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Teams With the Most Runner-Up Finishes in EURO History

Rahul Naresh Rahul Naresh

In the history of the EURO Cup, every fan knows that Germany has won the tournament for the most number of times along with Spain as both the teams have won the trophy thrice. But do you know Which team has been the most frequent runner-up in the EURO Cup finals, having lost the tournament the most times after reaching the final match? Even though they made it all the way to the big final several times, these teams experienced the disappointment of coming so close but not winning the trophy in the end. Well, this is what we are going to answer today as we will be looking at the teams that have ended up as the Runners-Up in the EURO Cup for the most number of times. 

1. Germany – 3 Times

Germany has been one of the best teams in the history of the EURO Cup football tournament. They have won the championship 3 times, which is the most by any country. But Germany has also finished as the runner-up, or second place, 3 times – which is also a record. Germany won the EURO Cup in 1972, 1980, and 1996. During those years, they played amazing football and gave fans many great moments to remember. Their victories showed they were the kings of the European Championship. However, Germany has also experienced heartbreak at the EURO Cup finals 3 times – in 1976, 1992, and 2008. 

In 1976, they lost to Czechoslovakia in a penalty shootout, with the score 5-3 on penalties. Then in 1992, they were beaten 2-0 by Denmark in the final. In 2008, Germany suffered another 1-0 defeat, this time against Spain in the championship match. So while Germany has triumphed at the EURO Cup more than any other nation with 3 titles, they have also felt the sting of losing in the final 3 times. No other team has been the runner-up more than 3 times as Germany at this major tournament.

2. Russia – 3 Times

After Germany, the national team that has played the most EURO Cup finals is Russia. They have been a consistent team in this tournament. Russia won the very first EURO Cup back in 1960, but since then, they have struggled to lift the trophy again. Russia has made it to the EURO Cup final a record 4 times. However, they have only won the championship once, which was that inaugural 1960 edition. The other 3 times Russia reached the final, they ended up losing and finished as the runner-up. In 1964, Russia was the defending EURO Cup champion, but they lost 2-1 to Spain in the final match. 

This was a big disappointment for them. Then in 1972, West Germany defeated Russia 3-0 in the championship game. The most recent time Russia lost in the EURO Cup final was in 1988. They were beaten 2-0 by the Netherlands in that year’s title match. So 1988 marked the 3rd occasion where Russia made it all the way to the final but could not win the European Championship. Overall, while Russia tasted glory by winning the inaugural 1960 EURO Cup, they have suffered heartbreak in the finals 3 other times (1964, 1972, 1988). 

3. Italy – 2 Times

Italy is coming into the EURO 2024 tournament as the defending champions. They have been one of the best teams in this competition, having won the European Championship twice before – in 1968 and 2021. However, just like their two victories, Italy has also experienced the disappointment of losing in the EURO Cup final twice. In 2000, Italy made it to the championship match but lost 2-1 against France. Missing out on the title was a major setback for the Italian team after reaching the final. Then in 2012, Italy suffered an even more humiliating defeat in the EURO Cup final, getting crushed 4-0 by Spain.

So while Italy has tasted success by winning the European Championship twice, they have also felt the bitter sting of failure in the final match on two occasions. Those losses in 2000 and 2012 were huge letdowns for the Italian national team and their fans after making it all the way to the tournament’s last game. No team wants to lose in a major final, especially by a lopsided 4-0 scoreline like Italy endured against Spain in 2012. Those kinds of defeats in the biggest game of the competition are extremely difficult to swallow.

4. Yugoslavia – 2 Times

Yugoslavia was a national team that no longer exists today, as the country broke up into several independent nations. However, back when they competed in the EURO Cup tournament, Yugoslavia made it to the final twice within the first three editions but failed to win the championship on both occasions. In the very first EURO Cup in 1960, held in France, Yugoslavia reached the final match. However, they lost 2-1 against the Soviet Union. This defeat was a tough one for Yugoslavia to swallow, as they came so close to being the inaugural European champions.

Then, in the 1968 edition of the tournament, Yugoslavia made it to the final again. This time, their opponents were Italy. After the match ended in a 1-1 draw, it went to a penalty shootout to decide the winner. Unfortunately for Yugoslavia, Italy prevailed 2-0 in the penalties to claim the EURO title. So in the first three EURO Cup tournaments from 1960 to 1968, Yugoslavia reached the final twice but could not capture the championship trophy. 

5. Spain, France, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and England – 1 Time

In the 16 editions of the EURO Cup so far, there have been different winners of the tournament. This also means there have been different runner-up teams who lost in the final match. Some national teams have finished as the runner-up only once in the history of the European Championship. These one-time runner-up teams include Spain, France, Portugal, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic), Belgium, and England. In 1980, Belgium lost 2-1 to Germany in the EURO final. Four years later in 1984, Spain suffered a 2-0 defeat against France in the championship match.

In 1996, Czechoslovakia was the runner-up, losing 2-1 to Germany in the final. Portugal made it to the 2004 EURO Cup final but lost 1-0 to Greece. France was on the losing end in 2016, beaten 1-0 by Portugal in the title game. The most recent team to finish as the one-time runner-up was England in 2020. They made it all the way to the EURO 2020 final against Italy but lost 3-2 in a dramatic penalty shootout after the match ended tied.

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Rahul Naresh

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