Euro 2024 team-by-team preview: Who will be European champs?

Club football? It’s over. Put it out of your mind, at least for the next six weeks. Summer is international soccer season, and that formally begins on Friday when Germany and Scotland kick off Euro 2024.

The 17th edition of the European Championship will take place in 10 cities across Germany, from Hamburg in the north to Munich in the south, Düsseldorf in the west to Berlin in the east. Between June 14 and July 14, one of the most atmospheric footballing nations in Europe will welcome the rest of the continent to its symphonic stadiums.

There is no shortage of intrigue at the Euros. Will this be 39-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo‘s final international tournament? Will England lift their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup? What can Georgia offer on their European Championship debut? Can Italy repeat as champions? What of other tournament favourites such as France and Spain? Or the hosts?

To answer those questions, ESPN dissected all 24 teams who’ve freshly arrived in Germany, detailing which players you can’t afford to miss, which burgeoning player is preparing to become a household name, what will hold teams back from winning and what each nation’s chances are at the Euros.


Nickname: Kuqezinjtë (The Red and Blacks)
FIFA rank: 66
Euro 2024 group: Group B
Manager: Sylvinho
Record in past 12 months: 7W-3D-2L
Group stage fixtures: Italy (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET); Croatia (June 19, 9 a.m. ET); Spain (June 24, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +50000

Can’t-miss star: Kristjan Asllani. There are a few familiar names in here. You have Brentford‘s Thomas Strakosha in goal and Chelsea‘s Armando Broja up front. He has struggled for match time this season, so if you’re looking for an in-form player, then it’s either Atalanta‘s Berat Djimsiti or Internazionale‘s Asllani. The latter was prominent in Inter’s run to the Serie A title and is integral to Albania’s team. “He’s technical, young and forging his path,” Sylvinho said of his midfielder. “He has a lot to learn still, like any 21- or 22-year-old player. He’s really strong in terms of his technical ability and is blessed with a lot of personality. He’s a top player.”

Breakout candidate: Ernest Muçi. Asllani is Albania’s best young player, but this could be a tournament where Muçi enhances his growing reputation. He has impressed at Besiktas this season — having joined them in the winter transfer window from Legia Warsaw — and although his match time was limited in the qualifying process, he could play himself into contention. He’s a tricky attacking midfielder who can also play off the left.

Why they won’t win it all: They are huge underdogs, and they have a brutal draw with Spain, Croatia and Italy joining them in Group B. Albania came through a relatively straightforward qualification group to get here, but they are rank outsiders to progress through the group, let alone make a dent in the tournament. Sylvinho and his assistants have brought some attacking nous to the group, but it’s surely too much to expect them to progress through this brutal pool.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Sylvinho, the ex-Arsenal, Manchester City and Barcelona defender, is the brains behind their Euros campaign, alongside former Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta and his Brazilian teammate Doriva. So there’s a South American feel to this group. They have been moulded to be resilient, but also with added glimpses of flair, so expect them to string together some wonderful play. This is their second major tournament, having played in the 2016 Euros, where they managed to get a historic win over Romania, but it’s going to take a monumental effort to muster another victory this time around. — Tom Hamilton

Nickname: Das Team (The Team)
FIFA rank: 25
Euro 2024 group: Group D
Manager: Ralf Rangnick
Record in past 12 months: 8W-3D-1L
Group stage fixtures: France (Monday, 3 p.m. ET); Poland (June 21, noon ET); Netherlands (June 25, noon ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +6600

Can’t-miss star: Marcel Sabitzer. Sabitzer wasn’t wanted by Bayern Munich or Manchester United last summer, but he found a home at Borussia Dortmund and helped them defy the odds to reach the UEFA Champions League final. He was outstanding in the knockout rounds, particularly against Paris Saint-Germain, and he will be a key player for Austria in Germany.

Breakout candidate: Leopold Querfeld. David Alaba hasn’t played for Real Madrid since December and missed out on a place in Rangnick’s provisional 29-man squad. His absence could mean 20-year-old Querfeld is picked to start in defence. Querfeld has been a regular for Rapid Vienna for the past two seasons and made his international debut against Slovakia in March.

Why they won’t win it all: Austria are in good form, beating Germany 2-0 in November and thrashing Turkey 6-1 in March, but their biggest problem at Euro 2024 is the strength of their group. In Group D with France, Netherlands and Poland, they face an uphill battle to earn a spot in the top two or finish with a record good enough to secure a spot in the knockouts as one of the best third-placed teams.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Austria came through a tough qualifying group with Belgium and Sweden, and their reward was an even tougher Euros group. Barring a couple of shock results against France and Netherlands, they will be looking to qualify for the knockout rounds as one of the best-performing third-place teams. Finishing third in Group D would mean playing one of the group winners in the last 16 with England, Spain and Belgium all potential opponents. Austria reached the round of 16 in 2021 before they were knocked out by Italy, and their difficult draw probably means they are looking for a similar performance this time around. — Rob Dawson

Belgium

Nickname: De Rode Duivels (The Red Devils)
FIFA rank: 3
Euro 2024 group: Group E
Manager: Domenico Tedesco
Record in past 12 months: 8W-4D-0L
Group stage fixtures: Slovakia (Monday, noon ET); Romania (June 22, 3 p.m. ET); Ukraine (June 26, noon ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +1500

Can’t-miss star: Kevin De Bruyne. Euro 2024 is likely to be De Bruyne’s last chance of international success after so many near misses with a group of players billed as Belgium’s golden generation. The Manchester City midfielder will be 33 at the end of June, and injuries have hampered his past two seasons at the Etihad, but if he is fit and fresh, De Bruyne’s dominance of midfield, his passing range and goal-scoring ability mean he is still their main man.

Breakout candidate: Jérémy Doku. The Manchester City winger was a standout performer for Pep Guardiola’s team in his first season at the club and his substitute performance in the FA Cup final against Manchester United, when he scored a late goal in a 2-1 defeat, almost turned the tide back in City’s favour. Doku has pace, trickery and an eye for goal, so he can be a big player at Euro 2024.

