Ronaldo draws a blank, Palmer winner for England – what last clashes say about Euro 2024 openers

Will Ford
Ronaldo, Cole Palmer and Thomas Muller
Ronaldo, Cole Palmer and Thomas Muller

In the search for clues as to how the opening round of games at Euro 2024 might go we’ve looked at the last clashes between the sides.

Half the fixtures are repeats of games that have happened over the last couple of years, thanks in large part to the Nations League, but a couple haven’t been played in over a decade while it will be the first meeting of two teams in Germany.

We got around that one, sort of, and look forward to Cristiano Ronaldo drawing a blank as Portugal spank Czech Republic but may not bother watching Spain vs Croatia.


Scotland 2-3 Germany
September 2015: European Championship qualifier

Mats Hummels scored an own goal to cancel out a Thomas Muller opener before Muller scored again and Ilkay Gundogan ensured all three points following a Scotland equaliser. Remarkable that nine years later the Germany goalscorers could be the same in the Euro 2024 opener, save for Hummels, who scored own goals off the pitch to ensure his absence from the tournament. Manuel Neuer and Toni Kroos also started that last clash at Hampden Park.


Switzerland 5-2 Hungary
October 2017: World Cup qualifier

Granit Xhaka opened the scoring for Switzerland, who had nine of the same players then as they do now. Xherdan Shaqiri is set to play in his seventh major tournament in Germany and is somehow only 32. There were 12 goals between the sides across both qualifiers in 2017, with Switzerland also winning in Hungary 3-2. More of the same please.


Spain 0-0 Croatia
June 2023: Nations League final

Seven shots on target across 120 tiresome minutes of football to round off a competition that nobody asked for but most quite enjoyed before the final. If you’ve wiped it from your memory, Spain won on penalties in the end. That’s our great hope for the opening weekend dashed.


Albania 1-3 Italy
November 2022: Friendly

Two goals and an assist for poor Vincenzo Grifo, who has a remarkable record of seven goal contributions in 498 minutes of action for his country but hasn’t been given a sniff since Luciano Spalletti took charge. Instead Federico Chiesa will be looking to rediscover his Euro 2020 form on the left wing.


Denmark 2-1 Slovenia
November 2023: European Championship qualifier

Shouldn’t be allowed to meet in the group stage of the tournament proper having been in the same qualifying group in our opinion, but anyway, unsurprisingly all three goalscorers – Joakim Maehle, Thomas Delaney and Erik Janza – have made the cut for Germany. The other qualifier ended 1-1, with Rasmus Hojlund scoring the equaliser.


England 2-1 Serbia & Montenegro
June 2003: Friendly

England have never played Serbia in the 18 years since they split from Montenegro so excuse us, this is as close as we could get. Joe Cole secured victory in the skillful-No.10-from-the-bench role a la Cole Palmer for an England team featuring none other than Gareth Southgate after Serbia cancelled out Steven Gerrard’s opener at the Walkers Stadium. Simpler times. Simpler crisps.

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Poland 0-2 Netherlands
September 2022: Nations League group

Goals from Cody Gakpo and Steven Bergwijn for the Netherlands, who have won six of their last seven games against Poland and haven’t lost to them since 1979.


France 2-0 Austria
September 2022: Nations League group

Notable differences then to now are William Saliba instead of Benoit Badiashile for France and the absence of David Alaba for Austria, who will as a result likely ship more than the Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe goals they conceded on this last occasion as they failed to score themselves.


Romania 3-4 Ukraine
May 2016: Friendly

Oleksandr Zinchenko scored in his sixth minute of international football to give Ukraine a 2-1 lead before football hipster favourites Yevgen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko gave them an unassailable lead.


Belgium 2-1 Slovakia
February 2013: Friendly

Dries Mertens scored a late winner from the bench after Eden Hazard had given Belgium an early lead from the penalty spot. Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku remain from that Golden Generation squad.


Georgia 1-3 Turkey
May 2012: Friendly

Former Bayern Munich star Hamit Altintop on target for a Turkey side that didn’t qualify for Euro 2012 in a fallow time between inevitable dark horse tags.


Czech Republic 0-4 Portugal
September 2022: Nations League group

Four goals and none for Cristiano Ronaldo is a lot of fun, particularly on a day when Diogo Dalot got a brace.

READ MORE: ‘Leave Ronaldo out’: Arsenal icon urges Portugal to drop Man Utd legend as it’s ‘the right way to go’