Euro 2024 updates: Bellingham moment of magic saves England

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 July 14.


The lead: Bellingham steps up when it matters most

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — Jude Bellingham was willing to set himself up as England’s saviour in a pre-tournament advert for adidas and, after a lengthy wait, he proved to be just that in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday.

If we’re being honest, the Real Madrid midfielder had a pretty miserable game against Slovakia for 94 minutes or so: running down dead-end routes, plodding in possession and often the picture of frustration toward referee Umut Meler. His night was reflective of the malaise that engulfed England as a team.

Yet when Gareth Southgate’s side were staring down the barrel of a humiliating round-of-16 exit to Slovakia following Ivan Schranz’s 25th-minute opener, Bellingham reacted quickest to a Marc Guéhi flick-on to produce a stunning overhead kick to drag them back from the brink and tie the match 1-1 with seconds left in stoppage time.

After Bellingham’s goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Harry Kane then came to the party in the first minute of extra-time with the deciding header in a 2-1 win that was the product of three substitutes combining to assist him: Cole Palmer, Eberechi Eze and Ivan Toney.

England’s front four of Bellingham, Kane, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden have been so underwhelming to this point, but Bellingham’s moment of magic is precisely why many had them down as pre-tournament favourites: There are so many players at Southgate’s disposal capable of defining games.

When celebrating his equaliser, Bellingham appeared to mouth the words, “Who else?” It is as if he knew all along.

England must kick on collectively in Saturday’s quarterfinal against Switzerland, but they need Bellingham in inspirational form to ensure any sort of extended run at Euro 2024. — James Olley


Sights and sounds around Euro 2024

Injured Alaba making an impact for Austria

David Alaba has become a key figure in Austria’s Euro 2024 campaign, despite being ruled out of Ralf Rangnick’s squad with an ACL injury sustained while playing for Real Madrid last December.

Austria coach Rangnick has said that the former Bayern Munich defender has “sacrificed his entire vacation” to stay with the squad at their Berlin base camp in order to “support the coaching staff and the players with his experience.” While the team has trained, Alaba has worked on his rehabilitation, but he has taken part in squad events, including presenting Rangnick with a birthday cake on Saturday.

And the 32-year-old spoke at a news conference at the weekend to say how important it has been to him to be around the national team, even though he is unable to play.

“Of course I would prefer to be on the pitch,” he said. “That’s completely normal and my goal, but that’s not possible here now. I still try to support the team as best I can and I try to contribute my experience. I’m also involved a little more intensively with the coaching team now, in video analysis or in preparing for games. But every meeting with the coach isn’t possible because of the treatments I’m having.”

Alaba is expected to return to action for Real Madrid in the autumn, but said he has not yet set a date for a comeback.

“I’m getting better week by week,” he said. “I have every opportunity here to work at a top level. The rehab is very intensive, sometimes very hard, but I can work well here. I’m on a very good path, but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. There is no specific date for when I want to be back on the pitch. I want to come back when I’m back to 100%.” — Mark Ogden.

Portugal keeping Pepe on ice

Portugal are doing everything they can to keep Pepê fit for games, including giving the 41-year-old defender first use of the ice baths after games.

The FC Porto centre-back is still playing a key role for his national team despite a career which is nearing 900 games for club and country. With Portugal already guaranteed top spot in Group F, he was rested for the final game against Georgia, but he is expected to start against Slovenia in the round of 16 on Monday and extend his record of being the oldest player to play at a Euros in his fifth appearance at the tournament.

“The physiotherapists say that the machines basically belong to me, but it is so that I can recover as quickly as possible,” Pepe told a news conference on Saturday. “I know I don’t recover as quickly as a 20-year-old, but I try to do my best to always be available for my coach.” — Rob Dawson


Stat of the day

Kobbie Mainoo (19 years, 72 days) is the third-youngest player to start a knockout stage game for England at a major tournament (World Cup/Euros), after Michael Owen vs. Argentina in 1998 (18y, 198d) and Wayne Rooney vs. Portugal in 2004 (18y, 244d). — Opta


Match previews for Monday

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.

France vs. Belgium (Düsseldorf; 6 p.m. local / midday ET)

Odds (via ESPN BET): France -110, Draw +220, Belgium +350

And they meet again! Six years after the epic 2018 World Cup semifinal (1-0 win for France after a Samuel Umtiti header) and three years after a spectacular Nations League semifinal (3-2 win for France thanks to a late Theo Hernández winner), the two teams are ready to reignite their old rivalry on Monday.

