Euro 2016 – It’s the Underdog’s Year which was made with Heart of Champions

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Euro 2016 ! Finally, the moment has arrived !! The lightning didn’t strike twice for France to become European champions once again !! France won the World Cup in 1998 on their home soil, also the European Championship. The look on the players’ faces and the fans’ tears told the story, what they had lost is almost unbearable for the French people. But the tears of the Portuguese players and their fans showed what they had achieved with the un-fanciest side their country has ever produced. Well Portugal might not be someone you call as an underdog but barring Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United reject Nani and Journeyman Quaresma, this isn’t a team who were expected to outrun the squad which had Figo, Deco, Rui Costa, Pauleta, Ricardo to name a few just a decade back.

Euro 2016 – It’s the year of Underdogs with ‘Hearts of Champions’

We pretty much knew from the start that France will attack from the word ‘go’ but what no one expected was how physical France would be. Portugal caught by surprise with the high-tempo aggressive play that Ronaldo could be forgiven for thinking he was playing the Champions league final with Athletico Madrid. Early in the first few minutes, Ronaldo fell down to a challenge from Payet to a chorus of boos. Maybe people thought he was play-acting but he went to the sidelines and got his knee strapped. Minutes later you could see the man fall down crying in agony, pretty sure even the French supporters didn’t expect this scene. Giving his Captain’s armband to Nani, it was pure agony for the Portuguese team and fans to see their CAPTAIN leaving the field in tears.

Instead of being the turning point with France taking control of the game, we saw the Portuguese play with the dogged mentality which has brought them this far. Whenever France got a scoring chance, Rui Patricio made sure he is playing his best game ever. Pepe and Fonte were immense, Rui Patricio brought out instinct saves which would have made Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas proud. Portugal played with the compact shape and had their own chances late in the game when a free-kick hit the crossbar and chances coming frequently with Eder as well.

But for all this, Who would have predicted Eder to score the winning goal? The odds remain the same as Leicester winning the English Premier League this year. The stadium erupted, the substitutes bench became empty as the entire Portuguese squad was on the field and the look on Ronaldo’s face with his knee still heavily strapped surely has been the scene you often see in Hollywood. This was absolute madness, David slaying Goliath again.

The final half of Extra time saw why this Portuguese team might not have the world’s best players but are extremely tough to beat, the ‘Die for my Team’ attitude which was brought out and with Ronaldo even taking Managing duties waving his hands, Jumping around with one knee [Probably aggravating his injury even more]. The team held on for the solitary strike of Eder. Though France bombarded, the castle could not be breached.

Final Whistle and the pandemonium of the Portugal fans and the players, the same anguished Ronaldo, two hours back was crying for different reasons, this time, he had finally achieved what people had kept telling he couldn’t. An International trophy with one of the most un-fanciest teams Portugal has ever produced.

Euro 2016 – It’s the year of Underdogs with ‘Hearts of Champions’

When the tournament started, Germany, Italy, Spain and even England and Belgium were considered favourites, but not Portugal. Maybe another Semi-final but to win? No way! How have they proved us wrong?

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This team has proved that you do not need World Class players to win and capture people’s thoughts, spare a thought for Wales, Iceland and both the Irish countries. This tournament will for sure not be remembered for how the big teams played or lost but how the small team’s and a bunch of underdogs played to their strengths and even embarrassed the big teams on many occasions. Maybe Iceland or Wales winning this Euro 2016 might have been the ultimate underdog story but don’t think many would have any complaints against this Portuguese team as well.

Euro 2016 ! The Tournament of the Underdogs! Cause this year, not only we did not get a traditional winner, but a whole new generation was introduced to football, not being the game of just the Elite.

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