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Euro 2024: Germany, England, Spain bank on youngsters

Since winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Germany have fallen off their perch in dramatic fashion.
Last Updated : 10 June 2024, 14:38 IST
Last Updated : 10 June 2024, 14:38 IST

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Bengaluru: Littered with an abundance of young and exciting talent, heavyweights such as Germany, Spain and England, placed in Group A, B and C respectively, will be gunning for glory in the European Championships.

Defending champions Italy and dark horses Croatia can also stake a claim for the trophy as the 17th edition of the quadrennial event gets underway on June 14 in Germany.

Group A

Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Scotland

Can Germany cash in on home advantage?

Since winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Germany have fallen off their perch in dramatic fashion.

They went down to France in the semifinals of the Euro 2016 and were bundled out by England in the round of 16 in the 2020 iteration, which was played in 2021 due to Covid-19.

Shockingly, the Germans failed to make it out of the group stages in the preceding two World Cups.

The three-time European champions roped in Julian Nagelsmann as head coach after sacking Hansi Flick and the 36-year-old is still refining his tactics and preferred personnel.

Another potential deterrent for Die Mannschaft could be their lack of competitive fixtures played since the 2022 World Cup, as they secured direct qualification by virtue of being hosts. But there is no denying the individual quality the Germans possess across all areas of the pitch. 

Midfield could pose a problem of plenty, with Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan, Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz all vying for starting positions, with the attack likely to be spearheaded by Kai Havertz, Niclas Fuellkrug and Thomas Muller.

Joining Germany in Group A are Switzerland, Hungary and Scotland, all there equally matched.

Murat Yakin’s Switzerland have punched above their weight in previous editions and are the only team apart from France to reach the knockout stages in their last five major international tournaments.

Switzerland endured a successful Euro 2020 in which they knocked out France on penalties in the last 16.

Granit Xhaka will look to orchestrate proceedings in midfield, while the back-line wears a solid look with the presence of Manchester City’s Manuel Akanji and goalkeeper Yann Sommer.

Hungary, coached by Marco Rossi, have picked up steam with one defeat in their last 13 matches. In the 2020 Euro, they failed to win a single match but with their captain Dominik Szoboszlai, who sat out the 2020 tournament with injury, enjoying a promising season with Liverpool, they will be no push-overs.

Scotland have gained a reputation for falling short in the group stages. But Steve Clarke’s side impressed in the qualifiers, defeating Spain 2-0. Manchester United’s Scott McTominay is scoring for fun in national colours, and left-back Andy Robertson's displays will be crucial to Scotland's chances of progression.

Full squads: Germany: Goalkeepers: Oliver Baumann, Manuel Neuer, Marc-André ter Stegen. Defenders: Waldemar Anton, Benjamin Henrichs, Joshua Kimmich, Robin Koch, Maximilian Mittelstädt, David Raum, Antonio Rudiger, Nico Schlotterbeck, Jonathan Tah. Midfielders: Robert Andrich, Chris Fuehrich, Ilkay Gundogan, Pascal Gross, Toni Kroos, Jamal Musiala, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Leroy Sane, Florian Wirtz. Forwards: Maximilian Beier, Niclas Fuellkrug, Kai Havertz, Thomas Muller, Deniz Undav.

Switzerland: Goalkeepers: Gregor Kobel, Yvon Mvogo, Yann Sommer. Defenders: Manuel Akanji, Nico Elvedi, Ricardo Rodríguez, Fabian Schar, Leonidas Stergiou, Silvan Widmer, Cedric Zesiger. Midfielders: Michel Aebischer, Remo Freuler, Ardon Jashari, Fabian Rieder, Xherdan Shaqiri, Vincent Sierro, Renato Steffen, Ruben Vargas, Granit Xhaka, Denis Zakaria, Steven Zuber. Forwards: Zeki Amdouni, Kwadwo Duah, Breel Embolo, Dan Ndoye, Noah Okafor.

Hungary: Goalkeepers: Denes Dibusz, Peter Gulacsi, Peter Szappanos. Defenders: Botond Balogh, Bendeguz Bolla, Endre Botka, Marton Dardai, Attila Fiola, Milos Kerkez, Adam Lang, Zsolt Nagy, Loic Nego, Willi Orban, Attila Szalai. Midfielders: Daniel Gazdag, Mihaly Kata, Laszlo Kleinheisler, Adam Nagy, Andras Schaefer, Callum Styles, Dominik Szoboszlai. Forwards: Martin Adam, Kevin Csoboth, Kristofer Horvath, Roland Sallai Barnabás Varga.

