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EXPERT SOCCER TIPS: UEFA EURO 2024

UEFA EURO 2024 TIPS AND PREDICTIONS

For the first time in six years, we have a tournament taking place in the Australian winter, without any restrictions on attendances. It is being held in Germany, one of the great football powerhouses, and that means it should be a superb tournament, run with German precision, in world class stadiums, with very knowledgable fans.

The 17th edition of UEFA’s continental championship takes place from June 14th to July 14th, when Italy will defend the title claimed at Wembley three years ago, defeating hosts England. As in the delayed 2020 finals, the top two in each of six groups will proceed to the knockout phase, along with the four best third-placed finishers.

It looks to be quite an open tournament, with England, France and Portugal all having a great chance of raising the trophy. One can never write off the Germans, either, especially in a tournament played on home soil. They have been very disappointing for several years now, but this time, as hosts, with Toni Kroos returning to the side after retiring from international football in 2021, there is no doubt they will be a force. Germany are in their 14th Euro Championships, more than any other nation. They are looking for their fourth title.

Scotland showed in qualifying that they’re not to be underestimated and they will hope to get out of their group for the first time in their history at a major tournament. They won’t go a long way but it would be good to see the Scots for more than three games. Just for once. A highlight of their tournament will be seeing their passionate fans. They don’t get to do this often, so when they do, they go big. The Tartan Army in full cry is a sight to behold.

As for England, will this be Gareth Southgate’s last tournament as manager? If he doesn’t win it this time, he never will. He has all the quality he could ever ask for, and the Betfair market agrees, as they are favourites. Here is a breakdown of those teams with a realistic chance of lifting the trophy.

UEFA EURO 2024 – GROUPS

Group A: Germany, Scotland, Hungary, Switzerland

Group B: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania

Group C: Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia, England

Group D: Poland, Netherlands, Austria, France

Group E: Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine

Group F: Turkey, Georgia, Portugal, Czech Republic

UEFA EURO 2024 – Germany

Manager: Julian Nagelsmann
Key player: Toni Kroos
Best result: Winners (1972*, 1980*, 1996) *As West Germany

Germany is taking part in its 14th Euro Championship, more than any other nation. As hosts, they will be looking for their fourth title. They last won it in 1996. They are third favourite to win, but in pretty poor form. An exit around the quarter-finals would not be a shock to many.

In exciting news for home fans, Toni Kroos returns to the national team. The Real Madrid midfielder retired from international football in 2021, and will be a welcome addition to his manager’s options on home soil as he has been in career-best form for his club this season. They will be expected by their fans to make the semi-finals as a minimum and are priced at $3.70 to reach the final. Based on form in recent years, that would have to be a lay.

The key game should be against Switzerland and that could well decide top spot. Being at home, they will be expected to beat Scotland and Hungary, with the Scots first up, the most likely to give them problems in the opening game. If they win that, the nerves will settle and they can go on from there.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Scotland

Manager: Steve Clarke
Key Players: Andy Robertson, John McGinn, Scott McTominay
Best result: Group stage (1992, 1996, 2020)

Scotland will attempt to make it out of a major international tournament group stage for the first time as they prepare for their second consecutive finals appearance. Before Euro 2020 (played in 2021, they had been missing since 1996. In that ‘96 tournament was the spectacular goal of Paul Gascoigne as he chipped over Colin Hendry and volleyed into the net and the team did the now infamous “dentist chair” celebration. Their record across 11 major tournament appearances is poor, as Scotland have won just six of their 33 games and never made it to the knockout rounds.

A record-breaking, five game winning run at the start of qualifying, meant they qualified with two matches to spare. After falling agonisingly short of qualification for the 2022 World Cup, the Scots and their manic fans are looking to redeem themselves. They have now reached back-to-back Euro Championships under Steve Clarke and have progressed from a qualifying group to a major tournament for the first time since 1997 (they qualified in 2020 via a playoff). Drawn in Group A with Germany, they will be on show in the opening game of the tournament against the hosts in Munich on June 14.

Not a realistic hope of winning the title, but if they can scrape through to the round of 16 as one of the best placed third placed teams, then the fans will see that an an over achievement.

One interesting thing that won’t happen, is if by some miracle they win the group, they may end up playing England again. What a clash that would be. If, more realistically the can finish second, they could face any one of Spain, holders Italy, Croatia, or the far less likely prospect of Albania.

They had a 2-0 win against Spain in March 2023 with three more coming against Cyprus and another two against Georgia.

Steve Clarke has experimented with a few formations, but 3-4-2-1 seems to be his preferred set-up. Scotland are blessed with some rare depth in the midfield and full-back areas, so this is a system that maximises the quality there, but they can quickly transition into a 5-4-1 when coming under pressure against higher-quality opposition.

Look for McTominay to push forward in search of goals, with Gilmour and Callum McGregor setting the tempo. McGinn will drop deeper when McTominay makes his runs.