Why they won’t win it all: Too many players whose best days are behind them, combined with the scars of failing to deliver in so many tournaments, suggest that Belgium will fall short again if they reach the latter stages of Euro 2024. Make no mistake, Tedesco has an abundance of talent at his disposal, but whether the likes of De Bruyne, Lukaku, Jan Vertonghen and Axel Witsel can put all the past disappointments behind them and finally deliver in Germany remains to be seen.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Belgium are in a group that they should win comfortably alongside Ukraine, Slovakia and Romania in Group E. If they top that section, a likely second-round tie against the Netherlands, Poland or Austria awaits. Belgium, who are unbeaten since losing to Morocco at Qatar 2022, should expect to reach the quarterfinals at least. Doku, Leandro Trossard and Charles De Ketelaere ended the season in form for their clubs, but De Bruyne and Lukaku were less convincing, so there are big doubts over the team heading into the tournament. — Mark Ogden

Croatia

Nickname: Vatreni (Blazers)
FIFA rank: 10
Euro 2024 group: Group B
Manager: Zlatko Dalić
Record in past 12 months: 9W-0D-3L
Group stage fixtures: Spain (Saturday, noon ET); Albania (June 19, 9 a.m. ET); Italy (June 24, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +3000

Can’t-miss star: Luka Modric. The 38-year-old is in his eighth major competition with Croatia and comes to the Euros fresh from helping Real Madrid to yet another European crown. He is still one of the world’s best midfielders, and despite turning 39 in September, he’s going to be at the forefront of Croatia’s journey in Germany. “As long as Luka is here, we’ll call it ‘the golden generation,'” Dalić said. “He’s an exemplary person: the greatest Croatian football player ever. He’s an embodiment of a true athlete, a true football player.”

Breakout candidate: Lovro Majer. This team is built around the household names that took them to the World Cup final in 2018, but they have this young core coming through with Josko Gvardiol at the forefront. It’s an easy out picking him as the breakthrough candidate — despite being just 22 years old — given he’s one of the best defenders in world football, so how about VfL Wolfsburg‘s Majer? There are younger players to keep an eye on, such as midfielder Luka Sucic, but it’s Majer who is likely to get more game time and is a classy attacking midfielder who can one day step into Modric’s huge shoes.

Why they won’t win it all: They are in a brutal group, with Italy and Spain in their way. They have never won a knockout match in the Euros. There are also a couple of selection queries, and it remains to be seen who they go with up front. Gone are the days where Mario Mandžukić cemented himself as their standout striker, so it’ll be a combination of either Ante Budimir or Andrej Kramaric. Kramaric has been shoehorned in as striker in the past, despite preferring to play off the flanks, while Bruno Petkovic has also been played out of position. Then there are questions over Ivan Perisic‘s fitness, with the mainstay having suffered an ACL tear earlier in the season. He’s regained some match sharpness at Hajduk Split, but it’s hardly ideal build-up.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: If they get through their group, then they can make a run. There’s a feeling of this being the “Last Dance” for this group with Perisic and Modric in the twilight of their careers, but they have such a stable core, with Modric alongside Mateo Kovacic in midfield, Gvardiol and Josip Stanisic and Josip Sutalo at the back, and Dominik Livakovic in goal. All this under the guidance of Dalić, who’s been there since 2017 and knows the team inside out. So they could go deep in the Euros, but it’ll need them to get past Italy and/or Spain. “We will take it step by step,” Dalić said. “Our first goal is to pass the group stages, and then we will do our best, slowly but surely, to try to achieve top results.” — Hamilton

Nickname: Národní tým (National team)
FIFA rank: 36
Euro 2024 group: Group F
Manager: Ivan Hašek
Record in past 12 months: 8W-3D-1L
Group stage fixtures: Portugal (Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET); Georgia (June 22, 9 a.m. ET); Turkey (June 26, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +20000

Can’t-miss star: Patrik Schick. The Bayer Leverkusen forward, 28, was joint-top scorer at Euro 2020 with five goals (matching Cristiano Ronaldo) in Czechia’s run to the quarterfinals. He has struggled with injuries for the past two years, undergoing groin surgery, but returned to bag seven goals in 20 appearances on the way to Leverkusen’s record-breaking unbeaten Bundesliga title.

Breakout candidate: Martin Vitík. The 21-year-old Sparta Prague centre-back is highly rated and has been linked with an imminent switch to one of Europe’s Big Five leagues. His club captain and more experienced defensive partner Ladislav Krejcí, 25, is another one to watch and is reportedly in talks with Girona over a move this summer.

Why they won’t win it all: Hašek was only appointed in January — after predecessor Jaroslav Šilhavý quit over criticism of the team’s play in qualifying — so hasn’t had much time to implement his ideas. Hašek, who played for Czechoslovakia at the 1990 World Cup and is a former president of the Czechia FA, has spent much of his coaching career in club football in the Middle East. The team will look to prioritise solidity over flair, and will be overreliant on Schick’s goals.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: With Portugal expected to dominate Group F, and Georgia making their debut at a major tournament, it’s likely to be a straight fight between Czechia and Turkey to finish second. That could be determined when the pair go head-to-head in the last group game on June 26. Reaching the round of 16 would be a success; matching their quarterfinal finish at Euro 2020 would be punching above their weight. — Alex Kirkland

Nickname: De Rød-Hvide (The Red and Whites)
FIFA rank: 21
Euro 2024 group: Group C
Manager: Kasper Hjulmand
Record in past 12 months: 9W-2D-1L
Group stage fixtures: Slovenia (Sunday, noon ET); England (June 20, noon ET); Serbia (June 25, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +4000

Can’t-miss star: Morten Hjulmand. The Sporting CP midfielder played a key role for his club on their way to winning the Portuguese title and his box-to-box energy will be crucial for Denmark if they are to progress from their group. At 24, Hjulmand could use Euro 2024 as a platform for a move to Europe’s Big Five leagues.

