1992 - Small but perfectly formedSunday, 5 October 2003
The attendances at EURO '92 in Sweden may not have been as high as at other finals, but the crowds were limited only by stadium size rather than public enthusiasm. That was provided in spades by fans of traditionally well-supported countries with little of the hooligan violence that had accompanied some of these teams in the past. It was probably the most vibrant and cosmopolitan finals tournament yet.
On the footballing front, France arrived with a perfect record in qualifying, winning all eight matches, including four against countries as strong as Spain and the former Czechoslovakia. Twelve of their 20 goals were scored by strikers Jean-Pierre Papin and Eric Cantona.
The only cloud on the horizon was a 2-0 defeat at Wembley, in which a 21-year-old Alan Shearer scored on his debut. Before that, England had qualified without impressing. Drawn against France and the hosts, Sweden, new manager Graham Taylor opted to select a squad without the proven talents of Chris Waddle and Bryan Robson.
The same applied to Scotland, who qualified for the first time after emerging from a very tight group in which only two points separated them, Switzerland, Romania and Bulgaria. Drawn in the same section as Germany and defending champions the Netherlands, who retained several of their stars from 1988, hopes were not high.
Elsewhere the political map was changing. The Soviet Union, now known as the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) after dissolution the previous year, qualified ahead of Italy without losing a match. Meanwhile, the horrors in the former Yugoslavia, and the subsequent United Nations sanctions, kept them out of the finals at a time when they had some of the most outrageously talented players they had ever produced.
The runners-up in Yugoslavia's group, Denmark, were invited to curtail their summer holidays and take their place in the finals, but after three defeats in 1988 and with Michael Laudrup refusing to play, no one expected too much of them...
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