The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Euro soccer summer preview

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The 2024 UEFA European Championship will begin in mid-June. (Photo courtesy of Uefa.com)

The UEFA European Football Championship will kick off in Munich, Germany, on June 14. The tournament, held every four years, features six groups of four teams. The top two nations from each group, along with the four best third-place teams, will advance to a knockout stage.

Group A: Germany, Hungary, Scotland, Switzerland

Many believe the host, Germany, has an easy path to the trophy. As the winner of the World Cup 10 years ago, hopes are that the young squad can bring home silverware and usher in a new golden era. However, dark horse Hungary should not be counted out, having beaten Germany two years ago in the Nations League. Players to watch from this group are Germany’s 20-year-old midfielder Florian Wirtz, who won the Bundesliga with club Bayern Leverkusen, and Hungary’s midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, who performed well in the English Premier League this year.

Prediction: Germany and Hungary to advance.

Group B: Albania, Croatia, Italy, Spain

Coined the “group of death,” all but Albania boast incredible international records. Spain has been struggling with injuries and will be without standout FC Barcelona midfielder Gavi. Croatia will need Ballon d’Or winner midfielder Luka Modrić to pull back the years, as the 38-year-old has been his national team’s main man over the past decade. The Italians will hope to repeat their success, having won this tournament back in 2021. It is expected that forward Federico Chiesa will be healthy in time for the summer after having been sidelined over the past eight months.

Prediction: Spain and Italy to advance, Croatia qualifying as a third-place team.

Group C: England, Denmark, Serbia, Slovenia

The focus here will be on England, with many believing that this will be the Three Lions’ year. However, while boasting a strong squad, England often struggles on the international stage. Nevertheless, with the likes of Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham and Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden in the form of their lives, the team should have no problems topping this group. Denmark has a good chance to take second place, but one can never count out the dynamic duo of Serbian forwards Aleksandar Mitrović and Dušan Vlahović.

Prediction: England and Denmark to advance.

Group D: Austria, France, Netherlands, Poland 

Widely regarded as the best in the world, French forward Kylian Mbappé will look to bounce back from his 2022 World Cup final loss. Manager Didier Deschamps became only the third person to win the World Cup as a player and coach back in 2018, but he could not do the same against Portugal in the 2016 Euro final. With star striker Robert Lewandowski still in the Poland squad, the race for second place could get interesting.

Prediction: France and Netherlands to advance. Poland qualifying as third-place team.

Group E: Belgium, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine

The level of interest surrounding this group is rather underwhelming, with no team apart from Belgium having any real firepower. The Red Devils will have midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and striker Romelu Lukaku leading the way, while Ukraine has a few stars who could make a push for second.

Prediction: Belgium and Ukraine to advance.

Group F: Czech Republic, Georgia, Portugal, Turkey

Roberto Martinez and Portugal were the only team to have a perfect record during the qualifiers, winning all 10 games. Hopes are that before retirement, global icon Cristiano Ronaldo can repeat the legendary Euro victory of 2016. While Turkey and Czech Republic have many stars in their squad, they often struggle with converting chances to goals. Turkey’s captain, midfielder Hakan Çalhanoğlu, is a player to look out for, having been crucial in Inter Milan’s runaway Serie A win this year.

Prediction: Portugal and Czech Republic to advance. Turkey qualifying as third-place team.

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