Scotland: Goalkeepers: Zander Clark, Angus Gunn, Liam Kelly. Defenders: Liam Cooper, Grant Hanley, Jack Hendry, Ross McCrorie, Scott McKenna, Ryan Porteous, Anthony Ralston, Andrew Robertson, Greg Taylor, Kieran Tierney. Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest, Billy Gilmour, Ryan Jack, John McGinn, Callum McGregor, Kenny McLean, Scott McTominay, Lewis Morgan. Forwards: Che Adams, Ryan Christie, Tommy Conway, Lawrence Shankland.

Group B

Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania

Spain, Italy reignite rivalry in challenging group

Three-time European champions Spain are joined by holders Italy, 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia and Albania in an interesting group riddled with sub-plots.

Spain have lost just two of their previous 22 matches at the Euros (Won 13, drawn 7), not including penalty shootouts. Both these defeats came against Croatia and Italy in the Euro 2016.

In Euro 2020, Italy dumped Spain out on penalties in the semifinal, so La Roja will have a point to prove against their familiar foes.

After copping early criticism, Spain head coach Luis de la Fuente finally got his tactics right and oversaw wins over Italy and Croatia in the Nations League with a more direct style of football.

Spain’s possession-driven football and quick passing plays are a treat to the eyes but can be exploited by sitting deep and counter-attacking in numbers, as Morocco displayed in the 2022 World Cup. Hence, de La Fuente has worked hard to implement a Plan B, and has not been afraid to blood a host of promising youngsters.

Teenage sensations Pau Cubrasi, Pedri, Lamine Yamal, along fellow Barca breakthrough star Fermin Lopez and Bilbao’s Nico Williams form an exciting core brimming with potential.

The experience is lent by the likes of Dani Carvajal, Nacho Fernandez and Rodri Hernandez, who are serial trophy winners for their respective clubs and can dictate the pace against any opposition.

Italy enter the competition with the baggage of being the defending champions but Luciano Spalletti’s side are in a period of wholesale transition.

But in a weird case of deja vu, Italy are heading to the Euro after not qualifying for the World Cup. The last time this happened, they emerged winners.

Spalletti, who took over from Roberto Mancini last August, will be without defensive stalwarts Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

Also, injuries to the likes of Destiny Udogie, Nicolo Zaniolo, Francesco Acerbi and Giorgio Scalvini are body blows to the Azzurri.

Such a crisis can be the impetus for newer stars to shine. Midfielder Davide Frattesi continues to dazzle with every passing game.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, the penalty-shootout hero from their previous campaign, and midfielder Jorginho will be looking to stamp their authority.

If Federico Chiesa can rediscover his red-hot form from the 2020 Euro, Italy can pose a potent threat. But their over-reliance on misfiring forward Gianluca Scamacca could cost them dear.

Croatia, who peak during the World Cups but fall short during the Euros, can be the dark horses. Expect the timeless Luka Modric to be at the heart of everything.

Zlatko Dalic’s team also have Josko Gvardiol, Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric among their ranks.

Albania, who topped their qualifying group, will bank on the predatory instincts of Jasir Asani for a good start to their campaign.

Full squads: Spain: Goalkeepers: David Raya, Alejandro Remiro, Unai Simon. Defenders: Dani Carvajal, Marc Cucurella, Alejandro Grimaldo, Aymeric Laporte, Robin Le Normand, Nacho, Daniel Vivian. Midfielders: Alex Baena, Mikel Merino, Mikel Oyarzabal, Pedri, Rodri, Fabian Ruiz, Nico Williams, Martin Zubimendi. Forwards: Joselu, Fermin Lopez, Alvaro Morata, Jesus Navas, Dani Olmo, Ayoze Perez, Ferran Torres, Lamine Yamal.

Italy: Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alex Meret, Guglielmo Vicario. Defenders: Alessandro Bastoni, Raoul Bellanova, Alessandro Buongiorno, Riccardo Calafiori, Andrea Cambiaso, Matteo Darmian, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Federico Dimarco, Federico Gatti, Gianluca Mancini. Midfielders: Nicolo Barella, Bryan Cristante, Nicolo Fagioli, Davide Frattesi, Jorginho, Lorenzo Pellegrini. Forwards: Federico Chiesa, Stephan El Shaarawy, Michael Folorunsho, Giacomo Raspadori, Mateo Retegui, Gianluca Scamacca, Mattia Zaccagni.

Croatia: Goalkeepers: Ivica Ivusic, Nediljko Labrovic, Dominik Livakovic. Defenders: Martin Erlic, Josko Gvardiol, Josip Juranovic, Marin Pongracic, Borna Sosa, Josip Stanisic, Josip Sutalo, Domagoj Vida. Midfielders: Martin Baturina, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, Lovro Majer, Luka Modric, Mario Pasalic, Luka Sucic, Nikola Vlasic. Forwards: Ante Budimir, Luka Ivanusec, Andrej Kramaric, Marco Pasalic, Ivan Perisic, Bruno Petkovic, Marko Pjaca. 

