Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

A sneak peek behind EURO 2024

Football OlyBet 24.04.2024

The Premier League title race is still very much on and we have not even reached the semi-finals in the Champions League, yet EURO 2024 is just around the corner. There are less than two months to go. So what should we know and prepare for?

The 17th edition of the UEFA European Championship will be held in Germany, returning to more traditional procedures after the pan-European tournament that was EURO 2020 (held in 2021 due to Covid-19-related issues). One thing is for sure: Germany, the football-crazy host in Central Europe, will be easily accessible by many football fans, so it should be a tournament for the ages.

It will be the third time for Germany to host European Championship games. In 1988, West Germany was the organizer while Munich hosted four games three summers ago. For the first time, Euros will be held in what was formerly East Germany with Leipzig one of the host cities. The other nine are Berlin, Munich, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Gelsenkirchen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, and Cologne.

In addition, every team will have a base camp where they lay between matches, meaning towns like Neuruppin (population 31 000, home for Croatia), Blankenhain (6600, England), and Harsewinkel (26 000, Portugal) will also get to play a part. This will be a tournament to celebrate for all of Germany.

Who will be there?

Germany qualified as hosts and 18 other teams return from EURO 2020; Italy will be the defending champions after defeating England on penalties while Portugal was the only nation to book their spot with a perfect record. France, England, Belgium, Hungary, and Romania were also undefeated in qualifying.

Romania returns after missing the last tournament together with Albania, while Serbia and Slovenia have not participated since EURO 2000 – a whole generation ago! Meanwhile, Georgia beat Greece on penalties in the play-offs, meaning the latter will not be back to celebrate the 20-year mark of their famous triumph. Instead, Georgia will be the only debutant nation.

As for who will not be there, Sweden is the highest-ranked nation not to qualify. The golden era of Wales has seemingly come to an end, while Russia was excluded from qualifiers due to their invasion of Ukraine. North Macedonia and Finland are also out while Norway will be watching from the sides once again, meaning Erling Haaland and Martin Ödegaard are yet to feature in any final tournament.

Who will meet whom?

For the third time, 24 teams will participate in the finals, meaning finishing third in a group might get you through –  remember, Portugal won EURO 2016 despite winning just one game in 90 minutes. Four of the six third-place teams will advance to the knockout phase.

On opening night, Germany will meet Scotland, with Hungary and Switzerland also in Group A. It gets tougher in Group B as Spain and Italy are paired with Croatia and Albania. England is the favourite in Group C, although Denmark, Serbia, and Slovenia should not be underestimated.

Before the tournament, Group D is considered the most difficult with France, the Netherlands, Poland, and Austria being the four teams. Group E includes Belgium, Ukraine, Romania, and Slovakia; Group F will see Portugal take on Turkey, debutants Georgia, and the Czech Republic.

The knockout rounds again have lots of different variations depending on who goes through, but the semi-finals will be held in Munich and Dortmund while Berlin will host the final on July 14th, exactly one month after Germany and Scotland get things going in Munich.

Who is going to win it all?

EURO 2024 could be quite open. Germany would love to win at home, but they have not had a successful final tournament since reaching the semi-finals in EURO 2016. Italy are the reigning champions, but that triumph felt like the stars aligned for them. They did not even make the last (two) World Cups.

France has reached two successive World Cup finals and is the highest-ranked European team, but it has been 24 years since they won the Euros. Most bookies have marked England down as favourites for now, but is football really coming home for the first time since 1966? They could not finish the job at Wembley three years ago.

Who else? One last hurrah for Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, the winners in 2016? A youthful Spain side who are the current Nations League champions? Belgium, said to be past their best so without weight on their shoulders? The Netherlands? Denmark? Croatia? Take your pick.

What about the very, very important varia?

For those interested in football quizzes, knowing that the official EURO 2024 mascot is a teddy bear wearing shorts could be vital information. His name is Albärt, by the way, and he does look like an athlete (even wearing cleats).

The match ball is made by Adidas and named Fussballliebe, “the love of football”. It is the first European Championship ball to feature electronic sensors that should assist match officials in making decisions.

The logo features the Henri Delaunay Trophy surrounded by 24 coloured slices meant to represent the participating nations. The official song will be composed by Italian producer Meduza, American pop-rock band OneRepublic, and German singer-songwriter Leony. That should more or less cover everything one should know about EURO 2024.


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