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A Feast Of Football Awaits At Euro 2024

Updated: Jun 30

 Our Brilliant Editor Ben Tirebuck offers an analysis of the Euro 2024 for fans of football. Keep your eye on the ball!

For lovers of football in the major European leagues, the end of the domestic season brings much anguish. Having feasted for over nine months on a smorgasbord of action from the likes of the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, suddenly they find themselves in a barren wasteland, starved of the beautiful game. However, every two years this dilemma is remedied thanks to two major international football tournaments, namely the World Cup and the European Championships.

Euro 2024 | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Online
Italy are reigning European champions after winning the 2020 tournament which was delayed a year due to the global COVID-19 pandemic

This year sees Euro 2024 take place in Germany. The month-long tournament begins on June 14 and runs until July 14 when the final will be contested at the 70,033 capacity Olympiastadion in Berlin. The 17th edition of the quadrennial UEFA tournament sees an expanded format with 24 teams competing through a series of group games and then knock-out matches to determine the winner, to be played at 10 stadiums throughout the country.

Picking a winner prior to a ball being kicked is always a difficult task but the experts' view is that France and England are the standout favourites. The French, managed by former player Didier Deschamps, are Europe’s top team in the global FIFA rankings and have made it to the final of the last two World Cup finals. Looking to win their first European Championship since 2000, they also boast arguably the finest player in the world right now in Kylian Mbappe, who recently secured a move to Champions League winners Real Madrid. They play in Group D with Poland, an always unpredictable Netherlands and Austria, who many are expecting big things from as tournament dark horses. France are favourite to win the group and progress deep into the tournament although coach Deschamps is cautious. “Like other nations we have the potential to maybe go all the way, but we must not already be thinking about the semi-finals or a possible final,” he warned pre-tournament.

Euro 2024 | Kylian Mbappe | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Online
Managed by Didier Deschamps (left), France have reached the last two World Cup finals and in Kylian Mbappe arguably have the best player in the world in their ranks.

Footballing Powerhouse

England fans go into the tournament with the usual mix of fervent optimism and a desperate sense of the inevitable as they chase their first major trophy since 1966. They have never won the Euros and were beaten on penalties by Italy in the 2021 final on home soil (delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic). However, the team have progressed well under manager Gareth Southgate, even if critics still lambast his overly defensive approach in games which tends to shackle a staggering array of attacking personnel. Harry Kane has just finished his maiden season at German club Bayern Munich as the league’s top scorer and will be familiar with the surroundings.

Euro 2024 | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Online
England fans enter the tournament hopeful yet anxious, seeking their first major trophy since 1966

Phil Foden won the Premier League again with Manchester City and was voted the league’s best player. And Jude Bellingham had a jaw-dropping first season at Real Madrid and looks very much a contender to Mbappe’s crown of world’s best player. England are in Group C with Denmark, Slovenia and Serbia which they should be able to navigate although it will not be easy. “Are we one of those teams who can win? Of course,” said Southgate. “I’d be an idiot if I said no, but if I said yes, that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of work ahead of us.”

Euro 2024 | England captain Harry Kane | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Online
England captain Harry Kane finished his first season at Bayern Munich as the league's top scorer.

Host Germany kick-off the tournament against fellow Group A team Scotland on June 14. Despite disappointment at recent Euros and World Cups, Germany is a traditional footballing powerhouse who have won the Euros on three occasions and go into the occasion with a strong squad and a confident manager in Julian Nagelsmann. “I have the feeling that we can win the tournament. And most of the time, my intuition is not too bad,” he said at the team’s first training camp in the eastern region of Thuringia which saw 15,000 fans attend. “It gives the team a great feeling that the country is behind us and everyone supports us,” Nagelsmann added. With top-quality players such as Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala, Toni Kross, Kai Havertz, and captain Ilkay Gundogan, the home-based tournament could be the occasion for the German machine to spark again. However, aside from Scotland, they will face tough opponents in Switzerland and dark horses in Hungary so nothing is a given.

Outside Bet

Current holders Italy face off against Spain in a blockbuster Group B, which also sees Albania and Croatia. Despite winning the last Euros, Italy failed to qualify for the last World Cup in Qatar and, while progressing under new coach Luciano Spalletti, it is still early days and therefore unlikely they will reach the same heights as three years ago. Spain are not the force they once were but under no-nonsense coach Luis de la Fuente the two-time winners will be one of the most watchable teams at the tournament. Much of the Croatian team that made the 2018 World Cup final and the semi-finals of the last tournament in Qatar will be the same group playing in Germany, a factor which could ultimately work against them.

Euro 2024 | Spain | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Magazine
Spain, although no longer dominant, will be highly watchable under coach Luis de la Fuente

Winners in 2016, Portugal are many people’s outside bet for ultimate triumph in Berlin on July 14. He may be 39 years of age and competing in his sixth Euros but captain Cristiano Ronaldo still has what it takes to cut it at the highest level and is ably supported by a fine group of players, including Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes, Liverpool’s Diogo Jota, Manchester City duo Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva and Brighton’s Joao Felix. While it won’t necessarily be a stroll, Roberto Martinez’s side should have enough to top Group F above opponents Turkey, the Czech Republic and Euros debutants Georgia.

Euro 2024 | Cristiano Ronaldo | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Magazine
Cristiano Ronaldo, the senior player in Portugal's team, will be backed by very capable young talents

Belgium are the stand-out favourites in Group E, up against Ukraine, Slovakia and Romania. Manager Domenico Tedesco has done a fine job transitioning from the former “Golden Generation” team to a youthful, enterprising outfit that could go deep into the tournament. “I don’t think we are top favourites, but I don’t think there are many countries keen to play us,” captain Kevin De Bruyne commented ahead of the tournament. It really is anyone’s guess as to who takes second place in the group and progresses although many sympathetic neutrals will be rooting for Ukraine, given the predicament their country still finds themselves with regards to the Russian invasion. Russia, incidentally, is banned from this tournament, as they are from any international football tournament, due to their invasion of Ukraine.

Euro 2024 | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Online

So football fans, settle into your favourite comfortable chair, stock the fridge up with your favourite snacks and beverages and settle down to enjoy a feast of football for a month! There promises to be plenty of quality action, no doubt some controversy and maybe even a few surprises. Picking a winner is tricky and, while this is a preview rather than a prediction piece, this Englishman’s heart is on his sleeve which is why he is confident/hopeful of victory for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions come July 14 in Berlin! 


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