Top 5 teams that haven't won the UEFA European Championship

Czech could have

The UEFA European Championship is all set for its 15th edition which will be held in France next summer. The European Championship has always had its fair share of shocks and upsets since its inaugural edition. However, over the years, the Euros have also seen some of the greatest teams of their generation failing to lift the coveted Henri-Delaunay Trophy.Here are the top 5 nations who have not won the UEFA European Championship despite fielding some of the greatest players in the world:

#1 Czech Republic, 2004

Czech could have

The Czech Republic team produced one of the upsets of Euro 96 by making it to the finals after defeating the likes of Italy, Portugal and France. However the Czechs couldn’t repeat that same form in Euro 2000 and were eliminated in the first round after losses to France and the Netherlands.

A new era of Czech football dawned in after their failure to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. This new era consisted of settled star players in top european clubs such with the likes of Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky, Tomas Rosicky, Milan Baros, Vladimir Smicer, Jan Koller and Tomas Galasek along with a talented young goalkeeper Petr Cech.

The team had a good run of form in 2002 and 2003 with captain Pavel Nedved winning the European Footballer of the Year. The team qualified easily for Euro 2004 but were put in a tough group comprising of Germany and Netherlands. The Czechs began their campaign with a 2-1 win over underdogs Latvia. In their next match against the Netherlands, the Czechs were 2-0 down in the first 20 minutes. The Czechs staged a remarkable comeback with goals from Koller, Baros and Smicer to win 3-2 and it ensured their ticket to the quarter-finals.

In their final group game, the Czechs beat Germany 2-1 to win their group. In the quarter-finals, the Czechs comfortably defeated Denmark 3-0 to make it to their second Euro semi-final where they faced another surprise package Greece. At this stage, the Czechs were favoured to win the Championship. The semi final began with Tomas Rosicky hitting the post early and their talismanic midfielder Nedved leaving the pitch injured at the end of halftime. Later on Jan Koller had his shots saved by Greek goalie Antonio Nikopolidis.

The match finished goalless in the first 90 minutes and Greece won the match 1-0 in extra time with what remains to be the only silver goal in history scored by defender Traianos Dellas. Greece would go on to win the tournament. The Czechs had a great tournament with Milan Baros winning the Golden Boot for being the top goalscorer and Nedved, Baros and Cech were included in the all-star team.

Despite these achievements, the members of that squad would always remember that year as the best chance Czech Republic had to win the Euro after 1996.

#2 Netherlands, 1976

The Dutch had it close

The Dutch made their Euro debut in 1976 in Yugoslavia. They were considered the favorites to win the tournament as they fielded 14 of the 22 players who took the team to the 1974 World Cup Final.

Led by one of the world’s greatest players in Johann Cryuff, the side boasted of other star players like Johann Neeskens, Johnny Rep, Rob Rensenbrink, Willy van de Kerkhof, Rene van de Kerkhof and Ruud Krol.

The first match of the Netherlands was up against Czechoslovakia, who they were expected to overcome. However, disaster struck in the 19th minute when Anton Ondrus put Czechoslovakia ahead. The Dutch equalised in the 77th minute through an own goal by Ondrus himself ironically.

The match went to extra time and Czechoslovakia scored 2 goals in 4 minutes to eliminate The Netherlands. The Dutch then played Yugoslavia in the 3rd place play-off where they won 3-2 in extra time.

Even though the Netherlands claimed 3rd place, they were expected to go a lot further and had their path cut out by a Czechoslovakia side who themselves expected to finish 4th.

#3 Portugal, 2004

Cristiano did all he could

The Portugal team of the mid-90s were considered the golden generation of Portuguese football as a number of players of that squad had won Portugal the 1991 FIFA U-20 World Cup. This team made it to the quarter-finals of Euro 1996 and the semi-finals of Euro 2000. However, the team were a disappointment in the 2002 World Cup as they had to bow out in the group stages. Portugal had automatically qualified for Euro 2004 by virtue of being hosts and were seen as a major title contender.