Breakout candidate: Rasmus Hojlund. The Manchester United forward might already be a household name following his first season at Old Trafford after a £72m transfer from Atalanta last July, but Euro 2024 will be his first major tournament since making his Denmark debut in September 2022. Højlund has already scored seven goals in 14 international appearances, so if he can maintain that scoring ratio, he will have a big tournament.

Why they won’t win it all: Denmark’s moment on the big stage has passed, having reached a high water mark with their run to the semifinals of Euro 2020. This time around, the key figures of that tournament — Kasper Schmeichel, Simon Kjaer, Thomas Delaney, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg — remain involved, while Christian Eriksen has reestablished himself in the team after recovering from the cardiac arrest he suffered during Euro 2020. Denmark are a solid team, but they lack the quality to go deep in the competition.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: England look to be the clear favourite to qualify as winners of Group C, so the scramble for second place among Denmark, Serbia and Slovenia is the first priority for the Danes. Runners-up in Group C are likely to face a clash against Germany, the host nation, in Dortmund in the second round, so it would be a surprise if Denmark were able to go beyond the round of 16. Having emerged from a weak qualifying group, the Danes will find it tough in Germany and could drop out at the group stage. — Ogden

England

Nickname: The Three Lions
FIFA rank: 4
Euro 2024 group: Group C
Manager: Gareth Southgate
Record in past 12 months: 8W-3D-2L
Group stage fixtures: Serbia (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET); Denmark (June 20, noon ET); Slovenia (June 25, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +350

Can’t-miss star: Harry Kane. Few teams in world football can boast a No. 9 of Kane’s quality. England’s record goal scorer on 63 and Golden Boot winner at the 2018 World Cup, the 30-year-old is in his prime. He can be a not-so-secret weapon for Gareth Southgate and his staff given his knowledge of German stadiums after spending a year at Bayern Munich.

Breakout candidate: England’s first-choice XI is well established, so any breakout star is likely to come off the bench, perhaps Cole Palmer after a stellar season at Chelsea — finishing behind only Erling Haaland in the Premier League top goal scorer race — or Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo, who made the squad from nowhere given he only made his Premier League debut in November. But the biggest bolter is Adam Wharton, who made the cut despite joining Crystal Palace from Blackburn in January and making his senior England debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina last week.

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2:10

Olley: Southgate facing tough decisions ahead of England vs. Serbia

James Olley details the takeaways from England’s first training session in Germany ahead of Euro 2024.

Why they won’t win it all: England’s tournament record on foreign soil is not great. They won the 1966 World Cup, and reached the semifinal at Euro ’96 and Euro 2020, but each of those competitions were played in England. Questions remain about their defence: who partners John Stones at centre-back with Harry Maguire ruled out? Will Luke Shaw, England’s sole recognised left-back, really be fit enough to perform, having been sidelined since February with a knee injury? Southgate also has to silence doubts about whether he can extract the best from a strong pool of attacking talent and impact matches with his in-game management if things turn against them.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: England are openly embracing expectations they could win Euro 2024. They narrowly lost the last European Championship final on penalties. They can field arguably the Player of the Year in England (Phil Foden), Germany (Kane) and Spain (Jude Bellingham), but their wait for a second major international trophy is now 58 years, and they still have to prove their pedigree in the biggest knockout games in a way that France do not, especially given Southgate’s final 26 contains 12 players who have never been to a senior tournament. France knocked England out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and they could theoretically meet again in the semifinals. Clear that hurdle and it is hard to see anyone stopping them. — James Olley

France

Nickname: Les Bleus (The Blues)
FIFA rank: 2
Euro 2024 group: Group D
Manager: Didier Deschamps
Record in past 12 months: 8W-2D-2L
Group stage fixtures: Austria (Monday, 3 p.m. ET); Netherlands (June 21, 3 p.m. ET); Poland (June 25, noon ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +400

Can’t-miss star: Kylian Mbappé. There is only one name here, obviously, and it is Mbappé. At 25, he is the best player in the world at the moment, he is the newest Real Madrid Galactico, and he will be the X factor France need in order to win this tournament. He has everything, including the drive and the ambition to win everything. As captain, he will lead by example.

Breakout candidate: Bradley Barcola. The PSG winger will begin the tournament as a substitute, but his pace and skill set, as we saw with Les Parisiens this season, makes him so unpredictable and hard to defend against that he can become, at 21, an important part of Deschamps’ plans.

Why they won’t win it all: They are among the favourites to win it all, and this is perhaps the biggest reason they might not. Being too optimistic, too arrogant and taking things for granted are historically French flaws. France could be their biggest enemy. The lack of form from their two starting centre-backs, Ibrahima Konaté and Dayot Upamecano, is also a slight worry.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: France should go really far in this tournament despite an interesting group (Austria, Netherlands, Poland) and are among the favourites to win it all. They have the best international head coach in Deschamps, the best player in the world in Mbappé, a squad with huge talent and depth, the perfect mix of experience and youth, different profiles in every attacking position and, finally, the return of N’Golo Kanté in midfield could be a game-changer. France have reached the final in three of the past four major tournaments (Euro 2016, World Cups in 2018 and 2022). They know the ruthlessness required to go far on these occasions. — Julien Laurens

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Why Moreno says France not winning the Euros would be a ‘failure’

Alejandro Moreno insists France should win Euro 2024 and anything less should be deemed as a failure.

Georgia

Nickname: Jvarosnebi (Crusaders)
FIFA rank: 75
Euro 2024 group: Group F
Manager: Willy Sagnol
Record in past 12 months: 6W-1D-4L
Group stage fixtures: Turkey (Tuesday, noon ET); Czechia (June 22, 9 a.m. ET); Portugal (June 26, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +50000

Can’t-miss star: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Mesmerising dribbler and an endless font of creativity, he operates as a second striker with the national side. Had a down year with Napoli an still managed 17 goal involvements last season. The “Kvaradona” moniker remains sacrilegious, but a little bit less than before, as he continues to grow into the elite.

