23 July 2024

Kommt es nach hause?

by William Young, To Hull and Back podcast

All eyes are on Germany for the next month or so as the 17th edition of the UEFA European Football Championships will be hopefully captivating the nation, as England look to finally end all the years of hurt and win a major tournament for the first time since… well, you know when.

England go into the tournament as one of the favourites, alongside France, Portugal, Spain and the hosts Germany. This is, on paper at least, looking to be one of the hardest tourneys to predict in a long time; there are no real standout sides, which hopefully throw up some fantastic football.

The Three Lions open up their campaign in Group C on June 16, as they face up against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, before taking on Denmark in Frankfurt on the 20th, finishing the group against Slovenia in Cologne on the 25th.

England are expected to get through the first round, and with several third-placed teams now going through to the knockouts, the chances of an early exit are drastically lower – but not impossible…

Gareth Southgate named his 26-man squad last Saturday, as players such as Jack Grealish and Harry Maguire were cut, with Crystal Palace having the most players in the squad – Eberechi Eze, Marc Guehi, Dean Henderson and Adam Wharton.

There have been a few big names not called up by Southgate that he has previously relied on, such as Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling among others, but he seems to be giving a lot of younger and/or more inexperienced players a chance to shine, such as Kobbie Mainoo, Cole Palmer, Anthony Gordon and the aforementioned Wharton.

England aren’t the only home nation involved in the Euros, as Scotland are also going to be there, and will be playing the opening game of the tournament in Group A against Germany in Munich on June 14, before facing Switzerland on the 19th and then Hungary on the 23rd.

Scotland will be looking to qualify for the knockout stages of a tournament for the very first time – They’ve been to eight World Cups and four Euros, but are yet to play knockout football. Though, with a good qualifying campaign, which saw them beat Spain, and with the third place being a possible route too, this might be the best chance they’ll ever have to do it.

There’s plenty of football away from the home nations too, of course. In Group B, this year’s “Group of Death™”, Spain, Croatia, Italy and Albania will duke it out in a group where any side could finish anywhere… especially Albania.

Groups D and E look enticing too, as the former sees Austria, France, the Netherlands and Poland fight out, while the latter features Belgium’s golden generation in what will likely be its final chance to win something, coming up against Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Group F might be a “Group of Death Lite”, as while Portugal are likely to go through, although Czechia are always a tricky side, while Turkey will look to try to fulfil that “Dark Horse” tag they miserably failed to live up to three years ago. The wildcard of the group are debutants Georgia, featuring at their first international tournament since their independence from the Soviet Union back in 1990.

All in all, it promises to be an exciting month of football, and hopefully, who knows? It might actually come h-NO. Not jinxing it. We lost to Iceland for goodness sakes.