The Euro 2020 Group Stages finally came to an end on Wednesday. What were the highlights of the tournament? Which moments were the most memorable ones? Follow us below as we take a look at the 10 best EURO 2020 moments in the group stages.
Euro 2020 has been full of beautiful, thrilling, dramatic, shocking and even horrifying moments. It is safe to say that the tournament has not failed to impress, despite its 1-year-long postponement due to COVID-19. With fans finally back at the stadium with almost half and at times full capacity, football has once again brought back to life as it has regained what it lacked the most. We got to experience so much in Euro 2020 and at times saw too much as TV directors did not have the decency to pull away the cameras.
We sawChristian Eriksen
suffer a sudden cardiac arrest on the pitch during Denmark’s clash against Finland; we saw Benjamin Pavard get knocked out as France took on Germany; and we even saw Cristiano Ronaldo move the world by simply moving two Coca-Cola bottles during a pre-match press conference before Portugal’s match against Hungary. But these are not the moments that make history or change anything for the national teams. The best moments of Euro 2020 came during playtime, when players put everything they got into the game as fans cheered their XI to clutch a victory against their rivals.
Let us take a trip back in time to only a couple of days ago as we take a gander at everything that has happened so far in the tournament and choose our favorites. Of course this list does not have any specific order and is not ranked to anyone’s taste. These moments are simply the best that any of the countries involved got to experience.
Some people hate most international games as they believe that such games tend to be borefests with almost no goals. But these people could not have been any more wrong than they are now, as we got to see one of the most thrilling competitions in recent times. Of course while some teams struggled to score many goals against each other, others were able to put one or two past each other’s goals.
Even though the likes ofBelgium
and Italy had their own strong starts to the competition with one or two decisive 3-0 victories, it wasSpain
who made the headlines as they managed to make history by being the only team to score 5 goals in a single match in Euro 2020 group stages.
The poor team on the receiving end of these five goals were Slovakia, who simply had a horrible evening against the Spaniards. Not only did Spain play fantastically, with players paying meticulous attention to their duties, they also got much help from Slovakian players themselves, who helped Spain win with such a margin. The first goal was probably the worst of them all as Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka made a complete howler as he conceded an own goal scored by none other than himself. Dubravka was simply trying to palm the ball away from the bar; but his miscalculations led to the horrible mistake of palming the ball into the back of his own net, which only paved the way for more Spain goals.
Few teams got to experience the emotional roller coaster thatDenmark
players were on the entire time. Losing one of your best players in one of the most horrific ways possible is obviously never a good thing. The effect it has on other players alone could prove to be a devastating blow to any team. With Christian Eriksen’s sudden cardiac arrest on the field in Denmark’s clash againstFinland
, everyone worried about the 29-year-old midfielder’s health and if he would get to recover or not.
Thankfully, though, Eriksen was revived and taken to hospital. But the remaining question was, would Denmark get revived as well? Or would their hopes of reaching the Euro 2020 Round of 16 die out with such a heavy and horrible memory in players’ minds? The answer simply was that they would indeed recover from such an incident and go on to qualify for the next stage of the tournament. With an emphatic and quite historic 4-1 win over Russia in matchday 3 of the group stages, Denmark were still not sure if they had in fact qualified or not.
While the players were obviously happy about the result, they were still worried about qualifying. The news of their qualification came minutes after their win over Russia, as players, the staff and all the Danish supporters burst into laughter and joy as they celebrated such a beautiful moment. The win and the qualification was dedicated to their comrade Christian Eriksen, who had just been discharged from hospital and was with his family.
When you get yourself a world-class tournament where some of the world’s best football national teams lock horns in a thrilling contest, you are bound to get at least two or three brilliant goals that stick to people’s minds for years to come. That is exactly what happened whenCzech Republic
striker Patrik Schick scored an absolute cracker againstScotland
Czech Republic had quite a strong start in Euro 2020, despite being considered the underdogs by many. They managed to ease past Scotland in a thrilling match which gave us what might probably go on to become the goal of the tournament. With Patrik Schick shining as the nation’s star striker, the number 10 tried his luck from long range with a mesmerizing first-time attempt as he simply chipped the ball over Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall’s head, with the goalkeeper going into the goal and stumbling into the net himself, as if Schick had used Marshall instead of the ball.
