In similar fashion to Denmark and Greece before them, Portugal shocked Europe after winning their first European Championship.
It was a victory that has received a lot of criticism. With a third-place finish in Group F and just a single victory in normal time, many believe A Seleção das Quinas not to be worthy winners. But it was a tournament that was open to the shock. Heading into the tournament, no team looked streets above any other, and that was evident when the tournament kicked off.
France may feel like it was their divine right to claim it on home soil, although the only occasions they looked at their best were in their quarterfinal and semifinal victories over Iceland and Germany. In the final, they looked far from a team that would be crowned European Champions. Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann, who had practically dragged them to this stage, were anonymous throughout. When the big chances fell their way, Griezmann and André-Pierre Gignac were unable to convert.
Instead it was Premier League flop Éder who won the tournament for his team. They may not have been the best side at the tournament but Portugal did what was necessary to win. In the group stages they were underwhelming but they managed to do what was required against Hungary to progress – fully taking advantage of the new format of the tournament.
In the knockout round they never showed anything outstanding but they never looked as though they would be beaten in any game. They made Croatia, a side that looked like a potential champion, look ordinary. In the win over Poland, they proved they had nerves of steel with a penalty shootout victory. Again, Poland did not give enough to win after they failed to build on Robert Lewandowski’s opener.
In the semifinal, their only win in normal time, they did not let the Wales hype get to them and did a professional job to get to the final. In the final they took their chances to win the tournament, unlike France. It was as simple as that.
Perhaps it was an undeserved tournament win but they never had any major decision in their favour. Every team that faced them was not good enough to beat them. Star player Ronaldo may not have lit the tournament on fire but he stepped up when required to do so.
Portugal’s victory is proof football is a changing game. It is no longer a given that teams will win if they keep possession and simply have the best players. It is all about how productive you are with the ball. In the end, Portugal proved they were one of the most productive sides in the tournament.