Euro 2004: Final (Portugal 0 – Greece 1)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
July 5th, 2004 • 12:16 am

There are basically two ways to review what’s just happened in the 2004 edition of the European Championships competition.

On the one hand, it could probably be argued that the Greeks have devalued the competition, that they have ruined the entertainment by sticking to an ultra-defensive approach that goes against the very spirit of the game. And their success will also encourage more people at all levels of competition to favour a similar approach, which could very well destroy the entertaining value of football for many years to come.

On the other hand, you can also analyse Greece’s victory as a triumph of team spirit over flamboyant egotism, of hard work and discipline over unpredictable flashes of brilliance, of underrated collective play over overrated individual talent, of underdogs over favourites, etc.

From a neutral point of view, the net result of what happened in Portugal this year is probably a negative one, because it was also a victory of grit over elegance, of discipline over inventiveness — and there is little doubt that elegance and inventiveness have a higher value in terms of pure entertainment.

What is comforting about all this, however, is that all these things are cyclic. Now that the Greeks have achieved what they have achieved, the egos of some players will become inflated, some of them will become overrated as individual players, move on to greener pastures, get spoiled by success, money, etc. — and the Greek national team will be just as unlikely to repeat the same feat as other teams will be to be able to emulate them with their own groups of players and coaching staff.

In football, the pendulum will never stop swinging between collective grit and individual elegance, and that will keep the game interesting for many more years.

2 Responses to “Euro 2004: Final (Portugal 0 – Greece 1)”

  1. Matthew Gardan says:

    I felt the same way Pierre, that Greece did ruin the comp a bit, their tactic was to stop other teams from developing their own style during a game. But then someone rightly mentioned that France won the 98 world cup with a similar ultra-defensive style.

    Ok ok they didn’t man mark, but they certainly weren’t the attacking powerhouse they were ‘supposed’ to be at this comp.

    For me a dream final would have been Portugal v Chezc Rep easily the two most beautifully entertaining teams all comp.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    I don’t remember the France 98 team playing ultra-defensive football, but then I’m biased and it was 6 years ago now :). It’s true that they didn’t have any great, flamboyant strikers, but they did have Zizou!

    Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge now, as they say… What’s really important is that the pendulum keeps swinging! Part of me is still concerned that big money (read: Chelsea and Real Madrid) might spoil the fun, but then money hasn’t managed to completely ruin the game so far, so there’s hope.

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