Breakout candidate: Giorgi Mamardashvili. After 2½ years as a starter in LaLiga, he’s hardly an unknown, but Valencia‘s chronic underachievement has probably denied him the international spotlight his skills deserve. He’s a dominant keeper who moves surprisingly well for someone with such a large frame and he’s likely to get plenty of chances to shine in this tournament.

Why they won’t win it all: To start with, FIFA rankings have them as the worst team in the tournament. They haven’t beaten any side at this tournament — friendlies excluded — since 2015, when they downed Scotland 1-0. Only three of their players feature in a Big Five European league. They seem especially overmatched defensively, where aging cult hero Guram Kashia will need to summon all his experience at nearly 37 years of age.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Group F isn’t particularly tough on paper, and facing heavy favourites Portugal last — when they will likely already have qualified — works in their favor. Of course, they might be out of the tournament themselves by then if they fail to take points off Turkey and the Czechs. Mamardashvili can be a shutdown keeper and Kvaratskhelia can create out of nothing at any time, but for them to get anywhere, both have to excel in the same game. Unless they channel the spirit of Greece 2004, their Euros will end in the group stage. — Gabriele Marcotti

Germany

Nickname: Die Nationalmannschaft (The National Team)
FIFA rank: 16
Euro 2024 group: Group A
Manager: Julian Nagelsmann
Record in past 12 months: 5W-3D-5L
Group stage fixtures: Scotland (Friday, 3 p.m. ET); Hungary (June 19, noon ET); Switzerland (June 23, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +500

Can’t-miss star: Toni Kroos. Germany’s best player is one who will retire at the end of the tournament. Long denied his well-deserved laurels at home, everyone should have realised by now that the six-time Champions League winner is a once-in-a-lifetime, generational playmaking talent. Soon we will all be saying, “he was.”

Breakout candidate: Deniz Undav. Following his atypical career path, the 27-year-old only made his debut for Germany in March. On the back of a tremendous campaign with VfB Stuttgart, Undav has become a viable candidate for Germany’s front line due to his attacking instincts and finishing qualities from the edge of the box.

Why they won’t win it all: This team remain a work in progress. We might not see the new Germany moulded according to Nagelsmann’s vision before the 2026 World Cup, especially now that Kroos is calling it a day after this tournament and 33-year-old Ilkay Gündogan is serving as the captain. Questions remain whether the back line can fend off top-level attacks and whether Niclas Füllkrug and Kai Havertz have what it takes to play up front and score vital goals in the knockout rounds.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: As opposed to their World Cup showing in Qatar, Germany should not encounter too much trouble getting out of the group. They even have the potential to overcome some of the stronger nations, considering Nagelsmann’s team is best when they can initiate transition attacks after turnovers in the middle third of the pitch. However, this group of players is unlikely to be strong enough to win the tournament at home. Furthermore, the Bayern players, who have traditionally built the backbone of the national team, probably won’t play that big of a factor this time around. Perhaps we will see a repeat of 1988 when West Germany made it to the semifinals on home soil. — Constantin Eckner

Nickname: Magyarok (Magyars)
FIFA rank: 26
Euro 2024 group: Group A
Manager: Marco Rossi
Record in past 12 months: 7W-4D-1L
Group-stage fixtures: Switzerland (Saturday, 9 a.m. ET); Germany (June 19, noon ET); Scotland (June 23, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +9000

Can’t-miss star: Dominik Szoboszlai. Hungarian superstardom carries only one name these days, and it’s Szoboszlai’s. The hype surrounding the Liverpool midfielder at home could not be any greater. His constantly developing qualities as a playmaker coupled with his shooting technique and killer instinct have made him into the player everything revolves around.

Breakout candidate: Milos Kerkez. Premier League fans probably already know the 20-year-old left-back from AFC Bournemouth, and Euro 2024 could be the stage for him to become an internationally recognised name. Kerkez is the definition of intensity and an absolute workout junkie whose gym sessions even on supposed recovery days are legendary. He will be relentless in getting up and down the left flank.

Why they won’t win it all: Hungary do not boast the necessary squad depth to make a deep run at this tournament. If it weren’t for nationalised players such as Willi Orbán, Callum Styles, Loïc Négo and Márton Dárdai, it would be questionable whether Hungary would have a realistic chance of reaching the knockout stages. Also, there’s normally a significant gap in quality between the starting XI and the bench.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: First of all, Hungary’s group games will be a spectacle, as thousands upon thousands of fervent fans will travel to Stuttgart and Cologne. Perhaps the atmosphere, Rossi’s coaching and some magical moments involving Szoboszlai can carry them to the round of 16 or even beyond, but Hungary are hardly the dark horses of the tournament. Szoboszlai shoulders the burden of too much expectation; we will see him frequently starting attacks from central midfield and then making forward runs up the pitch to finish the attack he initiated. — Eckner

Italy

Nickname: Gli Azzurri (The Blues)
FIFA rank: 9
Euro 2024 group: Group B
Manager: Luciano Spalletti
Record in past 12 months: 7W-3D-2L
Group-stage fixtures: Albania (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET); Spain (June 20, 3 p.m. ET); Croatia (June 24, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +1200

Can’t-miss star: Nicolò Barella. He’s at the peak of his career and very much the leader of this team. Dynamic, aggressive and talented with an eye for goals, Barella will be critical in providing the link to an attack that has far too many questions hanging over it.

Breakout candidate: Riccardo Calafiori. This tall, classy left-footer helped power little Bologna into the Champions League this year and only just turned 22. Comfortable on the ball, he often steps out of defence in midfield to build play. If two of Italy’s better players — Federico Dimarco and Alessandro Bastoni — didn’t play the roles he covers, he’d be a shoo-in to start.

