Upsets and shocks in football are pretty much the same thing by definition, but they mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people – often depending on which side of the upset you fall into. A few years back, there was an upset on the international football scale that very few folks saw coming.
The upset in question saw Greece win the European Championships back in 2004, and yes, we know that’s a bit more than a few years ago. Why did we bring it up? Because the nation they beat in the final was Portugal who, 12 years later, were able to orchestrate an upset of their own as they surprisingly defeated France in the final of UEFA Euro 2016. They had scratched and clawed their way to the final, picking up a title win that very few folks could’ve seen coming.
Overcoming the odds – again
People didn’t really think they’d be able to sustain it, but now, in the present day, they seem to be assembling a team that is more than capable of becoming a consistent power at the top of the international game. Case in point: as reported by The Guardian and BBC, Portugal won their second trophy in three years last night as they defeated the Netherlands in the final of the UEFA Nations League. Some people don’t think all too much about the Nations League and the ‘prestige’ surrounding it, but in truth, we think it was a pretty fun tournament. Portugal will obviously benefit from the morale boost that comes alongside winning a trophy of any kind, with one of the most exciting aspects of this being the crop of youngsters that are coming up through the ranks.
There seems to be a real blend of new talent and experienced stars within the Portuguese national team, and that’s the best possible position they could be in. Next year they are going to try and defend their European Championship title in the 2020 tournament, and given how much we’ve seen from the aforementioned ‘new blood’, we’d safely say that they’ll be one of the favourites now.
The clash of titans awaits
Of course, the likes of France, Germany, England, Belgium and the Netherlands (among others) will probably have something to say about that, but there’s no real pressure on their shoulders anymore. With two trophy wins in a three year span, this is quite easily one of the most successful periods for the team in a long, long time.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, should also be pretty confident about their future. They have gone from failing to qualify for two consecutive international tournaments to reaching the Nations League final, and that’s an impressive feat in itself. Ronald Koeman deserves a great deal of praise for being able to turn things around for the Dutch, and while he may not be the only driving force behind this resurgence, it’s just great to see a Netherlands team playing with this kind of confidence again.