This is the best Scottish side for a long time, so there is a high expectation from their fans.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Hungary

Manager: Marco Rossi
Key player: Dominik Szoboszlai
Best result: Third (1964)

Hungary booked their ticket to their third consecutive Euro’s appearance with a game to spare, thanks to an own goal from Bulgaria in stoppage time, earning them a vital 2-2 away draw. Under the leadership of manager Marco Rossi, they finished top of their qualification group unbeaten, boasting an impressive record of five wins and three draws.

Hungary’s unbeaten streak spans 12 games, coinciding with Liverpool’s Dominik Szoboszlai taking over the captain’s armband from the retiring Adam Szalai. This team has flourished under Szoboszlai’s leadership, showcasing their strength and unity as they prepare to make their mark in these finals.

They have won just one game in seven in the past two Euro’s after a 44 year absence. They’ve got another tough group this time, though it isn’t as bad, and a knockout spot isn’t out of the question. It would be a huge surprise, however, if Hungary go further than the last 16.

Whilst very unlikely to make the final for a third time in their history, they should be fighting for third place with Scotland, and then hoping to be one of the top four third place finishers. The Betfair market has them outsiders of the four and that sounds right.

The key game will be against Scotland and they will need to win that to have any hope of progressing and will likely need a result against Switzerland as well. Winning both is highly unlikely. They play Switzerland in the second game of the tournament, after Germany host Scotland.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Switzerland

Manager: Murat Yakin
Key players: Granit Xhaka, Cheran Shaqiri
Best result: Quarter-finals (2020)

Switzerland once again affirmed their status as a formidable presence in European football by securing their place in Euro 2024. With a crucial 1-1 home draw against Kosovo in qualifying, they clinched a top-two finish, earning their ticket to the finals for the third consecutive time and the sixth time overall.

The problem is, you never know what’s coming. They beat France in the round of 16 in the most recent Euro’s, and beat Italy in World Cup qualifying, but then were down 3-1 to Belarus and were very lucky to escape with a draw. After three wins at the start of qualification, they were only able to win one of their last seven games – against Andorra. Nevertheless, they qualified in a very weak group. The trend line is downwards and that is reflected in their price.

They are usually a solid presence, but recent form shows a sharp decline. However, this marks an impressive fifth appearance in the last six editions of the tournament. They may just about squeak out of the group, but should be doomed in the round of 16.

They should qualify second behind the Germans or win the group if the hosts slip up. They should have too many guns for Scotland and Hungary. Those two games are key, and must beat Hungary in their opening game, or they are bang in trouble.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Spain

Manager: Luis de la Fuente
Key players: Rodri, Pedri, Alvaro Morata
Best result: Winners (1964, 2008, 2012)

With three titles each, Spain are tied with Germany for most titles. If either team win here, they are standalone record holders. As winners of Euro 2008 and 2012, Spain is the only nation to have won it back-to-back. This team in no way resembles that one and the best thing they have going for them, is Manchester City defender Rodri doesn’t lose many matches. A world class defender and he will be trying to help Spain recover from a poor last decade.

Losing Gavi to an ACL injury against Georgia in qualifying was a crushing blow. They are favourites to qualify and if we take Italy as a given to qualify, Spain are fighting Croatia for second spot, or a worst case scenario is if they have to hope for a spot from third.

Having worked with the U19’s, U21’s and the U23’s, Luis de la Fuente has helped shape some of the players that he will now be working with in the senior squad, so will already have the advantage of the players knowing how he works. But be in no doubt, this is a squad in full transition and they bear no resemblance of previous world beating Spanish sides.

Spain usually set up in a 4-4-3 with Rodri in the centre of everything, as he is at Manchester City, but their full-backs are the key component in his set-up. With Alex Grimaldo, Dani Carvajal and Marc Cucurella at his disposal, he has a group of full-backs that can play advanced, almost as a wing-back hybrids, the way Grimaldo has been used when playing for his club side with impressive results.

Alongside the best holding midfielder in Rodri, de la Fuente has Pedri, Fabian Ruiz and Mikel Merino to form a midfield full of quality and grit, as well as players that can pick a pass when needed.

The key game is against Italy, which should decide the group winner. Spain should have too much for Albania and Croatia, but an upset wouldn’t be earth shattering.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Croatia

Manager: Zlatko Dalic
Key player: Luka Modric
Best result: Quarter-finals (1996, 2008)

Led by the superb Luka Modric, in his international finale, Croatia come with a rich history of success on the international stage, having been the runner-up in the 2018 World Cup and claiming a bronze medal in the recent Qatar edition. Despite that outstanding pedigree, Croatia is determined to go even further in Euro 2024, aiming to improve upon their Round of 16 exits in both 2016 and 2020.

They will be fighting with Spain for an automatic qualification spot behind Italy so their key game in this group will be when they face Spain. There should be no surprises regarding how Croatia will be set up. The bulk of Dalic’s matches in charge have seen them line up in an orthodox 4-3-3 system with a single midfield pivot.

Croatia is perhaps at their strongest playing this way, with Modric, Mateo Kovacic, and Marcelo Brozovic all capable of affecting the game. However, it’s not set in stone, as Pasalic, Majer, and Vlasic are options to be inserted there. Dalic has sometimes used a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 while, on rare occasions, he’s gone with a back-three. During the qualifiers, they averaged 62.5% possession while boasting an 88.75% passing accuracy. They are good in possession and can certainly unlock teams and cause a threat.

