Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Football Daily | Finding a reason why every team at Euro 2024 might actually win it

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With three days to go before the big kick-off, every fan across Europe should dare to dream big. So here’s our handy guide to why all 24 teams will win the Euros – with a maximum of one correct prediction guaranteed!

Germany To paraphrase Gary Lineker, 24 teams will play 47 matches in 30 days, and in the end the Germans will win. The hosts may be in iffy form, managed by Rupert Bear and boasting several players we’ve never heard of. But you just know they’ll find a way, despite repeatedly failing to do so in the last decade.

Scotland Steve Clarke’s side beat Spain in qualifying, which tells us that, despite a growing body of evidence to the contrary, they can beat anyone on their day. Nicking a 1-0 win in Munich will light a fire under a team unburdened with any scars from knockout-stage football.

Hungary The perfect recipe for success: a sprinkle of creative talent, a reliable defence, and comfortably the most terrifying fans in Europe.

Switzerland Knocked an outrageously complacent France side out of Euro 2020. Plus Xherdan Shaqiri, 65, is ready to finally deliver at a major finals. Write off the Swiss at your peril.

Xherdan Shaqiri: still going. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Spain The three-times former winners have Rodri and Dani Carvajal, men who are almost incapable of losing football matches, in their squad. But where’s the cutting edge? Step forward Tenerife’s finest, Ayozé Perez, a new call-up at 30. All that’s left is to avoid penalty shootouts.

Croatia Known as Vatreni (the Blazers), Croatia have the best kit and the best nickname. Also, having won four shootouts out of four in the World Cup, Zlatko Dalic’s side can get by without the hassle of actually winning games. Dark horses.

Italy The defending champions. The Azzurri didn’t even need to make their traditional slow start to win the last Euros, and when they can be bothered to qualify for a tournament, they usually go on and win it.

Albania Greece didn’t qualify, so 20 years on from Euro 2004, it’s up to their neighbours to mark the anniversary with a shock run to the title, mixing giant-killing thrills with soul-sappingly defensive football.

England Gareth Southgate has built one of Europe’s most talented squads while getting ever closer to ending those years of hurt. But why will this time be different? Losing to Iceland, dispersing the cloud of hubris that would inevitably trip the team up, might prove to be his greatest managerial masterstroke yet.

Denmark Group C’s only former winners, they rewrote the rulebook for tournament success in 1992. Have four Brentford players in their squad, which ought to count for something. Dark horses.

Denmark get a big send-off in Copenhagen. Photograph: Ida Marie Odgaard/EPA

Serbia Listen, we’re starting to run out of steam here, but a load of big lads behind Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic seems like a good idea.

Slovenia This tiny Balkan nation punches above its weight on the world sporting stage, producing cycling star Tadej Pogacar and Luka Doncic. So, there’s that.

France Les Bleus are the highest-ranked team, have the deepest squad and the best player in Kylian Mbappé. Also, Lionel Messi is not eligible for these Euros.

Austria They may be lacking in household names but Ralf Rangnick’s side are a cohesive unit who can press and counter all day long. We’re welcoming them into the Dark Horses club, and hope they don’t show themselves up like Turkey did.

Netherlands Not as strong as in their 1988 triumph or the many, many near-misses since, Ronald Koeman’s side lost 4-0 to France in qualifying after a chicken curry reportedly laid several players low. If that’s not a perfect origin story for success, we don’t know what is.

Virgil van Dijk gets his arty pose on. Photograph: Alexander Scheuber/Uefa/Getty Images

Poland The last team to qualify, you can guarantee the Poles will be playing in every 5pm kick-off you actually get to watch. They will also win each game by a single Robert Lewandowski goal, and we will never speak of it again.

Belgium The last chance for their golden generation? OK, that was about 10 years ago – but the Red Devils have a nice blend of rising stars and hardened veterans. They’ve got to win a trophy one day, so why not now?

Romania A team blessed with big names: (Ianis) Hagi, (George) Puscas, (Florinel) Coman, (Horatiu) Moldovan – and the man for the big occasion, Dennis Man.

Slovakia With an average squad age close to 30, these lads have the required guile and experience, if not the ability, to go all the way. They play as a well-oiled, tasty unit under their coach, Francesco Calzona.

Ukraine Putting “jokes” aside for one moment, it would truly be a wonderful thing if Serhiy Rebrov’s team could deliver glory for suffering fans at home. They have talented players and got a decent draw. Dark horses.

Portugal After replacing Fernando Santos with vibes man Roberto Martínez, they flew through qualifying and have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo is also keeping quiet, for now.

Yes, Vitinha! Photograph: Aitor Alcalde/Uefa/Getty Images

Turkey The tournament’s most populous country, which must count for something. Disappointing dark horses last time around; perhaps backing them for the trophy will help Vincenzo Montella’s men get their act together.

Georgia Did you know W1lly Sagnol is the head coach of Georgia? Neither did we. Made it through qualifying despite beating only Cyprus and Luxembourg in 90 minutes. Can get through without being any good, so hard to bet against them.

Czech Republic From Antonin Panenka to Patrik Schick via Pavel Nedved, the Czechs always come to play at the Euros. This time, they have the perfect back story after coach Jaroslav Silhavy led them to qualification and then quit. Ivan Hasek is now in charge for a carefree run to the trophy. Dark horses.


“If we don’t win, I probably won’t be here anymore” – Gareth Southgate, there, predicting a potential summer updating his LinkedIn page.

’Gate’s on a plane. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/The FA/Getty Images

As the media coverage ramps up on Euro 2024, it’s clearly time for those of us that work for a living to check out the scheduling to see which mouthwatering games have been irresponsibly selected to clash with commitments The Man believes are of a higher priority. Even those of us that have been deemed unsuitable for office space (and thus work from home) need to carefully assess the risks of wandering away from the laptop and being sucked into the joy of a meaningless group game while ignoring the raging despair of management when their egos are not massaged by instant responses. And so, it’s with a huge sigh of relief that I can confirm that just about every 2pm weekday game looks like a stinker. Of course, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to get caught skiving; as we all know, at least one of those ties will throw up a “classic” but, credit where credit is due, Uefa may actually have done all us miserable drones a favour by expanding the tournament in their insatiable lust for profit. Chapeau, and all that” – Colin Reed.

Carlo Ancelotti’s claim that he was misinterpreted about his indifference to Real Madrid participating in the Club World Cup (yesterday’s Quote of the Day) is not unreasonable. With a massive global advertising campaign using two arched eyebrows as a sign of enthusiasm, one arched eyebrow was always going to get him into trouble” – Matthew Wilcox.

Great goal by John Barnes for sure (yesterday’s Memory Lane, full email edition) but, looking at that photo (admittedly on a phone screen) it seems like he only had to take on Bob Carolgees. Although I’m guessing he had a Brazilian name like Spitinho” – Antony Train.

Send letters to Today’s letter o’ the day winner is … Matthew Wilcox, who wins a copy of Euro 88: The Football Purists’ European Championship, by Pitch Publishing. Visit their bookshop here. Terms and conditions for our competitions can be viewed here.

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