Top performances in the Euro 2020 tournament

Now that the Euro 2020 tournament has come to an end, it is time to look back on those nations that not only exceeded expectations on a global scale but also those who were perhaps coming into the tournament as minnows. These are those that did not advance far into the tournament and yet still managed to achieve their own success on an individual level. Below are five teams that arguably were some of the better performing sides in the Euros.

1. Italy

When discussing the top footballing nations it is difficult to miss out on including Italy. Winning four World Cups, The Olympics and now two European Championships which has earned them their place along side some of the greatest. Much of Italy’s success has to be credited to the role of Roberto Mancini. His and Italy’s philosophy is to build on the togetherness, passion and work rate of the squad as well as play good football which he has definitely been showing in the Euros.

Mancini took over the Italian side in May 2018. This was during a time when they were at their lowest after having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup for the first time since 1958. This was the consequence after losing their play-off against Sweden. Mancini transformed the way in which the Italians play as they change away from being defensive and play attacking football. Despite their defence (Bonucci and Chiellini)are remaining to be unbreakable having conceded only four goals. The midfield trio (Veratti, Jorginho and Barella) are leading the attacking play by creating chances for Insigne and Immobile upfront. Mancini has lead Italy to a Euros final and ended the 53 year wait of winning the trophy.

Italy’s Euro 2020 tournament began with a fairly easy group against Wales, Switzerland and Turkey. The group proved to be simple for Italy as they topped their group with victories in all fixtures. The Azzurri faced their first real challenge when they met Austria in the last 16. The game finished 0-0 after 90 minutes. Goals from Chiesa and Pessina came in extra time and look to secure Italy a place in the Quarter-finals . Despite Austria managing to score the game ended 2-1 and it was not enough to knock out the mighty gladiators.

Quarter and semi-final

Italy were to face Belgium in the Quarter final. The game highlighted the threat Italy have upfront as they show more clinical in the final third taking any chances they got with meaning. Suddenly, a goal from Barella opened up the scoreline for the Azzurri with a second from Insigne just before half time. However, Lukaku scored a penalty. The Semi-final tested the Italians mentality as they finish at a 1-1 draw with goals from Chiesa in the 60th minute with Morata equalising 20 minutes after. Early misses from Locatelli and Olmo level the playing field. Morata (Spain’s fourth penalty taker) misses a crucial kick and the winning penalty was hit by Jorginho who had sent Unai Simon the wrong way. Italy reached the final after beating Spain 4-2 on penalties.

The Azzurri celebrate as they beat Spain on penalties.

The final

Italy had reached the final and were one step closer to claiming the trophy. But before they could they had to face England. The game looked to go against the Italians as England were a goal up after two minutes from a shot by Shaw. England managed to maintain their lead as they headed into half time with a one goal lead. Hope was back in the minds of Italy as they equalised from a goal by Bonucci. The time began to tick away and the game turned to penalties! Any penalty shootout is like tossing a coin but with Italy’s previous fixture also being decided via a shootout it is fair to say Italy were more confident out of the two teams.

Italy were to take the penalties first. Berardi, Bonucci and Bernadeschi all scored for Italy with Belotti and Jorginho missing. Whereas for England Maguire and Kane converted their penalties but Rashford, Sancho and Saka were less lucky.

Italy become Euro 2020 champions

2. England

The Three Lions will be looking to improve on their disappointing exit in the 2018 world cup as they lost 2-1 against Croatia in the Semi-finals. Together with the exceptional talent of the squad and the unity they will be hoping to bring home England’s first major title since they won the World Cup in 1966. Much pressure hangs on the shoulders of these players but each one has been a part of success with their clubs.

England had to manoeuvre their way out of a tricky group which perhaps contributed to a cautious start. This began to stir up some criticism of Southgate’s approach. Noticeably, the 0-0 draw against Scotland and the lack of creativity on the field especially with some of their best players not being given many minutes, such as Sancho, Rashford and Grealish.) This may be because England are looking to be strong at the back and not concede many goals which worked. As England topped the top of their group without conceding a goal with a draw vs Scotland and beating Croatia and Czech Republic 1-0.

In the light of reaching the last 16, England will have to face one of their deadliest rivals. Germany! Football rivalries do not get bigger than this as decades of history portray the sweat, blood and tears that this fixture holds. As well as heartbreaks on penalties. Although this may be true England’s fixture versus Germany in the Euro 2020 will be in the minds of fans forever for something different. Success. Raheem Sterling continued to show why he was the main man for England’s drive in the matches as he broke the deadlock. Moments after, Captain Harry Kane scored his first goal in the Euro 2020 campaign.

The full time whistle blew, England had beat Germany

Quarter and Semi-Finals

As a result the win over Germany was the first time England had beat them in a knockout stage in 55 years and meant that they were through to the quarter finals. Next, England were to meet Ukraine in the quarter-finals. After scoring his first goal of the tournament Kane grew in confidence scoring two, Maguire scored a header and Jordan Henderson finally scored his first goal for the Three Lions. Arguably, one of the most nerving games was still to come as England face Denmark in the Semi final, The Three lions are behind as Damsgaard scores a stunning free-kick. Not long after, Denmark’s captain Simon Kjaer scored an own goal which brought England level. After extra time England are through to the final after a goal from Kane.


