The Most Disappointing Teams in the Last Four European Championships

European Championships
European Championships

Every four years, the biggest football nations in Europe go head-to-head in a bid to lift the trophy at the European Championships. It’s a tournament that’s no stranger to drama, heartache, and upsets. But for some, it’s not just a case of falling short of their ultimate goal, it’s a case of failing miserably. 

For every Greece in 2004 and Russia in 2008, there are the Germany’s and Italy’s of two decades ago. For the former of those two, their performances were so bad that they forced the DFB to completely revamp football in the country due to fears that they would never compete at the highest level again. While those implemented transformations would lead Die Mannschaft to the FIFA World Cup in 2014, a decade on from their finest hour, they are once again in the mire. 

They have suffered back-to-back group stage exits at the FIFA World Cup and next summer’s European Championships, which they are hosting, serve as the perfect backdrop to get themselves back on track. They have been made the +650 third favourites for glory by Bovada live betting odds, behind back-to-back World Cup finalists France and beaten finalists three years ago England. The Germans will be hoping that they can find the kind of form that led them to the final in 2008, rather than ending up like these four, who disappointed all en route to an early exit. 

Euro 2008 – France

In 2008, France went into the tournament as one of the favourites. With a squad that featured the likes of Thierry Henry, Franck Ribery, and Nicolas Anelka, they reached the World Cup final just two years prior and were expected to go far. However, they failed miserably to live up to expectations. 

After a 0-0 draw with Romania in their opening game, they were thumped 4-1 by the Netherlands thanks to goals from Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. That set up an all-or-nothing clash against Italy in the final group game but unfortunately for Les Bleus, just like in Berlin two years prior, they were defeated. Midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi scored the goals that sent the Azzurri through to the last eight and the French packing. 

Euro 2012 – Netherlands

In 2012, the Netherlands went into the tournament with high hopes. They had reached the final of the 2010 World Cup and although they were defeated by Andres Iniesta’s last-gasp winner in Johannesburg, they were looking to build on their success. Alarm bells were immediately sounding when they were drawn into the group of death alongside Germany and Portugal. But it was their shocking opening-day defeat against Denmark that left the Oranje looking like a shadow of the side that had reached the showpiece fixture two years earlier. 

Robben and van Persie were expected to lead the line just as they had done at their last two major tournaments however, they were simply unable to compete with the more illustrious sides in the group. They were beaten by Germany in their second game courtesy of a Mario Gomez brace but they could still qualify for the second round if they defeated Portugal in Kharkiv. And it looked as though they might do exactly that when former Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart gave them the lead. But a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo was enough to secure the victory for the Portuguese and send the Dutch home. 

Euro 2016 – England

At Euro 2016, England arrived in France with a young, exciting team hopeful of leaving a lasting impression. With the likes of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, and Marcus Rashford in their squad, they were expected to go far. However, draws in the group stage against Russia and Slovakia meant that they had to settle for being runners-up to rivals Wales. 

That set up a second-round tie with lowly Iceland and the Three Lions were heavily expected to progress. When captain Wayne Rooney gave his side an early lead from the penalty spot, it looked like everything was under control. But by the 18th minute, the Icelandics had taken the lead courtesy of goals from Ragnar Sigurðsson and Kolbeinn Sigþórsson. And once they had the lead, the Vikings never looked like losing. 

Euro 2020 – Turkey

At the most recent European Championships, Turkey arrived in the tournament with a squad that was full of promise. With the likes of Caglar Soyuncu, Hakan Calhanoglu, and Burak Yilmaz in their side, they were expected to mount a serious challenge. They defeated France at home and drew with them in Paris en route to qualifying for the tournament, and they were considered by many to be the dark horses for the trophy. 

However, they were outclassed in all three of their group games despite having plenty of home support courtesy of playing two of their games in neighbouring Azerbaijan. They were thumped 3-0 by eventual champions Italy in the tournament’s opening game in Rome. Goals from Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts then consigned them to a 2-0 defeat to 2016 semifinalists Wales, before losing their final game by three goals to one against Switzerland. 


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