UK Football

Switzerland send France packing as Euro 2020 comes alive

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Euro 2020, it’s to expect the unexpected.

We’re not even into the quarter-finals yet and we’ve already seen Hungary take points from Germany and France, the Czech Republic beat the Netherlands, and Croatia take Spain to extra-time – despite trailing 3-1 with six minutes to go.

It seemed as if France had just about swerved another shocker against Switzerland on Monday evening. Haris Seferovic’s early header had bloodied their nose, but Hugo Lloris’ penalty save from Ricardo Rodriguez changed the tide.

Then came a French onslaught that appeared to reassert their credentials as one of the best teams on the planet.

For four minutes they looked like world champions again as Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann combined to turn the game on its head. Then Paul Pogba came up with an absolute screamer that should – should – have killed the game in its tracks.

But on one of the most insane days of football the European Championships have ever seen, there was more story to write. Seferovic gave the Swiss a lifeline with another header, and then came Mario Gavranovic with one of the most famous goals Switzerland have ever scored.

It came just a few hours after Croatia had done exactly the same thing against Spain. They had trailed 3-1 with 83 minutes on the clock, but came roaring back into it to take Luis Enrique’s team to extra-time in what was eventually the highest-scoring game the Euros have ever seen.

But where Croatia fell short against the Spaniards, there was to be not heartbreak for Switzerland. They took it all the way to penalties, and it was Yann Sommer who proved to be the hero in the shootout when he parried Mbappe’s penalty away on the line.

It’s worth noting Switzerland had never beaten France at a tournament, nor had they ever won a knockout game of any description at the World Cup or the Euros since 1954. So to doing it here, having trailed by two goals with nine minutes of normal time remaining, was like nothing Swiss football had ever seen before.

It underlined the absolutely wild, chaotic nature of the tournament so far, as it threatens to become the best European Championships we have ever seen. We’ve still got two of the last 16 ties to go, but we’ve already seen more goals at Euro 2020 than we saw four years ago.

With nine games of the tournament to go, we’ve already lost the world champions and the defending European champions, and we’re guaranteed to lose another of the favourites when England take on Germany at Wembley on Tuesday evening.

It’s been a long, hard slog of a season. But we’re now being rewarded with one of the most chaotic, unpredictable and ridiculously entertaining football tournaments many of us are ever likely to see, packed full with the kind of memorable moments and underdog stories that keep us coming back for more.

And there’s still a long way to go before it’s over.

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