England made it to the final and face Italy. Things were in favour of the Three lions as a strike from Shaw gave England the lead after two minutes and they looked to be slowly heading over the line but England began to decrease the pressure they put on Italy as they lost possession of the ball in vital areas and were unable to regain it, encouraging Italy to take any chances they got. 67 minutes had gone and Bonucci scored crushing the hopes of many England fans. Soon the time ran out and penalties approached, unfortunately, Rashford, Sancho and Saka were unable to convert their shots and England lost 3-2 against Italy.

England prepare to take their penalties


Denmark fans could not have ever imagined the roller coaster of emotions they were about to embark on before the Euro 2020 opening group game against Finland. As tragedy struck with teammate Christian Eriksen collapsing on the pitch suffering from a Cardiac arrest and was later taken to hospital. A controversial call by UEFA resulted in the second half of the match to resume just moments after the team were aware he was stable in hospital. Manager, Kasper Hjulmand praises the support of the fans as the players continue to play and he later described his players as “Ghosts running around the pitch”.

As the future of Christian Eriksen’s career seems a blur with some cardiologist saying he may never be able to play football again, the football world can only hope that this will not be the last time we see him in participate in international football as it would be great to see him in the dugout for the World Cup in 18 months. Although it was a upsetting to lose Eriksen that early into the tournament it can be argued that the uncertainty regarding their best player caused the unity of the squad to grow in strength leading to much more determination to advance to the end of the tournament.

Eriksen stable in hospital

Group stages and the last 16

After their defeat to Finland and the defeat in the following match against Belgium which resulted in a 2-1 with goals from Thorgan Hazard and De Bruyne after being a goal in front in the second minute due to a strike from Poulsen, the Danes soon picked up in form as they won the next two fixtures back to back scoring four goals in each. The remaining fixture in the group stage versus Russia saw Denmark’s first victory as they won 4-1 which caused the team to grow in confidence as they prepared to face Wales in the knockout stages. Once again the Danes did not seem fearful of a challenge as they struck 4 goals past the Welsh side and manged to keep a clean sheet.

The Denmark starting XI which were victorious over Wales

Quarter and Semi-final

As a consequence of the Victory against Wales, Denmark headed to Azerbaijan where they were to play the Czech Republic in the Baku Olympic Stadium. The Danes shown desire as they maintained a two goal lead with goals from Delaney in the fifth minute and added another just before half-time from Dolberg keeping a strong lead as they headed into half-time. Given that Denmark were leading, the Czech Republic had to score which they did as a goal came from Schick but it was not enough to stop Denmark going through.

England stood between Denmark and the final of the Euro 2020 tournament and the Danes could not have had a better start as a free kick went in from Damsgaard in the 30th minute giving Denamark the lead. In spite of this, captain Simon Kjaer later scored an own goal levelling the score before Harry Kane scored a later winner due to a rebound after the penalty was saved by Schmeichel. Even though, Denmark’s Euro 2020 hopes ended their it is important to acknowledge the bravery of the squad as they united the footballing world showing the true meaning of being a team.

Denmark team applauding fans after they exit the Euros.


The History of success for Ukraine in the Euros is one that fans would rather forget. In the previous six tournaments they did not qualify for four and did not make it out of the group stages in two so their achievement to get to a quarter -final this year excelled expectations.

Ukraine began the Euro group stages with a 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands and won the last two fixtures against North Macedonia 2-1 and Austria 1-0. Next they will meet Sweden in the last 16. Originally, the result of the game was to end in a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes but Ukraine got though after extra time with Sweden’s Danielson got a red card and a goal from Dovbyk earns them a place in the Quarter-final.

Ukraine leave Hampden Park to face England in the Quarter-finals.

As they prepare to face England in the Quarter-final they could not imagine what is lurking around the corner as Ukraine are about to suffer their heaviest defeat in Euro history at the hands of the England team as they lost 4-0.

5. North Macedonia

Deciding to include North Macedonia in a list of the best performing teams in the Euros may be bizarre as they fail to make it out of the group stages after losing all three of their games but in the history of the North Macedonia football team this is hailed a success as they secured qualification in the Euros via the play offs. Earning, them their debut at a major international tournament.


Overall the set up of Euro 2020 tournament was a success as fans are able to travel and support their country in stadiums after a difficult 18 months with the pandemic which show that life is slowly beginning to head back to what may be considered as normal. As well as that, football is able to bring joy to many nations world wide as they all came to a halt as life is put on hold in an attempt to decrease the loss of lives due to Covid. On the other hand, an alternative argument may be that having multiple countries hosting the Euros had an unfair advantage as some teams were travelling further to compete, giving teams a home advantage with fans.

Author: Stacey Marsh

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