsiders to qualify from their group which included hosts and one of the pre-tournament favourites, Portugal, Spain and Russia.

In the opening game they the hosts 2-1 and the result was passed off as a flash in the pan. But then in their second game they drew 1-1 with Spain, before losing 2-1 to Russia in the final group game. This result should have eliminated the Greeks but a lone Nuno Gomes goal for Portugal against Spain was enough to send the rank outsiders through on goal difference.

The next three games were three tactical masterclasses from manager Otto Rehhagel. Greece won their quarter-final 1-0, their semi-final 1-0 and the final 1-0. All three goals were headers and all three headers came from crosses from the right wing.

Relying heavily on a man-marking system with a sweeper, Greece were able to stifle the abundantly talented attacks of France, Czech Republic and Portugal to pull off the shock of the century. Angelos Charisteas made himself the hero in both the semi-final and the final when twice he rose to head home crosses from and give the Greeks 1-0 victories.

Well-drilled and playing to their strengths they stifled opponents of a far superior class and pulled off one of the greatest shocks the European Championships and football has ever seen.