Spotlight on Euro 2024: The favourites

European Championships regularly throw up a surprise or two, but several teams will expect to go deep in the tournament.

Among them will be hosts Germany, Euro 2020 finalists England and two-time winners France.

We’ve used Twenty3 Toolbox’s to assess the favourites for this summer’s edition.


The Netherlands have real pedigree in European Championships, but it has been a long time since they truly lived up to expectations.

They reached the round of 16 at Euro 2020 and didn’t even qualify for Euro 2020. And they have not made it to a semi-final since 2004.

But there is cautious optimism that this summer could be a successful one for the Dutch.

Ronald Koeman, back for a second spell as national team manager, guided his side to a relatively comfortable passage through qualification.

They finished second in the group, although two defeats to France — who they will meet in the group stage in Germany — suggests there is room for improvement.

Unlike Dutch teams of old, Koeman’s side are powerful and pragmatic. This is not Totaalvoetbal, but something more adaptable.

That is largely because of the players at his disposal, although there is no lack of technical quality. Virgil van Dijk is as good as any centre-back when it comes to playing out from the back, completing 93.19% of his passes in qualifying.

In front of him, Frenkie De Jong will play a key role, though he only played twice in qualifying due to injuries.

Koeman must also decide whether to start with a back three or a back four, having regularly switched between the two. Nathan Aké and Matthijs de Ligt are both excellent options at centre-back, and Denzel Dumfries has thrived as a wing-back with Inter this season.

Dumfries ranked sixth in qualifying for key passes (nine) and was in the top ten players for open-play expected assists (2.39).

He will be looking to supply the likes of Memphis Depay, Xavi Simons and Cody Gakpo in attack. The latter was the Netherlands’ top scorer in qualifying, netting three times.

If Koeman can get the best out of his big-name players, the Dutch could challenge for a first title since 1988.


With Roberto Martínez now at the helm, Portugal are a far more attack-minded side than previous iterations.

That was reflected in a hugely impressive qualification campaign. They won all 10 of their games, scoring more goals than any other side (36) and conceding the fewest (two).

Admittedly, their group was favourable: Portugal have far more quality at their disposal than Slovakia, Luxembourg, Iceland and Bosnia.

Nonetheless, such a formidable record is not to be sniffed at. 

Portugal were utterly dominant, ranking first for passes completed (6,086), shots attempted (181) and touches in the opposition box (342).

Expect Martínez’s outfit to be on the front foot in Germany, then, particularly in a group that includes debutants Georgia, Czech Republic and Turkey.

Portugal most often lined up in a 4-3-3 shape during qualifying, with the inexorable Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line. He netted 10 times in qualifying, a total bettered only by Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku (13).

And Martínez has built a side that plays to his strengths. No team made more direct attacks (36) in qualifying — and the emphasis is on swift, incisive passing moves.

Bruno Fernandes was a key man in qualifying. He ranked first for assists (seven), key passes (13) and through passes completed (16).

Fulham midfielder João Palhinha is the ball winner behind Fernandes, while Vitinha provides more technical quality in the centre of the park.

Elsewhere, João Cancelo is influential whether playing at left-back or right-back. The Barcelona star ranked third in qualifying for successful attacking actions (132) and dribbles completed (40).

With Rafael Leão and Bernardo Silva also looking to cut through opposition defences, it is not surprising that Portugal were so prolific en route to the finals.

They could well be a force to be reckoned with at Euro 2024.


Not so long ago, Spain were by some distance the best team in Europe.

Between 2008 and 2012, La Roja won two European Championships and a World Cup, and looked almost untouchable in the process.

That era of dominance has gone but Spain still head into Euro 2024 with a squad full of talented, technically exceptional players.

They qualified comfortably, although a 2-0 defeat in Scotland early in the campaign was a setback.

But Luis de la Fuente’s side won all of their other games, scoring 25 goals and conceding just five times.

The philosophy has not changed in the years since Vicente del Bosque’s iconic team. Spain averaged 64.82% possession in qualifying and ranked first for passes per possession (8.23).

Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta may have departed, but the midfield is still capable of controlling games for 90 minutes.

Rodri is the key man, with a remarkable passing accuracy of 96.33% in qualifying.

While the Manchester City man keeps things ticking over, Pedri is given more licence to push forward.

In attack, Nico Williams and Ferran Torres will provide plenty of thrust and dynamism. 

Álvaro Morata, who scored four times in qualifying, will be tasked with putting the ball in the net, after a productive 2023-24 season with Atlético Madrid.

Former Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte also plays an important role, both defensively and in possession. He ranked fourth in qualifying for forward passes completed (218).

