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5 teams that flattered to deceive at Euro 2020

France and Portugal were two of the early casualties at Euro 2020.
France and Portugal were two of the early casualties at Euro 2020.

Euro 2020 was largely a tournament of the underdogs. Italy, a traditional European heavyweight, may have been crowned champions after beating England in the final, but some less-fancied teams offered pleasant surprises along the way.

Denmark reached their first European semi-final since 1992, the year they won the Euros, while the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Switzerland also impressed at Euro 2020.

The tournament also saw some teams that failed to live up to their hype, going out earlier than expected. On that note, let's have a look at the top five teams that flattered to deceive the most at Euro 2020:


#5 Turkey

Turkey couldn't live up to their pre-tournament hype at Euro 2020.
Turkey couldn't live up to their pre-tournament hype at Euro 2020.

Besides their semi-final finish in 2008, Turkey have underwhelmed at the Euros. But there were high expectations from them at Euro 2020, as they took four points off world champions France in the qualifiers and lost only thrice since the start of 2019, going into the quadrennial tournament.

However, far from progressing into the knockouts, the Crescent Stars finished bottom of Group A, finishing behind Italy, Wales and Switzerland without garnering a single point and scoring just once.

Sure, none of the three teams were pushovers, with the Azzurri going all the way at Euro 2020. But it was the limp fashion in which Senol Gunes' side went down in all their group fixtures that was truly disappointing.

The attacking effervescence with which the Turks swatted teams aside in the qualifiers was severely lacking at Euro 2020. Defensively too, they were all over the place.


#4 Russia

Contrary to their fairy tale 2018 FIFA World Cup run, Euro 2020 was a chastening experience for Russia.
Contrary to their fairy tale 2018 FIFA World Cup run, Euro 2020 was a chastening experience for Russia.

The hosts of the 2018 FIFA World Cup were also one of the best underdogs of the tournament. Russia marched all the way to the quarter-finals that year and picked up some huge scalps along the way.

Having been drawn alongside Belgium, Denmark and Finland at Euro 2020 (and hosting a few games too), Russia were the dark horses to progress into the next round once again.

But despite having almost the same team that featured at the World Cup three years ago, Russia went out in the group stage after two defeats and a vastly inferior goal difference.

Heavy defeats to Belgium and Denmark undid their slender 1-0 victory over Euro debutants Finland as the Sbornaya lacked the fighting spirit they displayed at the 2018 World Cup.

An early exit, coming on the back of a disastrous Nations League campaign last year, proved to be the final straw for manager Stanislav Cherchesov, who was sacked after the tournament.

#3 The Netherlands

Matthijs de Ligt red card, tactical mistakes and incorrect substitutions cost the Netherlands at Euro 2020.
Matthijs de Ligt red card, tactical mistakes and incorrect substitutions cost the Netherlands at Euro 2020.

The Netherlands were a breath of fresh air at Euro 2020, boasting an enticing blend of youth and experience. Moreover, Frank de Boer's side displayed vibrant attacking football, which led to many to believe that they could reach at least the last four.

However, the Czech Republic served the Netherlands a massive reality check with a shock 2-0 defeat in the last 16. The ten-man Oranje failed to muster a single shot on target and struggled to create meaningful chances despite having more possession.

Frank de Boer was also heavily criticised for his tactics, as the former Dutch player inexplicably abandoned his usual 4-3-3 formation for a flat 3-5-2 just before the tournament.


#2 Portugal

Portugal's title defence at Euro 2020 ended in a whimper.
Portugal's title defence at Euro 2020 ended in a whimper.

Many said this was a Portugal side with better quality than the one that won the Euros in 2016. And that wasn't an exaggeration.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Joao Felix, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Andre Silva and Joao Cancelo - not a bad roster, right?

While Cancelo missed the campaign due to COVID-19, most of the other big names failed to deliver. Portugal relied on the attacking brilliance of Ronaldo once again while Pepe continued to be a leader in defence.

However, that was never going to be enough to defend their title. The Selecao learnt that the hard way in the Round of 16, where Belgium ended their reign as European champions.

Portugal were the dominant side in the match (23 shots to six; four on target to one; 58% possession to 42%) but lacked a decisive tactical plan to break down the Red Devils, as they stuck to just hopeful punts in the box.

It is now back-to-back last-16 exits for Fernando Santos' men at major international tournaments. Perhaps, it's time for the team to head back to the drawing board.


#1 France

Kylian Mbappe's missed penalty dumped out France at Euro 2020, but their problems ran deeper.
Kylian Mbappe's missed penalty dumped out France at Euro 2020, but their problems ran deeper.

No doubt the biggest disappointment of Euro 2020 were France. The reigning world champions had enough quality to go all the way at the tournament and were the favourites of almost every bookie.

But despite topping the 'group of death' featuring Germany and Portugal, Les Bleus lost out in the last-16 to Switzerland on penalties, after squandering a 3-1 lead in regulation time.

Some fans were quick to jump on Kylian Mbappe, who missed the decisive spot-kick in the shootout. But the fact remains that Les Blues simply weren't impressive at Euro 2020.

It was only the creative brilliance of Paul Pogba and the rejuvenated Karim Benzema, back in the national squad after almost seven years, which carried France at Euro 2020. The rest of the bunch massively underwhelmed.

However, with the Nations League semi-final coming up, France have a chance to salvage some lost pride and redeem themselves.

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Edited by Bhargav
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