Why they won’t win it all: They’re the defending champions, but they’ve had a bumpy year, losing their coach, Roberto Mancini, and failing to convince leading up to the tournament. They’re deep in defence, midfield is solid enough, but attack is a definite concern, given Federico Chiesa‘s frequent injuries and Gianluca Scamacca‘s inconsistency. The former needs to stay fit and the latter needs to be the Scamacca we saw at Anfield if they’re to have a chance. Don’t bet on it.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: They’re in a very tough group with Spain and Croatia and the fact that they’re traditionally slow starters and face Albania, nominally their most straightforward opponent, in the first game doesn’t help either. Still, Gianluigi Donnarumma and this defence can keep out goals against most opponents, so you could see them finish second. If they manage that, they’re in decent shape. Getting past the runner-up from Germany’s group shouldn’t be an issue and in the quarterfinals they could face England in a rematch of the Euro 2020 final. Tough out, but, heck, it’s Southgate, so there is your path to the semifinals. That’s probably their best-case scenario, because then, barring upsets, they’d need to deal with heavily favoured France. — Marcotti

Netherlands

Nickname: Oranje (The Orange)
FIFA rank: 7
Euro 2024 group: Group D
Manager: Ronald Koeman
Record in past 12 months: 8W-0D-4L
Group-stage fixtures: Poland (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET); France (June 21, 3 p.m. ET); Austria (June 25, noon ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +1500

Can’t-miss star: Virgil van Dijk. The Netherlands aren’t blessed with many world-class players but the Liverpool captain is one of them. The 32-year-old is considered one of the best centre-backs in the world for good reason, and if he has a good tournament, Koeman’s team could go further than expected.

Breakout candidate: Xavi Simons. It feels like Simons has been around forever but he’s still only 21 years old. He’s had a positive season on loan in Germany with RB Leipzig, and after being a fringe player at the World Cup in 2022, he’s set to be given a more important role in Germany.

Why they won’t win it all: Any team winning Euro 2024 will need to beat the best teams and the Netherlands don’t have much of a recent pedigree. France beat them twice in qualifying and they lost to Germany in a friendly in March. They were knocked out in the quarterfinals when Argentina presented their first major test back at Qatar 2022. In last summer’s UEFA Nations League on home soil, they lost to Croatia in the semifinals and again to Italy in the third-place playoff.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: The Netherlands reached the quarterfinals in Qatar and they will expect to do the same again in Germany. Drawn in a tough group with France, they will hope to finish second above Poland and Austria and then cause an upset or two in the knockouts. Finishing second in Group D would mean a last-16 game against the runner-up from Group E — potentially Ukraine. From there, it could be a quarterfinal against Portugal and then a semifinal against Germany or Spain. Reaching the last eight or even the last four is realistic for Koeman & Co. — Dawson

Poland

Nickname: Biało-czerwoni (The White-Reds)
FIFA rank: 28
Euro 2024 group: Group D
Manager: Michał Probierz
Record in past 12 months: 8W-2D-2L
Group-stage fixtures: Netherlands (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET); Austria (June 21, noon ET); France (June 25, noon ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +15000

Can’t-miss star: Robert Lewandowski. He is one of the best strikers of his generation and Poland’s leader, but at 35 he is past his peak. Netting 59 goals in 95 games for Barcelona in the past two seasons, though, demonstrates that he has not lost his instinct at the top level. The big concern is he goes into the tournament with a thigh injury and will miss the first game, if not more.

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Why Robert Lewandowski’s injury is a ‘major blow’ for Poland

Sam Marsden reacts to Robert Lewandowski’s injury ahead of his Euro 2024 campaign with Poland.

Breakout candidate: Nicola Zalewski. There is no obvious candidate in the Poland squad but the young AS Roma wing-back is one to watch. Zalewski, born in Italy to Polish parents, will be tasked with being the team’s creative outlet on the left flank.

Why they won’t win it all: For starters, they are the lowest-ranked team in one of the hardest groups. No one will expect them to beat France or the Netherlands, although a win against Austria could be enough to reach the round of 16. However, this is a Poland side that finished third to Albania and Czechia in qualifying and needed penalties to beat Wales to book their spot in Germany. On top of that, it’s not clear how long Lewandowski will be out or how fit he will be when he returns.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: A strong presence of Polish supporters is anticipated in Germany given the proximity of the two countries, but none of them will expect to stay for the duration. Their defence needs protecting — as a 3-2 loss to Moldova showed in qualifying — and even if Lewandowski was at his Bayern Munich best, and 100% fit, he would still need a better supply line. A last-16 appearance is likely to be as good as it could get for Poland. A group stage exit might be more realistic. — Sam Marsden

Portugal

Nickname: A Seleção (The Team)
FIFA rank: 6
Euro 2024 group: Group F
Manager: Roberto Martínez
Record in past 12 months: 11W-0D-2L
Group-stage fixtures: Czechia (Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET); Turkey (June 22, noon ET); Georgia (June 26, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +650

Can’t-miss star: Cristiano Ronaldo. Heard of him? The Euro 2016 winner, now 39, is preparing for his sixth European Championship. Nobody has played more Euro games (25), or scored more goals (14). And — surrounded and supplied by Portugal’s latest generation of attacking talent — Ronaldo hasn’t lost his eye for goal, scoring 10 times in nine qualifying games. It’s always all about Ronaldo, whether you like it or not.

Breakout candidate: Vitinha. The 24-year-old midfielder was Paris Saint-Germain’s outstanding player this season, Mbappé aside, starring in their run to the Champions League semifinals, but still isn’t a household name. Vitinha played a limited role for Portugal in qualifying, such is the competition in midfield, but started both friendlies this month alongside João Palhinha.

