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EURO 2024 Preview: Powerhouses, Dark Horses, and Surprises in the Fight for European Glory

The Swift Kicks Euro Predictions - by Nate
icks

Group A

Germany, Hungary, Scotland, Switzerland

Euro 2024 Group A kits

Germany remains the overwhelming favorite in Group A, but there are areas of concern for die Mannschaft. The days of having a prolific striker like Mario Gomez or Miroslav Klose are over. This summer, Nagelsmann is relying on Champions League finalist Niclas Fuellkrug, who scored 27 goals/assists last season. Thomas Mueller's age is a factor for leading the line in three consecutive group games. While Germany is expected to advance through their work rate and experience, their matches against Scotland and Hungary may be tighter than anticipated. Look out for more Toni Kroos freekick magic!


Scotland's squad is more solidly built than in past tournaments. Led by veteran fullbacks Kieran Tierney and Andrew Robertson, and buoyed by John McGinn's great season with Aston Villa, and Che Adams' 24 goals/assists last year, they bring valuable experience. This is only their second major tournament appearance since 1998. History won't likely repeat itself for the Tartan Army this summer.


Hungary has attacking depth but their Achilles heel is the central midfield. Playing a 3-4-2-1, the double pivot of Nagy and Schaefer had poor club showings this year. Dominick Szoboszlai, who has shown creativity from deep with Liverpool, will need to support them. RB Leipzig veteran Willi Orban will be crucial at the back. Expect Hungary to create plenty going forward with Kerkez, Varga, and Sallai.


Switzerland’s Golden Generation is nearing its end. Key players like Sommer, Shaqiri, Xhaka, and Rodriguez are over 30, and this may be their last tournament. Despite no new contenders stepping forward, Switzerland will aim to recreate their 2020 EURO success. With players like Embolo and Okafor at top European clubs, they’ll look to make an impact. Hungary's overall talent might see them squeeze into second place. Scotland and Switzerland will battle for third.


 

Group B

Spain, Italy, Croatia, Albania

Euro 2024 Group B kits

Spain, boasting great all-around depth alongside England and Portugal, aims to build on their 2020 success after a marginal loss to Italy. The main question is the starting keeper, with Raya and Simon splitting duties in recent friendlies. Grimaldo will likely take the left-back position, with Laporte and Carvajal to his right. Rodri, potentially Spain’s best player, will have midfield support from Pedri. Up front, veteran Morata and young star Yamal, both coming off solid seasons, offer strong options. Spain is favored to top this tough group.


Italy, the 2020 EURO champions, face changes this summer. Sandro Tonali’s suspension and Marco Veratti’s exclusion are notable absences. Barella might miss the opener against Albania, a crucial match for Italy. Despite this, they have solid midfielders like Jorginho and Pellegrini, and Scamacca to lead the line. It’s a close call between Italy and Croatia for the second spot, but Italy may edge it if Barella returns in time.


Despite the age of their key players, Croatia still boasts a wealth of talent and international experience. Modric’s swan song will likely see him start all group games, supported by Kovacic and Brozovic in midfield. Gvardiol, adding defensive stability, will play at center-back. Croatia may do enough to advance as one of the best third-place teams.


Albania, with familiar faces like Chelsea’s Armando Broja and Brentford’s Strakosha, aims to make an impact. Despite being dealt a tough group, any win for them would be a significant upset, though a draw is more likely.


 
 

Group C

England, Denmark, Serbia, Slovenia

Euro 2024 Group C kits

England is a huge favorite to win EURO 2024. They have a perfect mix of experience and youth, with trimmed squad cuts like Grealish, Maddison, Rashford, and Maguire missing out. Alexander-Arnold partners Rice in midfield, supported by Adam Wharton and Kobbie Mainoo. With Southgate opting for 10 forwards, England’s attacking depth should help them navigate through potentially tricky games against Denmark or Serbia.


Denmark, joint-top in their qualifying group, brings a mix of familiar and fresh faces. Rasmus Hojlund, in form with United, leads the line, while Hojberg and Eriksen add midfield strength. Despite goal-scoring issues against lesser teams, a compact back three will see them through.


Serbia and Slovenia round out the group. Serbia’s top-heavy team boasts Vlahovic, Mitrovic, and Tadic up front, but lacks depth in midfield and defense. They’ll aim to advance as a third-place team. Slovenia’s hopes rest on Jan Oblak’s goalkeeping and Ben Sesko’s breakout season. They’ll need at least three points against Denmark or Serbia to advance.


 

Group D

Netherlands, France, Poland, Austria

Euro 2024 Group D kits

🚨🚨 Alarms sounding for a major upset alert.


France is a popular pick to win the EURO and top their group, boasting incredible depth and firepower. However, The Netherlands might surprise as dark horses to top the group.


I needed to rattle the keyboard warriors. France to still go deep into the knockouts but the experience and depth of Netherlands will see them top this group.


