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EURO 2024: Review of Eliminated Teams from Quarter Finals

After we reviewed the tournaments of Slovenia, Georgia, Belgium and Denmark – who all made it to the Last 16 but were eliminated in the knock-outs, it’s time to delve into the journeys of the other teams that fell short during the tournament’s earlier stages. This review is slightly more dramatic, highlighting the highs and lows of their campaigns.

Romania: Surprising Sparks and Defensive Lapses

Romania emerged as one of the surprises of the tournament. While Ukraine was expected to elevate their game in the group stages, especially with Artem Dovbyk, La Liga’s top scorer, in their ranks, the Romanians had other plans.

Their opening game was a 3-0 explosion against Ukraine, showcasing a vibrant and entertaining style of play. Although the rest of their games weren’t as eventful, Romania maintained a reputation as an engaging and competitive side.

Absent from EURO 2020, it was refreshing to see them play relatively well in the group stages. However, their lack of defensive solidity, with the notable exception of Tottenham’s Drăgușin, ultimately led to their downfall in the Last 16.

The Netherlands used their defensive lack of organization, a common pitfall for underdog teams facing quality opposition. The match ended with a 3-0 victory for the Netherlands, as Romania failed to stop Donyell Malen and Cody Gakpo.

Austria: A Rollercoaster of Emotions

Austria was one of the surprising teams at EURO 2024. Initially expected to play the underdog role, the Austrians, led by Ralf Rangnick, topped their group, which included the Netherlands, France, and Poland. 

The 1-0 defeat to France highlighted their lack of creativity, but they bounced back in a thrilling 3-2 victory against the Netherlands, demonstrating their ability to invite chaos into their games. Moreover, they also secured a 2-1 win against Poland, which further cemented their top position in the group.

Expectations were positive ahead of the knock-out phase, as the Last 16 witnessed an epic clash between Austria and Turkey. This was one of the rare times Austria dominated possession (58%), but the team didn’t know what to do with it. 

The match exposed Austria’s offensive weaknesses, despite Christoph Baumgartner being the main creative force, with some assistance from Marcel Sabitzer.

Austria remains ‘too robotic’ to be the classical underdog – They were overwhelmed by the passionate Turkish fans, resulting in a timid performance from the Austrians.

They must show a better offensive performance if they want to progress further in future tournaments. While defensively solid, their inability to effectively utilize possession is a significant drawback. This is food for thought for Rangnick. 

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Slovakia: A Story of Grit and Determination

Slovakia surprised the football world with a stunning 1-0 victory against Belgium. Although their subsequent games might have not been as brilliant, they still managed to finish with four points in the group stages, matching every other team in their group.

Anchored by Napoli’s Stanislav Lobotka, Slovakia proved to be a threatening side, even for favourites like England. In the Last 16 clash against the English, Slovakia led for most of the game. Only a last-minute bicycle kick from Jude Bellingham prevented Slovakia from advancing to the quarterfinals. 

This is particularly impressive as Slovakia was, on paper, one of the weaker sides of the tournament. However, they defied expectations by showcasing a high technical level and playing with remarkable clarity.

It was a recurring theme to see Lobotka launch his partners on the wings, while the team could also use the inside channels with third-man runs to distract their markers. Slovakia showed Europe what it means to play to your strengths – and capitalize on them effectively.

Despite their elimination against England, Slovakia left a lasting impression on fans – which is probably the most important here. Nothing from their campaign would have indicated they would have become this impressive, and they didn’t go down without a fight. Kudos to coach Francesco Calzona and the team for an unforgettable run.


Italy makes the case for one of the most awkward trajectories. Historically a footballing powerhouse, Italy always enters tournaments as favorites. Their rich history and trophy-laden past speak volumes. However, the Azzurri’s recent form has been anything but consistent, having failed to qualify for the last two World Cups.

Many of us (including myself) thought that the EURO 2020 victory signalled the comeback of Italian excellency. They do have excellent players, after all – Federico Chiesa, Manuele Locatelli, and Gianluigi Donnarumma, just to name a few. However, it remains insufficient. 

Locatelli was surprisingly not among the selected group going to Germany – the reasons remain unknown to this day. The renowned coach Luciano Spalletti, who led Napoli to a Serie A title, made several puzzling decisions throughout the tournament.

Italy’s only “good” display came against Albania, securing a 2-1 victory. Despite navigating the so-called “Group of Death,” Italy advanced largely due to fortuitous moments. They were completely outplayed by Spain in a 1-0 loss and were tactically outmaneuvered by Croatia, managing to avoid elimination only through a last-minute goal. The warnings were clear: significant changes were needed.

Paired with their neighbour Switzerland in the Last 16, the Italians appeared helpless, as Switzerland found not one, but two goals, while Italy lacked the character to fight back. 

The disparity between the team’s potential and their performances is baffling. The full-backs particularly suffered, and Spalletti failed to leverage the team’s strengths. This stands in stark contrast to his successful tenure with Napoli, casting doubt on Italy’s future prospects.

Riccardo Calafiori, the Bologna center-back, emerged as a rare bright spot. His standout performances provided Italy with crucial defensive solidity and positional advantages from deep.

Calafiori is arguably the only player on the team who stood out during the tournament, which says a lot, given he’s a center-back. 

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