Why they won’t win it all: This is Martínez’s first major tournament with Portugal and his previous job with Belgium ended in disappointment, eliminated in the group stage at the 2022 World Cup. Martínez has so many good players to choose from — Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Rafael Leão, João Félix, Diogo Jota, Pedro Neto and Gonçalo Ramos could all make a case for inclusion in attack — but fitting them together won’t be easy. And handling Ronaldo presents its own problems.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Portugal boasted the best record of any nation in qualifying, winning all 10 of their games, scoring the most goals (36) and conceding the fewest (two). Beyond the goals, their attacking stats impressed across the board, with the most shots, shots on target, big chances created and touches in the opposition box. Their squad is one of the tournament’s strongest, and if Martínez can find the right blend in his starting XI, and in particular, how to get the best out of Ronaldo, they could go all the way. Turkey, Czechia and Georgia present few problems in Group F. Anything less than the semifinals — where they could face hosts Germany — would be a failure. — Kirkland

Romania

Nickname: Tricolorii (The Tricolours)
FIFA rank: 46
Euro 2024 group: Group E
Manager: Edward Iordănescu
Record in past 12 months: 4W-7D-1L
Group-stage fixtures: Ukraine (Monday, 9 a.m. ET); Belgium (June 22, 3 p.m. ET); Slovakia (June 26, noon ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +22500

Can’t-miss star: Nicolae Stanciu. The attacking midfielder is Romania’s creative force and likely to occupy the No. 10 role for Iordănescu’s team in Germany. He ended the club season having scored six goals and registered seven assists in 29 appearances for Saudi Pro League side Damac. The 31-year-old goes into the Euros with 14 goals in 70 appearances for Romania and will be crucial for their prospects.

Breakout candidate: Ianis Hagi. You’ll know the name, but can the 25-year-old come anywhere close to matching the feats of his father, Gheorghe, in a Romania shirt? Hagi senior was one of Europe’s great players in the 1990s and the talisman of the country’s memorable 1994 World Cup team. Ianis has had a less glamourous career, but he has enjoyed success with Rangers and had a productive season on loan at Alaves in LaLiga, so he will see Euro 2024 as his chance to break out of his father’s huge shadow on the international stage.

Why they won’t win it all: This will be Romania’s first major tournament since Euro 2016, when they were eliminated at the group stage without winning a game. They also recorded no victories on their previous appearance at Euro 2008. Despite a proud history of producing top players in the 1980s and 1990s, Romania have struggled to re-create their golden era this century. Their success this time around is simply in having qualified for the tournament.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Romania are unlikely to reach the latter stages, but they are in the weakest group, having landed in Group E alongside Belgium, Ukraine and Slovakia, so they will expect to challenge to qualify for the second round. The Romanians haven’t won a game at a major tournament since beating England 3-2 at Euro 2000, so ending that winless streak and progressing to the round of 16 would be regarded as a success. And due to the quirk of the draw for the knockout stages, Romania would not face a group winner in the second round if they qualify as runners-up, with a pairing against the Group D runners-up. So they could yet take advantage of the draw and become a surprise team in Germany. — Ogden

Scotland

Nickname: The Tartan Army
FIFA rank: 39
Euro 2024 group: Group A
Manager: Steve Clarke
Record in past 12 months: 4W-3D-5L
Group-stage fixtures: Germany (Friday, 3 p.m. ET); Switzerland (June 19, 3 p.m. ET); Hungary (June 23, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +10000

Can’t-miss star: Scott McTominay. The midfielder splits opinion among Manchester United fans but not with Scotland. McTominay got seven goals in qualifying, and any team coming up against Scotland in Germany will be wary of his threat in the penalty area. He had a mixed season at Old Trafford but still ended the campaign with 10 goals in all competitions.

Breakout candidate: Billy Gilmour. The midfielder is already well known in the UK after spells at Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion, but Euro 2024 could catapult him to a different level. Still only 22 years old, he played 30 times in the Premier League for the Seagulls last season. He’s technically excellent and comfortable on the ball under pressure, and a good tournament in Germany will have big clubs circling.

Why they won’t win it all: Goals might be a problem, particularly after Queens Park Rangers striker Lyndon Dykes was ruled out of the tournament because of an injury picked up in training. Scotland beat Gibraltar 2-0 without him in a warm-up game but missed several chances. It led Clarke to hand a call-up to uncapped youngster Tommy Conway, the 21-year-old who scored eight goals for Championship side Bristol City last season and has three goals in seven games for Scotland’s under-21s.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Scotland have never qualified for the knockout rounds at a major tournament, and that will be the main aim this summer. Hosts Germany first up is a tough way to start, but their chances of getting out of Group A will be decided by their record against Hungary and Switzerland in the other two games. Both are tough but winnable fixtures. Finishing second in Group A would set up a potential last-16 clash against Italy or Spain, but there’s also a chance that finishing third will be enough to earn a place in the knockouts. Anything beyond the group stage would be considered a success. — Dawson

Serbia

Nickname: Оrlovi (The Eagles)
FIFA rank: 33
Euro 2024 group: Group C
Manager: Dragan Stojković
Record in past 12 months: 5W-2D-5L
Group-stage fixtures: England (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET); Slovenia (June 20, 9 a.m. ET); Denmark (June 25, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +8000

Can’t-miss star: Aleksandar Mitrović. Whether he is on his own up front or partnered with Dusan Vlahović, the 29-year-old former Fulham striker now playing in Saudi Arabia at Al Hilal will be a nightmare for defenders: tall, strong, great in the air and a top finisher. If Mitrović gets the right service from his team, he will be a constant threat.

Breakout candidate: Lazar Samardžić. The 22-year-old is the future of Serbian football. He enjoyed a great season with Udinese in Serie A, and a big move to a top club is on the cards this summer. Samardžić is a left-footed central midfielder with great technique, vision and creativity, but is also quite robust and good in the duels.

