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EURO 2024: Review of the Eliminated Teams: Georgia, Denmark, Slovenia, and Belgium

EURO 2024: Review of the Eliminated Teams: Georgia, Denmark, Slovenia, and Belgium

Kai Iliev Kai Iliev

As we approach the quarterfinals of EURO2024, it’s time to reflect on the journey so far. Only eight teams remain from the initial twenty-four. Although winners write history, the legacy of eliminated sides often lingers in the hearts of the most passionate fans. At first we reviewed Romania, Austria, Slovakia, and Italy. Now it’s time to review the performances and storylines of the other eliminated teams.

Belgium: Disappointment Amid High Hopes

Belgium’s campaign at EURO 2024 will be remembered as one of disappointment. Led by Dominico Tedesco, the Red Devils didn’t enter the tournament with sky-high expectations, yet a squad featuring the talents of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, and Jérémy Doku still commanded a level of respect and anticipation.

The last truly solid Belgian side emerged in 2018 when Belgium was halted by France in the World Cup semifinals. That team boasted stalwarts like Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard. Since then, the Red Devils have struggled to replicate their previous success, leaving their ‘Golden Generation’ trophyless and devoid of notable achievements.

This tournament took an unexpected turn when Belgium was stunned by Slovakia, losing 1-0. The last game against Ukraine (0-0) wasn’t particularly impressive either, and Belgium finished the group stages with four points, a tally matched by all teams in their group.

Their campaign ended abruptly against France in a rematch of the 2018 World Cup semifinals. Jan Vertonghen’s own goal in the 85th minute sealed their fate, sending them home.

Although this was an individual incident, Belgium’s overall performance was underwhelming. Kevin De Bruyne’s deeper role misfired, and Romelu Lukaku squandered several chances, often caught offside. This was a poor tournament for the Belgians, raising significant questions about their tactical setup and execution.

Slovenia: Defying the Odds

Slovenia might have not inspired future generations with brilliant football, but they certainly made headlines. This marked their first EURO qualification since 2000, and their last major tournament appearance was a decade ago.

Placed in a challenging group with England, Denmark, and Serbia, Matjaž Kek’s team was the underdog. With such strong opposition, Matjaž Kek built his team around Jan Oblak, Jaka Bijol and Timi Max Elšnik, focusing on a robust defensive strategy.

Benjamin Šeško was expected to be one of the stars on the offensive end, but he finished the tournament without a single goal. Additionally, his missed penalty against Portugal ultimately sealed Slovenia’s elimination in the Round of 16. 

Although they were eliminated, Slovenia’s campaign can be seen as a significant success. They remained unbeaten in regular time, drawing 0-0 with England, 1-1 with Denmark, and 1-1 with Serbia, where they were leading until a late Serbian equalizer.

Slovenia was by far the minnow of the group, and they qualified as the third-placed team in Group C. They were paired with Portugal, and the game had to wait for penalties to find a winner. 

Considering Slovenia’s small population of just 2.1 million, their performance was a remarkable achievement. This was the first time they advanced past the group stage in their history, a milestone that will be cherished by all Slovenians.

Šeško might have had a terrible tournament, but at his young age, this was the young Slovenian’s first time on the big stage. He will have plenty of opportunities to shine with the Slovenian national team.

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Georgia: The Ultimate Underdog Story

If you thought Slovenia was the biggest underdog storyline of the tournament, you might need to reconsider. Unlike Slovenia, Georgia had never qualified for the EURO before. Their qualification via the playoffs brought immense joy to the Caucasian nation, already making history before the tournament even began.

Their group was not too easy either – as they had to face Portugal, Czechia and their neighbour Turkey. Georgia’s campaign started disastrously, with an intense 3-0 defeat against the Turks. 

Their second match ended in a 1-1 draw against Czechia. At this point, many predicted they would be eliminated. However, with Portugal already being qualified, Ronaldo’s team did not take the match as seriously as it should’ve. Georgia capitalized on this, stunning the world by beating Portugal 2-0 and securing their spot in the knockout phase.

Their next challenge was even tougher: facing tournament favorites Spain. Favourites of the tournament, Spain quickly finished the job with a 4-1 victory. However, Georgia opened the score and remained competitive for the majority of the match, and they should be proud of their campaign. 

Georgia has given their nation a new reason to rejoice. Known as Sakartvelo, they became the classic ‘defensive block’ team, filled with old-school gameplans, which is always refreshing to see. Better luck next time!

Denmark: A Mixed Bag of Performances

While the previous teams have clear success or failure evaluations, Denmark’s performance is more ambiguous. They are not underdogs, as their impressive run to the semifinals of the 2020 EURO demonstrated their capability. However, they were not considered favorites either, especially in a group with England. 

Denmark’s group stage saw them draw all their matches (1-1 vs Slovenia and England, 0-0 vs Serbia), qualifying due to their higher ranking compared to Slovenia.

To their dismay, their campaign didn’t last long as they were paired with the hosts, Germany, in the Last 16. Despite showing a relatively solid display, minor details led to Germany securing the victory.

Denmark’s campaign concludes on a neutral note, without being particularly brilliant or disappointing. The team met expectations but didn’t exceed them, with the 2-0 defeat against Germany offering no new insights.

Denmark is one of these well-run countries that remain modest and won’t stir drama, preferring to accept things as they are and will keep working harder. 

Against England, Denmark had a commendable display, although England’s lackluster performance contributed to Denmark’s perceived brilliance. They struggled against Slovenia and had a dull match against Serbia. Overall, their campaign was steady but unspectacular.

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