In order not to be embarrassed at the Euros, Georgia has to do only one thing: score a goal in the tournament! Source: Georgian Football Federation /
In order not to be embarrassed at the Euros, Georgia has to do only one thing: score a goal in the tournament! Source: Georgian Football Federation /

EURO 2024 | Debutant Georgia has a bar to cross

EURO OlyBet 13.06.2024

This year, Georgia will be the 36th country to have participated in the European Football Championship finals. Although getting there is a mighty achievement, they can’t exactly rest on their laurels, because the expectations set by previous debutants at the Euros, are high.

Most of the previous debutants have scored a goal in the final tournament and also gotten a point. OlyBetTV takes a look at how previous debutants have fared.

Who is a debutante?

Before we get down to business though, we need to establish – who is the debutante? If the Euros took off in 1960, were the four teams there debutants? De facto yes, but in terms of common sense, not really.

What about 1980, when the number of finalists was increased from four to eight and subgroups were introduced? It sounds a little more logical, but something seems off here too, considering that before that only four European teams had anything to do with the Euros.

Thus, we arbitrarily decided to take the year 1996 as the starting point, when for the first time only 16 teams entered the Euros final tournament and were divided into four subgroups.

1996 Euros – Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland, Turkey

Under the leadership of Hristo Stoichkov, who was voted the best footballer in the world two years earlier, Bulgaria started strongly, first drawing 1:1 with Spain and then defeating Romania 1:0 thanks to the goals of the former FC Barcelona striker. However, they remained in the subgroup, because in the last round the Bulgarians had to admit the superiority of France 3:1.

Bulgaria: 3rd place in Group B with 4 points (D, L, W), goal difference 3:4.

Under the leadership of Davor Šuker, who blossomed in the Spanish Premier
League, Croatia immediately sailed into the playoffs in their debut tournament. In the
subgroup, they defeated Turkey 1:0 and Denmark 3:0, after which they lost 0:3 to
Portugal. Then, in the round of 16, they had to face the eventual champion Germany,
who lost 1:2.

Croatia: Quarter-finals. 2nd place in subgroup D with 6 points (W, W, L), goal difference 4:3.

The Swiss team did not perform as successfully as the aforementioned in 1996, but thanks to Kubilay Türkyilmaz, the second best goal scorer in the team’s history, they also managed to open both the goal and points tally in the opening game. However, the 1:1 draw with England was followed by losses to the Netherlands (0:2) and Scotland (0:1) and a trip home.

Switzerland: 4th place in Group A with 1 point (D, L, L), goal difference 1:4.

However, compared to Turkey, the Swiss can be considered a success. The former, who came to the Euros with men who had only played at home, suffered three quick defeats from Croatia (0:1), Portugal (0:1) and Denmark (0:3) and went back to their homeland with their tail between their legs.

Turkey: 4th place in Group D 0 points (L, L, L), goal difference 0:5.

2000 Euros – Norway, Slovenia

The Norwegian team has only participated in the Euros once, but at least they don’t have to be ashamed of it. But it is a painful memory. After beating Spain 1:0, they lost 0:1 to Yugoslavia in the second game.

In the last round, a 0:0 draw was made with another debutant, Slovenia, after which they found themselves tied with the Yugoslavians on four points. But unfortunately, the tie-breaker, i.e. the result of the games between themselves, favored the rivals, and thus the door to the quarter-finals remained closed to Norway.

Norway: 3rd place in group C with 4 points (W, L, D), goal difference 1:1.

Slovenia, which was the second debutant of the tournament, is remembered to this
day as one of the most violent teams. Thanks to Zlatko Zahovič’s goals, they drew
with both Yugoslavia (3:3) and Norway (0:0), but unfortunately they were not enough
against Spain – 1:2 loss.

Slovenia: 4th place in Group C with 2 points (D, L, D), goal difference 4:5.

2004 Euros – Latvia

20 years ago, nobody expected anything from the Latvian national team. But then things started to happen. They led 1:0 against the Czechs, after the first half thanks to a strike from Māris Verpakovskis, but ended up losing 1:2.

In the second round, however, they got a 0:0 tie point against Germany, which is why the 0:3 loss to the Netherlands in the last round did not bother them anymore.

Latvia: 4th place in subgroup D with 1 point (L, D, L), goal difference 1:5.