Why they won’t win it all: Serbia seem to always be the underdogs who end up disappointing, typically boasting a talented squad full of top players from top clubs who often underachieve, like at the past two World Cups, where they were knocked out in the group stage. This is their first Euros as an independent country, so the expectations back home will be high, and history suggests this team might struggle to meet them.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: It is an interesting group for Stojković and his players. Their first game against England will be tough, but Denmark and Slovenia are next up and are two teams they could beat. Mitrović, Vlahović, Dusan Tadic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic have had great seasons at club level and will be the four leaders of this team. They will reach the last 16, where they could face Germany if they finish second in their group, and that could be the end for them. If they find something a bit special, they could become one of the surprises of the tournament. But even then, the quarterfinals are likely as far as they’ll go. — Laurens

Slovakia

Nickname: Sokoli (The Falcons)
FIFA rank: 48
Euro 2024 group: Group E
Manager: Francesco Calzona
Record in past 12 months: 8W-1D-3L
Group-stage fixtures: Belgium (Monday, noon ET); Ukraine (June 21, 9 a.m. ET); Romania (June 26, noon ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +35000

Can’t-miss star: Milan Skriniar. The 29-year-old is the best player in this Slovakia team, which is all about the collective. The PSG centre-back is a rock in the back, making the most of his physique. He lacks pace, but Slovakia usually play quite deep anyway, and playing behind Napoli defensive midfielder Stanislav Lobotka, he is the leader of a team that is hard to play against and very solid.

Breakout candidate: Tomás Suslov. The 22-year-old will start on the left wing in Calzona’s 4-3-3 formation and be one of his team’s primary threats. He had a good season with Hellas Verona in Serie A with three goals and five assists after arriving from Groningen last summer.

Why they won’t win it all: Apart from Skriniar and Lobotka, this team lacks top talent. They have good players like Juraj Kucka, Dávid Hancko and Martin Dúbravka, but overall, there is not enough quality in the squad. Calzona is an unexperienced head coach with a defensive mindset, and while they will make it hard for the opposition and put up a fight in each of their games, it won’t be enough.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: At least Slovakia got a bit lucky in the draw. Their group is formed of Belgium, who should top it, and Romania and Ukraine, who are of a similar level to Slovakia. As such, they have a chance to qualify for the last 16, but after that, it will be too hard for them. They will be a solid collective unit but don’t have any X factors in their team to produce something special. — Laurens

Slovenia

Nickname: None
FIFA rank: 57
Euro 2024 group: Group C
Manager: Matjaž Kek
Record in past 12 months: 8W-3D-2L
Group-stage fixtures: Denmark (Sunday, noon ET); Serbia (June 20, 9 a.m. ET); England (June 25, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +30000

Can’t-miss star: Jan Oblak. The Atlético Madrid No. 1 has been one of the standout goalkeepers in Europe for a decade. A move away from the Spanish capital has never materialised because of doubts about his ability with his feet, but there are few better shot stoppers in the game, which could be useful in a tricky group.

Breakout candidate: Benjamin Šeško. The RB Leipzig striker is in form and in demand. The 21-year-old has enjoyed a stellar first season in Germany, scoring in each of his side’s final seven games of the Bundesliga campaign. Bigger clubs are already circling, and big performances at the Euros will only increase the interest.

Why they won’t win it all: Beyond Oblak and Šeško, only two other players in the Slovenia squad play in one of Europe’s Big Five leagues. Kek has done well to guide them to their second-ever appearance at the European Championship, and their first since 2000, but a first win at the event is a more realistic target than winning it all.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Slovenia drew with Denmark at home in qualifying and lost away only narrowly, so will believe they can get a result against the Danes in their opening game. Likewise against Serbia in their second match. England might prove tougher, but with Oblak in goal and Šeško up front, they could find the results needed to reach the knockout rounds. They will look to play on their underdog tag. “There were a lot of people who seemed to smile when they got Slovenia in the group,” Kek said. “They may come to regret that.” — Marsden

Spain

Nickname: La Roja (The Reds)
FIFA rank: 8
Euro 2024 group: Group B
Manager: Luis de la Fuente
Record in past 12 months: 10W-1D-1L
Group-stage fixtures: Croatia (Saturday, noon ET); Italy (June 20, 3 p.m. ET); Albania (June 24, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +700

Can’t-miss star: Rodri The Manchester City midfielder is genuinely world class. Club coach Pep Guardiola has described him as the best in the world in his position, and he will anchor La Roja‘s engine room. He has become much more than just a defensive midfielder, though; he’s adept at keeping possession ticking in the final third, too, firing off quick passes in different directions.

Breakout candidate: Lamine Yamal The 16-year-old has already made his mark for Barcelona and is now hoping to do the same with Spain. The winger — who is set to become the youngest player to ever play at the tournament — is lightning quick, has a noteworthy bag of tricks and is expected to start on the right of Spain’s attack.

Why they won’t win it all: Since winning the competition in 2012, Spain have often struggled to break down teams when it has mattered in big tournaments. That was the case at the World Cup 18 months ago when they lost to Morocco. That could change this summer. Yamal and Nico Williams offer a new dimension on the wings, while midfielder Pedri appears to be rediscovering his fitness and best form, but the overriding feeling is that they lack the experience and depth of other nations.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Spain have a tough group, but given that three teams could progress, they should reach the knockout rounds. A quarterfinal appearance will be the minimum expected from De la Fuente’s team. However, they won the UEFA Nations League last year and are capable of beating anyone on their day. Rodri can be a difference-maker; Yamal and Williams offer excitement; Pedri is back; and Álvaro Morata and Joselu have both scored big goals in their careers. If everything comes together in Germany, they are among the candidates to lift the trophy. — Marsden

Switzerland

Nickname: Nati (National Team)
FIFA rank: 19
Euro 2024 group: Group A
Manager: Murat Yakin
Record in past 12 months: 4W-7D-1L
Group-stage fixtures: Hungary (Saturday, 9 a.m. ET); Scotland (June 19, 3 p.m. ET); Germany (June 23, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +6000

Can’t-miss star: Granit Xhaka Last summer’s €15m move from Arsenal to Bayer Leverkusen raised suggestions that Xhaka was moving into the twilight of his career. How wrong they were. Leverkusen won their maiden Bundesliga title with the first unbeaten campaign in the competition’s history. Xhaka was integral: 3,648 touches, 3,259 passes and 3,003 successful passes are all Bundesliga records. The 31-year-old is Switzerland’s all-time appearance record holder, captain and midfield general.