Albania: Goalkeepers: Etrit Berisha, Elhan Kastrati, Thomas Strakosha. Defenders: Arlind Ajeti, Naser Aliji, Ivan Balliu, Berat Djimsiti, Elseid Hysaj, Ardian Ismajli, Marash Kumbulla, Enea Mihaj, Mario Mitaj. Midfielders: Amir Abrashi, Kristjan Asllani, Nedim Bajrami, Klaus Gjasula, Qazim Laci, Ylber Ramadani, Taulant Seferi. Forwards: Jasir Asani, Medon Berisha, Armando Broja, Mirlind Daku, Arber Hoxha, Rey Manaj, Ernest Muci.

Group C

England, Denmark, Serbia, Slovenia

Can England go one better?

England, with just one major men’s trophy to boast for, flatter to deceive in every major tournament. But with a squad of generational talents all seemingly in the peak of their careers, is it finally time for the trophy to ‘come home’?

Gareth Southgate’s men are the early favourites, but their first hurdle is a difficult Group C with Euro 2020 semifinalists Denmark and in-form Serbia and Slovenia.

After the heart-breaking loss to Italy in the final at Wembley three years ago, England rattled through their qualifiers and are playing a signature brand of free-flowing attacking football.

The options in front of goal are gob-smacking. Take your pick from Phil Foden, Cole Palmer, Bukayo Saka, Ollie Watkins and Harry Kane, all of whom are in red-hot form.

The midfield bears a youthful look with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice and Kobbie Mainoo headlining the act. 

Defence can be a chink in the armour though, as Southgate's decision to omit Harry Maguire could come back to bite them, as the 1-0 defeat to Iceland exposed.

Denmark, winners of the 1992 Euro, soared to the semifinals last time in a memorable run and can spring a similar surprise under the tutelage of Kasper Hjulmand.

Midfielder Christian Eriksen, who suffered a cardiac arrest midway through Denmark's opening group-stage match against Finland in 2021, will hold the key to unlocking defences along with Manchester United teammate Rasmus Hojlund.

Serbia boast of a fearsome strike partnership of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic, with Luka Jovic only adding to the attacking options at Dragan Stojkovic's disposal.

Slovenia are coming off their best-ever qualifying campaign and will rely on the goal-scoring exploits of Benjamin Sesko, who netted 23 times for club and country, and the goalkeeping nous of Jan Oblak.

Coach Matjaz Kek, who led Slovenia to the 2010 World Cup, is currently in his second spell with the national team. 

Full squads: England: Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale. Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Lewis Dunk, Joe Gomez, Marc Guehi, Ezri Konsa, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker. Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Conor Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo, Cole Palmer, Declan Rice, Adam Wharton. Forwards: Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze, Anthony Gordon, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney, Ollie Watkins. 

Denmark: Goalkeepers: Mads Hermansen, Frederik Ronnow, Kasper Schmeichel. Defenders: Joachim Andersen, Alexander Bah, Andreas Christensen, Mathias Jorgensen, Simon Kjaer, Rasmus Kristensen, Victor Kristiansen, Joakim Maehle, Jannik Vestergaard. Midfielders: Jacob Bruun Larsen, Thomas Delaney, Anders Dreyer, Christian Eriksen, Morten Hjulmand, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Mathias Jensen, Christian Norgaard. Forwards: Mikkel Damsgaard, Kasper Dolberg, Rasmus Hojlund, Andreas Skov Olsen, Yussuf Poulsen, Jonas Wind. 

Serbia: Goalkeepers: Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, Dorde Petrovic, Predrag Rajkovic. Defenders: Srdan Babic, Nikola Milenkovic, Filip Mladenovic, Strahinja Pavlovic, Uros Spajic, Nemanja Stojic, Milos Veljkovic. Midfielders: Veljko Birmancevic, Mijat Gacinovic, Nemanja Gudelj, Ivan Ilic, Sasa Lukic, Nemanja Maksimovic, Srdjan Mijailovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Lazar Vujadin Samardzic. Forwards: Luka Jovic, Filip Kostic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Petar Ratkov, Dusan Tadic, Dusan Vlahovic, Andrija Zivkovic.

Slovenia: Goalkeepers: Vid Belec, Jan Oblak, Igor Vekic. Defenders: Jure Balkovec, Jaka Bijol, Miha Blazic, David Brekalo, Vanja Drkusic, Erik Janza, Zan Karnicnik, Jon Gorenc Stankovic, Petar Stojanovic. Midfielders: Timi Elsnik, Adam Gnezda Cerin, Tomi Horvat, Josip Ilicic, Jasmin Kurtic, Sandi Lovric, Benjamin Verbic, Adrian Zeljkovic, Nino Zugelj. Forwards: Zan Celar, Jan Mlakar, Benjamin Sesko, Andraz Sporar, Zan Vipotnik.

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Published 10 June 2024, 14:38 IST

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