The key match is against a below par Spain, and if they win that, and beat Albania, they will qualify for the next stage.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Italy

Manager: Luciano Spalletti
Key player: Gianluigi Donnarumma
Best result: Winners (1968, 2020)

Reigning Champions Italy come to Germany with a lot of expectations, after clinching the previous title with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over England at Wembley in 2021. They then failed to make the World Cup for the second time in a row and replaced Roberto Mancini with Luciano Spalletti, who won Serie A with Napoli in 2022/23.

However, they did finish third at the Nations League for the second time running and finished second to England in their qualifying group for this tournament. With an outstanding goalkeeper in Gianluigi Donnarumma, they will be very hard to beat and are expected to top their group and progress to the last 16 comfortably.

Italian fans will have fond memories of winning the World Cup here back in 2006, while they also reached the semi-finals of the European Championships on German soil back in 1988.

If there is a group of death, this may be it. Italy are the defending champions; Spain currently hold the Nations League, while Croatia finished third at the most recent World Cup finals. Albania are undoubtedly the underdog and all three teams will look to them as a gift win.

Euro 2024 will mark their eighth consecutive appearance in the event, but this year’s road to the final is fraught with danger. The Azzurri, face the above mentioned Spain, Croatia, and Albania and a loss to any of them could be fatal.

As Italy looks to defend their European crown, all the pressure is on Luciano Spalletti and his team will be ready to face the moment with the usual unbridled passion and determination.

It is very strange to see them sixth favourites to make the final and at 20/1 to win it, there are far worse bets. Perhaps back them now and then trade out should they make the last four at a quarter the price.

The key game looks to be against Spain, and the winner of that one should top the group. As current holders, they are priced way too high at 19, and can be backed with a view to trading out in either the semi-finals or final, should they make it again.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Albania

Manager: Sylvinho
Key players: Berat Djimsiti, Jasir Asani
Best result: Group stage (2016)

Albania has made it to the Euro Finals only once before — back in 2016, then under manager Giovanni de Biasi. New man Sylvinho, spent a portion of his decades-long playing career at Barcelona, where he would have learned so much from the King of managers, Pep Guardiola.

Mixing what he learned from Pep, combined with his time under the tutelage of former Brazil manager Tite, another legend of the game, Sylvinho has built a system and instilled a great spirit for his team. It won’t be enough to progress, but if any of the other sides falter, then there may be an opportunity to squeak through.

They face three giants of world football in this group and they all have a rich history of success, and the minnows should be nothing but whipping boys here for all other teams in the group. The lowest ranked of the three, Croatia, made a World Cup semi-final within the past six years.

Italy will welcome them into the group. Albania’s history against the Azzurri has been incredibly one-sided. These two nations have faced off four times, with Italy winning all four. Albania didn’t even manage to score in the first three games.

Priced at 900 to win the tournament, that could be a touch short, maybe add a zero to their price.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Slovenia

Manager: Matjaz Kek
Key player: Jan Oblak
Best result: Group stage (2000)

This is Slovenia’s first appearance since 2010 in a major tournament and their first Euro’s for 24 years. A lot of their side were not born when they last contested these championships. The new breed, as runners up in qualifying Group H, had all of their resilience on show, suffering defeat only twice in the span of 10 matches. During a huge 2-1 victory over Kazakhstan, they grabbed the runners-up spot.

With decent skills all throughout a highly passionate squad, led by star goalkeeper Jan Oblak and managed by a decent tactician in Matjaz Kek. it probably won’t be enough to get past England, Denmark and Serbia though and they will most likely head home after the group games.

They will most likely switch to five defenders for the games against England and Denmark.
However, 4-4-2 served them very well during qualifying, with Andraz Sporar providing an excellent distraction for Sesko and there were able to keep a disciplined and narrow defensive structure.

The goalkeeper is the standout name in the squad and the Atletico Madrid shot stopper will likely need to bring his very best form into the tournament if Slovenia are to stand even a small chance of competing.

The best they can hope for is grabbing one of the four third place spots to progress.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Denmark

Manager: Kasper Hjulmand
Key players: Simon Kjaer Christian Eriksen
Best result: Winners (1992)

Winners in 1992, this will be Denmark’s first back-to-back appearance in the Euro’s in two decades. This tournament follows an impressive run to the semi-finals in Euro 2020. They are the dark horse of this tournament and are priced too high at 70. They have the quality to really shake some of these sides, and they won’t fear any team.

Dynamic 21-year-old Manchester United striker Rasmus Hojlund has been a central figure in this push, along with team captain and centre-back Simon Kjaer. Hojlund has emerged as a crucial goal-scoring threat for both country and club, as he transitions from Serie A to the Premier League. He played pretty well in a very ordinary Manchester United team that needs a complete overhaul.

Christian Eriksen has really struggled at club level over the past 12 months, but that’s because he rarely started. He continues to be Denmark’s primary creative outlet. The 31-year-old could well be playing his last Euro’s and who can forget his last appearance when he collapsed in the corner against Finland, literally died on the pitch, and was resuscitated by doctors surrounded by teammates arm in arm shielding him from the glare of the cameras. A spine chilling moment. Yet here he is again.

