EURO 1984: The Rise of France

The seventh edition of the most glorious football competition in Europe, the 1984 UEFA European Football Championship seen France dominate as the hosts rise on top against other European giants. They won all three of their group games, qualifying with Denmark at the expense of Belgium and Yugoslavia. Their victory extended until the final when they beat Portugal and Spain.

France were chosen as hosts in the 1984 edition of the tournament, unanimously selected by the UEFA Executive Committee at a meeting on 10 December 1981. It was the first European Championship final to feature two countries which still exist, while there were only seven qualifying group winners joining the hosts as a couple of absentees were noted during that year’s tournament.

World Cup holders Italy had finished fourth in a group topped by Romania, while Denmark knocked out the English side to enter the semis. Northern Ireland beat West Germany twice and failed to qualify for the semi-finals after a 1–0 defeat in their last match to Spain. Spain, on the other hand, made a controversial final entry. Portugal had drawn two matches until they beat Romania to make it through.  

The group stages saw France easily brush aside all their three opponents, while Portugal recovered from a 5-0 defeat in the Soviet Union to make their first major championship since 1966. The first semi-final between France and Portugal is often considered one of the best matches in the history of the European Championship. Portugal’s charge against the hosts includes Fernando Chalana, Rui Jordao, and Nene.

Meanwhile, a France team inspired by Michel Platini entered the European Championships finals with the wounds of a World Cup semi-final defeat to West Germany. The Frenchman had just won a Serie A title and the UEFA Cup Winners Cup with Juventus. Along with Platini is Luis Fernandez, Alain Giresseand Jean Tigana, who were nicknamed ‘carre magique’ or ‘magic square’ during the competition. 

In the opening of the semi-final clash, France took the lead after 24 minutes via a Jean-Francois Domergue’s free-kick. At 75 minutes, Portugal’s Jordão headed in his first goal of the tournament and equalized the game. Eight minutes into extra time Jordão, who volleyed on the ground, again provided another goal for Portugal to score and take the lead.

As the pressure rose for the French side, Domergue step up and equalized the score. In the 119th minute, a Tigana assists fell to Platini on the edge of the six-yard box and instantly booked their place in the final round of the tournament against Spain. The final was not as dramatic as ther semis, but the French celebrated in their victory and went on to win the tournament final in Paris 2-0 against Spain.

Michel Platini’s nine goals remains a record in a single European Championship. French manager Michel Hildago signed off following the win and France’s Platini and Tigana had been the stars of Euro 1984 and will be remembered for peaking during a major championship and leading his country to glory. The home soil win is one of France’s glorious moments in the European football.