If you take Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi out of the equation, Robert Lewandowski is the big scorer in the big leagues in the last decade. No less than 277 Bundesliga goals have been scored by the talented Polish striker since joining Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2010 and also in the Champions League he appears in the third and respectable place in the conquerors table with 73 goals, but when it comes to the international arena, Lewandowski has a hard time delivering the same product.
The dry numbers may be a little misleading, because the Bayern Munich scorer has no less than 66 goals in the Polish national team which puts him in fifth place in the table of active players, and still a player of his level is measured only by the big tournaments. It is true that he has mitigating reasons, compared to the teams of the other great strikers on the continent, Lewandowski’s Poland is not a candidate for the title and is not even close to it, but it does not justify a poor balance of two conquests in 12 Euro games and World Cup.
What can be said to Lewandowski’s credit is that he is by no means the only one who finds it difficult to provide offensive products on the main team stage. Over the years some of the best attacking players in the world have failed to meet expectations and hold on to much gloomier statistics than the Polish one. We will now present to you the prominent names in the not-so-flattering list of players who have starred in local leagues, European factories and some even in the World Cup – but simply failed to deliver the goods in euros.
STATISTICS: One goal in 7 games
Tournaments: Euro 2000, Euro 2004
Raul finished the Euro 2000 qualifier as the king of campaign goals with 11 goals and became the only player (until Eran Zehavi arrived in 2019) to score at least three goals in two consecutive qualifiers. Real Madrid also provided a wonderful personal season with 29 goals in all competitions and a second Champions League win at the Stade de France. Hence, all indications were that the Spaniard would explode both in the tournament in Belgium and the Netherlands and also in the betting agencies gave the second highest ratio in the race to the goal queens (after Patrick Claibert and alongside Thierry Henry).
The home stage started quite well, Raul scored in a 1: 2 victory over Slovenia and cooked for Alfonso Perez in a crazy 3: 4 over Yugoslavia, but in the quarterfinals against France, the world champion and incoming European champion, the striker messed up in the moment of truth. In the 90th minute and in a situation of 2: 1 delay, Spain got a penalty that could have forced extra time – Raul went to the penalty spot and became the tragic hero of the tournament when he kicked over the crossbar and sent his team home.
At Euro 2004 the campaign was even weaker. Raul did not score and Spain did not even rise from the early house, which included the two finalists Greece and Portugal. Despite all this, it was possible to understand the size of Raul’s miss in the national team only in retrospect, in light of the fact that Spain’s sequence of rights in the Euro and World Cup began in the first tournament from which he was absent.
Alessandro Del Piero (Italy)
STATISTICS: One goal in 13 games
Tournaments: Euro 1996, Euro 2000, Euro 2004, Euro 2008
Del Piero is on a relatively small list of 22 players who have played in at least four different Euro tournaments and even participated in the final against France in 2000 – precisely for these reasons the disappointment from him is so great. The prince of Italian football has had the opportunity in almost all of his team’s games since he was first called up, but to his credit he scored a goal and a total of 1: 2 against Sweden which secured Italy the home title in the tournament in Belgium and the Netherlands.
It should be noted that Italy is without a doubt the most homogeneous team in European football – its all-time top scorer is Luigi Riva with 35 goals and you may be even more surprised to find that the outstanding Italian conqueror in Euro is actually Antonio Cassano who scored just three goals. Therefore, the expectations from Del Piero or any other Italian player to conquer in bundles, are not really realistic. At the same time, in the knockout stages he did not deliver the goods at all and his part in Italy’s promotion to the final about 21 years ago, is very small. Del Piero’s correction came at the World Cup in Germany, when he lifted his team to the final at the expense of the host with one of Italy’s most important goals in the last 30 years.
Luis Figo (Portugal)
STATISTICS: 2 goals in 14 gamesM
Tournaments: Euro 1996, Euro 2000, Euro 2004
Putting Figo on the list does him no small injustice. He has never been a great scorer (has not scored more than 10 league goals a season) and his expertise is generally in the field of cooking, apparently he appears in third place in the table of all-time Euro cooks. So why did we consider the Portuguese? Because this is the only player with an offensive orientation who has scored so little in such a large number of appearances.
Figo’s two goals were scored in the home leg – in Euro 1996 he broke the dam with an impressive 0: 3 over Croatia and in the opening game against England in Euro 2000 he sent a bomb to David Simen’s connection and helped Portugal erase a staggering 2: 0 to 2: 3 deficit at Phillips Stadium in Eindhoven . As stated since then he has not found the net, but in the home Euros in 2004 he led Portugal to the final and entered the tournament team twice.
Thomas Müller (Germany)
STATISTICS: No goal in 12 games
Tournaments: Euro 2012, Euro 2016, Euro 2020
The two players who hold the highest goalscoring average in Euro history are Gerd Müller and Dieter Müller (both of whom have scored four times in two appearances), so it is hard to find a greater absurdity than placing Thomas Müller at the top of the reverse table. There was no attacking player in the Euros who played as often as Muller (996 minutes) and has yet to score. But that’s not all – the story becomes even more bizarre when one realizes that he is one of the outstanding conquerors in the history of the World Cup.
Muller has 10 goals and six assists in the World Cup and that is even after the World Cup is poor in conquests and assumptions in Russia. In fact, apart from Bayern Munich’s attacking player, only Gary Lineker scored the same amount at the World Cup and did not find the net in the Euros, but the latter only participated in six games in which he managed to cook twice. Mueller, who returned at the last minute to Joachim Lev’s squad after a 19-month absence from the Mannschaft, may not be eligible for Germany’s home draw in 2024 – meaning it could now be his last chance to win the final, otherwise the title of “worst attacking player in Euro history” Will be finally registered in his name.