With just the final remaining this weekend, EURO 2020 has come to an end and what a tournament it was. There was everything from comebacks, upsets, red cards, and even an extraordinary amount of 10 own goals scored. With that said, it is fun to reminisce about the past month of soccer and look back at the top five matches this far. This article was written on Wednesday, July 7, before the second semi-final.
Match #5: Portugal 2-2 France (Group Stage)
This was always going to be one of the biggest matches in the group stage.The 2016 EURO champions versus the 2018 World Cup champions. Cristiano Ronaldo ended up scoring two penalties and Karim Benzema ended up bagging two, a penalty and a goal off a brilliant pass from Paul Pogba. Matches involving two big nations often end up boring us when both sides do not want to risk a loss for a win, but this game had everything. Plenty and yellow cards and VAR checks lead to plenty of nervy, uneasy moments for both sides. This match confirmed that Portugal and France would both advance out of their group and into the knockout rounds.
Match #4: Germany 2-2 Hungary (Group Stage)
Hungary were written off in Group F, but managed to make the other three nations sweat in the group stages. This match was the perfect example of how Hungary played in this year’s tournament: fearless. They went up twice in this match, but both times squandered the lead to a much stronger German side. An 84’ goal from substitute Leon Goretzka secured Germany’s progression to the round of 16. It was a heartbreaking result from a Hungary team who should hold their heads high after this summer. A promising future is in store.
Match #3: Russia 1-4 Denmark (Group Stage)
It was a special night in Copenhagen for Denmark. They witnessed their captain collapse on the pitch in their first match, and then losing two matches in a row put them on the brink of elimination. The Danes put four away against Russia, including a beauty from Andreas Christensen, and secured their place in the knockout rounds. They made it all the way to semi-finals after the worst start to a tournament in history. What an achievement by this Denmark team.
Match #2 Croatia 3-5 Spain AET (Round of 16)
Goals are exciting and this match was just that. Croatia scored two in the final five minutes to make it 3-3 and required Spain to play 30 more minutes to move on. Álvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal both scored in extra-time and Spain would eventually move on to the quarter-finals. This match marked 10 goals in two matches for Spain and sent Croatia home early.
Match #1: France 3-3 Switzerland (Switzerland advance 5-4 on Penalties)
This round of 16 match was the most exciting match of the whole tournament. It featured goals, extra time, and a penalty shootout that sent France home early. Many reports of fighting in the stands between family members of some of the French players and now people questioning Didier Deschamps position as manager of France. Yann Sommer made eight saves in regulation and one in the shootout to help his nation advance to the next round.