Euro 2024 Favorites: Potential Front Runners After Matchday 1

Euro 2024 Favorites: Potential Front Runners After Matchday 1

Matchday 1 of the 2024 European Championship tournament began with hosts Germany cruising past Scotland and ended with Portugal seeing off Czechia in dramatic fashion

The first round of matches was a mix of expected results, a few disappointing displays, and shockers. A couple of players also stole the show in their nation’s opening fixture, while some big names underperformed.

Now that the first set of games is over, we have a glimpse of what the different teams could bring to the table in later rounds of the competition. While it is still too early to accurately predict which teams have the best shot at winning the Euros, we rank the likely frontrunners after Matchday 1.

England Remain Favorites Despite Underwhelming Start

A subpar performance against a stubborn Serbian side regardless, Gareth Southgate’s men secured all three points and remain favorites to win it all on July 14. The game was settled in the first half when Jude Bellingham pounced on a deflected cross from Bukayo Saka to score the only goal of the affair.

With Denmark and Slovenia sharing the spoils, England finds themselves on top of Group C. The Three Lions will take on Denmark next and could qualify for the Euro 2024 knockout round with a win (or a draw if Serbia and Slovenia fail to win).

France Needs to Step Up In Round 2

Kylian Mbappe’s nose injury in the 89th minute of France’s opening fixture overshadowed their shabby victory against Austria in Group D. Austria, who were without captain David Alaba on the pitch, dominated much of the game but were unfortunate to concede an own goal in the 38th minute.

Didier Deschamps’ men looked like a shadow of themselves, with N’Golo Kante’s impressive display at the center of the pitch and Theo Hernandez’s performance on the wing the only positive showings from Les Bleus. Kylian Mbappe’s Euros woes continued, and he missed a chance to put his name on the scoresheet after failing to convert from a one-on-one situation in the 55th minute. The French captain has now failed to score in each of his last five games at the Euros and is a doubt for Friday’s thriller against the Netherlands.

The showdown could potentially decide who tops Group D, and given the history between the two teams at the Euros, fans will be scrambling for France tickets as they hope to witness their renewed rivalry vs. Oranje.

Without Mbappe in the match, the 2018 World Cup winners stand at risk of losing to Ronald Koeman’s men, and failure to win the group could place them in the same knockout bracket as Germany, Spain, and Portugal.


Ruthless Germany Run Rampant

Julian Nagelsmann’s side was determined to give home fans a memorable performance to hold on to, and it was Scotland who were at the receiving end. While some considered Germany’s Euro 2024 squad as arguably the most underwhelming to represent the nation in recent years, Die Mannschaft came out in typical ruthless German style, demolishing Steve Clarke’s men five goals to one.

The hosts wasted no time, scoring two goals in the space of 20 minutes, with 21-year-old youngsters Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala registering their names on the scoresheet. They added a third before the break thanks to a Kai Havertz penalty after Ilkay Gundogan was recklessly fouled in the box. Second-half subs Niclas Füllkrug and Emre Can also found the back of the net as Scotland could only settle for an Antonio Rudiger own goal.

Germany looked every bit like a top contender, and a statement win against Hungary could further up their pedigree as the competition progresses. Considering their home advantage and the talents on the squad, a fourth Euros title for Germany isn’t far-fetched.


Portugal Narrowly Survive Disappointment

Seleção narrowly escaped a shocking first-half result, coming from behind to defeat Czechia 2-1. Roberto Martinez’s side had to rely on an own goal from Robin Hranac and a late goal by Francisco Conceição to secure all three points in Group F.

Portugal was dominant throughout the ball game, holding 73% of the ball possession, but fell behind in the 62nd minute when Lukas Provod hit a stunning shot from outside the 18-yard box. The Euro 2016 winners pulled level seven minutes later when Hranac, unfortunately, redirected Jindrich Stanek’s save from a Nuno Mendes shot into Czechia’s goal.

Diogo Jota thought he won it for his side in the 86th minute after cleaning up Cristiano Ronaldo’s header attempt that hit the crossbar. VAR ruled Ronaldo to be marginally offside, and the goal was disallowed. But 21-year-old Conceição made an immediate impact seconds after replacing Vitinha in the 90th minute, combining with fellow late-minute sub-Pedro Neto for his first goal in his major tournament debut.

Portugal’s next game will be against Turkey, a game that could seal their hopes of advancing to the knockout rounds and potentially impact their route to the final.


Spain Look Like Champions Again

Luis de la Fuente’s first major international tournament as head coach was off to a bright start as his side put out a statement win against a sluggish Croatia. It was a historic night for Barcelona youngster Lamine Yamal, who became the youngest player to grace the Euro stage at 16 years and 338 days old. He also became the youngest player to register a goal contribution in the tournament after providing an assist to Dani Carvajal.

La Roja opened the scoring halfway through the first half, with a record-breaking goal from captain Alvaro Morata. It was his seventh European Championship career goal, and he became the first player to score against the same opponent in three consecutive editions of the Euros. Fabian Ruiz extended Spain’s lead three minutes later before Carvajal latched onto a brilliant cross from Yamal for Spain’s third.

Spain will take on Italy next in a thrilling tie that could likely decide who tops the group. The defending champions were able to secure a narrow win against Albania and could pose a serious threat to Spain’s hope for an easy Round of 16 fixture. Should De la Fuente’s men see off their Euro 2012 final opponent convincingly, Spain could rise the ranks as favorites to win their fourth Euros title.

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