France have made the UEFA Euro 2016 final along with Portugal, meaning that we once again have a host nation’s fans cheering their team to the brink of a triumph on home soil. Back in 2004, it was Portugal who went all the way, only to be heartbreakingly denied by the Greeks in one of the most surprising endings to a major tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Carvalho were there that night, and they’ll be extra-motivated to make sure they don’t lose again. France 1984 was the year that Michel Platini lit up Europe with 9 brilliant goals to win France their very first European Championships.
Antoine Griezmann wasn’t even born back then, but his 6 goals this summer have evoked memories of the individual brilliance that made Les Bleus champions in Paris 32 years ago.
To commemorate the fact that we’ve got another host country close to a very special victory, let’s go back in time and see which sides have given their people the sweetest gift in football – a victory right on their own doorstep.
10. Copa America 1995 – Uruguay win an unprecedented 14th title
Uruguay may be a small nation (the 2nd smallest in South America) of roughly 3.5 million people, but they are genuine footballing giants. The first ever world champions (also on home soil in 1930), they’ve beaten Argentina & Brazil in their two world cup triumphs. With 15 Copa America titles, they are by far the best team on their continent by a gigantic gap.
Back in 1995, they hosted the Copa America and were intent on reestablishing themselves after 8 barren years. In the opening fixture against Venezuela in the proud Estadio Centenario, they raced out of the blocks, smashing Venezuela 4-1. The next fixture brought over 8,000 more people to the stadium to watch Paraguay fall 1-0 before Mexico held them 1-1 as the hosts topped their group.
In their quarter-final match-up with Bolivia, they were once again up almost immediately; opening the scoring in the very first minute via an Otero goal. 5,000 more fans packed themselves into the national stadium at Montevideo, making it 45,000 – 13,000 more fans than the opening fixture! Otero struck again in the semi-final, his second goal putting the finishing touches on a sweet 2-0 victory over Colombia. In the other semi-final, a Dunga-led Brazil scored first with half an hour gone.
With 51 minutes on the clock, Pablo Bengoechea equalized. Then world champions Brazil were pushed to extra-time, where goalscorer Tulio Costa missed their 4th penalty. Sergio Martinez made no such mistake, and he scored the winning penalty for a 5-3 penalty shootout victory in the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. Uruguay are the only team to have a perfect record at home, hosting 8 international tournaments (7 Copa Americas and 1 World Cup) and winning every single one.