Greece’s euro 2004 win is one of the greatest sporting upsets to ever take place. The team did not qualify for any Euro competitions from 1984 to 2000. Their first European tournament in twenty years was Euro 2004. The team did manage to qualify for the World Cup in 1994 but aside from that had not featured in a world cup ever before and in that tournament went out in the group stages. Greece was arriving at the tournaments as hot favorites to place absolutely nowhere. Their victory changed the face of the sport forever.
At a time when the French team had players like Henry, Pires and Zidane and Portugal had Luis Figo, Gomes and a young Ronaldo it seemed like the final was already decided. The tournament was to be hosted in Portugal and France were the heavyweights. It would be a battle of pride in their country versus the heavy hitters. The first game was Portugal versus Greece. A routine game that should have been an easy victory for Portugal and set them up for the rest of the tournament. That is not what happened.
Greece defeated Portugal 2-1 and sent shockwaves through Portugal, Greece and the rest of Europe. However, whatever hope Greece had after they qualified from the groups was expected to die out quickly. They were to come up against France in the quarter-finals. The Greek team won 1-0 another upset was recorded.
By now Greece was no longer an underdog. It had no star names but was clearly tough to beat. Yet in the semis, it was to come up against a tough physical team in the Czech Republic. Again people assumed Greece would go no further, again Greece showed the world. In the final, Greece met Portugal again and recorded another 1-0 victory.
The manager of Greece, Otto Rehhagel was a great tactician and disciplinarian. He knew how to set up a team to fight against superior opponents. He went with five at the back in the majority of games for Greece with defensive midfielders sitting in front. Essentially he packed the Greek half and let no opposition team the space to create or penetrate. This tactic set the way for many negative tactics to appear in club football, with Jose Mourinho likely the most popular ambassador.
However, Greece has failed to do well in any of the tournaments since 2004 and many feel that football has now found a way to tackle the block defense. The rise of managers like Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are very much in the anti negative football sense.