The goal itself was simply amazing as Schick received so many plaudits for his extraordinary attempt on target. But what caught the attention of people on social media was how Marshall went into the goal and entangled himself with the net as many mocked the goalkeeper by making memes and photoshopped images of him showing the Scotland international as if he was caught inside Spiderman’s webs.
There are few underdogs in world football who can manage to prove everyone that they are more fierce and formidable than what people might believe. Hungary are one of those few. The Hungarians themselves might never have hoped for much in Euro 2020, but their national team gave them something to be proud of for generations to come.
Despite being one of the weaker underdogs in the whole tournament and despite being drawn into the so-called “Group of Death” alongside Portugal, France and Germany,Hungary
held their heads high as they managed to go out on the pitch and create history. Many expected Hungary to simply crumble under the constant pressure of French, German and Portuguese players, but they defied all odds as they performed a miracle by continuing their unbeaten run against France, which has been ongoing for several decades.
Not only did Hungary clutch a 1-1 “victory” against France, they also went on to draw 2-2 againstGermany
, which simply blew everyone’s mind away as football fans watched in awe of how good Hungary can play. Those who always favor the underdogs might have been a bit disappointed after Hungary’s 3-0 defeat against Portugal, but all that matters is that they managed to stand their ground against the 2014 and even 2018 World Cup champions.
This alone could make two different entries on the list of Euro 2020 best moments of the group stage; but we thought it was only fair to give other moments a shot at making it into the list as well.
Each nation has their own superstar as there are certain players who always make the difference for both their respective clubs and national teams. Portugal obviously have Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentina haveLionel Messi
, Brazil haveNeymar
and Croatia have Luka Modric. TheReal Madrid
midfielder is simply one of the best midfielders of all time, who even managed to break Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s cycle of dominance over the Ballon d’Or by winning the award after his heroics in the 2018 World Cup.
It seems that there is nothing stopping the 35-year-old as he is still giving all he has got when playing for both the Croatia national team and Real Madrid. This man is simply the only reason why both teams have been ticking like clockwork and why they have been such successful teams over the years.
But this article is not about how great Modric is overall. It is about how he single-handedly managed to earn his nation a qualification to the Euro 2020 Round of 16 by scoring a brilliant and masterfully-executed long-range goal against Scotland with an outside of the foot curled shot. It seems that Scotland were only in the tournament to concede memorable and fantastic long-range goals, but every team has its ups and downs. We will have to wait and see how Modric and his teammates will do against Wales in the Round of 16.
There is no feeling better than what you fell when you score you team’s winning goal, except for the feeling when you get after scoring one of the most crucial goals of your life, which leads to your national team qualifying for the Round of 16 in one of the most important international tournaments in the world.
Sweden’s hopes for a strong start to the competition were up as they expected to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic return to international duty at the age of 39 and cut through opposition defense like hot knife through butter and score some of his trademark brilliant goals. But all those hopes and dreams were crushed when theAC Milan
striker was sidelined with an injury prior to the start of Euro 2020. Despite Ibrahimovic not making it in time for the Euros, Sweden were still favorites to win, with Poland being their main competitor in the group stages.
With a 0-0 draw against Spain in the first matchday and a 1-0 win over Slovakia in the second, it was all down to their third match against Poland, which could decide whether Sweden were in or out of the competition. While Sweden managed to take an early lead with two goals at the 2nd and 59th minutes, all seemed to be done and dusted for Janne Andersson and his squad. But Robert Lewandowski’s brilliance in front of goal proved too much for Sweden as he leveled the scoreline with two goals in the 61st and 84th minutes.
With Poland being the much stronger side, many thought that Sweden might not get to reach the next round after all. But the doubters were proven wrong as Viktor Claesson scored a dramatic last-minute goal in the 94th minute to send his national team into the Round of 16. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
National team managers obviously call up those players whom they believe are the best fit for their tactics and formations, which is why not every footballer gets the chance to play for his/her national team. But even the national team has its own reserves on the bench and not every footballer called up for international duty gets to have some game time.
