Portugal look to avenge pain of Lisbon 2004

Portugal became the only host nation to lose a final when they were stunned by Greece at UEFA EURO 2004. Now they have the chance to inflict the same fate on France.

Cristiano Ronaldo after the 2004 final
Cristiano Ronaldo after the 2004 final ©Getty Images

Portugal will walk onto the Stade de France pitch as underdogs hoping to spoil the hosts' party – the opposite role to the one they had in the UEFA EURO 2004 final, when Greece broke a nation's heart by pulling off arguably the greatest shock in UEFA European Championship history.

EURO 2004 final highlights: Greece 1-0 Portugal
EURO 2004 final highlights: Greece 1-0 Portugal

There are only two surviving members from that night at the Estádio da Luz, Ricardo Carvalho and Cristiano Ronaldo, who aged 19 was left in tears at the full-time whistle, his side sunk by Angelos Christeas's second-half header.

Portugal had already been on the wrong end of a Greek surprise that summer, losing their opener 2-1 at the Estádio do Dragão. Luiz Felipe Scolari's team overcame that initial upset to beat Spain and Russia and win their group. By contrast, Greece scraped into the quarter-finals ahead of Spain on goals scored.

A penalty shoot-out victory against England and 2-1 success over the Netherlands earned Portugal a place in their first major final after plenty of near-misses, while Greece continued to defy the odds by beating holders France and knocking out the impressive Czech Republic.

Watch the best goals from EURO 2004
Watch the best goals from EURO 2004

The final
Even with that first defeat fresh in the memory, Portugal were overwhelming favourites on 4 July 2004, their line-up overflowing with talent, including five UEFA Champions League winners with Porto, inspirational captain Luís Figo and rising star Ronaldo. If that was not enough, coach Scolari had masterminded Brazil's FIFA World Cup triumph two years before.

The hosts had the better of the first half even though they struggled to pierce the rigid Greek defence, their best efforts coming from distant shots from Maniche, Pauleta and Miguel.

Greece had got this far by taking the few chances they had, however, and grabbed the lead before the hour, Christeas sandwiching himself between two defenders to nod in Angelos Basinas's corner to the delight of the Greek minority behind the goal.

Ronaldo: 'I've always dreamed of winning EURO'
Ronaldo: 'I've always dreamed of winning EURO'

Roared on by their supporters, Portugal upped their onslaught, but were unable to find a way through the Greece blockade, goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis a reliable last line of defence.

While the world was in awe at Greece's stunning achievement, entering the tournament as 80/1 outsiders, Portugal felt a sense of injustice after registering 16 shots to Greece's four. A dejected Scolari remarked: "It's hard to lose this way, to play so well and not score any goals."

This time around
Portugal have been compared to that Greece side for the manner in which they have reached this final, failing to win a game inside 90 minutes until ousting Wales in the semi-finals.

Ronaldo tells EURO2016.com France are the favourites
Ronaldo tells EURO2016.com France are the favourites

And while this Portuguese vintage contains Ronaldo and Pepe – European club champions just six weeks ago – and Renato Sanches, one of these finals' outstanding young players, their levels of mettle and determination evoke Otto Reggahel's miracle workers.

Insider knowledge
And in the 61-year-old Fernando Santos, who spent seven years in Greek domestic football and succeeded Rehhagel as Greece coach in 2010, they have a wily strategist who makes no apologies for his team's brand of football.

"We have our way of playing. We don't care if it's pretty or not," Santos stated after the Wales match. "We're not the best team in the world but we're no pushovers either."

Portugal's road to the 2016 final
Portugal's road to the 2016 final

With Santos's careful planning and Ronaldo's leadership, Portugal now have the opportunity to exorcise the ghosts of Lisbon 2004.

"EURO 2004 was special, I was just 18 [sic] and it was my first tournament," Ronaldo recalled.

"Now we are in the final again and we hope we will win it. The team deserve it, I deserve it and the fans deserve it. I hope at the end we'll be smiling and it will be tears of joy."

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