Shutterstock/Kostas Koutsaftikis

The 2004 European Championships will go down in history for one of the greatest sporting upsets that ever took place. Greece won the competition despite having odds of 150-1 at the beginning of the tournament. How they did it was a masterclass in tactics and team play as well as a little good fortune.

Looking back at 2004 many teams were in transition. The England time was passing over the reigns from past to future heroes as Beckham was winding down his career and Rooney came into the spotlight. Spain was continuing to struggle at international tournaments despite having a wealth of quality. France would go on to be runner up in the 2006 world cup and was the winner in the 2000 euros but could not get past the quarter-finals in 2004. The Italian and Dutch teams too did not progress as far as they hoped. Portugal as hosts of the tournament was tipped to do well and indeed made it to the finals but could not defeat the stubborn Greeks.

The Portugal team had a new star in the making as Ronaldo had made his debut just before the tournament and scored his first goal for Portugal in the opening game against Greece. When they met again in the final Ronaldo failed to get on the score sheet.

It appears then that Greece was fortunate that they did not have to compete with any international teams in full maturity. To say that their win was just good fortune though, would be a disservice. The Greek team was a well-organized unit that was able to stifle teams that had more creativity. They had strong physical players and were always difficult to deal with during set-pieces. 

In the final game itself, Greece won 1-0 against Portugal. Greece recorded one shot on target and scored one goal. It showed efficiency. Portugal took 17 shots in total with 5 on target and had almost 60% possession. As in many games before the Greek team stood firm and repelled any onslaught that came their way. The 150-1 hopefuls became European champions.