Potential Euro 2024 Threats: Germany, Spain, and France

Potential Euro 2024 Threats: Germany, Spain, and France

Despite signing off with a home defeat by Iceland, England are regarded as one of the favourites for Euro 2024 and will travel to Germany hopeful of winning only a second major tournament in their history.

The Three Lions haven’t won a major trophy since their 1966 World Cup win, but anticipation has been rising with Gareth Southgate finding himself with a number of high-quality talents at his disposal.

Jude Bellingham will arrive at the tournament having won the Champions League just days prior, while the likes of Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and John Stones won a historic Treble just last season.

That’s without mentioning the man that will lead the line, England’s record goal scorer and captain, Harry Kane. 

Here, Mail Sport takes a closer look at the main obstacles standing in their way.

England will go into Euro 2024 as tournament favourites but face tough challenges if they are to win their first major trophy since 1966

Defeat by Iceland at Wembley in their final game before the tournament has left fans worried, however

 

Germany

Since they lifted the World Cup 10 years ago, major tournaments have largely been miserable for Germany, but it should be a different story this time.

Julian Nagelsmann’s forward line of Florian Wirtz, Ilkay Gundogan, Jamal Musiala and Kai Havertz is a serious force, bolstered by the return of Toni Kroos – who plans to retire from football after the tournament – in midfield. Joshua Kimmich is another who provides experience and quality and if Nagelsmann wants to change things, Niclas Fullkrug of Borussia Dortmund is a traditional barnstorming No9.

Eyebrows were raised when big names like Mats Hummels and Leon Goretzka were left out but Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller has been retained and one of the surprise stars of the tournament could be Stuttgart left-back Maximilian Mittelstadt. 

A converted midfielder, Mittelstadt’s brilliant displays helped Stuttgart finish second in the Bundesliga and he looks right at home in the international game too. With home crowds behind them, if Germany find form early they could be difficult to stop.

Julian Nagelsmann's Germany will hope to impress in front of their home fans at the tournament this summer

Julian Nagelsmann’s Germany will hope to impress in front of their home fans at the tournament this summer

Toni Kroos (pictured) has returned to the fold and plans to retire from football after the competition

Toni Kroos (pictured) has returned to the fold and plans to retire from football after the competition

France

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EURO 2024 TEAM GUIDE – France: Can Kylian Mbappe and Les Bleus get over their recent Euros hoodoo?

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If major tournaments were decided on depth of talent alone, nobody would be able to stop France. Kylian Mbappe is probably the best player in the world and is the jewel in a team who have high-quality options all over the field.

Former Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is a surprise pick but coach Didier Deschamps has faith that the 2018 World Cup winner can still cut it at this level despite spending last season in the Saudi Pro League.

Antoine Griezmann remains a byword for class and creativity and Olivier Giroud continues to do a fine job when asked the lead the line for Les Bleus.

As ever, France’s most dangerous opponents might be themselves. Deschamps has usually handled a volatile group well but the choice of Mbappe as captain, ahead of Griezmann, was a controversial one. 

The Real Madrid-bound forward is a big personality who attracts huge attention wherever he goes. How will his team-mates react to that if things do not go to plan on the pitch?

Kylian Mbappe, arguably the best player in the world, will look to spur France onto victory

 

Spain

After his side were crushed 5-1 in a friendly on Saturday, Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill admitted Spain’s quality was ‘way too high’ – and if they hit their stride over the next few weeks, many opponents will feel the same.

Barcelona gem Pedri has had a difficult season but looked back to his best in midfield against O’Neill’s men while his clubmate Lamine Yamal, who does not turn 17 until the day before the final, could emerge from the tournament as a global superstar.

Alvaro Morata averages nearly a goal every other game for his country while there are surely no better holding midfielders than Manchester City star Rodri. He has a vital job, too, as Spain’s defence and goalkeeper do not convince.

Nacho’s warrior-like displays helped Real Madrid win the Champions League and at left-back, Alex Grimaldo was a key man for Xabi Alonso’s Double-winning Bayer Leverkusen side. Yet with the inconsistent Unai Simon in goal, rivals will see a chink in the armour, even in such a powerful attacking team.

Spain have a strong attack whose quality was ‘way too high’ for Northern Ireland on Saturday

 

Italy

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EURO 2024 TEAM GUIDE: Italy seek an unlikely defence of their title

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Rarely have reigning champions headed into a major tournament with carrying little expectation.

A year ago Roberto Mancini, who led the Azzurri to Euro 2020 glory, quit to take the Saudi Arabia post. His replacement, Luciano Spalletti, sealed qualification but Italy have their work cut out in a tough group with Spain, Croatia and Albania.

There have been injury concerns over star midfielder Nicolo Barella, a mainstay of Inter Milan’s title-winning side, though optimism is growing he will be fit for the opener against Albania on Saturday. Arsenal midfielder Jorginho keeps things moving alongside Barella while West Ham flop Gianluca Scamacca had a fine end to the season for Atalanta and was selected along with Juventus’ Nicolo Fagioli, who was banned for most of the season for breaching betting rules.

Yet three years ago, Italy’s success was built on the central defensive pairing of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. Both have retired and though Alessandro Bastoni is an outstanding defender, his potential partners are not at the same level. A semi-final place would be a fine effort.

Italy's 2021 success was built on the defensive pairing of Leonardo Bonucci (right) and Giorgio Chiellini (left), though both are now retired

Italy’s 2021 success was built on the defensive pairing of Leonardo Bonucci (right) and Giorgio Chiellini (left), though both are now retired

Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal could also have a say out in Germany

Kevin De Bruyne's Belgium will also look to be competitive

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and Kevin De Bruyne’s Belgium could also have a say in Germany

 

The best of the rest 

It would be foolish to think that potential winners come from these four and England alone.

Player for player, Portugal’s squad has supreme quality and despite their defensive frailties, Belgium look exciting, with Kevin De Bruyne the creative force for speedy attackers like Jeremy Doku, Johan Bakayoko and Lois Openda.

The Netherlands, too, have players who seem to have found form. Bayer Leverkusen man Jeremie Frimpong can enhance his reputation and despite his inconsistent club career, Memphis Depay is a fine servant for his country, with 45 goals in 91 caps. 

Though they are unlikely to go all the way, Switzerland, Croatia and Denmark have a habit of upsetting the established order in major tournaments. Disregard them at your peril.

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