March 04, 2020

What is the UEFA Euro?

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Picture: Logo of the first UEFA Euro Competition (1960)

When Was It Founded? And by Whom?

The history of the UEFA Euro Championship started in 1960, but the idea behind this project was pitched in 1927 by Henri Delaunay. He was the French Football Federation’s administrator, and he panned out an idea for a European football competition between senior men’s international teams.

The trophy was initially called ‘The Henry Delaunay’ trophy, and it had a figure of a juggling boy at the back and the word ‘Championnat d’Europe’ written beneath it and ‘Coupe Henri Delaunay’ on the front.

However, as we progressed further into time, the trophy was remodeled to make it larger and bigger in size so that it could be aligned with the modern UEFA competitions.

‘The Henry Delaunay’ trophy

From 4 Teams to 24 Teams:

·First 4 Teams (1960 to 1976):

From 1960 to 1976, five competitions were played out between four teams. The first one took place in 1960 where the Soviet Union lifted the first trophy after beating Yugoslavia in a rather very tense final. Meanwhile, Spain withdrew from the competition because of two political protests. This tournament was held in France, and 17 teams took place in the competition.

The following UEFA Euro competition in 1964 was held in Spain in which the hosts won the trophy against defending champions, Soviet Union. However, in that year, the number of entries was increased by 29. The final between Spain and the Soviet Union was played in current La Liga Santander’s league leader’s home stadium – Santiago Bernabéu.

The format of hosting and winning remained similar in 1968, where the Italians came out as champions. The popularity of this competition increased in ranks because it saw more entries coming (31 teams fighting for the title). The noticeable difference between UEFA Euro 1968 vs. the rest is that this was the only competitive year where the semi-final was decided by a coin toss, and the final between Yugoslavia and Italy was replayed, which resulted in the Italian taking a win against Yugoslavia.

In 1972, Belgium were the hosts and West Germany won the title and welcomed many great players to the International football, like Gerd Müller, who scored a brace in the finals against USSR.

The last UEFA Euro between 4 teams happened in 1976, which was later on won by Czechoslovakia.

Gerd Müller in the final against USSR.

Winners in this timespan:

  • Czechoslovakia (1976)
  • West Germany (1972)
  • Italy (1968)
  • Spain (1964)
  • Soviet Union (1960)

·Expansion to 8 Teams (1980 to 1996):

The UEFA Euro competition was expanded to 8 teams in the year 1980, where the Italians were the hosts yet again. This year introduced the concept of group stages where the group stage winners would go on to play the final, and the runners-up would compete for the third-place play-off. West Germany won its second title in 1980 after grabbing a win against the Belgians in a hard-fought 2-1 victory.  

In 1984, the tournament format was completely changed. The group stage winners would now meet in the semi-finals rather than playing direct in the finals. However, the third-place play-offs were abolished. The French introduced themselves to the winning list and fetched the title comfortably by winning 2-0 against Spain. Their star man and captain, Michel Platini, scored nine goals in just five games.

Michel Platini in UEFA Euro 1984

The UEFA Euro Competition of 1988 saw West Germany hosting the tournament, but they were unfortunate to lose to their traditional rivals, Netherlands.

The next competition of the UEFA Euro Championship was hosted by Sweden in which Denmark came out as winners. The Danes came up against the defending champions, the Netherlands in the semi-final, and then defeated the World Champions Germany (1974) by a margin of 2 goals to nil.

Winners in this timespan:

  •       Denmark (1992)
  •       Netherlands (1988)
  •       France (1984)
  •       West Germany (1980)

·       Expansion to 16 Teams (1996 to 2012):

The year 1996 saw an increase in teams twice. Sixteen teams competed for the title, and West Germany, yet again, came out on top beating the Czech Republic in the finals by 2-1. Also, this title was the first one to come to Germany as a unified nation.

UEFA Euro 2000 was the first Euro competition that saw two countries hosting the tournament in Belgium and the Netherlands. The French were the favorites to win the title, and they lived up to the hype by beating Italy 2-1 in the finals. Trezeguet scored a late goal in extra time to grab a late, dramatic win for the French.

Fast forward to 2004, which produced an upset in the tournament, saw Greece beating Portugal at their own ground by one goal to nil. With only one World Cup qualification and one International title to their name, Greece also beat France and the Czech Republic on their way to finals.

UEFA Euro 2008, yet again, saw two countries hosting the competition in Switzerland and Austria. This Euro saw Spain getting a win against Germany, where Fernando Torres scored the winner in the 33rd minute. Out of eleven players that were chosen for the team of the tournament, nine of them were Spanish, with Xavi being the player of the tournament and David Villa being the top scorer (4).

The UEFA Euro Competition of 1988 saw West Germany hosting the tournament, but they were unfortunate to lose to their traditional rivals, Netherlands.

The next competition of the UEFA Euro Championship was hosted by Sweden in which Denmark came out as winners. The Danes came up against the defending champions, the Netherlands in the semi-final, and then defeated the World Champions Germany (1974) by a margin of 2 goals to nil.

