Three classic opening games of World Cups and European Championships

The opening games of major championships, particularly the World Cup and the Euros, are often heavily hyped but flatter to deceive. Here are three clashes that lived up to their billing...

1960 European Championships: France 4-5 Yugoslavia

The 1960 European Nations' Cup, as it was called back then, was the first edition of the competition and was held in France.

At the time, the Euros were contested between just four teams, with France, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia featuring in 1960.

The tournament started on July 6, with France against Yugoslavia being the opener. This set the tone for what the Euros are all about.

Yugoslavia struck first in the 11th minute, but their celebrations had barely lasted 60 seconds before Jean Vincent equalised from the restart.

The goals poured in and things were looking good for France, who held a 4-2 lead with 15 minutes to go.

However, Yugoslavia didn't lie down and went at the hosts, scoring three goals in four minutes to take the opening game 5-4.

The nine-goal thriller still stands as the record for most goals in a European Championship game.

For the hosts France, the tournament was one to forget, as from the four teams competing, they ended up finishing in fourth place.

Meanwhile, Yugoslavia faced the Soviet Union in the final, losing 2-1 after extra-time.

2014 World Cup: Brazil 3-1 Croatia

What a tournament the 2014 World Cup was!

With Brazil as hosts, they brought a proper party and carnival-style feel to everything, even for those watching in other countries.

This was felt from the very first moment the fans showed up at the Arena de Sao Paulo for the game which kicked off the tournament - Brazil vs Croatia.

The home fans' energy made it feel like it was 11-men Croatia versus the whole of Brazil.

Croatia struck first, however, from a Marcelo own goal following a dangerous low cross into the box.

But the crowd willed their team on, and it was their star man, Neymar, who got them back on track. He equalised from range in the 29th minute to send the teams into the half-time break all square.

Neymar celebrates his equaliser against Croatia
Neymar celebrates his equaliser against Croatia

He then put the hosts in front from the spot in the 71st minute, although the penalty call was rather dubious. Nevertheless, it was given and the home team were in front.

The game was sealed in the 91st minute, when Oscar picked the ball up from just inside the Croatia half, drove at the defence and poked the ball past the keeper to give the Brazilians the win.

The excitement from the crowd is what gave this game life and set in motion what would become one of the most memorable World Cups in history.

Unfortunately for Brazil, who were one of the stronger sides that year, they suffered a humiliating 7-1 loss to the eventual champions, Germany, in the semi-finals. It was the biggest defeat for the Brazilian national team since 1920.

On top of that, they also lost the third place play-off game to the Netherlands 3-0.

2004 European Championships: Portugal 1-2 Greece

Greece players celebrate with the visiting fans after scoring the first goal of the 2004 Euros against hosts Portugal
Greece players celebrate with the visiting fans after scoring the first goal of the 2004 Euros against hosts Portugal

The 2004 European Championship sent shockwaves through world soccer as 80/1 shots lifted the trophy.

France, who were the defending champions, were knocked out in the quarter-finals, and fancied nations like Germany, Spain and Italy didn't even make it that far. It paved the way for a surprise winner.

The tournament kicked off with hosts Portugal taking on Greece on June 12 in Porto.

The tie heavily favoured Portugal, despite them not playing a competitive match since losing to South Korea in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup.

However, it took Greece just seven minutes to break down the hosts and they never looked back.

Their lead was doubled shortly after half-time courtesy of penalty conceded by Cristiano Ronaldo. The young Portuguese striker made amends of sorts in the 91st minute, heading home but it was to prove too little, too late.

Angelis Basinas slots home Greece's penalty to make it 2-0
Angelis Basinas slots home Greece's penalty to make it 2-0

Despite the win, it was Portugal who topped the group, with Greece finishing second. However, this game perhaps foretold what was to come as both teams were to meet again in the final.

Again the hosts struggled to break down a stubborn defence, with Angelos Charisteas slotting home the only goal of the game to win it for Greece.

Greece, who had only previously qualified for two other major tournaments - the 1980 European Championships and the 1994 World Cup - were European champions. The fact that they hadn't won a match at either of those tournaments made their 2004 success even more unexpected.