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UEFA European Football Championship 2024 Preview

UEFA European Football Championship 2024 Preview

By: Aidan Crowley:

With Euro 2024 kicking-off today (Friday 14th June), the anticipation is mounting as Germany, who are three-time champions, gear up to host the 17th edition of the UEFA European Championship. As UEFA’s flagship international tournament, Euro 2024 promises to captivate football fans worldwide, as nations from across Europe converge to compete at the highest level on the grand stage.

The official start date of the fifty-one game tournament is Friday 14th June at the Allianz Arena in Munich. The group stage is set to run until Wednesday 26th June, with the knockout stage scheduled to begin on Saturday 29th June. Euro 2024 will last for one month, with the final penciled in for Sunday 14th July at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

The key dates for the tournament are as follows: Friday 14th June: Opening Game; Saturday 29th June: Round Of 16; Friday 5th/Saturday 6th July: Quarter-Finals; Tuesday 9th/Wednesday 10th July: Semi-Finals; Sunday 14th July: Final.

There are twenty-four countries competing in this Summer’s tournament, with six groups of four teams. The draw for the final tournament was held in Hamburg, back in early December 2023. The following is a breakdown of the groups drawn:

Group A: Germany, Scotland, Hungary, Switzerland.

Group B:  Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania.

Group C: England, Denmark, Serbia, Slovenia.

Group D: France, Netherlands, Austria, Poland.

Group E: Belgium, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine.

Group F: Portugal, Turkey, Czech Republic, Georgia.

The top two teams in each of the six groups will proceed to the Round Of 16, along with the four best third-place finishers.

The following is a guide to the current form of each of the twenty-four teams taking part in this once-every-four-years football extravaganza:

Group A: Germany:

Germany is taking part in its 14th UEFA European Championship, more than any other nation. As hosts, the Germans will be looking for their fourth tournament title. Adding to the homecoming vibe, Toni Kroos has returned to the German national team.

The Real Madrid midfielder, who retired from international football in 2021, will be a welcome addition to Julian Nagelsmann’s options on home soil, as he has been in career-best form for Real Madrid this season.

Coach: Julian Nagelsmann.

Nickname: Die Mannschaft (The Team).

Best Tournament Result: Champions Three Times.

Star Player: Toni Kroos.

Player To Watch: Florian Wirtz.

Group A: Scotland:

A record-breaking winning run at the start of qualifying, one of five consecutive matches, meant that Scotland qualified for Euro 2024 wuth two matches to spare. Having fallen short of qualification for the 2022 World Cup, the Scots are on their way to redemption.

Scotland have now reached back-to-back European Championships, under Steve Clarke’s impressive management and have advanced from a qualifying group to a major tournament for the first time since 1997. Scotland are drawn in Group A with Germany and Clarke’s side will compete in the opening game of the tournament against the hosts in Munich on Friday 14th June.

Coach: Steve Clarke.

Nickname: The Tartan Army.

Best Tournament Result: Group Stage Three Times.

Star Players: Andrew Robertson, John McGinn.

Players To Watch: Scott McTominay, Billy Gilmour.

Group A: Hungary:

Securing their third consecutive appearance at the European Championship, Hungary booked their ticket with a game to spare, thanks to a dramatic own goal from Bulgaria in stoppage time, earning them a crucial 2-2 draw in qualifying. Under the leadership of coach, Marco Rossi, Hungary finished on top of their qualification group, unbeaten, boasting an impressive record of five wins and three draws.

This achievement marks an historic feat for the nation, considering its rich footballing heritage, which includes two lost World Cup finals. Notably, Hungary’s unbeaten run spans twelve games, coinciding with Liverpool’s Dominik Szoboszlai taking over the captaincy from the retiring Adam Szalai. The team has flourished under Szoboszlai’s leadership, showcasing their strength and unity, as they prepare to make their mark in Europe.

Coach: Marco Rossi.

Nickname: Magyarok (Magyars).

