Euro 2024 updates: Belgium bounce back, Turkey disappoint

Euro 2024 is underway! Our daily files give you the latest reporting from around the tournament as well as betting lines, what to watch for and best reads.

Check in with ESPN throughout the tournament as we bring you the latest from Germany all the way up to the final on July 14.


The lead: Belgium bounce back in vibrant win over Romania

COLOGNE, Germany — The Red Devils bared their teeth against Romania and sent out a reminder to the rest of Euro 2024 that when Belgium click, they are a terrifying prospect to play against. It was one of the matches of the tournament so far, a vibrant, entertaining end-to-end game where Kevin De Bruyne inspired Belgium to a key 2-0 victory.

After their shock 1-0 defeat to Slovakia in the opener, this victory in Cologne cast any reports over Belgium’s demise in these Euros as premature, and at the same time, quietened any doubts over De Bruyne’s fitness levels after an injury-hit season. De Bruyne had the match on a piece of string, the chief puppeteer amid brilliant chaos around him.

Belgium manager Domenico Tedesco’s changes all paid off — Youri Tielemans, Dodi Lukebakio, Arthur Theate and the ageless veteran Jan Vertonghen all started and with that came a far more potent attacking threat. Tielemans dovetailed well with Amadou Onana, and that control meant De Bruyne could play on the front foot more, rather than having to scuffle to get time on the ball like he did against Slovakia. From there, Belgium built, with Jérémy Doku and Lukebakio causing havoc off the flanks and Romelu Lukaku a dominant presence in the middle.

But while Tielemans’ goal after 76 seconds proved to be the difference, concerns remain over their profligacy. They should’ve won against Slovakia, and they were wasteful against Romania. They got themselves into dangerous areas of the field, leaving the Romanian defence scrambling, only for Florin Nita to pull off save after save, or the radar just to be an inch or two off as passes escaped Belgian feet or heads.

On that, you can’t help but feel for Lukaku who had his third goal of the tournament ruled out for offside — this time the tip of his left knee was his downfall — but De Bruyne made sure of the win in the 79th minute as a Koen Casteels clearance evaded everyone and allowed the Belgium captain to finish well. But while this victory gave Belgium fresh momentum in the Euros, you feel that if they are to end up winning the whole thing, then they must find a way to mix brilliant attacking endeavour with an end product.

At 1-0, they had Casteels to thank as he saved from Dennis Man with the Romanian clean through on goal. Had that gone in, this would’ve had a different feel. But fine-tune those angles in front of goal, and they can challenge the best in this tournament.

A quick word for the atmosphere in Cologne – it was incredible. From start to finish both sets of fans — walls of yellow and red at both ends of the ground — stretched vocal chords for the entire match. But back on the pitch and Belgium’s victory means all four teams in Group E are on three points heading into the final round of matches. It’s a case of who blinks first. — Tom Hamilton

– Euro 2024: Landing page | Schedule | Rosters | News
Team previews | Predictions for every team (ESPN+)


Sights and sounds around Euro 2024

Turkey’s performance fail to match up to their fans

DORTMUND, Germany — Turkey’s two games at Euro 2024 have been noisy and colourful spectacles at Borussia Dortmund‘s Westfalenstadion. However, after a dramatic 3-1 win against Georgia in their Group F opener, Portugal exposed Vincenzo Montella’s team.

Quite simply, once you blank out their incredible support in Germany — over seven million German residents have Turkish heritage — Turkey are a team that will have done well to qualify for the round of 16. They are a committed side, but they are limited in their ability to hurt opponents as strong as Portugal.

With star player Arda Güler named on the substitutes’ bench for the Portugal game due to a a minor injury, Turkey lacked their one player capable of causing Roberto Martinez’s team a problem. Guler’s stunning goal in the win against Georgia highlighted the Real Madrid midfielder’s quality and even though he was not fit enough to start, the Turkish fans started to chant his name after just 35 minutes with their side already trailing 2-0. By the time the 19-year-old was given his opportunity from the bench in the 69th minute, the game was gone with Portugal already 3-0 ahead.

