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Euro 2024 title contenders: France, England, Portugal & more

Less than three years after the last final, the European Championships are just around the corner once again.

Twenty-four teams will shoot their shot for European glory in Germany this summer, but a few look far likelier to win it than the others.

France

Having reached back-to-back World Cup finals, France will now aim to end a 24-year wait and crown themselves continental champions. It is tough to call them anything but the favourites.

Les Blues are not only the highest-ranked team in Europe but in the last decade under Didier Deschamps, they have been moulded into a near-perfect international tournament team.

France’s FIFA ranking history paints a good picture of Deschamps’ tenure. (Image credit: FotMob)

The 55-year-old manager has done a fantastic job in finding the right tactical formula that includes an established well-functioning first-choice XI with a solid defensive base.

Crucially, his system is geared to get the best out of star attackers such as Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann.

The former might be particularly motivated to have another stellar international tournament. Mbappé looks set to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer and head to pastures new, reportedly Real Madrid.

Such a move would not really need to have excitement built around it as Los Blancos fans are already dreaming of such a future, but Mbappé will surely not mind adding to the hype.


In terms of star power, squad quality and recent history, France are unquestionably the strongest team in Europe right now.

The nature of tournament football means that just one bad day can end a team’s chances, but Les Bleus seem to have everything needed to go all the way.

England

England are always in the conversation of tournament favourites, but they have famously failed to win an international men’s competition since the 1966 World Cup.

The Three Lions suffered bitter disappointment last time out, as they lost the final against Italy at Wembley Stadium on penalties.

A missed spot-kick ended their last World Cup campaign as they lost their quarter-final against France, but Gareth Southgate’s side have been consistently competitive.

The 53-year-old manager has not always been a fan favourite, but he deserves credit for gearing his side to succeed in knockout football.

It will be interesting to see how he accommodates Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden into one attack behind Harry Kane. However, his side has the star power that could prove decisive in crunch fixtures.

Germany

Hosts Germany are undergoing a slump as far as their national team is concerned. They are down in 16th place in the current FIFA rankings but should not be counted out as potential contenders at the Euros.

Julian Nagelsmann’s tactical nouse could make the difference in close clashes, as he is not afraid to experiment to get the best out of his squad.

Most notably, he tried out Kai Havertz at left back last year in a bid to plug a hole in the squad while getting the best out of the enigmatic attacker.

The 36-year-old tactician has confirmed that he plans to use Havertz up front going forward, but that does not mean he plans to do everything conventionally.

Nagelsmann has called up six players for the first time in the current international break, all of whom are enjoying breakout Bundesliga seasons.

His selection principles appear to emphasise current form over overall quality, although the Germans won’t lack that either with Toni Kroos returning to international action.

Nagelsmann’s qualities as a pragmatic tactician are perhaps a little underrated, so this could be a golden opportunity for him to showcase them and secure a return to elite-level club football once his contract expires at the end of the tournament.

Portugal

The best team in Euro qualifying was Portugal. They were the only side with a 100% record as they dominated Group J.

(Image credit: UEFA)

It should be noted that this was one of the easier groups, so they did not encounter high-quality opponents. On that basis, it is difficult to read too much into Roberto Martínez’s tactics ahead of his first major tournament in charge of them.

A return of 36 goals in 10 games suggests a free-flowing attack, but it is worth noting that 23 of them came in the four matches against the bottom two teams in the group.

The ex-Belgium manager’s team selections were quite aggressive. He used a 4-3-3 formation with Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva as the number eights on either side of a defensive midfielder, while attack-minded full-backs such as João Cancelo supported the front five.

Whether Portugal can get away with such a top-heavy approach against the best teams in Europe remains to be seen, but they certainly have the potential to be quite competitive.

Stats courtesy Transfermarkt and FotMob.

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