EURO 2024
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Georgia Advances to the Round of 16 in Euro 2024

geórgia euro2024 eurocopa 2024 Kvaratskhelia Mikautadze

Georgia defied all expectations and secured a spot in the Round of 16 of Euro 2024.

The team, led by Kvaratskhelia and other top-tier players, showed no mercy to Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo, comfortably winning the match and advancing in their tournament debut.

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Georgia’s Football Tradition

Much is made of the fact that Georgia had never qualified for a European Championship, let alone a World Cup.

However, the truth is that the country is not as minor a player in the world of football as one might think.

A brief journey through history reveals that, following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was established.

Georgia, now bordering Mother Russia to the south, is situated at the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East, bringing a great diversity to its population.

As such, Georgia contributed many high-calibre players to the USSR, which, while active, formed several extraordinary teams over its existence.

Among them, the Soviet squad of 1956 and 1960, champions of the Olympics and the European Championship respectively, included Georgian players like Meskhi.

Additionally, the remarkable Soviet generation of the 1980s featured Sulakvelidze, also of Georgian origin.

Founded in 1921, the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic was known for supplying players of exceptional quality, especially technically, to the USSR.

However, with the turbulent end of the country, and plunged into institutional and economic crises due to US pressure in the region, Georgia struggled to establish itself in football. This was compounded by the fact that, with the end of the socialist regime, sport was no longer a central theme.

The day when Georgian greats would return to the grand stages of world football was yet to come.

It all began with the meteoric rise of Kvaratskhelia, who won Serie A with Napoli in stunning fashion.

In the same period, he and his teammates secured qualification for their first European Championship, which has been quite an adventure; one of those that makes us love football.

O canto do cisne da URSS na Euro 1988

Image: Juha Tamminen

Georgia at Euro 2024

Being the newcomers in a group with Portugal (tournament champions in 2016), the Czech Republic (multiple World Cup qualifiers), and Turkey, they were the underdogs.

However, knowing the Georgian squad, qualification was quite plausible, as it proved to be.

Besides Kvaratskhelia, who is widely known worldwide, the national team boasts other highly respected names on the international stage.

As the Napoli forward needs no introduction, let’s talk about the current top scorer of the European Championship: Georges Mikautadze.

Conheça Mikautadze, georgiano artilheiro da Eurocopa que nasceu na França | CNN Brasil

Image: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Born in France but of Georgian origin, the forward had one of the wildest transfers in football.

Starting his training at Lyon, he moved to Metz while still in the youth ranks.

He caught the attention of Ajax, who bought him for €16 million. After an unsuccessful season with almost no playing time in the legendary Dutch team, he was loaned out to gain experience.

The destination club was precisely Metz, which had sold him. This contract included a buyout clause around €10 million (Transfermarkt lists the sale price as €13 million).

Thus, in the 2023/24 season, in Ligue 1, Mikautadze simply scored 13 goals and provided 4 assists in 20 matches.

Naturally, the French exercised their purchase option, making a profit of €3 million on a player who now has a much higher market value.

Another interesting name from Georgia is number 10, Chakvetadze.

With stints in Georgian, Dutch, and Slovak football, he will now remain permanently in English football.

Despite not having a great Championship season with Watford, playing only 30% of matches as a starter, the club wisely exercised their right to buy, paying €2.5 million to Gent for the 24-year-old midfielder.

They began the most important tournament of their careers with a tough 3-1 defeat to Turkey, who have been playing very consistently.

Next, they drew 1-1 with the Czech Republic.

Then, they reached the final match against Portugal. Only a win would give them a chance to qualify, as the four best third-placed teams advance to the next stage in the Euros.

And so it was. In a surgical game, defending very well and taking their chances, Kvaratskhelia opened the scoring in the first minute of the match.

Mikautadze, from the penalty spot, sealed the result.

In celebration, with qualification for the Round of 16, Kvaratskhelia erupted in joy but remembered his ultimate idol, Cristiano Ronaldo, and greeted him.

The same Cristiano Ronaldo who, 11 years ago, participated in the inauguration of the youth academy at Dinamo Tbilisi. Now, many of those same boys were defeating him in a Euro match. Simply football.

To celebrate the achievement, former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili presented the Georgian National Team with €10 million. Quite a memento, isn’t it?

Do you believe this team can go far, just like Iceland did in the 2016 edition?

Kvaratskhelia comemora gol em Geórgia x Portugal — Foto: Jan Fromme - firo sportphoto/Getty Images

Image:  Jan Fromme – firo sportphoto/Getty Images

Written by Vitor F L Miller.

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