In four years European Football landscape has changed dramatically. 2008 champions Spain also won FIFA World Cup 2010 and came to Euro 2012 to try and win back-to-back championships. Netherlands, Italy, England, France where all looking for redemption while many other teams were ready to bring plenty of surprises. 14th European Football Championship was co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Following the tradition each of the hosts prepared 4 stadiums to welcome the 16 teams divided into 4 group stages. For Ukraine it was the first championship they have participated in while Poland managed to qualify to the Euro 2008 first and then got the chance to host the championship. The Adidas Tango 12 was the official match ball of the competition. As in 2008, this year was also hosted by two countries, Poland and Ukraine, the mascots were also two. Namely, Slavek and Slavko. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes was again among the soundtracks of the tournament, played after scored goals. However, the official song of the tournament was Endless Summer by Oceana.
As it is clear now, Euro 2012 was the last UEFA European Championship that involved 4x4 groups and it was raised to 24 for the upcoming championship in France.
Czech Republic, Russia, Poland and Greece. Poland didn’t do well in its debut championship in 2008 and even as a host, not many anticipated for them to do well this time. The other three, however, were capable of winning the group stage. This was proven on the first day where the eventual winners Czechs lost 1-4 to Russia, who didn’t reach the Knockout stage.
Favorites Germany and three very capable teams of Portugal, Denmark and Netherlands. Sort of an opposite from the Group A. And that’s exactly what happened. While Germany won all three matches they played in the Group stage, 3 points each was the most likely result till the very last day. However, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo came through for Portugal and took them to the knockout stages.
Hosted the 2008 European Championship and 2010 World Cup winners Spain, Italy, Croatia as well as Republic of Ireland. The groups provided little to no surprise. Spain comfortably won, Italy followed.
Took four teams that all had strength, determination and lots to prove – England, Sweden, France and the host Ukraine that this championship was the debut. The groups proved to be very competitive with surprises till the very end. Eventually, Ukraine and Sweden got 3 points each and were knocked out while England with 7 points and France with 4 went through to the knock-out phase.
Out of 8 teams that reached Euro 2012 knock-out phase, five were here 4 years ago. In the first match, Czech Republic met with the squad of Portugal. The only Cristiano Ronaldo goal saved Portugal and took them to the Semis.
Last year’s runners up met with Euro 2004 champions Greece. After a controversial, action-packed match Germany 4-2 finished off Greece in PGE Arena, Gdansk.
In Donetsk, Ukraine the European and World Champions Spain met France who, even though were itching to get back to their winning ways, did not have an easy task on their hands. Even though Alonso managed to take the lead for Spain in 19th minute, France had every chance to get back into the game until Alonso scored his second goal from the penalty spot in the 90th minute. Eventually, as the final whistle was blown, the score line announced 2-0 to Spain.
The fourth and final match of the Quarter-finals was between England and Italy. Just like 4 years ago, Italy managed to keep it a goalless match and eventually take it to the penalties. However, while Italy lost in this spot then, they did much better this time and knocked out England from the competition.
Out of the semi-finals the first one was between Portugal and Spain. Even though both teams are known for their attacking mentalities, to everyone’s surprise they somehow managed to cancel out each other and end the match without a single goal. The penalties, however, went Spain’s way and they got a chance to win back-to-back European Championships.
The second match was just as surprising as the first one. Italy managed to dominate Germany and in the 36th minute led 2-0. The only conciliation for Germany was the goal from Mesut Ozil that he scored in the added time of the second half.
The Final between Spain and Italy was a quick one. Even though Italy did their best, Spain seem just to have a few more men. After 45 minutes Spain led 2-0, after another 45 minutes they finished the game 4-2 and became the first team to ever win two consecutive European Championships.
Will it be 3 in a row in 2016?