Assessing the Euro 2024 prospects of the Home Nations - The Evesham Observer

Assessing the Euro 2024 prospects of the Home Nations

Evesham Editorial 20th Feb, 2024   0

The 17th edition of football’s European Championships is only four months away. The competition rolls into Germany for the kick-off on 14th June, with a month-long festival of football spanning 24 teams battling across ten host cities. Italy come into the competition as reigning champions, after defeating England in dramatic circumstances via penalty shootout.

England will be bidding to go one better and get their hands on major tournament silverware for the first time since 1966. It’s this jeopardy which attracts tens of millions to watch the Three Lions in action. In fact, there is major interest in the tournament for two of the Home Nations – and potentially a third. Below, we look at the chances of England, Scotland and Wales ahead of Euro 2024.

Wales – bidding to gatecrash Euro 2024 via the playoff route

Rob Page and Wales are not yet formally qualified for Euro 2024. That’s because they are involved in the playoffs in March. This Welsh side is bidding to qualify for its fourth major tournament in the last five, which is an incredible achievement when you consider the size of the nation and its talent pool. Wales have been drawn against Finland in the playoff semi-finals, with a home tie in Cardiff for Page’s men. If they can get past the Finns, they stand to face either Poland or Estonia in one of the three playoff finals for a place at Euro 2024. The potential playoff final would also be staged in Cardiff, so having home advantage for both ties could help to tip the balance for Page’s men.

England – looking to right the wrongs of Euro 2020

It looked like being a potentially tricky Euro 2024 qualification group for England, with Italy and Ukraine also drawn in Group C. Fortunately, Gareth Southgate’s men safely negotiated their way to the top of the group, finishing their eight-game campaign unbeaten, with six wins and two draws.

Finishing six points ahead of their Euro 2020 final opponents, Italy, may be a good omen, but the Three Lions will be all too aware of their need to make it count in the main tournament. It would be another reason for the country to pull together if they can reach the latter stages again.

It could be Southgate’s last tournament in charge of the Three Lions, with his contract expiring at the end of this year. After a World Cup semi-final and a Euro final, the natural progression would be winning this year’s Euros, building on the success of England’s Lionesses following their Euro 2022 triumph. Anything less is almost certain to hasten his exit from the FA hotseat.

Captain and talisman, Harry Kane, appears to be in the form of his life with new club Bayern Munich. If Kane can replicate this for his country, England could be difficult to stop, especially with young, creative outlets behind him in the likes of Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka.

Scotland – Tartan Army prepare to compete in their fourth Euros

Scotland qualified for Euro 2024 after a stunning run of five straight victories in their group campaign put them well on course to Germany 2024. Just one defeat in their eight qualifiers was enough to secure second place and immediate qualification. This was no mean feat considering their group contained Spain, Norway and Erling Haaland, as well as an improving Georgia.

Steve Clarke’s Scotland are likely to be up against it in the tournament opener, as they play hosts, Germany. The Tartan Army will be there in full voice but it’s always a tall order facing a host nation, especially one as strong as Germany. Scotland are currently priced as long as 10/1 to beat the Germans in Betway’s Euro 2024 betting markets, with Germany the clear 1/4 favourites.

Amazingly, Scotland qualified with defensive midfielder Scott McTominay, finishing as the country’s leading goal scorer, with seven to his name in eight games. John McGinn was the next highest scorer with three in eight games. For Scotland to make a push for the knockout stages at Euro 2024, Clarke is going to need to find a way to get the likes of Lyndon Dykes and Lawrence Shankland fit and firing.

Whatever happens, it’s great that there’s interest in multiple Home Nations competing at the European Championships again.

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