Sunday 22 April 2018

Why victory in Sunday’s Euro 2012 final would make Spain the greatest ever

FOLLOWING their Euro 2012 semi-final penalty shoot-out victory over Portugal yesterday, Spain - the Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 champions - are still on course to become the first team in history to win three major international tournaments in a row, with the World Cup as part of the treble. Here, wet looks at other sides that have tried and failed to complete such a feat.

WEST GERMANY (1976 European Championship)

The Germans went into the Euros in Yugoslavia as defending champions and having also won the 1974 World Cup, staged in their own country. For a third successive time they made a final, taking on Czechoslovakia, but after falling 2-0 behind early on and then pulling two goals back to take the game to penalties, they were undone in the shoot-out, losing 5-3 as Antonin Panenka produced a nerveless chip to win it for the Czechs and set the template for Andrea Pirlo and Sergio Ramos to follow.

ARGENTINA (1994 World Cup)

Argentina had a hat-trick in their sights at the World Cup in the United States having won the 1991 and 1993 Copa America titles, but after suffering the blow of Diego Maradona being sent home for failing a drugs test, the South Americans - having only finished third in their group - were eliminated in the round of 16 with a 3-2 defeat to Romania.

FRANCE (2002 World Cup)

After savouring the glory of winning the 1998 World Cup on home turf and then following it up with the Euro 2000 title, Les Bleus came crashing back down to earth at the tournament in Japan and South Korea, finishing bottom of their group having suffered defeats to Senegal and Denmark either side of a goalless draw with Uruguay.

BRAZIL (2006 World Cup)

It was Brazil who eventually won the World Cup in the Far East and two years later they added a Copa America title, but their hopes of a treble were then dashed in Germany as they cruised to the quarter-finals, only to be beaten 1-0 by the French in the last eight thanks to a goal from Thierry Henry.

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