EURO 2020

EURO 2020: A Look at the Defensive Record of the Last Five Winners

Shubham Dupare
Portugal v France - Final: UEFA Euro 2016
Portugal v France - Final: UEFA Euro 2016 / Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

The EURO 2020 is all set to kick off tonight. The competition pits some of the best players in their world against each other and with national pride at stake, these games bring out a different level of fervour among the players.

Sir Alex Ferguson once famously said - "Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles." So how well the teams perform defensively will be key to their title run in one of the biggest international competitions in football.

With that being said, here we take a look at how well the last five champions had done defensively and whether having a solid defense really made a difference in their title run.

Portugal - Euro 2016 (5 Goals Conceded)

Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma
Portugal v France - Final: UEFA Euro 2016 / Lars Baron/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo stole all the limelight from Portugal's 2016 Euro triumph, scoring twice in the group stage fixtures and once in the knockout phase. Well, there was nothing much to take away from Portugal's performances in that edition as they had conceded four goals in the group stage itself and barely made it into the next stage, having drawn all three games.

Their defence improved radically in the knockout stages and in the four games leading up to the final in Paris, they let in just one goal. Overall, they conceded five goals in seven games in their title-winning run.

Spain - Euro 2012 (1 Goal Conceded)

Spain v Italy - UEFA EURO 2012 Final
Spain v Italy - UEFA EURO 2012 Final / Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Spain were a force to be reckoned with at the end of the first decade of the 21st century and for a couple of years later too. They won it all between 2008 and 2012, while their Euro 2012 campaign was as flawless as it could be.

While the midfield was the biggest strength for the La Roja, they were solid defensively and only conceded once throughout the competitions. That goal came against Italy in the first game of the EURO 2012, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

They later demolished Italy in the final scoring four goals to become the first country to win back-to-back titles.

Spain - Euro 2008 (3 Goals conceded)

Fernando Torres
Germany v Spain - UEFA EURO 2008 Final / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Spain's first international title since 1964 was built on the brilliance of the creative midfielders in Xavi, Andres Iniesta and also the clinical nature of Fernando Torres and David Villa.

While they deserve all the praise, their defence and Iker Casillas also deserve credit for not letting in a single goal in the knockout stages of the competition. They had conceded a goal in each of their group stage fixtures but that didn't matter as they always managed to outscore their opponents.

Greece - Euro 2004 (3 goals conceded)

Traianos Dellas
POR: Euro2004 Final: Portugal v Greece / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Greece's 2004 Euro triumph is still one of the most unlikely success stories in international competitions and was a result of their stubborn defensive tactics and sheer determination.

Their performance could be compared to Portugal's success in the 2016 edition. How they managed to progress to the knockout stages in a group consisting of Spain, Portugal and Russia as well was in itself a miracle. They were tied on goal difference with Spain in group standings and only progressed ahead thanks to their better goal scoring record.

They conceded all four of their goals in the group stage and like all the other champions in this list, kept a clean sheet all the way to the final.

France - Euro 2000 (7 goals conceded)

France players lifting the EURO 2000 trophy
France won the EURO in 2000 / Graham Chadwick/Getty Images

While France's current squad is one of the best in the world at the moment, the team with the likes of Thierry Henry, Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane at the turn of the century was also a very well balanced squad.

Les Blues were the reigning World Champions in the tournament and had conceded just twice in the competition but just two years later shipped in 7 goals in the Euro, which is to date the most goals conceded by the champions.