Five national team sides that failed to fulfil their great potential as Austria struggle
Simon Sinclair | 12 November 2016
National team sides that failed to fulfil potential
At every major tournament there is always a team expected to deliver due to being the golden generation of their respective country.
With the pressure of expectation some sides have crumbled failing to live up to their potential, while others such as Spain and France have thrived on the stress.
Austria are in danger of becoming the next team to fail to rise to the occasion following their group stage exit at Euro 2016 along with their early issues in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
Marcel Koller’s men are in desperate need of a win against the Republic of Ireland, with Austria backed at 19/20 to pull off the win, while Martin O’Neill’s side have odds of 3/1.
Unsere Burschen are under pressure to perform and threatening to become the latest side to fall victim of collapsing under the strain. Here Coral picks out five teams that have endured such a fate before Austria.
There is no better place to start than the Three Lions, who spurned several chances at glory for the first time since 1966 over a six-year period under three managers.
Sven-Goran Eriksson had the first chance to break the cycle of failure at Euro 2004, only for his team to be beaten on penalties by Portugal, with David Beckham and Darius Vassell missing from 12 yards for the Three Lions.
The Navigators haunted England again two years later at the 2006 World Cup, with infamous winker Cristiano Ronaldo doing his utmost to get Wayne Rooney sent off before the then-Manchester United man scored the winning spot-kick.
That heartbreaking loss would end Eriksson’s tenure as Steve McClaren took the hotseat, but he oversaw a disastrous qualifying campaign for Euro 2008, with the Three Lions failing to reach the finals.
Fabio Capello delivered the final failure at the 2010 World Cup after replacing McClaren, putting three tepid performances in the group stage before being hammered by Germany. Although, Frank Lampard saw his goal controversially not given at 2-1, ending the era of the golden generation.
Selecao finally got over the line and won their first major tournament at Euro 2016, but it wasn’t always the case despite their success over England.
Boasting stars such as Luis Figo, Simao, Rui Costa, Maniche, Tiago, Ricardo Carvalho and Ronaldo, they were not able to get over the line until their exploits in France earlier this year.
They reached the final of Euro 2004, only to be stunned by Greece on home soil, while France ended their charge in the 2006 World Cup in the last four, which proved to be the end of the line for Figo and Pauleta.
Without the influential duo Portugal impressed during the group stage in Euro 2008, but were undone by Germany in the quarter-finals.
Czech Republic (2004-2012)
The Czech Republic were always a side that punched above their weight, with strong performances at the Euros rather than the World Cup.
Their best hope came in 2004 in Portugal when they reached the semi-finals of the competition after overcoming Germany and the Netherlands in the group stage and Denmark in the quarters.
The Czechs had Pavel Nedved and Jan Koller at the peak of their powers along with promising talent such as Tomas Rosicky, Milan Baros and Petr Cech. However, they failed to defeat Greece in the last four, missing out on competing against the host nation in the final.
They re-emerged in Euro 2012 to take advantage of a weak group to advance to the quarters, only to be defeated by Portugal, ending their quest for their first major crown.
Belgium (2014 -present day)
Belgium’s golden generation is littered across the Premier League and still has time to deliver on their potential, although two competitions have already passed them by.
Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Thibaut Courtois are among the names are there are so many more in England’s top-flight alone.
However, they’ve failed to fire on the international big stage thus far, repeating England’s performances of two quarter-final appearances. The Red Devils lost 1-0 to Argentina in the last eight after barely scraping past the United States in the second round at the 2014 World Cup.
All eyes were on Marc Wilmots’ men at Euro 2016, but similar signs appeared to be emerging due to their struggles for their peak form in the group stage. However, their demolition on Hungary in the second round suggested a breakout, only to be taken apart by Wales in the quarters.
Wilmots paid the price for his side’s failure, and was replaced by Roberto Martinez, who carries the hopes of the Belgian nation forward now.
Netherlands have always had a strong squad of players to draw upon, whether it was the era of Dennis Bergkamp, Edgar Davids, Ronald de Boer and Frank de Boer or Wesley Sneijder, Rafael Van der Vaart, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.
However, bar their success in Euro 1988 they have never been able to get over the line, while their failure to reach even the finals of Euro 2016 has highlighted their fall from grace.
In 2010 the Oranje were prevented from winning their first World Cup by Andres Iniesta’s extra-time strike for Spain, while four years later heartbreak in a defeat on penalties to Argentine prevented them from reaching back-to-back finals.
The earlier generation had problems getting over the line in the Euros, being knocked out in the last four in back-to-back competitions. Danny Blind is now charged with leading the Oranje back to glory and will be feeling the pressure after an underwhelming start to the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.