How France hosted and won Euro 1984 (and British TV ignored the action)

The eight qualifiers

With only seven qualifying group winners joining the hosts, there were some notable absentees in France. World Cup holders Italy had finished fourth in a group topped by Romania; Denmark knocked out England, the English press back tracking from their original opinion that the Danes would be a pushover; Northern Ireland beat West Germany twice but the Germans scraped through thanks to a late goal against 10-man Albania; Wales came even closer, eliminated cruelly after a last-minute goal for black friday 2013 canada goose sale Yugoslavia against Bulgaria. Scotland finished bottom of their group, as Belgium progressed; and Portugal recovered from a 5-0 defeat in the Soviet Union to make their first major championship since 1966.

Spain made it to the finals in controversial circumstances. Needing to win by 11 clear goals against Malta, they missed a penalty but still managed to triumph 12-1. There were a few raised eyebrows in the Netherlands, as the Dutch were knocked out in the most extraordinary way.

How Northern Ireland came within 10 minutes of qualifying for Euro 1984 Read more

The television blackout

With no home nation representation in France, both the BBC and ITV decided to snub the tournament. Just two matches were shown live – the West Germany v Spain group match and the final – a crying shame for those of us starved of football on television. The BBC screened Uruguay-England live and ITV showed the second half of Brazil v England (thus missing John Barnes’ wonder goal), but their decision to ignore Euro 1984 seemed odd.

TV bosses probably thought that a football tournament with no home nations was unlikely to be a ratings winner. Football was hardly sexy at the time, but the decision to mainly put out highlights shows deprived viewers of watching some classic matches as they happened.

The format: two groups of four

Uefa have been accused of including too many team at Euro 2016 but this was certainly not an issue at Euro 1984. With the eight teams drawn into two groups, there was little room for manoeuvre, as only the top two teams from the groups moved into the semi_finals. Yugoslavia’s manager Todor Veselinovic summed up the situation neatly: “Only one mistake early on and you’re out; three draws could take you to the semi-final.”

France were seen as the favourites, with the emerging Denmark team expected to accompany the hosts through to the semis at the expense of Belgium and Yugoslavia. Reigning champions West Germany were naturally fancied in the other group, with many predicting buy canada goose parka uk a tight fight between Spain, Portugal and Romania for the runner-up spot. Alas, this would be a rare tournament at which Germany would splutter.

The opening match: Allan’s Simonsen agony

The opening match paired together two teams that many experts predicted would contest the final just 15 days later at the same Parc des Princes stadium. Denmark’s respect for France was plain for all to see, with Klaus Berggreen sticking to French star Michel Platini like a rash as the Danes looked to frustrate the hosts.

The plan was going well, but after 43 minutes came an incident that best place to buy a canada goose jacket in toronto would test the resolve of Sepp Piontek’s players. After a 50-50 challenge with French defender Yvon Le Roux, it soon became apparent that Allan Simonsen was in a lot of trouble. The European Footballer of the Year in 1977 was left writhing in pain, his left shin broken. It was a truly sickening incident, as explained in the superb Danish Dynamite: “Players and the fans in the stadium that day still talk about the sound. It sounded like a branch breaking in a tree.”

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Michel Platini playing against Belgium. Photograph: Getty Images

You would have forgiven the Danes for feeling sorry for themselves. The Simonsen injury was upsetting enough, and when Platini finally escaped the clutches of Klaus Berggreen in the 78th minute to claim a deflected winner, the mental strength of the visitors was fully examined. So it was a little surprising when a Frenchman inexplicably lost the plot.

Manuel Amoros reacted to a tackle from Jesper Olsen by trying to throw the ball at him and then headbutting the Dane. Justifiably sent off, Amoros was subsequently suspended for three matches – the French appealed unsuccessfully for a reduced ban – and the emergence of Jean-Francois Domergue led to Amoros missing out on a place in France’s XI for the final. And all because of one moment of madness.

Group 1: France and Belgium qualify as Yugoslavia suffer tragedy

As preparations go, Belgium’s run-up to Euro 1984 was far from ideal. The Standard Liege-Waterschei matchfixing scandal at the end of the 1981-82 season had resulted in bans for defenders Eric Gerets, Walter Meeuws and Gerard Plessers – leaving manager Guy Thys with a selection headache at the back. Jean-Marie Pfaff was a solid presence in goal, and the team had enough talent further forward – Franky Vercauteren, Enzo Scifo, Rene Vandereycken in midfield, with Jan Ceulemans playing in the hole behind Erwin Vandenbergh and Nico Claesen – but how would they cope with the upheaval in their defence?