Poland, with Lewandowski possibly in his last tournament, needs support from Milik and Zielinski. If they can draw against the Netherlands or France and beat Austria, they might advance as a third-place team. However, Poland never seems to have that extra gas in the tank to make that final push in European tournaments.


While Austria still boasts veteran midfielders Laimer and Sabitzer, they lack stopping

power on the front line. Arnautovic is coming off a slow season with Inter Milan, so we

may see Gregoritsch take his spot leading the line. Plus, captain David Alaba misses

this tournament through injury. Austria finish bottom in this group.


 

Group E

Belgium, Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia

Euro 2024 Group E kits

This group isn’t much of a looker. Romania and Slovakia sit 46 th and 48 th respectively in

the FIFA rankings as of this week.


Belgium are obvious favorites with goal-machine Lukaku at striker. Despite some familiar names like Vertonghen, Meunier and Witsel in defense, Witsel and Vertonghen are both over the age of 35, so they’ll rely heavily on veterans like De Bruyne and Carrasco to facilitate opportunities moving forward. I expect Ukraine to give them some trouble in the final group match, but Belgium will look to take that top come end of June.


Slovakia are favorites to finish bottom but they do have a few players to note though,

mostly the old guard for Slovakia with Dubrakvka and Skriniar looking to shore up the

back line. They breezed through qualifying but still lack a killer player to make the

difference for them going forward.


Radu Dragusin, Romania’s most expensive player in their history will be central to their

defensive shape if they even want to sniff qualification. Young talent Ianis Hagi and

veteran Nicolae Stanciu will have to make up the creativity and goals from midfield with

Bari midfielder Puscas looking to add to his 11 goal tally for Romania. Slovakia and

Romania will duke it out for the third place spot, with Romania barely edging it.


It’s been a hell of a few years for Ukraine, and they made a show of making it this far via

the playoff route. They boast an impressive spine, too: Lunin, who handled a majority of

the workload for Real Madrid this year when Courtois was injured; Konoplya and

Mykolenko, the latter having a meteoric rise the second half of the season with Everton;

not to mention Arsenal’s versatile defender Zinchenko who can play forward-thinking left

midfield while covering for Mykolenko at left back. Andriy Yarmolenko, back with his

boyhood club Dynamo Kiev, will look to add to his 11 G/A season in Ukraine.


Deputizing Yarmolenko is Artem Dovbyk who managed 32 G/A for high-flying Girona in La Liga last year. But the biggest question mark remains: which Mykhaylo Mudryk are we getting this summer? Last summer he was one of the most sought-after wingers in Europe only to belly flop at Chelsea. Playing for Ukraine in a major tournament may light a fire under

him to lead his country to the knockout rounds. Count on Ukraine advancing in second

place where a matchup with Netherlands of France likely awaits.


 

Group F

Portugal, Czechia, Turkey, Georgia

Euro 2024 Group F kits

Besides England and Spain, Portugal's depth at every position is staggering. Almost every player competes for a top 6 team in their respective country. They’re stacked from top to bottom, and I believe they’ll reach the final. This is one of the more top-heavy groups, but competition for second and third place will be tight.


In their eighth successive EURO Championship, Czechia has a solid history in the European Championships. They’ve made the knockouts seven times, reaching the final twice and winning once. West Ham duo Coufal and Soucek will add defensive and midfield stability, while Bayer Leverkusen duo Schick and Hlozek will take on most of the goal-scoring responsibility after their impressive Bundesliga-winning season. A young team with a good veteran presence, Czechia can squeeze into second place.


Turkey and Georgia, however, leave much to be desired. Turkey, a mainstay in international tournaments, has had mixed success. The loss of Burak Yilmaz to retirement in 2022 hurts their goal tally, now dependent on Baris Yilmaz (no relation). Caglar Soyuncu from Leicester is a huge defensive loss, but Turkey’s midfield remains strong with Calhanoglu, Ozcan, and Guler performing fantastically for their clubs this season, helping Turkey push through qualifiers. They’ll aim for third spot, hoping to advance as one of the best third-place teams.

Georgia faces challenges. Their lineup includes Napoli star Khvicha ‘Kvaradona’ Kvaratskhelia, who totaled 17 goals and assists for a side that barely made tenth place in Serie A, and Mamardashvili, who managed 13 clean sheets and saved 3 penalties for Valencia. But their defensive and attacking prowess is limited.


After barely qualifying with a penalty shootout win over Greece, it's unlikely that a team relying on a superstar keeper and striker can progress to the knockouts. The responsibility is too much for too few.


 

Best Third-Place Teams

Croatia, Scotland, Denmark, Poland, Turkey, Romania

not euro 2024 3d place medal

For those who don’t know, this year’s group format follows Euro 2020’s, with the four best third-place teams qualifying for the knockout round.


Despite being placed in this year’s group of death, I still expect Croatia to advance cleanly, mainly due to their experience.


Shaqiri is back for Switzerland, and they’ll need to channel his experience and goal prowess, along with their veterans, to finish in the top four.

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