That seemed to be the case for Italy reserve goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu as well, who has lost his place to Gianluigi Donnarumma, the true heir to Gianluigi Buffon’s place in the Italian national team. But in quite a bizarre moment, everyone was confused when Roberto Mancini decided to substitute Donnarumma and bring in Sirigu instead in the 89th minute of the game againstWales
, even though the score was only 1-0 inItaly
In a moment that seemed unusual and strange to almost everyone, Sirigu got his chance to play for his nation in such a major tournament. Asked about the decision to bring in the 34-year-old goalkeeper, Mancini replied that he did so to ensure that his veteran stopper would also get to have some play time on the pitch in such a major tournament.
The manager went on to reveal that he himself regretted not getting the chance to play in the 1990 World Cup, which is why he had aimed to give all his players in the national team a chance to feature for their nation. A move which seemed disrespectful towards Wales at first, turned into a beautiful and heartwarming gesture by the 56-year-old, which led to another memorable moment in Euro 2020 group stages being made.
We are used to Cristiano Ronaldo making history time and time again at both club and international levels. The Portuguese goal machine is a true legend, who is considered by many to be the Greatest of All Time, or the GOAT. That is why no one was surprised when he managed to break yet another astonishing record by becoming the all-time top scorer in Euro history by scoring a brace against Hungary, surpassing Michel Platini, who scored 9 goals in the single tournament that he participated in.
Ronaldo, however, is both the only footballer to have played in five Euros and the only player in history to have scored a staggering 14 goals in the tournament. He is nowhere near stopping anytime soon and will definitely aim to increase his tally in the Round of 16 and maybe the next stages if they qualify.
The Portuguese striker also got to equal former Iran international Ali Daei’s record and become the joint-top international goal scorer of all time. There is no doubt that he will soon break that record as well and surpass Ali Daei’s tally in the best fashion possible.
It is always good fun when two of the best teams in the world lock horns in a fierce competition. That is why the Germany versusPortugal
clash was full of memorable moments and we simply could not choose a single moment from the game to be excluded as the best one. So we chose the whole game as one of the best in Euro 2020 as we got to witness two goliaths of football go head to head in the so-called Group of Death. The battle was as intense as it could get. It had everything a football enthusiast could dream of.
From Cristiano Ronaldo’s incredible pace and speed, which topped 19mph, to his astonishingly cheeky trick against Antonio Rudiger – which sent the defender searching for the ball in the wrong direction – the game was simply a masterpiece as we got to enjoy a total of six goals being scored throughout the math. Not only that, be we also got to witness a strange thing happening.
The strange incident was the fact that it was Portugal who scored four goals and Germany only scored two, but the score-line was 4-2 in Germany’s favor. It is of course nothing that complicated, as the two extra goals had come from own goals scored by Portugal defenders. Both national teams were locked and loaded and had quite a fine efficiency on the pitch and a nice accuracy in front of the goal.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo’s incredible speed, which led to him reaching the opposition box in a matter of seconds and scoring a beautiful tap-in, and Diego Jota’s 67th minute goal were not enough to stop Germany from adding two goals themselves and ending the match with a 4-2 victory.
Euro 2020 has clearly been a place for the underdogs to shine. While Hungary made history with their two draws against the most formidable sides in the competition, North Macedonia were just blown away by their competitors in Group C. They conceded a total of eight goals in three games and only got to score two goals as they tried their luck against the likes of Ukraine, Austria and theNetherlands
Of course who could blame them? It was their very first time competing in such a major tournament for God’s sake. That is why they were let off the hook so easily, as everyone recognized and respected North Macedonian players for even making it to the group stages. At the top of North Macedonia’s success in reaching the group stages of Euro 2020 stood none other than their captain and main striker Goran Pandev, who had made history alongside his teammates.
Everyone knew about and appreciated how important Pandev had been for North Macedonia, which is why they decided to give him a proper farewell when he decided to hang up his boots after their last game in the group stages.
Pandev received a guard of honor by the players, while also receiving a Netherlands shirt with his name written on it by the Netherlands national team, which showed how much even the opposition respected him. It might not have been a thrilling moment, but it sure was a beautiful one that showed how important football can be for people and how some legends might go unheard of for years, before finally getting the recognition they deserve.
These were only some of the best moments in Euro 2020 group stages and we simply had to hand pick our favorites for you. Surely we are going to witness many more historic scenes, thrilling moments, beautiful flicks and tricks and stunning goals in the next stages of the tournament. We simply can’t wait for it to start.
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