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Author: Simon Rea

Euro 24: What’s happening and who to watch out for

Updated Tuesday, 4 June 2024

With the men’s Euros starting in June 2024, Simon Rea explores some key facts about the tournament and discusses some of the key players to look out for.

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The match between Germany and Scotland in Munich on Friday 14 June kicks off the 17th edition of the UEFA European Championships. The first championships were held in 1960 when four teams competed in France for the Henri Delauney trophy, and it was won by the Soviet Union. Germany, or more accurately West Germany, last held the event in 1988, so this will be the first time it has been held in Germany since its reunification. Germany have won the trophy on three occasions, which is the joint most with France, while England’s only final appearance was their loss to Italy at the 2020 tournament.

The tournament was expanded from 4 teams to 8 for the 1980 tournament, then expanded to 16 for Euro 1996, and finally to 24 for the 2016 event. As the number of teams has expanded, so have the number of host stadiums. This year, there are ten stadiums hosting games across the country, from Munich to Hamburg and Dusseldorf to Cologne. The final on 14 June will be held at the Olympiastadion in Berlin which was built to host the 1936 Olympic Games.

A graphic showing the ten host cities: Dortmund, Munich, Hamburg, Leipzig, Gelsenkirchen, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Berlin, Frankfurt and Cologne


The format of the tournament is that there are 6 groups of 4 teams, with the top 2 in each group automatically qualifying for the round of 16, along with the 4 best third placed finishers. This is the first of 4 knock-out rounds followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.

What are the chances of a Home Nations victory?

As Wales narrowly missed out on qualification, British interest lies with Scotland and England. Scotland are competing in their fourth Euros and have never progressed beyond the group stages. They will rely on seasoned Premier League players such as Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Scott McTominay (Manchester United) and John McGinn (Aston Villa) to help them get out of a tough group including the hosts, Germany, as well as Switzerland and Hungary.

Jude Bellingham

England are joint bookmakers’ favourites, with France, to go one better than the crushing disappointment of losing the Euro 2020 final, despite scoring in the second minute. Optimism is based on a squad stacked with attacking talent with Bukayo Saka, James Maddison and Anthony Gordon in addition to Jude Bellingham (La Liga player of the year and recent Champions League winner with Real Madrid), Phil Foden (Premier League player of the year) and Cole Palmer (Premier League young player of the year). They will complement Harry Kane who is bookmakers’ favourite for the golden boot. However, potential defensive weaknesses at left back and centre back may have to be addressed if England are to be successful. All being well, England would be predicted to face France in a semi-final and then Germany or Spain in the final.

Who are the contenders to win?


There were six teams – England, France, Portugal, Romania, Hungary and Belgium – who came through the qualifying stages unbeaten. Portugal had the best record scoring 36 times and only conceding twice. Spain, as well as Scotland, only lost once and will be one of the favourites with England, France and Germany being the others. Germany have not won the tournament since 1996 and France since 2000 so they will be desperate to put that right. The Euros have often been lit up by the progress of outsiders, such as Wales making the semi-finals in 2016 and Greece winning in 2004. Maybe this time it will be Hungary who did well in qualifying and play a dynamic, attacking style of football.

Young players to look out for

While the tournament will be graced by established stars, such as Luka Modrić, Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappé, Kevin de Bruyne and Virgil van Dijk, there will be a new generation of young players to look out for. Lamine Yamal of Spain is a right winger who made his Barcelona debut at 15 and became Spain’s youngest goal scorer when he scored on his debut aged 16. While Germany have high hopes for Jamal Musiala, the exciting attacking midfielder, Florian Wirtz was an inspiration behind Bayer Leverkusen’s 2024 Bundesliga win and was Bundesliga player of the year. He loves to dribble with the ball and pass players, and as well as being an excellent passer he recently scored a goal from the halfway line. Although having only played for France twice, Warren Zaïre-Emery is an exciting prospect. A product of the Paris Saint-Germain academy he plays as a defensive midfielder and loves to win the ball and launch attacks.

While these 4 are players to watch, England fans will be hoping that the real stars are young English players such as Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Cole Palmer and that 14 July 2024 becomes a day that ranks alongside 30 July 1966.



 

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