Breakout candidate: Dan Ndoye Anyone with knowledge of Bologna’s improbable Serie A campaign — a surprise fifth-place finish securing Champions League qualification — will already be aware of Ndoye. The 23-year-old winger is lightning quick and can play on either flank or as a wing-back, as was the case for Switzerland in March.

Why they won’t win it all: Switzerland have never won a major international tournament — their best showing came at the last Euros when reaching the quarterfinals — and qualification this time around was overshadowed by a series of indifferent performances that led to questions about Yakin’s position. A trend of conceding late goals — as they did against Romania, Kosovo (twice) and Israel — is concerning, and the 6-1 round-of-16 thrashing by Portugal at the 2022 World Cup exposed a fragility they have yet to eradicate. Yakin has used different systems — switching from a 4-3-3 to a back three — but is seemingly still searching for the answer.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Their squad boasts some good individual talent in Xhaka, Manchester City’s Manuel Akanji and Internazionale’s Yann Sommer, but they look vulnerable in attack. Burnley‘s Zeki Amdouni could lead the line, although AS Monaco‘s Breel Embolo is attempting to overcome a serious injury and the Chicago Fire’s Xherdan Shaqiri is still an option. A tricky group that includes hosts Germany, resilient Hungary and spirited Scotland poses challenges. Second place in Group B would likely see them face Spain, Italy or Croatia, and it is hard to see them progressing further. — Olley

Turkey

Nickname: Ay-Yıldızlıların (The Crescent Stars)
FIFA rank: 40
Euro 2024 group: Group F
Manager: Vincenzo Montella
Record in past 12 months: 5W-3D-4L
Group-stage fixtures: Georgia (Tuesday, noon ET); Portugal (June 22, noon ET); Czechia (June 26, 3 p.m. ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +6000

Can’t-miss star: Hakan Çalhanoğlu Montella has described Çalhanoğlu as the “No. 1 midfielder in the world.” A creative force who is consistently effective from set pieces, the 30-year-old won his first Serie A title with Inter and operates these days in a more deep-lying role.

Breakout candidate: Kenan Yildiz The 19-year-old burst onto the scene at Juventus after leaving Bayern Munich, netting four goals in 10 starts (and 22 substitute appearances) across all competitions. Scored against Germany on his full debut in November and is able to play as a striker or off the left flank. Like Çalhanoğlu, Yildiz was born in Germany but opted for Turkey by virtue of his parents.

Why they won’t win it all: Turkey’s best tournament showings came in securing third place at the 2002 World Cup and reaching the semifinals of Euro 2008. They are something of an unknown quantity with Montella only taking up his role in September and a number of young players boasting potential but little pedigree at this level. Çalhanoğlu has been criticised in his homeland at times for failing to influence matches in the way some fans expect. Losing defender Ozan Kabak to a knee ligament injury in last week’s warm-up game against Italy is a heavy setback.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Impressive wins against Germany and Croatia sit alongside a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Austria in Vienna. Can they find consistency? There is hope that a new generation of talent is emerging with Real Madrid’s Arda Güler, Yildiz and Nurnberg’s Can Uzun among their more exciting prospects. Optimists will believe they can challenge Portugal for top spot in Group F, and succeeding would be a big boost to their aim of a deep run — second place would probably result in a round-of-16 clash with France. Ultimately, they lack the quality of the major European sides, but they could be a surprise package if Montella can make them click. — Olley

Ukraine

Nickname: Синьо-жовті (The Blue and Yellow)
FIFA rank: 22
Euro 2024 group: Group E
Manager: Serhiy Rebrov
Record in past 12 months: 7W-4D-2L
Group-stage fixtures: Romania (Monday, 9 a.m. ET); Slovakia (June 21, 9 a.m. ET); Belgium (June 26, noon ET)
ESPN BET odds to win Euro 2024: +50,000

Can’t-miss star: Oleksandr Zinchenko Supporters of Chelsea might roll their eyes at this, but Mykhailo Mudryk warrants a mention here as their box-office star. In terms of their most important player, though? That’s Zinchenko. The Arsenal left-back is likely to be deployed in the centre of midfield for Ukraine and is the man who keeps the tempo going. They’ll lean heavily on their young stars breaking through and in-form Girona striker Artem Dovbyk up front, but it’s Zinchenko who is the team’s conductor.

Breakout candidate: Georgiy Sudakov Viktor Tsygankov, 26, has had a brilliant season with Girona and could attract attention this summer from the Premier League, but the player who’s expected to command a huge figure this summer is Sudakov. The 21-year-old Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder has been linked with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as suitors in the Bundesliga. He could command a transfer fee of £50m and will be at the centre of one of the summer’s great transfer sagas.

Why they won’t win it all: They only just came through qualification, needing playoff victories against Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Iceland, and they left it late on both occasions. So that offers a decent barometer for where they are in relation to the rest of the teams in the tournament. They have had several of their best players injured this season, so Rebrov will have to weigh up form, fitness and reputation. But this is a young team, perhaps the youngest at the Euros, so this might be a competition too soon for them.

Realistic chances at Euro 2024: Ukraine are playing in this tournament with their country at war. The squad announcement was done through the eyes of soldiers on the front lines and Ukrainians all around the country as they continue to fight against the Russian invasion. And so it’s against that backdrop that they go to Germany. The group stage is winnable; they’ll fancy their chances against Belgium, Slovakia and Romania. And they’ll have a huge outpouring of public support behind them. There’s this brilliant young group of Ukrainian footballers at the spine of their team, led by Mudryk, Sudakov, Illia Zabarnyi and Andriy Lunin. So if things click, they could make a run to the knockouts, and then reputation can make way to form. The likelihood is they’ll bow out in the round of 16 or the quarterfinals, but they’re going to be at the forefront of the competition’s attention. “Every match for the national team is incredible pride and responsibility,” Sudakov said. “I probably have double motivation in such difficult times for our country. When the national team plays, we feel incredible support and give our people, for 90 minutes, some positive emotions.” — Hamilton