In gaining a semifinal berth, Spain becomes the first Euro winner since 1988 champ Netherlands to make it back into the tournament semifinals.
Such is the quality of the European Championship field, time and again. It’s not just a tournament that is ridiculously difficult to repeat as winner, it’s nearly impossible to even get into position.
The Netherlands won in 1988 and then returned to the semis in 1992, only to be dispatched by the longshot Danes. But they did reach those semis, at least – just as Spain has done.
What has happened to each tourney champ since then?
Denmark (winners in 1992): The shock champs did qualify for the next tournament, but couldn’t extend the Euro magic and did not escape from group stage during the 1996 tourney in England. The Danes finished third in their group, behind Portugal and Croatia.
Germany (winners in 1996): This is where things started to go wrong for Germany, where leaders began to recognize that change was required. The heavy criticism came in waves after a lousy showing by an aging team in the tournament co-hosted in the lowlands, Belgium and Netherlands. Germany finished dead last in its group, behind Portugal, Romania and third-place England.
France (winners in 2000): Zinedine Zidane carried his team through group stage in Portugal with wins over England and Switzerland and with a draw against Croatia. But in a quarterfinal in Lisbon, France became the first knockout victim of eventual champion Greece.
Greece (winners in 2004): The Greeks were pretty much out of the tournament after 180 minutes, having lost to (and been shut out by) Sweden and Russia right away.
In a shocking twist, Chelsea could be prepared to bring back a former defender.
The Blues are reportedly lining up a bid for Brazilian central defender David Luiz, who exited the club two years ago to head to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. According to Daily Mail, Chelsea would pay up to roughly $41 million for the PSG centerback.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Back in 2014, Chelsea received an astounding $65 million for Luiz from the French champions, but he has quickly grown out of favor with the club.
New manager Antonio Conte is looking to sure up the backline before end of the transfer window, and Luiz appears to be a final effort to do that after missing out on several defenders, including Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
AS is reporting that Tottenham could be in for Real Madrid midfielder Isco.
While Spurs currently boast one of the youngest and most promising teams in the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly keen on adding another playmaker into the fold as Isco’s future in Madrid is unknown.
Isco would leave on a loan deal, and while Spurs are seen as a contender for the Spaniard, Malaga is said to be interested in the player as well.
Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala could be on his way to Porto after joining the English side two years ago.
According to the Guardian, the 25-year-old would likely return to the Portuguese side on loan after disappointing for the Citizens since his arrival in 2014.
With the addition of John Stones this summer, Mangala has fallen further down the pecking order with new manager Pep Guardiola.
Middlesbrough has impressed at times during its return to the Premier League this season, and now the club looks to bolster its backline as the transfer window closes.
[ MORE: Aguero could miss Manchester derby after FA charge ]
The club announced the loan signing of Arsenal defender Calum Chambers on Tuesday, providing the Boro with a promising young player to contribute in the back.
Chambers, 21, has made 58 appearances in the PL with both the Gunners and Southampton, while also earning three caps for England.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka revaled his excitement over the signing, while also stating that the player addresses a big need on the backline.
“I’m really pleased,” said Karanka. “It’s a position where we’ve been working towards bringing the right player in. We haven’t been in a hurry because Calum was the player we were waiting for, and he’s going to help us a lot.”
The Gunners have been heavily criticized for not spending enough during the transfer season, however, Arsene Wenger has gotten the man he wanted to help out defensively.
[ MORE: Rooney retiring from England after 2018 World Cup ]
Arsenal announced the signing of Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi on Tuesday, after the German centerback had been previously been linked to the club for some time as their top transfer target.
Mustafi will likely figure immediately into the Arsenal defense, which has also added Rob Holding this summer. The 24-year-old made over 64 appearances for Valencia while in La Liga after beginning his academy career in England with Everton.
Hope Solo hasn’t had the best couple of weeks since the U.S. Women’s National Team bailed out of the 2016 Olympics.
On Tuesday, the U.S. keeper announced her decision to take a step back from her club team as well after receiving a six-month ban from U.S. Soccer.
The veteran American shot stopper took to Twitter to make her decision known, leaving her status unknown with the Seattle Reign in the future. Solo remains under contract until the end of the current campaign, however, it is not known as to how her decision to sit out will affect her financially.
Solo wil be eligible to return to the USWNT in February, but it will be up to head coach Jill Ellis to reintroduce the 35-year-old into the fold.