06/08/2021 at 7:11 PM CEST
No Portuguese had yet forgotten in 2016 what happened at the European Championship held in their country twelve years earlier. Impossible to forget such a hurtful defeat. Never before Portugal it had been so close to achieving a title again, nor was it in the years after the edition held in France.
Portugal reached the European Championship without being one of the candidates, despite having Cristiano Ronaldo in their footballing prime, but they ended up being for the French what Greece was for them in 2004. The UEFA completely changed the format and opened the doors to more selections. A total of 24 countries they went to the appointment, where there was five debutants: Albania, Slovakia, Welsh, Iceland and North Ireland, and all but the firsts advanced from the first round.
Portugal had a lot of trouble advancing the group stage. They barely added three draws in three games, and were classified thanks to the modification of the UEFA that allowed the four best third parties to pass to eighth. Cristiano Ronaldo he set himself up as a hero of Portugal with his double before Hungary in the last game, where the Iberians were very close to being eliminated.
In eighths they got rid of Croatia in extra time with a late goal Quaresma and in the quarterfinals they beat on penalties Poland. The only triumph of the Portuguese in the tournament in the regulation 90 minutes came in the semifinals. The combined of Fernando Santos the faces were seen with the surprising Welsh from Gareth Bale, who was one step away from the final in his first appearance at a European Championship. In the final I expected France, with everything ready to celebrate in Saint-Denis before his fans.
Despite a somewhat hesitant start in terms of the game, in the qualifying rounds ‘Les Bleus’ had shown why they were one of the clear favorites to take the title beyond being the hosts. But Portugal was very aware of the 2004 European Championship. The Portuguese carried out an endurance exercise throughout the tournament that had turned them into a very rocky and mentally strong block. Not even the injury of Christian at the start of the game after a clash with Payet made the Portuguese wall totter.
The minutes went by and Portugal was playing with the environmental pressure on France, just as Greece did with them twelve years before. The Gauls had the title in a shot of Gignac who ran into the stick just before extra time. In extra time, the Portuguese team gave a step forward, taking advantage of France’s fear of losing, and then appeared another unexpected hero in the history of the Eurocup.
Just like Panenka, Vilfort, Bierhoff or Charisteas did, Éder he scored the winning goal for his team and emerged as the decisive player against all odds. He had barely had prominence throughout the tournament, but he forever entered the history of Portuguese football and that squad, which finally achieved the first international title for Portugal.