Euro 2024 updates: Does Ronaldo help or hinder Portugal?

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: Does Ronaldo help or hinder Portugal?

LEIPZIG, Germany — Cristiano Ronaldo set another personal record and Portugal won, so everything’s good. Or is it?

Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Czechia in Leipzig is a result that helpfully kicks the can down the road for a few days on whether Ronaldo is a help or a hindrance to Roberto Martinez’s side. But their performance here means it won’t end.

Portugal huffed and puffed for long periods, dominating the ball but struggling to break down a spirited Czechia team who had the temerity to score from their only shot on target as Lukás Provod curled in a fine 62nd-minute effort from the edge of the box. A Robin Hranác own goal gave Portugal an equaliser seven minutes later before Francisco Conceição‘s 92nd-minute close-range strike gave Martinez the start he wanted.

Credit should go to the Spanish manager as two of his substitutions combined: Pedro Neto‘s cross was only partially blocked by Hranác, allowing Conceição — on his tournament debut — to pounce. But this was all too fraught for a team with this much individual talent. And any discussion about the best Portugal lineup, inevitably, comes back to Ronaldo.

He did OK: the fewest touches (32) and the most shots (5), par for the course these days. And his adoring public lapped up every moment. After the 39-year-old was named in the starting lineup to become the first person ever to play at six European Championships, he ran out to rapturous applause for a warmup in which his every goal was greeted with a loud “SIUUU.” When he missed, the disappointment in the stands was real. Ronaldo’s high-fives for the young mascots in the tunnel left the recipients grinning from ear to ear. He remains the captain, the talisman. He was caught on camera giving a pep talk at half-time to readily attentive teammates.

Ronaldo thought he had played a match-winning role when his 87th-minute header hit the post and another substitute, Diogo Jota, turned in the rebound. But a (very quick) semi-automated offside decision ruled him a fraction ahead of his nearest defender. When the euphoria of Conceição’s winner subsided, thoughts returned to whether they can get away with this against better opposition later in the tournament.

The remarkable strength in depth that Portugal possess at this tournament should be producing more end product. Pepe became the oldest player in European Championship history at 41 years, 113 days. At the other end of the pitch, Ronaldo is also doing his best to slow the inevitability of time, a battle he appeared to have lost when being dropped for the knockout stages at the 2022 World Cup.

Now, victory means the jury is out for another day. — James Olley

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

Sights and sounds around Euro 2024

Güler, Turkey deliver the best of the Euros

DORTMUND, Germany — For a while in the second half, as their team were being held by Georgia, the raucous Turkey fans inside Signal Iduna Park might have started to worry that this would be another disappointing Euros.

They arrived at the last European Championship in 2021 as dark horse contenders, only to lose all three group games and return home having scored just one goal. They didn’t have Arda Güler in 2021, though, and so here a game that might have finished in a draw instead ended in victory.

Georgia, making their major tournament debut, played their part in the most entertaining game of the tournament so far and were only denied a point by the width of the post in stoppage time. It was fitting that a chaotic 90 minutes ended with Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili caught upfield trying to score from a corner and Kerem Aktürkoglu racing half the length of the pitch to make it 3-1.

It was Güler, though, who was the real difference.

With both teams struggling for control on a soaking wet pitch thanks to torrential rain, Güler collected the ball on the right, took a couple of skips inside, and rifled his shot into the top corner. It was a moment of magic from the Real Madrid teenager, but one that almost came out of nothing.

After an impressive start during which the deafening noise inside the stadium kicked up a notch every time he got the ball, the 19-year-old began to drift out of the game as Georgia battled from 1-0 down. It would have been no surprise to see Turkey coach Vincenzo Montella bring him off midway through the second half, but if he had, it would have denied these Euros of one of the moments of the tournament so far.

Güler recognised it, too, and after his shot had arrowed into the net, he stood motionless, arms folded, in front of the Georgian fans behind the goal. It was a confident celebration to match the finish.

When Güler was eventually substituted 10 minutes later, he left the field to a standing ovation from the Turkey fans who made the atmosphere feel like a home game in Istanbul. There are more than a million Turkish nationals in Germany, and it felt like most of them were in Dortmund on Tuesday.