Winners in this timespan:

  •       Denmark (1992)
  •       Netherlands (1988)
  •       France (1984)
  •       West Germany (1980)

·       Expansion to 16 Teams (1996 to 2012):

The year 1996 saw an increase in teams twice. Sixteen teams competed for the title, and West Germany, yet again, came out on top beating the Czech Republic in the finals by 2-1. Also, this title was the first one to come to Germany as a unified nation.

UEFA Euro 2000 was the first Euro competition that saw two countries hosting the tournament in Belgium and the Netherlands. The French were the favorites to win the title, and they lived up to the hype by beating Italy 2-1 in the finals. Trezeguet scored a late goal in extra time to grab a late, dramatic win for the French.

Fast forward to 2004, which produced an upset in the tournament, saw Greece beating Portugal at their own ground by one goal to nil. With only one World Cup qualification and one International title to their name, Greece also beat France and the Czech Republic on their way to finals.

UEFA Euro 2008, yet again, saw two countries hosting the competition in Switzerland and Austria. This Euro saw Spain getting a win against Germany, where Fernando Torres scored the winner in the 33rd minute. Out of eleven players that were chosen for the team of the tournament, nine of them were Spanish, with Xavi being the player of the tournament and David Villa being the top scorer (4).

33′ Fernando Torres scores against Germany

The UEFA Euro 2012 was the first competition in UEFA’s history where a team successfully defended the title. Spain was the obvious and comfortable winners as they latched a 4-0 victory over the Italians.

Winners in this timespan:

  •       Spain (2012)
  •       Spain (2008)
  •       Greece (2004)
  •       France (2000)
  •       Germany (1996)

·       Expansion to 24 teams (2016- onwards):

The UEFA Euro 2016 saw 24 teams competing for the trophy in which Portugal, despite being third in the group stages, came out on top after beating France in a 1-0 victory. Portuguese star-man Cristiano Ronaldo was limped off in the early minutes of the final, which created tension for the team, but Eder scored a spectacular long-range goal at 109th minute of the game, hence giving Portugal their first UEFA Euro title.

Cristiano Ronaldo down with an Injury against France

 

Winners in this timespan:

  •       Portugal (2016)

 

The Competition’s Format:

·       The Competition:

When the competition came into existence, it only saw four teams competing for the title. The number rose to eight after the year 1976, wherein 1980, eight teams were playing in the competition. The expansion continued and the teams doubled in 1996 where sixteen teams played in the tournament. Since 2016, the competition increased to 24 teams.

The teams competing against one another are selected by a sequence of qualifying games: for instance, in 1960 and 1964, the teams had to play a home and away game to qualify for the play-offs; from 1968 through a combination of both playoff games and qualifying groups.

·       Qualifying

A lot of factors come into play for a team to qualify for the competition. The qualification phase beings shortly after the World Cup ends, which is two years prior to the UEFA Euro competition.

The seeding process is used for group qualification. On top of it, coefficient, average goal difference, goals scored for, goals scored against, and drawing of lots come into play while being seeded into qualification groups.

After that, each group is played in a league-like format where the teams with most points qualify directly for the next stage, while the remaining teams (since the competition’s expansion to 24 teams) qualify for the play-offs on ranking’s basis.

·       Final Tournament:

The UEFA Euro 2016 tournament expanded the teams to 24, which means that the teams will be drawn into six groups of four.

The six group winners, six group runners-up, and the four best third-placed teams advancing to the Round of 16 when it becomes a knockout competition.

Six groups of four teams.

The Past Results:

From the Soviet Union winning the first European Competition against Yugoslavia (2-1 a.e.t) to Portuguese National Team being the defending champions, UEFA Euro has seen a lot of winners over the years. The following tables show the results in the form of winners and runners up over the years.

YearHome TeamAway TeamResult
2016PortugalSpain1-0
2012SpainItaly4-0
2008GermanySpain0-1
2004PortugalGreece0-1
2000FranceItaly2-1
1996Czech RepublicGermany1-2
1992DenmarkGermany2-0
1988Soviet UnionNetherlands0-2
1984FranceSpain2-0
1980BelgiumWest Germany1-2
1976CzechoslovakiaWest Germany5-3 (pens.)
1972West GermanySoviet Union3-0
1968ItalyYugoslavia2-0 (replay)
1964SpainSoviet Union2-1
1960Soviet UnionYugoslavia2-1 (a.e.t)

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·The Top Goal Scorers:

The following players are the top scorers of this competition.

Goal ScorerGoals (in Competition)
Michel Platini9 goals
Cristiano Ronaldo9 goals
Alan Shearer7 goals
Thierry Henry6 goals
Zlatan Ibrahimović6 goals
Patrick Kluivert6 goals
Nuno Gomez6 goals
Ruud van Nistelrooy6 goals

Platini scoring a goal against Portugal in 1984’s UEFA Euro Competition

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