Euro 2024: Germany get their party going against Scots as France, England aim to gatecrash

Euro 2020 was delayed by a year because of the pandemic, finally taking place in 2021 in front of limited crowds.

It was also staged in cities all across the continent, from Seville to Baku, and those factors stripped away much of what makes these tournaments so special.

The opening match will see Scotland midfielder Scott McTominay (left) against German star Toni Kroos. Photo: AFP

This time all supporters will descend on Germany, where matches will be played in 10 stadiums, from Hamburg in the north to Munich in the south.

Germans are hoping for a repeat of 2006, when many fell in love with their national team again after a period in the doldrums similar to what they have experienced in the years leading up to this competition.

A good performance by Germany on the field would help, and the outlook is more positive for Julian Nagelsmann’s team now than a few months ago.

A group also containing Hungary and Switzerland should be straightforward enough given the quality in Germany’s ranks, from veteran playmaker Toni Kroos to younger stars Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala.

“We have gone through difficult phases as a national team, but something big can happen here,” Bayern Munich’s Musiala told Sportbild.

Germans are hoping for a repeat of the 2006 World Cup, which they also hosted. Photo: AP

However, there are good reasons why France and England are so strongly fancied to raise aloft the Henri Delaunay trophy on July 14.

France are Europe’s top-ranked nation and have been in the final of the past two World Cups. Fresh from sealing his move to Real Madrid, Kylian Mbappe is eager to make up for a disappointing showing at the last Euros, when his penalty miss sealed a shoot-out defeat to Switzerland in the last 16.

“Kylian is our captain and a great leader. We will need him to be at his best,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.

England have never been European champions, although they came close in 2021 when they lost the final on penalties to Italy.

Optimism about their prospects this time is fuelled by the fact that star players Harry Kane, who scored 44 goals in all competitions for Bayern last campaign, and Jude Bellingham, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, should feel so at home on German soil.

“We want to make history,” England midfielder Declan Rice said this week. “We say it all the time, but genuinely we have a group, a manager, that really believes.

“We have a confidence that we can go there and do something really special.”

England begin their tournament against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, home of fallen German giants Schalke 04.

The French and English will be on course to meet in the semi-finals if they both top their groups.

The prospect of Italy – who are in the same group as Spain – successfully defending their title seems slightly remote, but it would be foolish to rule them out.

French superstar Kylian Mbappe will be eager to make up for a disappointing showing at the last Euros. Photo: AFP

“This Italy team is underrated and very competitive,” legendary former Azzurri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said.

Portugal, champions in 2016, are genuine contenders even if they are still led by Cristiano Ronaldo, now aged 39 and playing club football in Saudi Arabia.

This Euros is the third since the competition was expanded to feature 24 teams, a move that has afforded a chance to some smaller nations, including Georgia, debutants this time.

However, injuries at the end of a long season are taking their toll on some leading players.

Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, the Netherlands playmaker, has been ruled out with an ankle injury, while his club colleague Robert Lewandowski will not play in Poland’s opening match because of a thigh problem.


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