Who are the favourites for Euro 2024? Hosts Germany now level with France after defeat
The first round of European Championships qualifying is over and two wins for World Cup finalists France have seen their odds shortened.
With Qatar in the rearview mirror, national teams across the continent have turned their focus to qualifying for the next big tournament: Euro 2024, to be held in Germany.
Here’s how the ten favourites are rated, according to the best odds currently available at oddschecker.com…
Hansi Flick kept his job after failing to get Die Mannschaft through the group stages in Qatar, with the German FA refusing to panic, despite consecutive World Cup embarrassments. Without the hassle of having to qualify, Flick can use the next year or so to look at a number of promising young players, which he has started during the current international break, with a number of big names, like Thomas Muller, Antonio Rudiger, Leroy Sane and others, left out for the friendlies against Peru and Belgium.
Flick bemoaned the pressure his side were subjected to off the pitch in Qatar but he also acknowledges that he failed to organise Germany’s defence effectively. He’s got over a year to stiffen them up and get German fans back onside before the big kick-off in Munich on June 14, 2024.
A 3-2 defeat at home to Belgium was sub-optimal and dampened some initial optimism.
There have been changes since their World Cup final defeat to Argentina, with Hugo Lloris, Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema all walking away from the international scene, but certainly no French revolution, with Didier Deschamps having signed up for three and a half more years in charge of Les Bleus. For their first post-Qatar squad, the French included only three new call-ups, including Wesley Fofana, who had to withdraw through injury anyway.
They kicked off qualifying with a casual 4-0 win over the Netherlands with seven of the XI who started the World Cup final. It certainly seems like things are going to be just fine.
Gareth’s last dance. With some worryingly familiar steps…
Southgate almost reluctantly signed up for the Euros, for which he looks set to keep faith with many of the players who have taken him to quarters, semis and finals in their last three major tournaments. None of this ‘form’ business.
Before he worries about going to Germany, Southgate must first guide England through a tricky qualifying group. Ballsing up in the Nations League put them in pot 2, leading to England being drawn out with Italy, Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta. The toughest test was up first and Italy were beaten in Naples. Job done.
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Spain did make a change after the World Cup, with Luis Enrique replaced by Luis de la Fuente after a disappointing exit in Qatar to Morocco on penalties at the round of 16 stage.
De la Fuente is better placed than anyone to integrate Spain’s prodigious young players, like Gavi, Pedri and Ansu Fati, having coached through the age groups at Under-19, Under-21 and Under-23 levels. But, in his first squad, he also recalled a number of experienced heads, like Kepa, Nacho Fernandez and Iago Aspas, while retaining only 11 of the squad Enrique took to the World Cup.
A 3-0 win over Norway looked promising but losing 2-0 in bloody Scotland of all places was poor. Mind you, how the f*** is Joselu still starting for Spain?
Roberto Martinez fell upwards again, this time all the way to Portugal after being bombed out by Belgium.
After replacing European Championships and Nations League winner Fernando Santos, Martinez’s first matches in charge, Group J clashes with Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, brought a serene start for the ex-Everton boss but for Portugal, this will be the first time since 2014 that they have played under new management. In coaching terms at least…
Cristiano Ronaldo is still keeping his hand in, despite his move to Saudi Arabia, and Martinez faces a big job in balancing the senior players with the need to evolve and introduce younger talent. He has a kind-looking qualifying campaign to get the formula right, with the 2016 winners also facing Iceland, Slovakia and Bosnia.
Given they are the holders and that three of the Champions League’s last eight are Serie A clubs, you might think that Italian football is enjoying a resurgence. But they failed to quaify for the World Cup and Roberto Mancini isn’t convinced. He reckons England have a better pool of talent.
“We are worse off than Southgate,” he said before the Azzurri host England. “I don’t know why there are so few strikers, we are very limited going forward. We have three teams in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but out of the three teams, there are seven or eight Italians at most. This is the reality.”
Mancini makes a good point about a lack of strikers. Ciro Immobile is the only Italian among the top 10 scorers in Serie A and he’s currently out with a hamstring injury. They looked poor v England and only scored twice in Malta.
The Oranje like to stick with what they know, with Ronald Koeman back for a second stint in charge, replacing Louis van Gaal after his third stint as coach ended with penalty heartbreak in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Van Gaal passed the Netherlands squad back to Koeman in decent shape. Under the veteran coach, they went 20 matches unbeaten (in normal time) and had a win ratio of 70%.
Koeman can also bank on the increasing influence of young players like Cody Gakpo, Xavi Simons and Matthijs De Ligt, while Sven Botman and Brian Brobbey are ready to step up to the senior side. It did not start well, mind, with qualifying kicking off with a 4-0 defeat in France.
And Virgil van Dijk is coming under significant fire.
After their disastrous World Cup exit at the group stage, the Red Devils have a new manager with a big broom…
Domenico Tedesco’s first squad has no room for Axel Witsel and Dries Merten, with another member of the Golden Generation, Eden Hazard having stepped away from international scene. Between the trio, they have 365 international caps. Toby Alderweireld and Simon Mignolet have also retired from national duty.
Despite the departures, Tedesco named only one new call-up to his squad for the start of their Euros qualifying and a friendly against Germany: Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia. The 37-year-old coach’s first priority must be to restore some harmony following the in-fighting that marred their campaign in Qatar. Winning in Germany will help.
The Danes reached the semi-finals of the last European Championships and they look to have been given a smooth path to Germany, with Finland, Kazakhstan, Northern Ireland, Slovenia and San Marino joining them in Group H.
It ought to give Kasper Hjulmand ample opportunity to refocus the Danes after a group stage exit at the World Cup where they were tipped by many to be dark horses to go deep into the knockout stages.
“Huge, huge frustrations and disappointment,” said Hjulmand after finishing bottom of their group and returning home form a World Cup without a win for the first time. “It’s bubbling inside me with all the bad feelings.” They went to Qatar as the 10th-ranked team but start their Euros campaign at 18th. Atonement is the aim for Hjulmand, who has resisted the urge to make sweeping changes. In terms of forwards, he couldn’t if he wanted to.
In contrast, another positive World Cup – third in Qatar after being runners-up in 2018 – boosted Croatia’s ranking from 12th to seventh. Zlatko Dalic has committed to lead his nation through to the World Cup in 2026 and Luka Modric has vowed to keep going too.
Croatia also have the Nations League finals to look forward to in June so, for Dalic, it is all about maintaining momentum.
“We have no reason to change much of the team that won the bronze medal at the World Cup a few months ago, so there are 23 players from Qatar on the list,” he said when naming his squad for their first Group games against Wales and Turkey. They emerged win four credible points.