Euro 2024 Power Rankings: Spain take top spot, England drop

After 13 breathless days of football, Euro 2024 shrinks from 24 teams to 16. There was plenty of drama to savour as the groups concluded, with Croatia bowing out, France and Belgium finishing second in their groups, and Georgia making yet more international football history.

Ahead of the tournament ESPN ranked all of the participating nations 1-24 in order of how likely they were to win Euro 2024. Now, following the conclusion of the group stage, we’re going to rank the remaining 16 again on that same, simple premise. The eight teams who have been knocked out have also been included and listed in order of how impressive they were (or, in some cases, weren’t.)

We’ve taken into account as many factors as we can, but it’s worth bearing in mind these three as you read through:

– How have the team actually performed at Euro 2024?
– How conceivable is it that the team improve from here?
– Which side of the knockout bracket are they on?

You’ll see the bracket referenced a lot, as it’s really important. With Spain, Germany, Portugal and France all on one side, it’s turned out to be incredibly lopsided. That has created interesting opportunities for some, while simultaneously making the path truly treacherous for others.

Previous ranking: 15

Scotland‘s campaign was bitterly disappointing. They opened up the tournament with a 5-1 shellacking at the hands of Germany, scored a single (heavily deflected) goal, and totalled a miserly 0.9 Expected Goals (xG) across three group games. At least the fans put on a sublime show.

Previous ranking: 18

Serbia finished bottom of the lowest-scoring group — the one that, collectively, scored fewer goals than Germany did and literally sent fans to sleep at points. That’s a one-way ticket to the gutter of this ranking.

Previous ranking: 16

Hungary received some hype heading into this tournament, but were ultimately squeezed out at the very end of the group stage by Georgia’s remarkable win over Portugal. Frankly, that’s football justice at work: Hungary’s 100th-minute winner against Scotland may have been an incredible moment, but almost all of the football they played up until that point was torrid.

Previous ranking: 19

Poland were mathematically eliminated from Euro 2024 before they’d even played their third group game, losing to both Netherlands and Austria. That made their last match, against France, a genuine free hit. And they put a major spanner in the works by scooping a draw and preventing the French from topping the group. It was always going to be a tough group to navigate. But with Robert Lewandowski managing an injury and missing minutes, it became impossible.

Previous ranking: 24

Albania suffered the misfortune of being placed in a horrendous group alongside Spain, Italy and Croatia, but made a real fist of their attempt to upset the odds. They scored the fastest-ever European Championship goal (23 seconds) against Italy and fought to the very last against Croatia, equalising in the 94th minute. Their determination and spirit added so much to the tournament. As did their fans.

Previous ranking: 20

Czechia‘s group stage effort can be summed up by the word “nearly.” They nearly held Portugal to a draw in game one; they nearly beat Georgia in game two; and they nearly sprung an upset, with 10 men, against Turkey in game three. In the end, a single point is all they got, but they were in contention from start to finish, and were oh-so-close to pulling something off.

Previous ranking: 8

Croatia’s bizarrely poor European Championship form continued as they were eliminated at the group stage. And it happened in just about the cruellest possible way. They conceded ludicrously late equalisers to Albania (94th minute) and Italy (98th minute) having already lost 3-0 to Spain, leaving star player Luka Modric in tears as he bows out of international football and a nation in disbelief.

Previous ranking: 12

No team at Euro 2024 can feel more hard done by than Ukraine, who accrued four points from three games and still got knocked out. They’ll head home, yet have to watch Denmark and Slovenia contest the round of 16 — despite the fact both only managed three points and neither won a game.

play

2:20

Was this Euros a step to far for this Croatia generation?

Alejandro Moreno wonders who will step up for Croatia now that Luka Modric’s generation is nearing their end with the national team.


Previous ranking: 21

Slovenia made history by qualifying for the knockout stage of a tournament for the first time ever — and did so off the back of three consecutive draws. Having failed to win a game in what was clearly one of the weakest groups, it’s unlikely they’ll get much further now the strength of the opponent increases significantly.

Previous ranking: 22

Simply by qualifying for Euro 2024, Georgia made history. In reaching the round of 16, they’ve captured hearts and minds all over the world. What an incredible ride it’s been for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia & Co. so far.

Their “reward” for making the knockouts is a bout with Spain, the team many would suggest have looked like the best at the tournament so far. That’s a big factor in why they rank just 15th, but we’re acutely aware that writing off this group of players is a dangerous move.

Previous ranking: 23

Along with Georgia, Romania are shock qualifiers for the round of 16, as few gave the Tricolorii much of a chance of escaping a group containing Belgium, Ukraine and Slovakia — and even fewer thought they’d finish top.