Turkey have talented players in addition to Güler – Internazionale‘s Hakan Çalhanoglu an obvious example – but their top performer has been their fans. They are so passionate but their hopes of reaching the next round are now likely to rely on Turkey avoid defeating against Czechia in their final game next Wednesday. That game will be played in Hamburg, which is another city with a significant Turkish population, so Turkey will be backed like a home team once again. But the players need to perform as well as their fans if they are to emerge from Group F. — Mark Ogden

Lobjanidze wastes chance to be a national hero

HAMBURG, Germany — At the end of 95 frantic minutes, there were Georgia players strewn all over the pitch. Red shirts lay, motionless, on the turf as the thousands of Georgia fans inside Volksparkstadion collectively groaned in agony.

The lowest-ranked team at the Euros were holding on for a 1-1 draw against Czechia — counting down each second of five minutes of stoppage time — when substitute Saba Lobjanidze was played in on goal with the chance to win it. He blazed his shot over the crossbar with the final kick of the game. Rather than their first-ever win at a major tournament, which would likely have taken them through to the knockout rounds against all odds, Georgia had to settle for their first point.

It says everything about the spirit within the Georgian squad that Lobjanidze was immediately consoled by his teammates before coach Willy Sagnol ran over to whisper a few words of encouragement. Whether Lobjanidze heard them or not amid the din of Georgian pain and frustration is another matter.

A point means Georgia, making their Euros debut, can still qualify for the round of 16, but with Portugal to come in their last game and a victory required, Lobjanidze’s missed opportunity is likely to mean they will head home early.

Sagnol admitted afterwards that Lobjanidze was “feeling very down” and that it will be everyone’s job to “cheer him up” in the days leading up to that now crucial game against Portugal. Sagnol remains hopeful, but there is already a sense that Georgia’s big chance has gone.

“For qualification to be on the last match, I would have signed immediately,” he said. “I don’t want to play the small one against the big one but it’s Portugal. We will be ambitious but we know it’s going to be difficult.” — Rob Dawson

Germany’s stars get a day off the vitamins

LEIPZIG, Germany — The Germany squad was given a day off its strict Euro 2024 dietary regime on Friday with Berlin kebab restaurant owner Arif Keles cooking for the team at their Herzogenaurach base.

Keles own the Hisar Fresh Food café in the German capital and has a shirt of national team defender Antonio Rüdiger hanging in the dining area, with the Berlin-born Real Madrid centre-half previously having named it as his favourite restaurant.

When coach Julian Nagelsmann named his squad for the tournament, each player’s name was revealed in a location close to their heart and Rudiger’s announcement was done at Keles’s restaurant. And after winning their first two games in Group A to secure qualification for the knockout stages, the Germany players were treated to a fast-food Friday with Keles serving doner kebab to the squad.

“It was wonderful and nice to eat a kebab instead of vitamins,” Germany forward Deniz Undav said. “But now we’re back to having pasta and vegetables every day.” – Ogden

Harry Kane’s crisp finish

Harry Kane said last week that many German fans have a soft spot for England at Euro 2024 because of his goal-scoring prowess at Bayern Munich. Now he is hoping they have a spot in their grocery shop too after lending his name to a brand of healthy crisps called “Insane Kane,” which are on sale across Europe including in a supermarket less than a five-minute drive from England’s training base in Blankenhain.

The gluten-free vegan “baked knobbly sticks” are made from supergrain sorghum and come in three flavours: “A Pitch of Salt,” “Salt & Vinegoaaal” and “Strikin’ Hot.”

The dreadful puns don’t end there. Kane has penned a short message on the back of every pack which tells everyone to “give this bag a tackle” and that it’s “crunch time.”

He’s not the first England striker to lend his name to such a snack. Over the past 25 years, Walker’s temporarily produced flavours including Salt & Lineker, Cheese & Owen and Vardy Salted after Gary Lineker, Michael Owen and Jamie Vardy respectively. Kane’s version is at least a healthy alternative. And a test of “Salt & Vinegoaaal” confirms they don’t quite possess the same bitter aftertaste as when England currently play. — James Olley


Stat of the day

The three overturned goals by VAR by Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku at this year’s Euro are more than any single player has scored. — ESPN Stats & Information

Georgia’s Giorgi Mamardashvili made 11 saves against Czechia, while preventing 3.2 goals based on the quality of shots on target faced (using xG on target) – both the best figures so far at Euro 2024 — Opta


Match previews for Sunday

Group A: Switzerland vs. Germany (Frankfurt; 9 p.m. local / 3 p.m. ET)

Odds (via ESPN BET): Switzerland +380, Draw +270, Germany -140

FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany need only a draw to secure top spot in Group A, but their recent record against Switzerland, who they haven’t beaten since 2008, points to a difficult evening.