Best Tournament Result: Third Place (1964).

Star Player: Dominik Szoboszlai.

Player To Watch: Milos Kerkez.

Group A: Switzerland:

Once again, Switzerland have underlined 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 the qualifiers, the Swiss clinched a top-two finish, earning their ticket to the Euro finals for the third consecutive time and the sixth time, overall.

This achievement underscores Switzerland’s consistency and strength on the international footballing stage, marking their impressive fifth appearance in the last six editions of this prestigious tournament.

Coach: Murat Yakin.

Nickname: Nati (National Team), Rossocrociati (Red Crosses).

Best Tournament Result: Quarter-Finals (2020).

Star Players: Granit Xhaka, Cheran Shaqiri.

Player To Watch: Ruben Vargas.

Group B: Spain:

Spain coach, Luis de la Fuente has garnered huge popularity at his team’s helm, having comfortably secured them a spot in the 2024 European Championship. With three apiece, Spain is tied with Germany for the most Euro titles.

As winners of Euro 2008 and 2012 ,Spain is the only nation to have won it back-to-back. However, it’s now been over a decade since the Spaniards prevailed at this blue-riband tournament.

Having said that, after their run during the qualifiers and after a strike from star midfielder, Pablo Gavira (Gavi), sending them through to this Summer’s football fest in Germany, their chances are looking good.

Coach: Luis de la Fuente.

Nickname: La Roja (The Red).

Best Tournament Result: Champions Three Times.

Star Players: Rodrigo Cascante (Rodri), Pedro Lopez (Pedri), Alvaro Morata,

Player To Watch: Pablo Gavira (Gavi).

Group B: Croatia:

Led by the majestic Luka Modric, Croatia joins the tournament with a rich history of success on the international stage, having been runners-up in the 2018 World Cup in Russia and claiming a third-place finish in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Despite their impressive pedigree, Croatia is determined to go even further in Euro 2024, aiming to improve on their Round Of 16 exits in both 2016 and 2020.

Coach: Zlatko Dalic.

Nickname: Vatreni (Blazers), Kockasti (Checkered Ones).

Best Tournament Result: Quarter-Finals Two Times.

Star Player: Luka Modric.

Players To Watch: Josko Gvardiol, Luka Vuskovic.

Group B: Italy:

Italy enters Euro 2024 as the reigning champions, clinching the previous title with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over England at Wembley Stadium in 2021. Not every team has a goalkeeper as valuable as Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is set, once again, to be the last line of defence for the Italians.

Euro 2024 will mark Italy’s eighth consecutive appearance at this tournament, but this year’s road is treacherous. The Azzurri, drawn in Group B, must avoid an early elimination against the likes of Spain and Croatia. As Italy looks to defend their European crown, Luciano Spalletti’s charges will be ready to meet the moment with unbridled passion and determination.

Coach: Luciano Spalletti.

Nickname: Gli Azzurri (The Blues).

Best Tournament Result: Champions Two Times.

Star Player: Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Player To Watch: Giorgio Scalvini.

Group B: Albania:

Albania has made it to the European Championship only once before, back in 2016, then under manager, Giovanni de Biasi. Silvio Campos (Sylvinho), the current head coach, spent a portion of his decades-long playing career at Barcelona, where he played under the one and only, Pep Guardiola.

Combining what he learned under Pep, with his time under the tutelage of former Brazil coach, Adenor Bacchi (Tite), another legend of the game, Sylvinho has crafted a well-honed system and collective spirit for his team.

Coach: Silvio Campos (Sylvinho).

Nickname: Shqiponjat (The Eagles).

Best Tournament Result: Group Stage (2016).

Star Players: Berat Djimsiti, Jasir Asani.

Players To Watch: Kristjan Asllani, Ernest Muci.

