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Euro 2024: Group Stage Predictions

With Euro 2024 about to kick off in Germany, we will be predicting the outcomes of every stage of the tournament. First up, the group stages.

 

According to world-leading football analyst ‘Opta,’ England are the current front-runner for the competition with a 19.9% chance. France are closely behind with a 19.1% chance of lifting the trophy whilst hosts Germany are third favourites at 12.4%.

 

Group A – 1 Germany, 2 Hungary, 3 Switzerland, 4 Scotland

 

The host nations have the advantage given they are playing in familiar stadiums. Julian Nagelsmann’s side have shown they can play great football following their rebuild which saw them fall early at several past tournaments. The squad is built up of players from Bundesliga champions Bayern Leverkusen and usual giants Bayern Munich. The talent on offer will surely see them go through as group winners.

 

I predict a two-horse race for the runners-up position between Hungary and Switzerland. Hungary enter the tournament in decent form, having lost only once in their previous 14 games, including an unbeaten qualifying campaign. Many of the squad is made up of players across Europe’s elite leagues including Liverpool’s Szoboszlai. Their form can’t go unnoticed so I’ve chosen them as Group A runners-up. That leaves Switzerland in third place, who will still have a chance of securing a place in the knock-outs. They are a decent footballing country but were knocked out in the Qatar World Cup round of 16 with a heavy 6-1 loss to Portugal. They have some world-class players in their side who have enjoyed good seasons at the club level including Granit Xhaka and Yann Sommer. Whilst the core of their squad is decent, they don’t have stand-out players that can always make a difference to results.

 

I think Scotland have been unfortunate with injuries in the build-up to this tournament. They would have struggled regardless, but even more so now several players have been forced out of the squad late on. By all means, they’re not there to make up the numbers, but history shows itself and they have never made the knock-out stages in their three previous European Championships appearances.

 

Group B – 1 Spain, 2 Croatia, 3 Italy 4 Albania

 

I’ve predicted a similar outcome in Group B to Group A. Spain will be outright winners, as they have so much talent at their disposal. They like to dominate possession, with Rodri and Pedri in midfield. Garcia has both experience and youth in his side with Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal and Nacho in the side alongside Barcelona wonder-kid Lamine Yamal. They’ve scored lots of goals recently, including 13 in their last three Internationals. They are certainly contenders to make it all the way.

 

It's a tough call for second place between Croatia and Italy. Croatia are an older side and have shown time and time again that their experience proves key having come third place in Qatar 2022. Italy won the last Euros after a penalty shootout against England but barely any of that squad are included this time out. I think Croatia’s experience will pip a newly formed Italy side but the reigning champions should have done enough to secure one of the extra spots in the knock-outs.

 

Albania are unlucky with their group given they have the former champions and a world-cup semi-finalist with them. I can’t see them winning any of their three games so will probably stay rooted to the bottom of Group B.

 

Group C – 1 England, 2 Denmark, 3 Serbia, 4 Slovenia

 

Southgate has some of the best players in the world at his disposal, and whilst the warm-up games were nothing to shout about, the likes of Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham should perform strongly in the groups. There’s a slight worry in defence given the fitness concerns of some players but I can still see England topping their group.

 

Denmark have done well in recent tournaments, and have gained a world-wide following after Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in 2020. Although they didn’t perform to their best in the 2022 World Cup, they will have enough to get out of the groups this summer. A mixture of experienced players alongside exciting youngsters like Manchester United’s Hojlund will get them the results they need.

 

This is the first Euros finals appearance for Serbia since 2006. But they shouldn’t be taken lightly as they have firepower up top in the form on former Fulham star Aleksander Mitrovic and a summer target for almost every top club Dusan Vlahovic. 35 year-old Dusan Tadic is also in the squad who has provided a lot of assists this season for both club and country. If Serbia can get the ball to them and they are clinical enough in front of goal they have a chance of scraping through to the knock-outs via a third place finish.

 

Unfortunately, I’ve pipped Slovenia for bottom of Group C. They don’t have world-class talent in their rankings to really set alight this tournament. Their most profile figure is Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper Jan Oblak. But clean sheets won’t be enough to get out of this group. They need goals, and I don’t see them getting many.