Turkey fans will still worry about how and why they let Georgia back into the game after being in complete control for the first 30 minutes, and whether they’re good enough defensively to stop their next two Group F opponents, Portugal and Czechia. But when they needed a touch of brilliance to get them off to a winning start and soothe some of the scars from the last campaign, their young superstar-in-waiting stepped up and delivered.

Turkey’s last Euros are remembered as a disaster, but Güler has already done his bit to provide a more positive memory this time around. — Rob Dawson

Füllkrug sends shirt to fan

Picture the scene: You’ve landed one of the most sought-after tickets at Euro 2024 for Germany‘s opening game against Scotland and are sitting behind the goal to watch your heroes warm up. The butterflies start to flutter as kickoff approaches. But then striker Niclas Füllkrug unleashes a thunderbolt shot which misses its intended target and smashes into your hand.

Now you know what it’s like to be Kai Flathmann. The 43-year-old fan sustained a broken left hand thanks to Füllkrug’s shot and ended up watching Germany’s 5-1 win over Scotland from a hospital bed. Later, he spoke about the incident with Bild: “I sang along to the anthem on the stretcher. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I unfortunately had to give up my dream of watching the opening game.”

The German FA have since been in touch, and Füllkrug is going to send him a signed jersey and a written apology. Flathmann is hoping to be there for Germany’s second match against Hungary on Wednesday in Stuttgart. You’d have thought he might try to change his ticket for one higher up in the stands, but he’ll be there behind the goal, complete with his arm in a cast. — Tom Hamilton

No Scotland, no party!

Regardless of where their team are playing in Germany, you will find hundreds of Scotland fans dotted around the country. The early reports of 200,000 or so travelling supporters seems about right; in train stations, city squares, bars, and on trams, you’ll hear the “Super John McGinn” song, and the familiar refrain of: “No Scotland, no party!”

The latter has become their calling card and even those from rival countries have greeted their opponents with the serenade. I saw it happen for Switzerland‘s opener with Hungary over the weekend and, on Monday, the same thing occurred with Slovakia and Belgium fans in and around Frankfurt before their match. Indeed, Slovakia’s and Romania‘s supporters have since adapted the song for their own national allegiances.

Meanwhile Scotland are gearing up for their second match against Switzerland on Wednesday and their supporters have spent the past four days debating how Steve Clarke’s men can get their campaign back on track after losing 5-1 to Germany. They’ve lamented his tactics, but other supporters have found solace in their own football disappointment. On the train platform near Frankfurt’s stadium after Belgium’s 1-0 defeat to Slovakia, fans of both Scotland and the Red Devils could be heard arguing which of their own two teams (in their own words) was “s—tier,” with both wanting that self-deprecating badge of honour. — Hamilton

Stuttgart avoids a swarm

Authorities at the Stuttgart Arena, where hosts Germany face Hungary on Wednesday, had to call in a special beekeeping unit from the local fire brigade after a swarm of bees was discovered nesting under an advertising hoarding.

According to local broadcaster RTL, specialists removed the Queen and placed her in a special protective casing, with the remainder of the colony joining her in a larger dedicated transportation unit before being rehoused in a local woodlands.

This is not the first time bees have made a home for themselves in the Stuttgart Arena. Last month firefighters had to intervene when a similar swarm formed just before Stuttgart’s clash with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. — Gabriele Marcotti.

Stat of the day

Georgia scored their first goal ever in the European Championship. As the only nation making their tournament debut at Euro 2024, Georgia struck against Turkey as Georges Mikautadze netted the historic goal in the 32nd minute. — ESPN Stats & Information

Match previews for Wednesday

Group B: Croatia vs. Albania (Hamburg; 3 p.m. local / 9 a.m. ET)

Odds (via ESPNBET): Croatia -205, Draw +333, Albania +550

After losing their opening games, Croatia and Albania are both under pressure when they meet in Hamburg. After being well beaten by Spain in Berlin, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic says his side “have to win” to keep their hopes alive of reaching the knockout rounds for a third successive Euros. Failure to do so would leave everything resting on a tricky final match against Italy.

Dalic insists he will not rip up his pre-tournament plans on the back of one defeat, but he does have some big decisions to make. Joško Gvardiol could be relocated back into the middle of the defence, while an ageing midfield of Luka Modrić, Marcelo Brozović and Mateo Kovačić may benefit from an injection of energy.