Group C: England:

England sailed through the qualifiers, topping their group, without defeat. Given their pedigree and recent track record under manager, Gareth Southgate, the Three Lions enter Euro 2024 as one of the tournament’s favourites. Fair or not, anything short of winning the tournament may be perceived as a disappointment, although that all depends on individual perceptions.

However, there is an abundance of talent across this England team sheet and it would be difficult to find a better attacking duo than Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham. Those aren’t the only two that should strike fear into the hearts and minds of opposing managers. The other names are now household: Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford. This England team is stacked with natural ability and footballing acumen.

Coach: Gareth Southgate.

Nickname: The Three Lions.

Best Tournament Result: Runners-Up (2020).

Star Player: Harry Kane.

Player To Watch: Jude Bellingham.

Group C: Denmark:

This will be Denmark’s first back-to-back appearance in the European Championship in two decades. The Danes had an impressive run to the semi-finals in Euro 2020, their best performance since back in 1992 when they clinched the title.

Dynamic 21-year-ols striker, Rasmus Hojlund, has been a central figure in their resurgance, along with team captain and centre-back, Simon Kjaer. Hojlund, who signed for Manchester United last season, has emerged as a crucial goal-scoring threat for both country and club, as he transitions from Serie A to the Premier League.

Coach: Kasper Hjulmand.

Nickname: De Rod-Hvide (The Red And Whites), Danish Dynamite.

Best Tournament Result: Champions (1992).

Star Player: Simon Kjaer.

Player To Watch: Rasmus Hojlund.

Group C: Serbia:

Serbia has qualified for the European Championship for the first time as an independent nation. 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’s national team demonstrated grit and determination throughout the qualifiers. They will now aim to make their presence felt and leave a lasting impression on this year’s tournament.

Coach: Dragan Stojkovic.

Nickname: Orlovi (Eagles).


Best Tournament Result: Runners-Up Two Times As Yugoslavia. Quarter-Finals (2000) As FR Yugoslavia/Serbia And Montenegro.

Star Player: Dusan Tadic.

Player To Watch: Dusan Vlahovic.

Group C: Slovenia:

Slovenia, as the Group H runners-up, showcased their resilience in qualifying, suffering defeat only twice, over ten fixtures. During a momentous 2-1 victory over Kazakhstan, Slovenia demonstrated their collective will and clinched the runners-up spot. This marks the first time since the 2010 World Cup that Slovenia has landed a spot in a major international tournament. It’s also their first appearance in the European Championship since 2000.

The Slovenian national football team doesn’t have a singular, best-in-show talent, like most of the other teams taking part. However, there’s still plenty of skill throughout a passionate team roster, anchored by star goalkeeper, Jan Oblak and managed by coach, Matjaz Kek.

Coach: Matjaz Kek.

Nickname: Zmajceki (The Dragons).

Best Tournament Result: Group Stage (2000).

Star Player: Jan Oblak.

Player To Watch: Benjamin Sesko.

Group D: France:

This year will mark the eleventh appearance at the European Championship for France, a run that includes nine participations in-a-row. Germany is currently the only other country that has a longer-running streak.

France enters Euro 2024 with star line-up under the guidance of veteran head coach, Didier Deschamps. This year’s tournament offers potential redemption for the French, who crashed out in the Round Of 16, during Euro 2020 and lost to Argentina in the 2022 World Cup final.

Kylian Mbappe 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, Adrein Rabot and Antoine Griezmann. In addition, another generation of French uber-talents are emerging in the shape of Eduardo Camavinga and Warren Zaire-Emery.

Coach: Didier Deschamps.

Nickname: Les Bleus (The Blues).

Best Tournament Result: Champions Two Times.

Star Player: Kylian Mbappe.

Player To Watch: Warren Zaire-Emery.

Group D: Netherlands:

Always entertaining, the Netherlands is poised for some excitement at Euro 2024. By their own lofty standards, the Dutch have experienced a bit of a lull as far as recent successes in major tournaments. It’s been a decade since they came close with a third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup. Despite this, optimism has grown for a team that features an appealing blend of skill, experience and youthful energy.