It was 120 years ago when they met in their first international game and, since then, the derby has been more of a French affair than anything else. But despite the dominance of the past, Didier Deschamps and his players know that they can’t take anything for granted. Under Domenico Tedesco, Kevin De Bruyne & Co. have been poor in this tournament and are due a good performance after an underwhelming group stage. But Kylian Mbappé and his teammates are also expected to raise their game.

Under Deschamps, France have always been ruthless in knockout games: they have not lost one over 90 minutes since 2014. The head coach has used the last few days to gather his group together and get them in the right mindset to unleash their potential. — Julien Laurens

Portugal vs. Slovenia (Frankfurt; 9 p.m. local / 3 p.m. ET)

Odds: Portugal -270, Draw +380, Slovenia +750

Portugal are heavy favourites to progress past Slovenia, but there are concerns among some fans that they are exactly the type of team that can cause them problems.

In a friendly between the two teams in March, Portugal had almost 70% possession but managed just two shots on target as Slovenia won 2-0 to hand Roberto Martinez his first defeat as coach. Portugal, who rested players but still included Pepê, Diogo Dalot, João Cancelo, João Félix and Cristiano Ronaldo, found Slovenia’s deep, compact defence hard to break down and were caught on the counter — much in the same way Georgia found success against Martinez’s team in their group stage win in Gelsenkirchen.

Ronaldo is expected to start against Slovenia in Frankfurt, two years after he was sensationally dropped for Portugal’s round-of-16 tie against Switzerland at the World Cup in Qatar. The 39-year-old is still looking for his first goal of Euro 2024. — Dawson.


Betting tip (odds via ESPN BET)

Cristiano Ronaldo might be struggling, but Portugal can turn to star midfielder Bruno Fernandes, and if he scores a goal and also provides an assist against Slovenia, then the odds are +550 — ESPN


One big read

He was a shock inclusion in France‘s Euro 2024 squad after 24 months away from international football, but N’Golo Kanté is back with a bang, and it’s one of the greatest stories of the tournament so far.

The last time the 33-year-old played for Les Blues (before the warm-up games for Euro 2024) was in a 2-1 Nations League defeat to Denmark in June 2022. After that, a bad hamstring injury saw him miss the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and 90% of the 2022-23 season with Chelsea. Then his move to Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad in the summer of 2023 pushed him further out of the spotlight and many wondered if we would ever see the all-action midfielder play for his country again.

Before travelling to Germany, Kanté beat everyone else in the squad in the physical tests. And, as if anyone needed reminding of his quality, his performances in training quickly won his teammates over.

In the first two matches of Euro 2024, against Austria (1-0) and Netherlands (0-0), Kanté won the Man of the Match award on both occasions. He ran more than anyone else on the pitch, recovered the ball more than anyone else, and won more duels than anyone else. He was everywhere.

– Laurens: Kanté is back, better than ever, and France need him badly


And finally …

play

1:56

Gab Marcotti blasts Italy after Euro 2024 exit

Gab Marcotti doesn’t hold back in his assessment of Italy’s performance after their 2-0 defeat to Switzerland in the round of 16 at Euro 2024.

,

It was to be expected, but reading the Italian newspapers on Sunday morning after defending champions Italy‘s humiliating 2-0 defeat against Switzerland to knock them out in the round of 16 was quite brutal.

“Una vergogna” (a disgrace) was the headline in Corriere dello Sport.

For Tuttosport, it was “Fallimento Nazionale” (“national failure,” or “failure of the national team,” as Nazionale is also one of the nicknames of the Azzurri).

There was “Disgust and anger” from Corriere della Sera, while Gazzetta dello Sport’s cover was “What a humiliation!” The paper also called for “everything to be rebuilt” and said that “the time for excuses is over.”

Inside their main article, the tone is as aggressive as the others: “Two years thrown in the bin. The flop against North Macedonia (defeat in the World Cup 2022 playoffs), the [Roberto] Mancini farewell and now Switzerland: Italy lost itself.”

Every media outlet in the country has obviously been heavily critical of the players and manager Luciano Spalletti.

The coach, who will stay in charge after the tournament, was accused of getting too many things wrong, namely “his tactics, his choices, the preparation,” according to Gazzetta.

But La Repubblica has done its criticism the best with a cooking metaphor: “The pasta carbonara, you can do it if you have eggs, guanciale (some salt-cured meat) and pecorino (some hard cheese made from sheep’s milk). If you only have garlic and a bit of oil, you have to change the recipe. But no, that, he didn’t understand it.” — Laurens