Denmark will be aiming for a top two spot in the group and should have enough to beat Slovenia and Serbia to make that reality. There is a strong Premier League influence in the side, with Brentford’s Christian Norgaard keeping things tight at the back.

If they beat Serbia and Slovenia, they progress, with the game against England deciding top spot. Four of the last five meetings between Denmark and England saw the victors win by a one-goal margin.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Serbia

Manager: Dragan Stojkovic
Key players: Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic
Best result: Runners-up (1960, 1968 as Yugoslavia)

Runners up twice under their former name of Yugoslavia, a country best known for being the origin of Novak Djokovic and Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Serbia will make their first appearance as an independent nation. They reached the 1960 and 1968 finals and finished fourth in 1976, as Yugoslavia while they also made it to the quarter-finals of Euro 2000.

Under the leadership of head coach Dragan Stojkovic and captain Dusan Tadic – who has spent part of his professional career with Southampton, Ajax, and Fenerbahce – Serbia demonstrated quality and dogged determination throughout the qualifiers and will aim to make their presence felt and leave a lasting impression on the tournament, but probably just fail to qualify past the group stages, unless they can beat Slovenia and upset Denmark. They won’t beat England.

One of the key players is Aleksandar Mitrovic. He is the nation’s leading goalscorer, with 57 in 88 games and he is 19 ahead of the next best. He scored five in seven qualifying games and will need to bring that form at least to have any hope of success here. Dusan Tadic remains a magician with the ball at his feet and his link up with Mitrovic will be vital.

They should beat Slovenia and the key game will be against Denmark. In the match against England, the way Nikola Milenkovic handles his head-to-head with Harry Kane could decide their fate.

UEFA EURO 2024 – England

Manager: Gareth Southgate
Key players: Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham
Best result: Runners-up (2020)

The English love to say, “it’s the hope that kills you. Ever since they won the World Cup in 1966, the England Men’s side have failed to win another tournament and every two years, be it in the Euro’s or the World Cup, the entire country gets behind them and has total belief this is their year.

They thought it was “coming home” in 2021 and got done by Italy in a penalty shootout. There is nothing more English than losing on penalties. They just expect it now. It was the first final for the Three Lions since the 1966 World Cup win, and fans had been dreaming of the 58 years of hurt ending. They were then knocked out of the World Cup quarter-finals, when the draw was on their side, beaten by France.

Even captain Harry Kane moved to Bayern Munich to win a trophy, after they won the league 11 years straight and the year he moved, they didn’t win a thing. He registered 33 goals in the Bundesliga, breaking the record for a player in his debut campaign in the league. At least he has a lot of experience in Germany now to pass onto his manager. It’s quite simple, England’s chances rest with Kane and the ability of his troops to supply him quality possession. If he gets the chances, he is a deadly finisher. In eight qualifying games, he scored eight goals from 11 chances, with four of those being penalties.

England are favourites this time, and nothing would give the country more pleasure that winning it in enemy territory – Germany. This is clearly the best chance Southgate has ever had and suspect this will be his last Euro’s with England. The whole of England would like to think they could do it this time, and they have a genuine chance with the side they have selected. They will make either the semi-final or final, and lose on penalties. It’s just how it goes for England every time.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Poland

Manager: Michal Probierz
Key player:
Best result: Quarter-finals (2016)

Poland are always the “dark horse” of any tournament they play but they are in the second so called group of death this time. With footballing giants France and Netherlands in their group, along with a genuine threat in Austria, they will struggle to get past the group stage. The game against Austria is the key clash, and a draw won’t help either side, so they will both need to play for a win.

Despite being in a fifth straight Euro tournament, they never really perform. The Eagles have won just two of 14 all-time Euro Championship matches. Both of those wins came in 2016 when they reached the quarter-finals, but went out on penalties to eventual winners Portugal.

They will need to be qualified by the time they play France, as they won’t be winning that game.

The Netherlands have held a clear advantage over Poland with three wins and a draw, including a 2-0 win away from Warsaw back in September 2022. With France likely to top Group D, this could also be a vital match-up. It is their first game, so they will both be looking to avoid a draw.

Assuming they beat Austria, the key match is against Netherlands and if they win both, would go through in second behind France. Aside from that, the other key would be beating Austria by a few goals and give themselves a chance to get through as one of the best third placed teams.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Netherlands

Manager: Ronald Koeman
Key player: Virgil van Dijk
Best result: Winners (1988)

A genuine winning chance. Always entertaining, the Netherlands is poised for some excitement at these Championships. By their very lofty standards, the Dutch have experienced a bit of a lull as far as success in major tournaments goes; there isn’t much to speak of since a third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup. They are always exciting to watch though. It’s four decades since they won anything.

Despite this, optimism has grown for a team that features an appealing blend of skill, experience, and youthful energy. Will this crop of youngsters be the ones to take the country back to the heights of the 70’s and 80’s football they are renowned for.

Plus, a team with Virgil van Dijk marshalling the defensive line, along with the freakish talent of Frenkie De Jong in the midfield, and Memphis Depay who is playing some decent football right now, should be taking the field with plenty of confidence.