In essence, a team that boasts such luminaries as Virgil van Dijk, patrolling its backline, the versatility and wizardry of Frenkie de Jong in the middle and Memphis Depay, who is currently on top of his game, should enter with plenty of confidence.

Coach: Ronald Koeman.

Nickname: Oranje, Holland, Clockwork Orange.

Best Tournament Result: Champions (1988).

Star Player: Virgil van Dijk.

Players To Watch: Cody Gakpo, Xavi Simons.

Group D: Austria:

Ralf Rangnick’s Austria secured their spot in this year’s tournament with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Azerbaijan. As excitement started to build in advance of Euro 2024, matters hit a higher level when Austria defeated Germany in a senior friendly, last November, thanks in part to brilliant performances from two Bundesliga products: Marcel Sabitzer (Borussia Dortmund) and Christoph Baumgartner (RB Leipzig).

Coach: Ralf Rangnick.

Nickname: Das Team (The Team).

Best Tournament Result: Round Of 16 (2020).

Star Player: David Alaba.

Player To Watch: Christoph Baumgartner.

Group D: Poland:

Poland are looking to make it out of the group stage for just the second time in their history at this year’s tournament. Having not qualified at all, prior to 2008, Poland are now preparing for their fifth straight Euros, but it hasn’t been a happy hunting ground.

In contrast to their World Cup record, finishing third on two occasions and making at least the Round Of 16 five times, the Polish have won only two out of their fourteen all-time European Championship matches. Both of these victories came in 2016 when they reached the quarter-finals, but went out on penalties to eventual winners, Portugal.

Coach: Michal Probierz.

Nickname: Bialo-Czerwoni (The White-Reds).

Best Tournament Result: Quarter-Finals (2016).

Star Player: Robert Lewandowski.

Player To Watch: Wojciech Szczesny.

Group E: Belgium:

Belgium have often flattered to deceive when it comes to major tournaments. Now, under the guidance of head coach, Domenico Tedesco, the 38-year-old who arrived via RB Leipzig, last year. Tedesco isn’t alone in the leadership and decision-making process. He is ably supported by a footballing genius in the shape of veteran midfielder and team captain, Kevin De Bruyne.

Assisting De Bruyne in the playmaking department is winger Jeremy Doku, a 21-year-old who plays with pace and brilliant control and is excelling in his debut season with Manchester City. With De Bruyne in cruise control, helping out his team mates. Both on and off the pitch, coupled with Tedesco’s streamlined strategies, the Belgians are aiming to make their imprint on this year’s tournament.

Coach: Domenico Tedesco.

Nickname: De Rode Duivels, Les Diables Rouges, Die Roten Teufel (The Red Devils).

Best Tournament Result: Runners-Up (1980).

Star Player: Kevin De Bruyne.

Players To Watch: Jeremy Doku, Johan Bakayoko.

Group E: Romania:

The European Championship welcomes back Romania to the tournament. After missing Euro 2020, Romania makes a dramatic return to high-level action, following an impressive run in the qualifiers, including eye-catching wins over Switzerland and Israel.

Coach: Edward Iordanescu.

Nickname: Tricolorli (The Tricolours).

Best Tourament Result: Quarter-Finals (2000).

Star Player: Nicolae Stanciu.

Player To Watch: Marius Marin.

Group E: Slovakia:

Needing to rally from a goal down against Iceland, Slovakia delivered a come-from-behind 4-2 victory that edged them into Euro 2024, as runners-up in Group J. Francesco Calzona served as an assistant coach in Italy for over a decade. The 55-year-old has now propelled Slovakia to its third consecutive Euros.

Calzona is a master tactician and his natural coaching skills could prove to be a game-changer for the Slovaks. Captain and veteran centre-back, Milan Skriniar, will prove to be pivotal to his team’s ambitions at this year’s tournament, as his country’s most capped player.

