It was billed as the one to watch as Euro 2020 threw up a ‘Group of Death’ by matching world champions France, defending champions Portugal and powerhouse Germany in Group F alongside ‘whipping boys’ Hungary.
Well, the ‘Group of Death’ is now well and truly buried.
While the big guns all scraped into the last 16 after a scare or two for all from the brilliant Hungarians — 10 minutes away from a great draw against Portugal, holding France in Budapest before coming so close to sending Germany out in Munich — they were all breathing a sigh of relief.
However, if you roll on a few days in the competition, this terrible trio have all now been sent packing back to Paris, Lisbon and Munich with their tails between their legs.
Portugal crashed out to Belgium — no shame in that, you would think, but the last 16 is an unacceptable stage to depart for the defending champions and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, what with his demands for the best and his eye on Ali Daei’s all-time international goalscoring record.
Then France — with Kylian Mpbappe, Karim Benzema and a whole host of superstars — were humbled by Switzerland on penalties after a topsy-turvy 3-3 draw over 120 minutes.
And Germany completed the triple tumble when they crumbled against England at Wembley, going down 2-0 to Gareth Southgate’s side on Tuesday night.
Much had been expected of these three superpowers, with France going in as favourites to back up their World Cup triumph with glory at Wembley on July 11.
When they switch on their TVs at home on Friday to watch the first of the quarter-finals (the likes of Denmark, Ukraine, Czech Republic and the Swiss are all still standing) they will just have to look on from the outside with more than a bit of envy in their heart and reflect on what they did wrong, with rebuilding and regrouping required ahead of next year’s World Cup.
On reflection, probably only Hungary have their heads held high following the others’ demise from the ‘Group of Death’.
It really is a funny old game.