Euro 2016: 5 teams which outdid expectations at the tournament
So, that’s it! Euro 2016 is done and dusted. A month of top-notch football came to an end after Portugal defeated hosts France to lift the cup for the first time courtesy of an Eder stunner in the 109th minute. The tournament had its share of highs and lows. From the spine-chilling Viking clap to the disgusting fan fights, France played host to over 6 million football-crazy fans in 30 days.
However unruly the fans were, the teams didn’t let them down. The players poured their blood, sweat, and tears into the game and gave it everything. A few teams enjoyed a fabulous tournament while others were disappointing. There were a few stories which could be told for generations to come. Let us take a look at five such stories which are worth reading again and again:
By far the biggest success story in the competition, Iceland have well and truly left a mark on the biggest stage in Europe. According to most pundits, Group F was the easiest group to pick; Portugal as winners, Austria as runners-up and a tussle for the third place between minnows Hungary and Iceland. To everyone's surprise, the two minnows Hungary and Iceland finished first and second respectively. Iceland were particularly impressive.
They irritated Ronaldo and company to sneak a 1-1 draw in their first group game. They were unlucky in their second group fixture after a late Hungary goal resulted in another 1-1 draw. The nordic team needed a win against Austria to qualify for the knockout stages. Exceeding all expectations, they won the game 2-1 and qualified as second placed finishers, a feat which is considered extraordinary for a country consisting of three hundred thousand people.
However, they saved their best for last and upset England in the round of 16 stage courtesy of a 2-1 win. The victory was considered to be the biggest upset in the tournament’s history. As all good things must come to an end, Iceland were brought back to Earth by a ruthless French side which crushed them 5-2 in the quarterfinals. But, what a legacy they left!
They gave us the Viking Clap and the detailed knowledge of their nation’s demographic. But most of all, they reasserted the fact that a well-trained team working in Harmony can always beat a collection of overrated individuals. The world waits expectantly on their next adventure.