Romania are tough to gauge, as that blistering 3-0 victory over Ukraine in game one now feels a long time ago. Since then, they’ve been comfortably dispatched by Belgium and ground out a draw with Slovakia. It’s tough to escape the feeling they burst into the tournament but are now fizzling out.

Previous ranking: 13

Turkey turned up and played exactly as advertised: Vibrant and ambitious in attack, but nervous and shaky at the back.

They’ve scored some of the best goals of the tournament, conceded by far the worst own goal (sorry, Samet Akaydin), and can’t seem to get through a game without some kind of goalkeeping mishap. It all feels very combustible, so they slot in among the lower of the teams in the knockout phase.

Previous ranking: 11

Before the tournament, we asked which Denmark would show up: The frighteningly energetic Euro 2020 version, or the languid World Cup 2022 equivalent. The answer? Seemingly, it’s the latter; they drew all three group games and lacked any real attacking verve.

Three points proved enough to qualify for the knockouts, but the journey likely doesn’t go much further. Hosts Germany are up next, then potentially Spain, then potentially Portugal. Few — if any — are holding out hope the Danes can negotiate that gauntlet of games.

Previous ranking: 17

Slovakia have been one of the stories of the tournament. They kicked off with an upset win over Belgium that was slightly fortuitous but still richly deserved, and then secured qualification with a point against Romania in game three. They’ve played good football throughout, with Napoli maestro Stanislav Lobotka at the heart of everything good.

Beating England in the round of 16 is a tough ask, but they’re defensively solid and know how to pluck a goal from somewhere in midfield when needed.

play

2:17

Why Belgium must be perfect to beat France

Julien Laurens believes Belgium must play the perfect game to have any chance of beating France despite having issues of their own.

Previous ranking: 6

Belgium’s Euro 2024 experience so far has been downright bizarre. They’ve had more goals chalked off by VAR (3) than anyone else, making striker Romelu Lukaku just about the unluckiest man in Germany this month, and in their final match they seemed to sleepwalk to a 0-0 draw with Ukraine that put them second in Group E, pushing them over to the strong side of the knockout bracket.

Are they good, bad, or unfortunate? It’s hard to nail down which one it is, but at least on an individual level, it’s arguable that only midfieders Kevin De Bruyne and Amadou Onana are having good tournaments.

Belgium’s punishment for relinquishing first place in the group is a round-of-16 bout with France. If they somehow surpass Les Bleus, Portugal are likely up next. This is a gruelling path that, on this summer’s evidence so far, they won’t be able to navigate.

Previous ranking: 7

From the first minute of the group stage to the very last, Italy have conspired to do things the hard way. They conceded the earliest goal on record at a European Championship — 23 seconds into their opener against Albania — and only secured qualification to the knockouts with a 98th-minute equaliser against Croatia.

They were very good against Albania — better than the early shock and eventual 2-1 scoreline suggested — but got thumped by Spain and struggled against Croatia. Where does that leave them? Plonked in the middle of the final 16-team ranking, which may be an admission that we’re still not sure what they’re capable of.

Previous ranking: 14

The Swiss were reported to be low on confidence heading into Euro 2024, but what we’ve seen at the tournament suggests otherwise. They’re unbeaten, handled Hungary with ease and came within a couple of minutes of beating Germany to win Group A.

Defensively they look solid, midfielder Granit Xhaka and defender Manuel Akanji are enjoying brilliant tournaments in the spine of the team, and while they’ve sourced goals from different places. They’re a legitimate threat.

They’ve been placed just ahead of Italy in this ranking as a nod to their better performances in the groups, but the match between them this Saturday in the round of 16 genuinely feels like a coin flip.

Previous ranking: 9

There have been times where Netherlands have looked defensively solid; there have been times where they’ve looked offensively exciting. Irritatingly for manager Ronald Koeman, it’s rare that those two combine to form a complete performance. But perhaps they’re saving it for the knockouts?

The Oranje landed a favourable round-of-16 tie (on paper) in Romania, so should feel confident they can reach the quarterfinals — where, potentially, they’ll get another crack at an Austria side who beat them 3-2 in the group stage.

Cody Gakpo‘s had a great tournament so far, scoring twice and looking like a strong ‘Plan A’ in attack, but more will be needed from midfield, and from captain Virgil van Dijk in defence, if this team are to truly succeed this summer.

Previous ranking: 10

Austria were not only thrilling to watch in the group stage, but they backed up those performances with results. Their highly energetic style ratcheted up the pace of games and pushed some good sides — notably France and Netherlands — to the limit.

In beating the Dutch 3-2 in the final group game, Austria won Group D and slipped into the softer half of the knockout bracket, making them arguably the most impressive team on that side based on the football we’ve witnessed so far.

