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England's Euro 2024 Group Draw: The Verdict

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England's Euro 2024 Group Draw: The Verdict

The draw for next summer’s eagerly awaited European Championship in Germany is done and dusted and we have some mouth-watering contests in store.

Many sides will be disappointed with the cards they’ve been dealt while others will be joyous; here we’re going to focus on the task at hand for Gareth Southgate’s men who will likely be somewhere towards the latter of that spectrum without leaning into complacency.

England are tasked with emerging from a group containing Denmark, Slovenia and Serbia next summer so we’re going to take a deeper look at each of the three opponents and assess the level of threat posed by each nation.

Header logoEuro 2024 Qualifying - Group C

PosClubPWDLGDPTS
1
Team logoEngland
8620+1820
2
Team logoItaly
8422+714
3
Team logoUkraine
8422+314
4
Team logoN. Macedonia
8224-108
5
Team logoMalta
8008-180
Last updated 19/06/2024

Denmark

First up we’ve got the Danes - a somewhat familiar foe given they were the obstacle that stood between England and the final of this competition three years ago, a hurdle that Southgate’s side successfully cleared albeit with a degree of adversity.

Danish football is undoubtedly on the rise, as demonstrated by the depth of young talent coming through the ranks, but there are questions over whether or not the Nordic side have improved since their impressive showing at Euro 2020 nearly three years ago.

Both an extremely impressive Nations League campaign and qualification process for the World Cup in Qatar followed Euro 2020 for the Danes who entered last winter’s tournament with lofty expectations. Still, they turned out to be one of the tournament’s major disappointments as they exited in the group stage without winning a single game.

Following on from that, Denmark topped their qualification group for this tournament - a group that also contained Slovenia - in a fairly unimpressive fashion as they were beaten by Kazakhstan and Northern Ireland along the way.

The likes of Rasmus Højlund and Andreas Christensen are top-class operators in a side that is not short on quality and England are likely looking at Denmark as their main threat.

However, on first look it does not feel like this side are quite as threatening as they were three years ago so if Denmark prove to be anything other than a minor nuisance to England it will likely mean a disappointing group stage for Gareth Southgate and co.

Serbia

The next side England have to contend with is Serbia, who are a tough side to assess given there's often little relation between how they perform in qualifying and how they perform in tournaments.

Serbia have a pretty impressive depth of talent at their disposal through the likes of Aleksandar Mitrović, Dušan Vlahović and Filip Kostić but have developed a habit of underperforming when it really matters.

Serbia topped their 2022 World Cup qualifying group - a group containing Portugal - but still left the tournament in the group stages following a pretty meek showing - a regular occurrence given it meant they’ve now been knocked out at the first hurdle in all of the last four World Cups they’ve qualified for.

This is the first time they’ve qualified for this competition as an independent nation and based on their qualification campaign you’d argue they’re a side smaller than the sum of their parts given how they only managed a fairly uninspiring 2nd place finish in a group containing the likes of Hungary, Montenegro and Bulgaria.

It would be careless to be that dismissive, though, given the talent they have in their ranks and it could well be that they turn out to be the inverse of their usual selves in that their tournament showing massively exceeds their qualification campaign in terms of performance levels.

They’re certainly one to keep an eye on and treat with respect but, as with Denmark, there should be no fear about facing this side.

Slovenia

Last but not least England will face Slovenia in the group stage of an international tournament for the second time since 2010.

England faced the Slovenians in a must-win encounter in South Africa in 2010 and won a dour encounter by one goal to nil thanks to a Jermain Defoe goal that then allowed Fabio Capello’s side to proceed to crash out in a 4-1 hammering against Germany in the last 16.

We drastically hope that this game will play out much, much differently however as England are night and day as a collective in comparison to what they were back then and the expectation is that Slovenia will be the weakest of the three opponents in this group.

Slovenia shared a group with Denmark in qualifying for this tournament and narrowly settled for a 2nd place finish so on balance it’s fair to assume they’re the weaker of the two sides given the Danes had the superior head-to-head record between the two in the campaign.

Incidentally, this is the first time Slovenia have qualified for a tournament since the World Cup in South Africa so they’ll be determined to make their mark on the international stage after such a lengthy absence.

Slovenia’s standout threat is RB Leipzig forward Benjamin Šeško, an electrifying talent at times but still a very raw one at that so this is a team that excels more as a unit rather than one that succeeds as a consequence of individual talent.

Given three sides can potentially emerge from a group in this competition Slovenia will no doubt fancy their chances of reaching the knockout stages but if England considers themselves contenders for this trophy then they cannot, with respect, drop points against sides like Slovenia - nor can they finish anywhere other than at the top of this group.

Potential Route To The Final

Without getting ahead of ourselves, most of us believe that England are at least contenders for this tournament so it wouldn't be arrogant to take a quick look at what a potential route towards the final might look like for the Three Lions.

Should England top their group then a last 16 tie against the 3rd place team from either group D, E or F - which as of now looks most likely to be Austria, Romania or Czech Republic given we don't yet know who the winners of the impending playoffs are - awaits the Three Lions.

Were England to be successful in that then things will start to get a bit tougher as they lock horns with the runner-up from either group A or group B, which would likely look like Italy or Croatia - unless Scotland, Hungary or Switzerland (or even Germany if they don't win their group) could pull of a big shock in the last 16.

A win there would see England set up a semi-final with dreaded opponents France - or possibly Belgium if they were able to surprise the French - which would then, if successful, see them contest the final likely against one of Spain or Portugal.

If England come 2nd then things look quite different as Southgate's side would face a last 16 tie against the winner of group A (Germany's group) before (likely) a quarterfinal tie against the winner of Spain's group followed by a semi-final against the Portuguese.

Much tougher on the whole, then, as despite avoiding the French it would see them potentially face the host nation followed by what are most likely two of the four best sides coming into the tournament.

This is just a likely prediction, mind, and we know from both the most recent Euros and the most recent World Cup that things never play out this way. There will be shocks on the way and all we can do is hope England aren't one of the notable victims.

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