 

Group D – 1 France, 2 Netherlands, 3 Poland, 4 Austria

 

I’d say this Group is quite strong with any four teams within a fairly good shot of making it through. I’ve gone for France as group winners as they as the bookies’ second favourites to win the competition outright. They have serious talent in the squad including Real Madrid bound Kylian Mbappe. France will be seeking revenge having lost the Qatar World Cup on penalties in 2022 after a shock exit in the delayed Euros 2020 by Switzerland in the last-16 stage. Their mixture of youth and experience will prove valuable, which is why I’ve got them down as group winners.

 

Netherlands are my Group D runners-up. They have some outstanding talent in their squad both in defence and attack. Premier League centre-backs Virgil Van Dijk and Micky van De Ven will be looking to continue their strong form into the tournament whilst eyes will be on Frenkie De Jong in the heart of midfield to break onto the attack.

 

Third place could really go either way between Poland and Austria – and I have no doubt who ever does finish third will be one of the teams to get through into the knock-outs. Ralf Rangnick has got Austria playing some good attacking football since his appointment so they could be the surprise package of the tournament. I’ve gone for the more experienced Poland as my third placed team. With Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski in attack, Brighton’s Jakob Moder in midfield, Southampton’s Jan Bednarek in defence and Wojciech Szczesny in between the sticks, Poland have a plethora of talent as their spine. It’s these world-class players that I think will pip them to third place over Austria.

 

Group E – 1 Belgium, 2 Ukraine, 3 Slovakia, 4 Romania

 

I imagine that 90% of fans have predicted Belgium to finish top of Group E, and I’m no different. Romelu Lukaku broke records in the qualifying stages with a tremendous 14 goals netted, and enjoyed a strong season on loan at Roma. Winger Jeremy Doku had a terrific debut season at Manchester City, and will be looking to take that confidence into this summer’s tournament, whilst fans will be pleased to see Kevin De Bruyne back fit again.

 

I’ve gone for Ukraine in second place, but quite frankly, any of the remaining three teams can qualify for the knock-outs if they put together some decent results. It’s an achievement in itself that Ukraine have got a squad together given their country’s current situation. They have the most high-profile names in their squad including Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko and Chelsea’s Mykhalo Mudryk. They are the most likely team, for me, to get some wins under their belt.

 

Whilst Slovakia don’t boast many players from Europe’s top leagues, they have a good goalkeeper in Martin Dubravka who has deputised well for Newcastle since December, and will be keen to continue that form into the tournament. If he can perform well and gain some clean sheets, then Slovakia just need to find the ball at the other net. I don’t know much about Romanian football to be honest with the only football I recognise being Tottenham’s Radu Dragusin who has performed well in his debut season for them. I don’t think there’s enough talent in the squad for them to qualify for the knock-outs, but it’s tournament football and anything can happen.

 

Group F – 1 Portugal, 2 Georiga, 3 Turkey, 4 Czech Republic

 

Similar to Belgium, Portugal will be outright favourites to top Group F. They are the most formidable team of the group; boasting players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Dias, Bruno Fernandes and Joao Neves. They have the calibre to go unbeaten in this group, they just need to consistently turn up.

 

Georgia could be one of the surprise packages of the tournament – I wouldn’t label them underdogs as they haven’t enough in it for me to be able to go really far in the tournament. They will be full of confidence as this is the first major finals that they have qualified for. Georgia boast some of the most exciting players in Europe with many tipped for big moves this summer. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia netted 15 in 29 for Napoli and has been linked with several top teams in England and Spain this summer already. Playing well in this tournament would only increase the likelihood of securing a big move.

I’ve selected Turkey for third place of Group F having topped their qualifying group which included Croatia and Wales in it. 84-capped leader Hakan Calhanoglu enters the tournament having just lifted Seria A with Internazionale, whilst teenagers Arda Guler, Kenan Yidiz and Semih Kilicsoy provide bursts of youthful talent. Turkish football has been in the media a lot recently with lots of aggression seen in league games including when players clashed with fans during a Fernebahce and Trabzonspor match earlier this year.

 

I’ve gone for Czech Republic as bottom of this group. They have West Ham duo Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal who are experienced at international level whilst Patrik Schick and Adam Hlozek enter the tournament of the back of an unforgettable season with Bayern Leverkusen. However, I think other teams are in better form and ultimately have a more exciting squad at their disposal.

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