Koeman has tinkered with his formation, but expect to see 4-3-3 against the stronger sides. He tried a pressing strategy against France and they were walloped 4-0, so he will now accept when he is underdog and play more conservative against sides stronger than his own.

They could go with three at the back, which allows either a false nine sandwiched between wide forwards or even two up top, which is an understandable approach, given how their greatest strength lies in defence. Nathan Ake and Virgil van Dijk have shown their capability of joining and building up attacks in the Premier League. From corners, van Dijk is an ominous threat.

The key game is against Poland, and should they win that, should easily qualify.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Austria

Manager: Ralf Rangnick
Key player: David Alaba
Best result: Last 16 (2020)

Austria secured their spot in the tournament with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Azerbaijan. Then things got really interesting when they defeated Germany in a friendly last November, thanks in part to performances from two Bundesliga products: Marcel Sabitzer (Borussia Dortmund) and Christoph Baumgartner (RB Leipzig). The game with Poland is key for them, and whilst they are expected to lose to France, if they can beat Poland and hold Netherlands to a draw, they are a chance to progress. Marcel Sabitzer has had a fine season with Borussia Dortmund, and they made it to the Champions League final. Fellow Dortmund teammate Michael Gregoritsch is currently the most prolific Austrian, playing across Europe’s top five leagues.

If he is available after major hamstring issues, Marko Arnautovic’s appearances may be sporadic, but if he plays, he will lead the attack. Although he has made six appearances in the Euro’s, he has only managed one shot on goal.

The one element Austria have, is they have multiple attack points, and not a main focal point like England have with Harry Kane. But Florian Kainz stands out with 42 chances created in the Bundesliga, so he will be the catalyst for a lot of attacking efforts.

They come here in decent form. Manager Ralf Rangnick has overseen 20 matches, of which 12 have been successful, including the last five on the bounce. He is a counter attacking manager and he has tried multiple formations and it’s a mystery with how they will look here. He has gone with 3-5-2, then 4-3-3 and 4-4-2, so anything is possible.

The key game would have to be against Poland, where anything other than a win would virtually assure elimination.

UEFA EURO 2024 – France

Manager: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann
Best result: Winners (1984, 2000)

Probably the benchmark side, along with England. 2024 will mark the 11th appearance in the European Championships for France, a run that includes nine straight appearances. Germany is the only country that has a longer-running streak, currently.

France have an all star roster under the guidance of their veteran head Manager Didier Deschamps. This tournament offers a road to redemption for the French, who were eliminated in the Round of 16 during Euro 2020 on penalties to Switzerland, and lost to Messi and his Argentinian mates in the 2022 World Cup Final, an all-time memorable game on the world stage.

Led by global superstar Kylian Mbappe, probably third in line behind Messi and Ronaldo as the best in the world, the striker continues to soar as an elite playmaker, now donning the captain’s armband, while plenty of other big-name talents are in the prime or late prime of their careers: Aurelien Tchouameni, Ousmane Dembele, Adrien Rabot, and Antoine Griezmann to name a few.

Plus, a new generation of supremely talented French youngsters are here with Eduardo Camavinga and Warren Zaire-Emery. The production line continues to turn out players of high quality. They should easily qualify and the match with Netherlands will likely decide top spot in the group stage.

Despite playing up for Atletico Madrid, in this French side Antoine Griezmann will drop and play a traditional number 10 role, like Harry Kane for England. From there in the World Cup, he topped the stats for most passes into the box (51), most chances created (22) as well as joining Messi, Kane, Perisic and Bruno Fernandes at the top of the assist charts with three.

He will be playing slide-rule passes through to the incredibly fast Mbappe and his experience, with 84 consecutive appearances for France, make him an impossible cog to replace in this French wheel.

The key game is against Netherlands and they should have too much firepower for the other two seeds and could be expected to top the group.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Belgium

Manager: Domenico Tedesco
Key players: Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku
Best result: Runners-up (1980)

Maybe this is the year. A talented roster, with a sprinkling of stars lace up for another run at a European Championship – now under the guidance of head Manager Domenico Tedesco, the 38-year-old who arrived via RB Leipzig in 2023. Tedesco isn’t alone in the leadership and decision-making department; there’s a genius on the field with veteran Manchester City midfielder and team captain Kevin De Bruyne.

Helping De Bruyne in the playmaking department is winger Jeremy Doku, a 21-year-old who plays with pace and excellent control and is excelling in his debut season alongside De Bruyne at Manchester City.

As De Bruyne pushes buttons and helps his teammates out, both on and off the pitch, coupled with Tedesco’s strategies, Belgium aims to make a statement and they should top the group without too much trouble. This is the dying embers of Belgium’s golden generation, and as a few of these guys make a final stand, they will want to make an impact and go deep into the tournament. Many from their disappointing World Cup remain in the side and will want to put things right in Germany.

