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Mixed fortunes for EURO hosts

Published: Friday 11 May 2012, 8.55CET
Home advantage can be beneficial in any tournament but it has not been as significant at UEFA European Championships as some might expect. UEFA.com recalls the successful hosts.
Mixed fortunes for EURO hosts
Dino Zoff recalls an "incredible atmosphere" at the sold-out Stadio San Paolo in Naples in 1968 ©UEFA.com
 
Published: Friday 11 May 2012, 8.55CET

Mixed fortunes for EURO hosts

Home advantage can be beneficial in any tournament but it has not been as significant at UEFA European Championships as some might expect. UEFA.com recalls the successful hosts.

Poland and Ukraine may have home advantage at UEFA EURO 2012 but, if history is anything to go by, they will have their work cut out to make it count. UEFA European Championship hosts have experienced contrasting fortunes since the tournament's inception in 1960 with only three nations triumphing on home soil and none since France in 1984. Portugal came closest to bucking that trend in 2004, losing out to Greece in the Lisbon final. The home nations' record is not much better at FIFA World Cups either, with hosts winning on just six out of 19 occasions. UEFA.com looks back at the three tournaments which saw the home nations taste success.

1964 UEFA European Championship – Spain
With the USSR keen to defend the title they won in France four years earlier, nearly 80,000 fans turned out at the Santiago Bernabéu to watch Spain wrestle the crown from the holders. José Villalonga's side were roared on by a vociferous home support and claimed their first major trophy courtesy of Marcelino's 84th-minute header. It was a feat that sparked jubilation in the stands and across the country with talismanic midfielder Luis Suárez attributing the triumph to a great team ethic as well as home comforts. "Other Spain sides that I played in were much better than the one we had in 1964 yet we never managed to achieve anything," he said. "We had great support from the Spanish people. The fans identified with us, maybe because we were a very young team willing to achieve something. That helped us a lot, it brought a lot of calm to the team, and they actually eased the pressure on us."

1968 UEFA European Championship – Italy
Holders Spain bowed out at the hands of England in the quarter-finals, leaving the door open for Italy to follow in their footsteps by lifting the trophy as final tournament hosts. The Azzurri required a little more good fortune than Spain, though, with the toss of a coin accounting for the USSR in the semi-finals in Naples. It was a unique occasion that goalkeeper Dino Zoff recalled fondly. "It was special for me because I was playing for SSC Napoli at that time," he said. "The atmosphere was incredible as the San Paolo was completely sold out." Italy came up against a resilient Yugoslavia in the final and had Angelo Domenghini to thank for earning them a replay. Ferruccio Valcareggi's charges triumphed at the second time of asking in Rome and, having won the FIFA World Cup in 1934, became the first side to claim both major international honours in front of their own fans.

1984 European Championship – France
Twenty years after Spain became the first side to be crowned European champions as the home nation, France replicated the feat. Captain Michel Platini was the star for Les Bleus, scoring his ninth goal of the finals – more than any other side struck let alone a single player – just before the hour mark in the showpiece against Spain at the Parc des Princes. "It was the first official title won by France in a team sport, so it was a great moment for French football and for French sport as a whole," said the former AS Nancy-Lorraine, AS Saint-Étienne and Juventus midfielder. "France had a very good tournament. We were superior to everybody and expressed ourselves on the pitch."

Last updated: 06/02/14 9.31CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/finals/history/memories/newsid=1761910.html#mixed+fortunes+euro+hosts

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