The Swiss shocked France by eliminating the then-world champions from Euro 2020 in the Round of 16 and defender Ricardo Rodríguez says his team can upset the odds again by beating Germany to qualify for the next stage as group winners.

“It will be a very difficult game with a very good team and good individual players,” Rodriguez said. “They have started really well, but it’s a game and we can do it, too. We can beat them. It won’t be easy, it will be a very intense game. They are definitely the favourites, but we’ll do everything we can to get the win.”

With Germany’s qualification already guaranteed, coach Julian Nagelsmann is considering changes to his team to rotate his squad ahead of the knockout stages, with VfB Stuttgart midfielder Chris Führich expected to make an appearance. “If things continue the way they are, I am very optimistic,” Fuhrich said. “There is nothing nicer than having a team which functions well and players that have so much fun together.” – Ogden

What every team needs to get through the group stage

Group A: Scotland vs. Hungary (Stuttgart; 9 p.m. local / 3 p.m. ET)

Odds: Scotland +160, Draw +270, Hungary +145

STUTTGART, Germany — Scotland have a chance to reach the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time in their history. On 11 previous occasions, they have failed to do so but beat Hungary in Stuttgart and Steve Clarke’s side will likely go through as one of the four best third-place finishers.

Hungary have no points and a minus-4 goal difference meaning only a hefty win will give them any chance of avoiding the earliest possible exit. In all likelihood, their fate is already sealed and Scotland will hope to take full advantage as they seek to build on a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, which followed a heavy 5-1 defeat to Germany in the tournament’s opening game.

Clarke said from the outset that four points was Scotland’s target. It is still within reach but they will be without Kieran Tierney, who will not play again this summer after suffering a hamstring injury on matchday two. Hungary have not won a match at a European Championship in eight attempts dating back to 2016. – Olley

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Can Switzerland upset Germany at Euro 2024?

Luis Miguel Echegaray assesses why Switzerland could be Germany’s toughest test so far at Euro 2024.


Betting tip (odds via ESPN BET)

We’ve reached the final round of group stage matches. I want to focus on Scotland vs. Hungary. They’ve only scored three goals between them in four matches. So it’s nice to see Goals Under 2.5 at +105. — Dan Thomas


One big read

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Laurens backs Scotland to make history at Euro 2024

Julien Laurens thinks Scotland will make it through to the knockout stages in a major tournament for the first time in their history.

Scotland’s recurring failure at major tournaments has become so etched into the nation’s psyche that songs have been written about it. They are arguably the unluckiest team in world football, so they lend themselves to ballads of broken dreams.

When the Scots qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup — their last appearance at the competition — the Glasgow band Del Amitri penned the team’s official song and called it “Don’t Come Home Too Soon.” It didn’t work. Scotland were knocked out at the group stage to make it, at that point, 10 times out of 10 that they had qualified for a tournament, only to fail to reach the knockout stages. Don’t come home too soon? They were one of the first to pack up and leave. Again.

If you want glorious failure and tales of what might have been, Scotland are the team for you, whether it is World Cups or European Championships. The final chapter has always been the same — heartbreak.

– Mark Ogden: Are Scotland the unluckiest team in world football?


And finally …

If you are a Luka Modric fan, if you are in love with Mateo Kovacic, or a Marcelo Brozovic aficionado, then you can now bid to buy the shirts they have worn during Euro 2024 — each signed by the player too.

The Croatian FA is auctioning them off to fans, via MatchWornShirt, to make money for themselves, not for charity. And so far it’s quite a success.

The 26 shirts up for sale from the Spain defeat have gone for €24,337 ($26,000). The most expensive one? Modric, of course, which sold for just over €7,000 ($7,500). The second best sellers? Kovacic (€1,704) and Josko Gvardiol (€1,505).

The auction starts at full-time of the game and finishes at kick off of the next. So the same thing has begun after the draw with Albania, and the amount raised will be higher. With two days to go, the shirt of Croatia captain Modric is already almost at €6,500 ($6,950).

Croatia face Italy in their last group stage match on Monday, and need a win to qualify. If they go out it would be Modric’s last-ever Euros appearance. No doubt the value of his shirt would shoot up massively! – Julien Laurens