Another key player, Romelu Lukaku, currently on Chelsea’s books, controversially relocated to Roma last summer, where he was reunited with Jose Mourinho, though he’s only returned a modest 18 goals across 37 appearances. However, across his previous nine international appearances, he’s bagged 15 goals, only blanking in one game (0-1 win at Azerbaijan). He scored six goals in the 10 games before that as well. He certainly rises to the big occasion.

One certainty is Tedesco will go with a back four. He has done in every match in charge so far. But he uses five different formations in front of that. The most common is 4-2-3-1 and during their unbeaten qualifying campaign, they averaged 58.13% possession and 86% passing accuracy per game.

There is no key game for Belgium as they are very clear favourites to win the group and the other three sides can fight for second and third position.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Romania

Manager: Edward Iordanescu
Key players: Nicolae Stanciu, Radu Dragusin
Best result: Quarter-finals (2000)

Welcome back, Romania. After missing Euro 2020, Romania returns to the European Championship following an impressive run during the qualification stage, including wins over Israel and Switzerland. They will attempt to progress past the group stage for just the second time in their history.

Romania have appeared at the Euros five times since 1984. They failed to qualify previously and in the year 2000, they beat England 3-2 to finish above the Three Lions and Germany, finishing second to Portugal in the so called ‘group of death’. That still remains their only victory at the tournament, going out in the groups in both 2008 and 2016. They missed out entirely in 2004, 2012 and 2020.

They did rather brilliantly to make it to Germany this time, and they are unbeaten in 10 Group I games to finish above both Switzerland and Israel. They’ll want to use that momentum to cause a real shock at the tournament.

The key match will be against Ukraine. Even if they manage second place and progress, they would face Netherlands or France, and they won’t get close to beating either of those sides.

If they take Belgium as given group winners, the other two games are favourable and they have a genuine chance to progress. Spurs fans will be familiar with Radu Dragusin, who joined them from Genoa just a few months ago. He’s still not up to speed with the pace of the Premier League but in Germany, he’ll be vital to his country’s chances.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Slovakia

Manager: Francesco Calzona
Key player: Robert Bozenik, Lukas Haraslin
Best result: Winners (1976 as Czechoslovakia)

Slovakia are making a third appearance at the Euro’s. As part of Czechoslovakia, they famously became champions in 1976, but since independence, their best finish has been a Round of 16 run in 2016. After coming back from a goal down against Iceland, they delivered a stunning come-from-behind 4-2 victory that pushed them into Euro 2024 as Group J runner-up.

Manager Francesco Calzona (who is simultaneously coaching Napoli), served as an assistant in Italy for over a decade; the 55-year-old is now bringing Slovakia to its third straight Euros.

Calzona is a wily tactician and his style could prove to be a bit of a game-changer for Slovakia in tournament format, which is highly matchup-dependent.

Milan Skriniar is an important stabilising presence, too. As captain, he is also its most capped player. They could progress through the four best third placed finishers this time. If they win their group, they will face an easier opponent in the round of 16. They could face France, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, or Wales if they finish second.

Slovakia have a bit of a discipline issue, recording a lot of cards in qualifying, as the pace of some of their rivals caught them out. They will need to keep 11 men on the pitch to have any real hope of progression.

Realistically they have very little chance to progress either way.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Ukraine

Manager: Serhiy Rebrov
Key players: Artem Dovbyk, Mykhailo Mudryk
Best result: Quarter-finals (2020)

Ukraine are here for the fourth consecutive time. They were hosts in 2012, winning just one game, then went to France in 2016 where they lost all three games, then stunned everyone making the quarter-finals in 2021, eventually losing to England. They qualified third behind England and Italy but made it to the playoffs thanks to their Nations League performance. They beat both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland 2-1 to book their place in Germany.

With Belgium in their group, it’s very likely Ukraine will do better than second place at best. If that’s the case, they’ll play the runner-up from Group D which is most likely to be either the Netherlands or France, but could also end up being Poland or Austria.

Their key man is no doubt Artem Dovbyk. Only Jude Bellingham (16), Ante Budimir (15) and Borja Mayoral (15) have scored more goals in La Liga this season than Dovbyk (14). He scored 14 goals in 27 games for Girona in a stunning season where relegation was expected by many, yet Champions League football is now a reality if the ownership issue with Manchester City can be resolved. If it can’t they will withdraw and allow Athletic Bilbao to take their place. It is expected a resolution will be found.

Their main playmaker will be Mykhailo Mudryk, and whilst he didn’t set the world on fire at Chelsea, he has a chance to shine here.

With Belgium in a different class to the other three teams, the key games for Ukraine are Slovakia and Romania. A win in both gets them through.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Turkey

Manager: Vincenzo Montella
Key player: Hakan Calhanoglu
Best result: Semi-finals (2008)

Turkey will have a point to prove after their dismal failure four years ago. Under the ill-fated leadership of Şenol Gunes at Euro 2020, the Crescent-Stars finished bottom of Group A, scoring just one goal and conceding eight. They only have a couple of players from that squad left in the side. New man Vincenzo Montella is ready to push the pace. Turkey are here to up the tempo.

Despite struggling four years ago, Turkey’s track record speaks for itself; this is a country that’s made deep runs in both the European Championship and the World Cup, reaching the semi-finals of each since 2000.