2008 Euros – Austria, Poland

A tournament where two debutants were drawn into the same subgroup and where the only goal was scored and the only point was earned against each other. Austria lost to Croatia (0:1) in the opening game and Germany (0:1) in the third round. Poland again lost to Germany (0:2) in the opening game and Croatia (0:1) in the third

It happened in the second round, playing against each other. Roger Guerreiro gave the Poles the lead in the 30th minute, but a penalty in the 90th + 3rd minute, which 38-year-old Ivica Vastić realised, meant that everything still went to share. With that hit, by the way, Vastić remains the oldest goal scorer at the Euros to this day.

Austria: 3rd place in Group B with 1 point (L, D, L), goal difference 1:3.

Poland: 4th place in Group B with 1 point (L, D, L), goal difference 1:4.

2012 Euros – Ukraine

Although the best before of Andrii Shevchenko, who was chosen as the best football player in the world in 2004, was long overdue by 2012, he was still there for his country at the Euros. And not only that: his hits immediately brought Ukraine a 2:1 victory against Sweden in the opening game.

In the other matches, Ukraine remained without goals, but that was to be expected, as the opponents were France (0:2) and England (0:1).

Ukraine: 3rd place in Group D with 3 points (W, L, L), goal difference 2:4.

2016 Euros – Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Wales

On the eve of the 2016 Euros, which was the first to feature 24 teams instead of the previous 16, there was a great fear that Albania would become the second debutant after Turkey to fail at the finals. But it didn’t work out that way, because two losses – 0:1 to Switzerland and 0:2 to France – were followed by a sweet 1:0 victory over Romania. The author of the goal, Armando Durim Sadiku wrote himself into Albanian football history.

Albania: 3rd place in group A with 3 points (L, L, W), goal difference 1:3.

“Wow” was on everyone’s lips and echoed over the football arenas in the summer of 2016, when Iceland won the hearts of neutral football fans one after another. In the subgroup, they first drew 1:1 with Portugal and Hungary, after which they secured progress with a 2:1 victory over Austria.

However, Iceland did not stop there, but then also defeated the great England 2:1 in the round of 16. It was only in the quarter-finals that the road rose up in front of them, when France came up against them, that they too were given a decent 2:5 battle.

Iceland: quarter-final, 2nd place in Group F with 5 points (D, D, W), goal difference 4:3.

In the comparison of the third places, Northern Ireland also managed to slip past their subgroup. After losing the opening game 0:1 to Poland, they defeated Ukraine 2:0, and although they lost 0:1 to Germany in the last round, three points were enough to advance to the round of 16.

They had their chances there too, but the second debutant, Wales, was still barely 1:0 better.

Northern Ireland: Round of 16, 3rd place in Group C with 3 points (L, W, L), goal
difference 2:2.

Gareth Bale and Co. debut at the 2016 Euros was one of the most fabulous ones. In the subgroup, they defeated Slovakia 2:1, lost 1:2 to England, but then won 3:0 against Russia, which secured them first place.

Then they beat Northern Ireland 1:0 in the round of 16 and beat Belgium 3:1 in the
quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, however, they failed to defeat the later champion
Portugal: the result was a 0:2 loss.

Wales: semi-final, 1st place in group B with 6 points (W, L, W), goal difference 6:3.

2020 Euros – Finland, North Macedonia

For the Finns, the tournament four years ago started wonderfully, when they defeated Denmark 1:0 in the opening game. In the second match against Russia, they were well into the game, but the 0:1 loss was still a fact. In the third match against Belgium, the it was pretty clear from the start and the result was a 0:2 loss.

After that, however, a deadlock emerged in the subgroup between Denmark, Finland and Russia, where the difference in goals between the matches was used to determine the winner. It was +2 in Denmark, 0 in Finland and -2 in Russia, which unfortunately meant a trip home for our northern neighbors.

Finland: 3rd place in Group B with 3 points (W, L, L), goal difference 1:3.

North Macedonia, which reached the Euros through a back door – how else to call the pass allocated to the winner of the D-Division of the League of Nations – lost all three matches at the Euros – Austria 1:3, Ukraine 1:2, Holland 0:3 – but they did not embarrass themselves with their performance. But yes, unfortunately, it did not save them from being below zero in terms of points.

North Macedonia: 4th place in group C with 0 points (L, L, L), goal difference 2:8.

The summary of this quick history lesson is, that since 1996, only one debutant has remained completely without goals at the Euros (zero goals and zero points): Turkey. Four years ago, the bar was too hight for North Macedoniaas well, but thanks to Goran Pandev and Ezgjan Alioski, they still managed to climb over it (by scoring a goal).

Finally, the 19 unfortunates who have not yet managed to make it to the Euros finals and from whom Georgia broke free from this year, are: Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro and San Marino.


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