Turkey look beatable, then perhaps they’ll have to beat the Dutch again. Their biggest enemy, though, might be their own discipline — manager Ralf Rangnick is having to rotate his team heavily in order to avoid suspensions, as their aggressive style picks up yellow cards for fun.

play

2:12

Why struggling England are still Euro 2024 favourites

Frank Leboeuf assesses England’s hopes in the knockout stages of Euro 2024.

Previous ranking: 3

England have been a major disappointment at Euro 2024 so far, playing by far the most anaemic attacking football of any of the big nations and managing just one win from a group containing Denmark, Slovenia and Serbia.

Based solely on what we’ve seen, they’re no match for the other big guns in this tournament but, curiously (and somewhat fortunately), their path to a potential final avoids every single one of the elite teams.

England’s hardest possible route to the final is Slovakia, then perhaps Switzerland, then Austria or Netherlands, but the problem is that if they face any of the top four in this ranking in that final, they’ll likely lose. This is a ranking of who is most likely to win the tournament, not just reach the final.

The way England have played, there’s no guarantee they’ll get there anyway; they have an awful lot of improving to do, fast, and there have been very few rays of light. Perhaps the thing to hang on to is that the defence has been fairly solid — they’ve conceded the lowest xGA (Expected Goals Against) of the tournament (1.1), although quality of opponent must be acknowledged here — so if their star-studded attack can find some balance and fluency, England could suddenly burst into life.

But, based on current evidence, that feels like a long way away.

Previous ranking: 4

One of the greatest compliments you can pay an international side is to say they look like a club side. On the ball, that’s Germany.

With veteran midfielder Toni Kroos at the heart of a fluid passing game, young Jamal Musiala‘s electric dribbling opening up teams and Ilkay Gündogan dropping into the spaces created, this attack has looked fantastic.

But there are some concerns for coach Julian Nagelsmann when it comes to the defensive side of the game. The spaces behind Germany’s adventurous full-backs look ripe for counter-attacking, plus they’ll now have to deal with enforced absences to what has so far been an unchanged starting XI. Jonathan Tah is suspended for the round-of-16 clash with Denmark and Antonio Rüdiger has a thigh issue. Suddenly, Germany may go from unchanged XI to wholesale changes in a heartbeat.

Their route to a potential final may well include Spain, then Portugal or France, as they’re on the tough side of the bracket, so, all in all, putting them fourth in this ranking feels fair.

play

1:03

Ogden: France really disappointing at Euro 2024

Mark Ogden assesses France’s second place finish in Group D at Euro 2024.

Previous ranking: 1

France’s shock draw to already-eliminated Poland had a nasty effect on their tournament hopes, as it knocked them into the strong side of the bracket. Now, instead of negotiating the likes of England and Italy en route to a potential final, they will likely have to conquer two of Spain, Portugal and Germany.

That, plus the curious nature of the two goals they’ve mustered so far (an own goal and a penalty) has led to many being down on Les Bleus, but there’s some balancing factors to consider.

First, France have no issue firing themselves up for big opponents (in fact, the last time they played a “weaker” side, they got knocked out by Switzerland.) Second, they may not have scored many, but their total xG in a tough group was 5.8 — the highest in the entire tournament.

It hasn’t been vintage France but, like with England, there’s serious capacity to improve. Perhaps facing Belgium in the round of 16 is the spark they need.

Previous ranking: 2

In ranking Portugal second, we’re largely ignoring the 2-0 defeat to Georgia in game three. After all, there was zero jeopardy for the Seleção, as they’d already been confirmed as group winners, and that was reflected in both performance and team selection.

The performance that beat Turkey 3-0 in game two? The last-gasp winner against Czechia, refusing to be held, in game one? That’s the real Portugal … we think.

There’s no doubting this squad’s quality and depth, but manager Roberto Martínez has used three different systems in three games. Smart or stupid? Good to get everyone involved, or disruptive of form and flow? The answers will be determined by results from here, and a tie against Slovenia in the round of 16 feels like a good one to get going again.

Previous ranking: 5

We’ve seen some big scorelines at Euro 2024, but the single most dominant and irresistible performance was delivered by Spain in what ended up as just a 1-0 win over Italy.

It was enough for many to sit up and take notice. Spain came up against a top-10 side in this tournament and systematically took them apart, only lacking the second and third goals to put a flourish on the result. That has led to them rising to the top of this ranking as, to put it simply, they’ve set a benchmark for performance at these finals.

Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams are thrilling from the wings; Fabián Ruiz is having the tournament of his life in midfield; and, despite several changes to personnel, the defence are yet to concede.

Spain are the only team to win all three games in the entire tournament. It’s clear they deserve top spot in this ranking. They’re the side to beat.