Spain are in a difficult group with Italy, Croatia and Albania, but they will have ambitions of winning the tournament for the first time since 2012.


As the host nation, Germany will have the benefit of home advantage this summer.

The aim, and the expectation from the fans, will be to win the tournament for the first time since 1996.

And in Julian Nagelsmann they have one of the shrewdest tacticians in international football.

After a difficult spell at Bayern Munich, the 36-year-old will be determined to guide his country to a long-awaited title.

The job will not be an easy one. Germany, like Spain, have had a period of decline after winning the World Cup in 2014.

But there is plenty of quality throughout their squad — and recent friendly victories over France and the Netherlands bode well.

Kai Havertz is a player Premier League fans will be looking out for, after his productive season at Arsenal. The Gunners forward is likely to be competing with Borussia Dortmund’s Niclas Füllkrug, a more traditional No9 who has been in good goalscoring form in the Bundesliga.

The lack of a world-class recognised striker may be an area of concern, but Germany are blessed with some exciting attacking options.

Leroy Sané, Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz are all capable of being match winners, with the latter in superb form for Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen.

In midfield, Joshua Kimmich and İlkay Gündoğan provide vast experience and composure, while a centre-back pairing of Antonio Rüdiger and Jonathan Tah looks strong.

The full-backs, likely to be Benjamin Henrichs and Maximilian Mittelstädt, are slightly more of an unknown quantity at international level, but both have impressed in the Bundesliga.

If Nagelsmann can get his tactics right, Germany will be a force this summer.


Didier Deschamps’ France have unfinished business at the Euros.

They were beaten by Portugal in the 2016 final as host nation, and at Euro 2020 could only make it to the round of 16.

Defeat in the 2022 World Cup final against Argentina will also have left France hungrier than ever for success.

Les Bleus, along with England, are widely considered the strongest squad at this summer’s tournament.

With remarkable depth and several star names, anything other than winning the trophy will be considered a disappointment.

France were typically dominant in qualifying, winning seven and drawing one of their eight games. With just 29 goals and only three conceded, their progress was never in doubt.

Such an emphatic qualification campaign was all the more impressive given their group included a strong Netherlands team and a stubborn Greece side.

But neither could contend with France’s attacking power. Deschamps’ team, unlike some of the other Euro 2024 favourites, do not base their game around controlling possession.

Instead, they look to hurt teams in transition. They ranked first in qualifying for dangerous ball recoveries in the opponent’s half (53).

With Olivier Giroud leading the line, France benefited from his ability to bring others into play: no team completed more link-up plays in qualifying (235).

Giroud is a foil for the main man, Kylian Mbappé, who scored nine goals in qualifying and won the Golden Boot at the 2022 World Cup.

No player in qualifying had more touches in the opposition box (63) and he could well be the difference maker in the latter stages of the tournament.

With a solid back four of Theo Hernández, Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard and Jules Koundé, protected by midfield duo Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni, France have extremely solid foundations.

Add in the creativity of Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé and it’s easy to see why they are many people’s favourites to go all the way.


Could this be the year for England? Will Gareth Southgate finish his tenure on a high and end 58 years of hurt?

There is certainly an air of confidence around the Three Lions. And this is not the naive optimism of previous years. 

England are blessed with real quality across the pitch and have been developing under Southgate for almost eight years.

They qualified with ease, going unbeaten in a group that might — given the quality of Italy and Ukraine — have been tricky.

Their success was again built on a solid defensive structure. No team in qualifying conceded fewer non-penalty shots (33).

Southgate’s team aim to control games and nullify their opposition’s strengths — an approach that has sometimes been criticised as overly cautious.

But it has largely been successful. They were a penalty shootout away from winning Euro 2020 and looked strong in the 2022 World Cup until their narrow quarter-final loss to France.

Near misses won’t be enough this summer, however. Expectations are high and for good reason. This is an England squad stronger, arguably, than in any of Southgate’s previous tournaments.

The only real question mark is at centre-back, where Harry Maguire — despite an up-and-down season at Manchester United — is expected to partner John Stones.

Left-back is another potential problem area given injuries, although Southgate appears to trust Kieran Trippier in that role.

In midfield and attack, though, England have enviable options. Declan Rice, after an excellent season at Arsenal, wll act as the anchor, allowing Jude Bellingham more freedom to push forward.

And the quality of Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane in the final third is likely to prove too much for most opponents.

The latter top scored in qualifying, with eight goals from an xG of just 5.14. If he is on top form, football may well find its way home this summer.

All graphics in this article were produced with the Twenty3 Toolbox. For more information, please get in touch below.