Euro 2024 Group Stage round-up: England confirmed as luckiest team perhaps ever

Dave Tickner
England superstar Jude Bellingham celebrates after a win

The group stage at Euro 2024 is over, the last 16 is locked in, and England might just be the most fortunate football team we’ve ever seen.

Had Denmark beat Serbia, England’s route would be tougher. Had France beat Poland, England’s route would be tougher. Had Belgium beat Ukraine, England’s route would be tougher. Had Portugal got even a point against Georgia, England’s route would be tougher. Instead none of those things happened and England have landed in a plum spot in the draw despite largely stinking out the place during the group stage.

Somehow, they always manage to do this. It is truly remarkable.

A reminder that we know you don’t need by this point: the top two in each group go through, along with the four best runners-up. The full details on all the tournament admin and paperwork can be found here.


Qualified for Last 16: Germany, Spain, England, Austria, Romania, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, France, Turkey, Slovenia, Netherlands, Slovakia, Georgia
Eliminated: Poland, Scotland, Albania, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine, Czechia, Hungary

Group A

Winners: Germany
Runners-up: Switzerland
Eliminated: Hungary, Scotland

1. Germany – P3 W2 D1 L0 GD+6 Pts 7
Left it late to secure top spot against Switzerland but got there in the end and will now face Group C runners-up Denmark in the last 16.


2. Switzerland – P3 W1 D2 L0 GD+2 Pts 5
Moments away from snaffling top spot in the group, but showed again against Germany that they are not a team anyone will be taking lightly in the knockouts. They face Italy in the last 16 and should absolutely fancy their chances against the holders.


3. Hungary – P3 W1 D0 L2 GD-3 Pts 3
Kept themselves in it with a last-gasp winner against Scotland, but were then denied at the last themselves as Georgia stunned Portugal to knock Hungary into fifth among the third-place finishers.


4. Scotland – P3 W0 D1 L2 GD-5 Pts 1
Oh, Scotland
. Two points actually did have a chance of getting them through at the time, as well. It required several results to go their way, but all of them ‘only’ needed favourites to prevail. Now, though, it’s 12 group-stage exits from 12 major tournaments.


Group B

Winners: Spain
Runners-up: Italy
Eliminated: Croatia, Albania

1. Spain – P3 W3 D0 L0 GD+5 Pts 9
Nice and easy. this, considering we’re supposed to be dealing with the group of death.

Through after two wins and duly added the third against Albania. They were the first team slotted in to the knockout bracket, taking on Georgia in Cologne on June 30 before a potential quarter-final against Group A winners Germany, as long as the hosts can sort out Denmark.


2. Italy – P3 W1 D1 L1 GD+0 Pts 4
Needed a point against Croatia and got it in the most dramatic manner imaginable via a stunning 98th-minute goal from Mattia Zaccagni. They will now face Switzerland in the last 16 and potentially a rematch of the 2021 final against England in the last eight.


3. Croatia – P3 W0 D2 L1 GD-3 Pts 2
What an absolute sickener that was. The harsh truth is that Croatia probably don’t really deserve to go through after the way they played against Spain and Albania, but given they were mere seconds away from a 1-0 win that would have sent them through as runners-up with the magnificent Luka Modric the hero after scoring the winner…

Needed a favour from England in the form of at least a 3-0 win and the kindest thing to be said is that England at least didn’t torture them with false hope.


4. Albania – P3 W0 D1 L2 GD-2 Pts 1
Have absolutely not disgraced themselves in this impossibly tough group, losing by a single goal to Spain and Italy and taking a thoroughly deserved point against Croatia, but they do, as expected, finish bottom of the pile.


Group C

Winners: England
Runners-up: Denmark
Third-place qualifier: Slovenia
Eliminated: Serbia

1. England – P3 W1 D2 L0 GD+1 Pts 5
England win the group in some very Italia 90 areas as five of the six games end all square, with the assorted draws not exactly containing vast amounts of action.

A third-place team awaits England in the last-16, which thanks to Georgia’s stunning win over Portugal will now be Slovakia from Group E rather than Netherlands from Group D as everyone had understandably expected.

2. Denmark – P3 W0 D3 L0 GD+0 Pts 3
Edge out Slovenia for the right to face Germany in the last 16 on their Fair Play record after both teams ended up with identical records right down to the two goals scored following tonight’s pair of goalless draws. But don’t worry because…


3. Slovenia – P3 W0 D3 L0 GD+0 Pts 3
…Slovenia are still through anyway despite that Fair Play sickener. They, like Denmark, do now find themselves on the wrong side of the draw in the last 16. Portugal await, but Slovenia will carry a nine-game unbeaten run into that match.