Turkey is led by its captain, Hakan Calhanoglu, a midfielder who has spent several seasons with Bayer Leverkusen, AC Milan, and now Inter Milan. He takes their penalties, free-kicks and corners. Their main issue remains scoring goals. They scored just 14 during qualifying, with only two players scoring more than one goal.

They will look to Kerem Akturkoglu for goals, as he has hit 11 goals for Galatasaray in the Turkish championship. That surpassed his previous best (10 – 2021/22) and last season’s total (nine). He has won 28 caps at the international level, scoring five goals.

There will be no great expectation here for Turkey. Montella will stick to their 4-2-3-1 formation and teams know if they get a goal, they are likely to win, as Turkey rarely score.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Georgia

Manager: Willy Sagnol
Key players: Giorgi Mamardashvili, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia
Best result: First appearance

An historic first appearance for Georgia after 15 attempts since the Soviet Union broke up. To get here they overcame Luxembourg and Greece on penalties. There is virtually no chance for them to progress here but an upset win would be met with unbridled joy at home. Just being here is a huge success for them. They are genuine million to one shots.

Since becoming Georgia manager in February 2021, Willy Sagnol has overseen 33 matches. Georgia won 16 of those games. He’s used 48 players, nine of whom have played in 20 or more games. Guram Kashia has played the most, having appeared in 30 and 112 overall. When setting his side up, Sagnol began with a back four before gradually settling into a back three.

This system is preferred because Georgia won’t see much possession and they will rely on speed for swift counter attacks. He switches between a two-man attack and a single striker with two wingers, and his usual preference is 3-5-2.

One thing working in Georgia’s favour is they play Portugal last, and with Ronaldo and co expected to have already qualified, Georgia may be able to get a result. If they can beat either Turkey or Czech Republic then get a draw from the last game, you never know. They are capable of being awkward opposition, and even a win would see them create more history.

There is no real measure of success for Georgia because by simply making the tournament is a huge success in itself. To win a game would be considered an enormous success. They have fair quality in the squad and a lot of experience with captain Guram Kashia at 36 years of age, heading for his 113th cap in the opening game and Jaba Kankava at 38 has played 101 times.

They are expected to lose all three games, but their best hope of a win is against Turkey.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Georgia

Manager: Willy Sagnol
Key players: Giorgi Mamardashvili, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia
Best result: First appearance

An historic first appearance for Georgia after 15 attempts since the Soviet Union broke up. To get here they overcame Luxembourg and Greece on penalties. There is virtually no chance for them to progress here but an upset win would be met with unbridled joy at home. Just being here is a huge success for them. They are genuine million to one shots.

Since becoming Georgia manager in February 2021, Willy Sagnol has overseen 33 matches. Georgia won 16 of those games. He’s used 48 players, nine of whom have played in 20 or more games. Guram Kashia has played the most, having appeared in 30 and 112 overall. When setting his side up, Sagnol began with a back four before gradually settling into a back three.

This system is preferred because Georgia won’t see much possession and they will rely on speed for swift counter attacks. He switches between a two-man attack and a single striker with two wingers, and his usual preference is 3-5-2.

One thing working in Georgia’s favour is they play Portugal last, and with Ronaldo and co expected to have already qualified, Georgia may be able to get a result. If they can beat either Turkey or Czech Republic then get a draw from the last game, you never know. They are capable of being awkward opposition, and even a win would see them create more history.

There is no real measure of success for Georgia because by simply making the tournament is a huge success in itself. To win a game would be considered an enormous success. They have fair quality in the squad and a lot of experience with captain Guram Kashia at 36 years of age, heading for his 113th cap in the opening game and Jaba Kankava at 38 has played 101 times.

They are expected to lose all three games, but their best hope of a win is against Turkey.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Portugal

Manager: Roberto Martínez
Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Best result: Winners (2016)

Portugal absolutely looked the part of a genuine contender during qualification for Euro 2024.

They went undefeated, 10-0-0, with a plus-34 goal differential. They are here to win. There’s a surplus of playmaking ability in the sqaud for Roberto Martinez: Diogo Jota, Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, and (of course) Cristiano Ronaldo, who served as the team’s captain throughout qualification.

They always seem to look solid until the big games when emotion often gets the better of them and it all crashes down. Ronaldo is easily frustrated because his Portugal teammates are nowhere near as cohesive as his Manchester United and Real Madrid sides were. Teams he plays with every week and know how to utilise his talents. These guys rarely play with him, so it can get quite frustrating, and he has no ability to hide it.

They lost in the round of 16 in France, losing to Belgium. There was disappointment at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Morocco. That brought the end of the Fernando Santos era, with Roberto Martinez coming in to replace him.

Martinez can’t do better than a perfect 10 from 10. After starting with a 3-4-3, he has moved to a back four and it seems like that’s his plan going forward. The main question is whether he starts with a front two or just Ronaldo up front. He’s played with a front two in three games, but the rest of the time he has used one striker, even when going with a back three.

