March 2024

3 Unforgettable Stories of Soccer’s Underdogs: How They Made History and Riches for Bettors

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3 Unforgettable Stories of Soccer’s Underdogs: How They Made History and Riches for Bettors

Those who bet on football know that while giants like Real Madrid and Manchester City dominate headlines, the magic of the beautiful game lies in its potential for the unexpected.

From minnows rising to the occasion on soccer's greatest stages, these stories of triumph against the odds are what make football so intrinsically charming.

Let's revisit three such soccer fantasies that warmed hearts and rewarded those who had the vision to back an underdog's dream.

Perhaps no team embodied the spirit of defiance more than Greece at Euro 2004. Having never advanced beyond the group stage prior, Greece were a small nation with a modest soccer pedigree, and were given odds of 150-1 to win the tournament at the start of the competition. They were drawn in a tough group with hosts Portugal, Spain, and Russia, and were expected to be eliminated in the first round. 

However, Greece shocked everyone by beating Portugal 2-1 in their opening match, and then qualifying for the knockout stage as runners-up of their group. They then proceeded to knock out the defending champions France in the quarter-finals, and the favorites Czech Republic in the semi-finals, both by 1-0 margins. They faced Portugal again in the final, and repeated their feat of beating them 1-0, thanks to a header by Angelos Charisteas.

Denmark's 1992 Euros victory remains arguably football's most heartwarming surprise. Denmark were not even originally qualified for the tournament, only entering after Yugoslavia were disqualified due to sanctions, the Danes swept through their group then toppled Germany 2-0 in the semi-finals and holders the Soviet Union to etch their names in tournament lore. A soul-lifting run led by the indomitable Brian Laudrup brought joy and 100/1 payouts across their homeland and beyond.

One of the most unlikely title triumphs at the club level was Leicester City's 2015/16 Premier League victory. The Foxes were among the pre-season favorites for relegation after narrowly avoiding the drop the prior year. They had never finished in the Premier League's top four previously. However, under maverick manager Claudio Ranieri, Leicester shockingly won the league title in one of the greatest underdog achievements in sports. They defeated defensive juggernauts like Chelsea and Manchester City, while stars like Jamie Vardy had career-defining seasons. Their pre-season title odds had been a mammoth 5,000-1, making their against-all-odds success one of the most amazing tales betting history has ever seen.

Stories such as these are what makes supporting the underdog in soccer so truly exhilarating. For when minnows like Greece, Denmark and Leicester rise up, they not only rewrite the record books but remind us that on the pitch, miracles can happen. Their very existence keeps the dream of defying footballing logic alive for hopeful outsiders and plucky punters everywhere at each new tournament.

Barry Ugochukwu

Lead writer for JRZY FC. I am also a machine learning engineer & lover of tech, sports and all things football.

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