4. Serbia – P3 W0 D2 L1 GD-1 Pts 2
If they could have just found an equaliser against England and everything else happened exactly as it did (which it obviously wouldn’t, but stay with us) we’d have been treated to a magnificent group in which every team had drawn all three games and scored precisely two goals. Wouldn’t that have been something. Instead, they are gone.


Group D

Winners: Austria
Runners-up: France
Third-place qualifier:


1. Austria – P3 W2 D0 L1 GD+2 Pts 6
Well that was unexpected. Having stunned Netherlands and seen France only draw with Poland, Austria hit back from defeat in their opening game to win Group D and take France’s anticipated spot in the knockout draw. They face Group F runners-up Turkey next.


2. France – P3 W1 D2 L0 GD+1 Pts 5
Couldn’t get the job done against Poland on matchday three and now find themselves in the same half of the draw as Germany, Spain and Portugal. Whoops.


3. Netherlands – P3 W1 D1 L1 GD+0 Pts 4
Were never in any danger of missing out on a qualifying spot from third even if it isn’t quite where they expected to be. Had looked set to face England in the last 16 but now take on Romania instead. There is absolutely no evidence from this tournament to suggest that is an easier assignment.


4. Poland – P3 W0 D1 L2  GD-3 Pts 1
The first team eliminated from the competition, but they made an impact at the last by denying France top spot with a 1-1 draw.


Group E

Winners: Romania
Runners-up: Belgium
Third-place qualifier: Slovakia
Eliminated: Ukraine

1. Romania – P3 W1 D1 L1 GD+1 Pts 4
The two draws means it’s as you were in Group and Romania take top spot by virtue of that big win over Ukraine on matchday one. That’s a huge outcome, putting them in the easier half of the draw and in a quarter with fellow surprise group winners Austria.


2. Belgium – P3 W1 D1 L1 GD+1 Pts 4
Couldn’t find a way past Ukraine and now have to settle for second place and a brutal last-16 clash with France in the tough half of the draw.


3. Slovakia – P3 W1 D1 L1 GD+0 Pts 4
A draw always suited Slovakia, guaranteeing their qualification one way or another. England await in Gelsenkirchen, and a team that has already beaten Belgium this month should have nothing to fear there.


4. Ukraine – P3 W1 D1 L1 GD-2 Pts 4
The team that couldn’t afford both final games to end all square bow out. It’s desperately unlucky of course, having finished level on points with the group winners and with more points than numerous qualifiers from other groups.


Group F

Winners: Portugal
Runners-up: Turkey
Third-place qualifier: Georgia
Eliminated: Czechia


1. Portugal – P3 W2 D0 L1 GD+2 Pts 6
Shock defeat to Georgia has rejigged much of the rest of the draw but was of far more consequence to Hungary than it was to Portugal, who had already sewn up top spot in this group after winning their first two games. Slovenia await in the next step of what is now a brutal route to negotiate for everyone in that tough top half of the draw.


2. Turkey – P3 W2 D0 L1 GD+0 Pts 6
Miss out on top spot on head-to-head record but in truth that is no bad thing, sending Turkey into the bottom half of the draw which is absolutely definitely the place to be.


3. Georgia – P3 W1 D1 L1 GD+0 Pts 4
Could well finish third with a draw against Portugal on matchday three, but need a win to progress, whether that’s as runners-up or one of the four best third-placed teams. Beating Portugal seems a long shot, but there is the distinct possibility of a much-changed Portugal side in that game given their spot as group winners is secure. Georgia might only have to beat a team with such no-hopers as Diogo Dalot, Joao Neves, Diogo Jota and Joao Felix in it. Portugal do have daft bench strength.


4. Czechia – P3 W0 D1 L2 GD-2 Pts 1
Needed a win on the final day, lost instead, and must go down as one of the tournament’s biggest disappointments. This wasn’t the worst group to be in and Czechia have made an awful mess of it.


Third-place rankings
Georgia’s win over Portugal secured the final spot in the last 16 and eliminated Hungary.

1. (Q) Netherlands (Group D) P3 W1 D1 L1 GD+0 Pts 4
2. (Q) Georgia (Group F) P3 W1 D1 L1 GD+0 Pts 4
3. (Q) Slovakia (Group E) P3 W1 D1 L1 GD+0 Pts 4
4. (Q) Slovenia (Group C) P3 W0 D3 L0 GD+0 Pts 3
5. (E) Hungary (Group A) P3 W1 D0 L2 GD-3 Pts 3
6. (E) Croatia (Group B) P3 W0 D2 L1 GD-3 Pts 2