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Michel Platini celebrates after scoring against Yugoslavia. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

They began the tournament with a 2-0 win over Yugoslavia canada goose coat 1000 calorie a day meal plan but were brought back to earth with a massive bump in their second game as France’s midfield completely ran the show. Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana shone as Platini scored a hat-trick. All was not lost for Belgium but Denmark’s 5-0 hammering of Yugoslavia meant that only a win would do against Denmark in their final group match in Strasbourg.

And what a match Belgium-Denmark turned out to be. Belgium appeared to have one foot in the semi-finals after 39 minutes, after Ceulemans and Vercauteren had given them a 2-0 lead. Denmark hit back immediately, Frank Arnesen converting a penalty after Walter de Greef tripped Preben Elkjaer, and when Belgium missed a glorious one-on-one chance early in the second half, the Danes made them pay.

Substitute Kenneth Brylle equalised after the hour, as tempers continued to flare. There were 10 Anderlecht players on the pitch at one point, yet the confrontation between club mates Morten Olsen and Vandereycken highlighted how high the stakes were. The final word went to the brilliant Elkjaer, though. Breaking free from both Voordeckers and De Greef, the Danish striker beat Pfaff to confirm Denmark’s place in the semi-finals with a stunning goal. Elkjaer was in demand, Tottenham’s Peter Shreeves among those in the crowd watching him, but news would soon break that he was to join Verona.

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Michael Laudrup playing for Denmark against Belgium. Photograph: buy canada goose parka ottawa Alamy

Yugoslavia were the only team to lose all their matches but this didn’t seem important after what the team went through in France. Tinkerman Todor Veselinović had used 53 players since the 1982 World Cup, and the pressure of the job was apparent when he was admitted to hospital with stress and exhaustion after Denmark had beaten his team 5-0. But worse was to follow.

The team pushed France all the way, Platini scoring another hat-trick in a 3-2 win that restored a bit of pride within the Yugoslav camp. But tragedy would strike the team when doctor Milenovic collapsed on the pitch after a heart attack. He died later in hospital. After the championship, Veselenovic resigned, completing a wretched few weeks for him and his players.

Group 2: Spain and Portugal go canada goose coat $5000 no credit check signature loans through as West Germany crash out

The second group was not quite as entertaining, yet, come the conclusion, there would be drama. West Germany opened their tournament with a disappointing 0-0 draw with Portugal, which lead to the benefits of canada goose jacket criticism that they were full of muscle but lacking guile. Inevitably the squad brushed this aside, defeating Romania 2-1 after a Rudi Völler brace, and with both Spain and Portugal drawing their two matches, the adage of never writing off the Germans seemed to be coming true yet again.

The Germans enjoyed the better of the first half against Spain, hitting the woodwork three times, although Spain did blow the best chance when Carrasco’s spot kick was saved by the universally unpopular Harald Schumacher. Down the other end, skipper and keeper Luis Arconada kept Spain in the match, but despite Maceda and Senor going close, it looked as if West Germany would get the point they required. And then came the dramatic finale.

With just seconds remaining, sweeper Maceda headed in Senor’s cross and the millions of television viewers in Europe – including those watching live on BBC 1 – were now facing the reality that the mighty West Germany were going home.

It’s reassuring that even Germans go through a lot of soul searching after an early tournament exit, and in 1984 it would be manager Jupp Derwall who fell on his sword to make way for Franz Beckenbauer. The country was left to ponder the problems facing the national team, but they finished their next four tournaments as runners-up, semi-finalists, winners and runners-up. Crisis? What crisis?

Semi-final: France v Portugal

Portugal accompanied Spain through from Group Two but, even with talented stars such as Fernando Chalana, Rui Jordao, and Nene, not many gave them a prayer against France. Even more so when deputy left-back Domergue pushed Platini to one side before hammering in a free kick after 24 minutes. The Marseille Velodrome exploded, expectations growing that France would stroll their way to the final.