Ronaldo averaged a goal every 4.7 shots in qualifying. Bruno Fernandes averaged 3.23 chances created per game in the Premier League this season just finished. Their combination is key. Ronaldo has been away from the spotlight since his Saudi Arabian move, but he’s still been banging in the goals. At age 39, Ronaldo has scored 30 goals from 33 games across all competitions for Al Nassr, including 23 in 22 in the league. He scored six in nine games in qualifying.

Portugal are in a positions where things could get complicated from the start, with three opponents from different groups available if they win Group F, which is expected.

They could play Serbia, Croatia or Switzerland. If they win that there’s the potential to face the Netherlands or Slovakia, with Spain or Germany in the semi-finals. Then, if they go all the way, we could see a repeat of the Euro 2016 final between Portugal and France.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Czech Republic

Manager: Ivan Hasek
Key player: Tomas Souce
Best result: Winners (1976 as Czechoslovakia)

This is an eighth successive appearance for the Czech’s. They finished as runners-up in their first tournament, and have reached the semi-finals and quarter-finals twice.

More than a decade after his first tour of duty with the Czech Republic, Ivan Hasek is back as the national team’s manager. Hasek hasn’t been at the helm for too long, but his mission will be helping the Czech’s make the best of what they have as an underdog in 2024 — hoping to build off a run to the quarter-finals at Euro 2020.

Hasek’s appointment follows the departure of Jaroslav Silhavy, who stepped down in November after they secured automatic qualification with a second-place finish behind Albania in Group E.

The 1976 champions have set their sights on at least making an impact in Germany. Maintaining an impeccable record of qualifying for every European Championship since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czechs are poised to continue their tradition of exceeding expectations.

Their key game will be against Turkey, as they will expect to beat Georgia comfortably and the best they can plan for against Portugal is a draw, making the Turkey game the main stumbling block to second place in their group.

UEFA EURO 2024 – SUGGESTED BETS

If you back England, France and Italy at the prices below, and risked $100, you would get back $207.59 if any of the three win. That’s a touch better than even money. If you then add Netherlands to that, then you are betting at $1.88 for any of the four to win.

If you then lay Germany and Spain, the return on one of the four above sides improves.

Betting Strategy

BACK: England (WIN) at or above $4.10

BACK: France (WIN) at or above $5.40

BACK: Italy (WIN) at or above $19.00

BACK: Netherlands (WIN) at or above $21.00

LAY: Germany (WIN) at or below $6.60

LAY: Spain (WIN) at or below $10.00

LAY To Reach The Semi-Finals: Germany (WIN) at or below $2.20

LAY To Reach The Semi-Finals: Spain (WIN) at or below $2.70

LAY To Reach The Semi-Finals: Croatia (WIN) at or below $8.00

LAY To Reach The Quarter-Finals: Denmark (WIN) at or below $3.80

LAY To Reach The Quarter-Finals: Austria (WIN) at or below $3.80

LAY To Reach The Final: Germany (WIN) at or below $3.75

UEFA EURO TIPS AND PREDICTIONS

Where are the Euros being held?

Germany will host the 17th edition of the tournament, from June 14 until the final on July 14. The winner of this tournament will compete against the 2024 Copa America winner, for the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of champions next year.

This will be the third time tournament matches have been played in Germany, since the inception of the event in 1960. This will however be the first time Germany will host the nation outright.

Germany and Turkey were the two nations competing for hosting rights, with Germany winning the UEFA committee vote by a margin of 12-4.

Italy enter as the defending champions having won the title in 2020 (played in 2021 due to the pandemic).

History of the Euros

The UEFA European Championship was first held in its current guise in 1960 when France played host. Four teams competed in the final stage of the event, with the Soviet Union the first team to lift the trophy.

This year will be the 17th edition of the tournament, with Germany and Spain the most successful teams in the events history with three titles each. Italy are the defending champions, having defeated England in the final of the 2020 tournament.

Four teams progressed to the final stage of the event from 1960 to 1976, with that number increasing to eight from 1980 to 1992. That was doubled to 16 teams from 1996 onwards and as of 2016 that number has risen again to 24.

To qualify from the initial pool of 51 sides, a team must finish in one of the direct qualifying spots or win a play-off. After this, a team proceeds to the finals round in the host country, although hosts qualify for the tournament automatically. The qualifying phase begins in the autumn after the preceding FIFA World Cup, almost two years before the finals.

The groups for the qualification stage are drawn by a UEFA committee using seeding, in conjunction with world rankings.

Previous winners

Year Winner Score Runner-up
2024
2021 Italy 1–1 (a.e.t.), (3–2 p) England
2016 Portugal 1–0 aet France
2012 Spain 4-0 Italy
2008 Spain 1-0 Germany
2004 Greece 1-0 Portugal
2000 France 2-1 asdet Italy
1996 Germany 2-1 asdet Czechia
1992 Denmark 2-0 Germany
1988 Netherlands 2-0 Soviet Union
1984 France 2-0 Spain
1980 West Germany 2-1 Belgium
1976 Czechoslovakia 2-2 aet / (5-3) ps West Germany
1972 West Germany 3-0 Soviet Union
1968 Italy 1-1 aet / 2-0 replay Yugoslavia
1964 Spain 2-1 Soviet Union
1960 Soviet Union 2-1 aet Yugoslavia

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