Coach: Francesco Calzona.

Nickname: Sokoli (The Falcons).

Best Tournament Result: Champions As Czechoslovakia (1976), Round Of 16 As Slovakia (2016).

Star Player: Milan Skriniar.

Player To Watch: Tomas Suslov.

Group E: Ukraine:

After qualifying through the playoffs, Ukraine are preparing for their fourth consecutive European Championship campaign. They first made it to the finals in 2012, as hosts, only winning one match. They crashed out at the group stage in France for Euro 2016 with zero points, before going all the way to the quarter-finals at Euro 2020, eventually exiting to England.

This time around, the Ukrainians finished third in their qualifying group, behind England and Italy, but made it through to the playoffs, courtesy of their UEFA Nations League performance. Serhiy Rebrov’s side beath both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland 2-1, to seal their berth in Germany.

Coach: Serhiy Rebrov.

Nickname: Synio-Zhovti (Blue-Yellow).

Best Tournament Result: Quarter-Finals (2020).

Star Player: Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Player To Watch: Viktor Tsyhankov.

Group F: Portugal:

Portugal absolutely looked the part of a true-blue contender, during qualification for Euro 2024, undefeated 10-0-0, with a plus-34 goal difference. There’s a surplus of playmaking talent on the Portugal team sheet for coach, Roberto Martinez.

The stellar names in the mix, include Diogo Jota, Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and of course, Cristiano Ronaldo, the veteran talisman who has served as team captain throughout the qualifiers.

Coach: Roberto Martinez.

Nickname: A Selecao Das Quinas (The Team Of The Escutcheons).

Best Tournament Result: Champions (2016).

Star Player: Cristiano Ronaldo.

Player To Watch: Antonio Silva.

Group F: Turkey:

Vincenzo Montella is ready to push the pace with his current Turkey side. Turkey is at this year’s tournament to up the tempo. Despite struggling at Euro 2020, Turkey’s track record at major tournaments speaks for itself. They have reached the semi-finals of both the European Championship in 2008 and the World Cup in 2002.

Turkey is led by its captain, Hakan Calhanoglu, an agile midfielder, who spent several seasons with Bayer Leverkusen, AC Milan and now Inter Milan.

Coach: Vincenzo Montella.

Nickname: Ay-Yildizilar (The Crescent-Stars).

Best Tournament Result: Quarter-Finals Two Times.

Star Player: Hakan Calhanoglu.

Player To Watch: Arda Guler.

Group F: Czech Republic:

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 that long, but he’ll be tasked with helping the Czech Republic make good as one of the underdogs at Euro 2024, hoping to build off a run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.

Despite their underdog status going into this year’s tournament, the Czech Republic has proven itself as a force to be reckoned with, as underlined by their unexpected performance at Euro 2020. Maintaining an impeccable record of qualifying for every European Championship since the dissolution of the former Czechoslovakia, the Czechs are poised to continue their tradition of exceeding expectations.

Coach: Ivan Hasek.

Nickname: Narodak (The National Team), Lokomotiva (The Locomotive).

Best Tournament Result: Champions As Czechoslovakia (1976), Runners-Up As Czech Republic (1996).

Star Player: Tomas Soucek.

Player To Watch: Matej Kovar.

Group F: Georgia:

History will be made at this year’s European Championship when Georgia make their inaugural major tournament appearance. In their fifteenth attempt as an independent nation since the break-up of the former Soviet Union, Georgia successfully navigated the Euro 2024 playoffs, overcoming Greece and Luxembourg on penalties.

However, they arrive in Germany as firm underdogs. Nonetheless, the spirit they’ve shown under Willy Sagnol’s leadership suggest enough talent within Georgia’s set-up that an upset, at least at the group stage, is possible.

Coach: Willy Sagnol.

Nickname: Jvarosnebi (The Crusaders).

Best Tournament Result: First Tournament.

Star Player: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

Player To Watch: Georges Mikautadze.






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