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Michel Platini in action for France at Euro 1984. Photograph: Colorsport/Rex/Shutterstock

But with every Manuel Bento save the tension grew and grew. And when the little genius Chalana crossed from the left and Jordao headed an equaliser in the 74th minute, the air was gradually being let out of the French balloon. Bento still had time to deny Platini and Six once more, as the match ticked over into extra-time.

The Chalana-Jordao partnership worked once more after 98 minutes, the Portuguese winger turning Domergue inside out before crossing for Jordao to volley a bouncer past Joel Bats, leaving the hosts on the brink, and vulnerable to the counter-attack. The clock buy canada goose jacket toronto ticked down and the hosts frantically knocked at the Portuguese door, but they found Bento in their way. Portugal were just six minutes from the final when Domergue found himself on the edge of the visitors six-yard box and was able to toe-poke home an equaliser and bring relief to the country.

It looked as if penalties would decide the fate of both teams, a seemingly unsatisfactory way to end such a breathless classic, but Jean Tigana had other ideas. Driving towards the Portugal penalty area, Tigana cut back an inviting cross for Platini, who remained calm among the mayhem to fire France to the final. The French were delirious, the Portuguese collapsed to the floor linked website, as John Motson lost his shit for all of us to hear on the Saturday night highlights. It was a truly memorable encounter that left you exhausted just watching it.

Semi-final: Spain v Denmark

The other semi-final was just as nerve-wracking. Denmark took a third-minute lead through Soren Lerby, only for Maceda to come up trumps again, his 67th-minute equaliser sending the match into extra-time.

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Berggreen was sent off during the extra half hour on a night that an Englishman finally made an impression on Euro 84. Along with Berggreen’s dismissal, referee George Courtney booked eight players, including Spaniards Gordillo and Maceda, meaning both men would miss the final.

And so to the penalty shootout. Courtney took centre stage again, ordering Michael Laudrup to retake his missed penalty after he adjudged that Arconada had moved from his line, but the Danish luck soon ran out. Cruelly, Elkjaer missed the crucial kick at 4-4, the great Dane despondent as he trudged away in his torn shorts. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

Manuel Sarabia scored the winning penalty, as Spain celebrated, once again progressing by the skin of their teeth. Maybe their name was on the trophy after the Malta escapade, the late triumph over West Germany and the penalty shootout win over Denmark? If Spain were to go one better than their U21 counterparts – beaten by England in the U21 European Championship final – they would need to up their game against a Platini-inspired France.

The final: France v Spain

The final was not as dramatic as what had passed before but the majority of the 47,368 crowd inside the Parc des Princes did not care. Spain carried on from where they left off against Denmark, their strong tackling earning a couple of early cautions, yet they almost contrived to take the lead through a Santillana header that Battiston cleared off the line.

Gradually Tigana began to exert his influence on the match, David Miller writing in the Times that “it would not be difficult to claim that he was the most significant figure in France’s five victories, even allowing for Platini’s flurry of usually superbly taken goals.” Both would play a part in France’s goals. Unfortunately for Luis Arconada, he would figure heavily in Platini’s opener.

Throughout the tournament, Arconada had excelled, but very much like Oliver Kahn in the 2002 World Cup final, he chose an inopportune moment to make a mistake. Platini’s free-kick was initially saved by the keeper, yet somehow the ball squirmed under Arconada and apologetically limped over the line. Elation for Platini, who had now scored in every match. Dejection for captain Arconada.

Spain never really recovered. France’s Yvon Le Roux was sent off for a second caution after 85 minutes, but Arconada’s error had taken the wind from the Spanish sails. When Tigana put Bruno Bellone through in the last minute, the French forward clipped the ball over Arconada to seal France’s triumph. Few would dispute that they deserved their first major trophy.

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Michel Platini holds up the trophy. Photograph: Nick Kidd/Rex/Shutterstock

What a way for French manager Michel Hildago to sign off. His team may have lacked a quality striker – Bellone’s goal was the only one scored by a French forward in the tournament – yet the same nation showed in 1998 that a strong defence and midfield can win you many matches. “It was a triumph for attacking football after years of defensive attitudes,” said Hildago. It was hard to disagree.

Some felt Tigana had been the star of Euro 1984 but it is hard to look beyond the contribution of Platini and his nine goals. Very much like another No10 in 1986, France’s captain will be remembered for peaking during a major championship and leading his country to glory.

• This blog first appeared on That 1980s Sports Blog• Follow Steven Pye on Twitter

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