Albania’s defeat against Italy was less traumatic. They will take heart from netting the quickest-ever goal in Euros history — Nedim Bajrami scored after 23 seconds — and running the European champions close. Coach Sylvinho will have his side well-prepared and there is a quiet confidence they can upset the 2022 World Cup semifinalists. — Sam Marsden



Elephant scores goal to predict Germany vs. Hungary at Euro 2024

Bubi the elephant takes penalties to predict the winner of Germany vs. Hungary at Euro 2024.

Group A: Germany vs. Hungary (Stuttgart; 6 p.m. local / midday ET)

Odds: Germany -400, Draw +500, Hungary +800

Germany should have their best XI out there against Hungary, which is not something coach Julian Nagelsmann would have taken for granted 24 hours earlier. Captain Ilkay Gundogan had to come off in the opener against Scotland and Toni Kroos revealed on his podcast that he was in so much neck pain ahead of the first game that he thought he’d be unable to play. Both, however, came through training without incident on Monday and Tuesday and will be available when the host nation are likely to debut their pink (“Semi Lucid Fuchsia”) away jerseys.

Hungary were left disappointed by the manner of the defeat against Switzerland but coach Marco Rossi may find it easier stylistically to match up with the Germans, who will likely have the bulk of possession. Defender Willy Orban was quick to remind the opposition of what happened the last time these two sides faced each other at the Euros three years ago, when Germany twice had to come from behind to save a 2-2 draw. “They didn’t exactly dominate us, did they?” Orban said. — Marcotti

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

Odds: Scotland +310, Draw +250, Switzerland -115

​​Scotland‘s boss Clarke said he had to “kick a couple of backsides” and hand out some “cuddles” after their 5-1 defeat to Germany last Friday, but whether it’s the carrot or the stick treatment, the team badly need some points against Switzerland in Cologne. Scotland will be without Ryan Porteous, who is serving a one-match ban for his red card against Germany, but Clarke says he complicated things before and that the players were confused by the tactics and messaging. “We have to accept all the criticism that comes our way and then we have to put it right,” he said. “To be in football, you have to be very resilient.”

Switzerland will be looking to build on their impressive start. They defeated much-admired Hungary 3-1, with 27-year-old Kwadwo Duah emerging as a new hero, scoring on only his second appearance for his national side. But there was other good news around that win: Oft-injured striker Breel Embolo got around 20 minutes (and a goal) in his first Swiss appearance for 18 months. The side are also hopeful that midfielder Denis Zakaria will feature before the end of the group stage as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Switzerland were also on the move this week: The pitch at their nominated training base at the Waldau Stadium in Stuttgart is being replaced, so they’ve shifted to VfB Stuttgart‘s training ground. — Hamilton

Betting tip (via ESPN BET)

Germany were so impressive in their opening game and as a result trying to find any value is tricky. So let’s parlay Germany to win and Switzerland to win which gives us +134. — Dan Thomas

One big read

With the group stage now up and running and the goals already flying in, you may have noticed that a peculiar theme has been developing off the pitch at Euro 2024.

As well as the usual chanting and grandstanding, several supporters have come up with a novel way to get under the skins of their opposition fans in such a way that it is hard to think of another that would cause more offence.

For what could cause greater injury to a European’s patriotic pride than mocking their cherished national dish? Some travellers to Germany have even been left aghast by rivals desecrating their sacred foods right before their eyes, in front of a baying crowd.

As the 24 teams clash on the pitch in stadiums across the heart of the continent, an altogether different feud was being whipped up in the stands.

– Chris Wright: Food fight! Fans turn Euro 2024 into battle of national dishes

And finally …

Every major tournament represents an opportunity for players to put themselves in the shop window when it comes to transfers and after Romania ruthlessly dispatched Ukraine 3-0 on Monday, one of their players was quickly snapped up.

Qatari side Al-Duhail SC have paid the €5 million release clause to sign FC Steaua București winger Florinel Coman, according to the president of the Romanian club. Coman, likened in style in his homeland to France superstar Kylian Mbappé, was one of the standout performers in his country’s second-ever win at the Euros; their first since they beat England in 2000.

Al-Duhail had been interested in Coman before the tournament got underway, but had been unable to agree to a fee with Steaua. However, they were clearly worried that another club would beat them to the forward if they didn’t act quickly after watching Monday’s game in Munich, so made their move.

“They have paid the clause,” Steaua president Gigi Becali told ProSport after the game. “If the money has not arrived yet, we will have it tomorrow.”