Led by 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year Luis Figo, the side boasted of many quality experienced players like Rui Costa and Pauleta along with a talented 19-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal’s Group consisted of Russia, Spain and Greece. However, Portugal began their Euro campaign with a 2-1 loss to underdogs Greece. The team later registered wins against Russia and Spain to set up a clash with England in the quarter-finals.

The quarter-final against England was a tightly contested match with England taking the lead in the 3rd minute through Michael Owen and Portugal equalising 7 minutes before time through Helder Postiga. The controversy came in the dying moments of the match when England defender Sol Campbell had a goal disallowed because John Terry had contacted goalkeeper, Ricardo. In extra time, Portugal took the lead through Rui Costa before Frank Lampard made it 2-2 five minutes before time. The score remained 2-2 after extra time and the match would be decided by a penalty shootout.

Portugal won the shootout 6-5 with goalie Ricardo saving from Darius Vassell and them scoring the final penalty himself to take Portugal to the semi-finals where they faced Netherlands. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Maniche gave the hosts a 2-1 victory and Portugal had qualified for its first major final where they would face group opponents Greece.

In spite of being beaten by Greece earlier, Portugal entered the match as favourites to win the trophy. The result was the same with Greece prevailing 1-0 courtesy of a header by Angelos Charisteas.

#4 West Germany,1988

West Germany could've won it all

West Germany were having a good run of form in the 1980s by winning Euro 1980 and being runners-up in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. West Germany were hosting the Euro 1988 and were considered heavy favourites to win it. Despite the team missing the services of Harald Schumacher and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the team had a good team led by Lothar Matthaus and had a number of stars like Rudi Voller, Andreas Brehme and Pierre Littbarski.

West Germany’s group consisted of Italy, Spain and Denmark. They began with a 1-1 draw against Italy which was followed by 2-0 wins over Denmark and Spain. Thus, West Germany won the group over Italy on goal difference and were up against fierce rivals Netherlands in the semi finals.

In their semi-final against the Dutch, West Germany took the lead through a Lothar Matthaus penalty in the 55th minute. The Netherlands equalised 19 minutes later through a Ronald Koeman penalty and their star striker Marco Van Basten ended West Germany’s Euro campaign by scoring the winner in the 88th minute.

Unlike the 1974 World Cup, this time Netherlands defeated West Germany in their own backyard.

#5 Netherlands, 2000

The Oranje had an incredible squad but terrible luck

After the Euro '88 triumph and Italia '90, a new generation of footballers braced national colours. This new team consisted of Phillip Cocu, Mark Overmars, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert, Jaap Stam, Frank de Boer, Ronald de Boer, Edwin van der Sar, Clarence Seedorf and Dennis Bergkamp.

This side made it to the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup and Euro '96 and made it to the semi-finals of the 1998 world cup. In 2000, Netherlands co-hosted the European Championships along with neighbours Belgium and were considered serious title contenders. However, the Dutch were without striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and were placed in a difficult group which was termed the 'Group of Death'. The group consisted of World Champions France, Euro '96 runners-up Czech Republic and Denmark.

The Dutch began their Group well with a 1-0 win over Czech Republic courtesy of a late penalty by captain Frank de Boer. This was followed by a convincing 3-0 win over Denmark which ensured their entry to the quarter-finals. In their final group game against France, Netherlands came from 2-1 down to win the match 3-2. In the quarter-finals, the Dutch would now face Yugoslavia whom they thrashed 6-1 with Patrick Kluivert scoring a hattrick and Marc Overmars scoring a brace.

The Oranje then faced Italy in the semi-finals. The Netherlands had a lot of chances in the match which they squandered in spite of Italy being down to 10 men. This included two penalty misses from Patrick Kluivert and Frank de Boer. The match ended 0-0 after regular and extra time and went to a penalty shootout. Italian goalkeeper Francesco Toldo saved 2 Dutch penalties as Italy won the shootout 3-1. Only Patrick Kluivert was able to convert his penalty. What was considered to be one of the greatest Dutch teams, they were quite close to repeat the scenes of celebration of 1988.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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