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Euro 2024 Matchday 1 and 2 Predictions Including Spain vs Croatia

Euro 2024: Looking at How Many Points Third-Place Finishers Need to Advance

After much fanfare, Euro 2024 has arrived and it’s one of the least predictable Euro tournaments in quite some time, with many of the international stars of world football donning the national team kit to represent their nation after a grueling season for their respective professional clubs. This year’s edition of the UEFA Euro championships is hosted in Germany, and the hosts are given the honor of kicking off the tournament when they face Scotland in the match on day 1. Day 2 features play from Group A and Group B including fan favorites Spain and defending champion Italy in action. Our panelists offer their predictions for every match of these opening stages of the tournament.

Germany vs Scotland (Friday in Munich)

Steen Kirby: The 2014 World Cup champions and 2017 Confederations Cup Champions Germany have not won a trophy in what seems like too long, hosting Euro 2024, the hosts have high expectations under the direction of Julian Nagelsmann, a 36 year old who has never managed or played outside of the domestic Bundesliga system. After two defeats to end 2023, Germany’s national team has gone without defeat in four friendlies in 2024. With two of La Liga’s best, Barcelona’s Ilkay Gundogan and Real Madrid’s Tony Kroos, playing his final professional football matches, running the engine room for Germany, and Leverkusen’s breakthrough star Florian Wirtz looking to score, along with veteran keeper Manuel Neuer in goal on paper, and playing at home, this Germany team has enough talent composition to win the tournament. Scotland boasts a far less illustrious resume and has far lower expectations, Steve Clarke’s men simply want to advance from the Group stage, Clarke’s Scotland have qualified for consecutive Euro’s  and players from the Premier League like Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson are household names, the question for Scotland is where will the goals come from if they are going to pull off a monumental upset, Germany’s ability to strike twice should get them off to a winning start. Prediction: Germany 2 Scotland 0

Henry Chung: Germany have looked strong heading into the tournament, beating France and the Netherlands in March. Host nations generally have a significant advantage in international tournaments, and head coach Julian Nagelsmann is one of the most esteemed tacticians at Euro 2024. Their squad has wonderkids in Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala, players in their prime like Kai Havertz and Antonio Rudiger, and seasoned veterans in Toni Kroos and Manuel Neuer. Whilst Scotland had a very strong qualifying campaign, losing Lyndon Dykes was a huge blow and they will be no match for the Germans. Prediction: Germany 2 Scotland 0

Ben Gray: At each of the last three major tournaments, Germany have actually lost their opening match, beaten by Mexico in 2018, France in 2021 and Japan the following year, despite not suffering defeat in any of their 17 openers beforehand, dating back to 1982. However, we are not expecting this trend to continue in Munich, given that Julian Nagelsmann’s side have found form in 2024, claiming friendly victories over France, Netherlands and Greece, the latter coming a week ago. Die Mannschaft have won each of their last three encounters with Scotland, victorious in seven of their last nine meetings overall, with this the sequence we’re expecting to be extended. So, roared on by a huge travelling contingent, can Steve Clarke’s side spring a massive surprise in Munich? Well, the Dark Blues’ recent form would suggest not, considering they’ve won only one of their last nine, this coming against Gibraltar, beaten by every heavyweight they’ve faced during this period, namely England, France, Spain and the Netherlands. Only twice before in 11 attempts have the Tartan Army seen their side win a major tournament opener, beating Zaire in 1974 and New Zealand eight years later, winning only four of 19 major tournament fixtures against European opposition overall. With both Aaron Hickey and Nathan Patterson injured, third-choice Anthony Ralston will get the nod at right-wing-back and, up against Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala, we expect Germany to cause Scotland plenty of problems and win relatively comfortably. Prediction: Germany 2 Scotland 0

Hungary vs Switzerland (Saturday in Cologne)

Steen Kirby: This match may decide who joins hosts Germany in advancing from Group A, Dominik Szoboszlai (Liverpool FC) leads a credible Hungary side, especially in attack that has returned the national to international football relevance after a long time in the wilderness. Hungary is 3-1 in friendlies this year after a respectable qualifying campaign that saw few patchy draws mixed in with victories. Switzerland reached the quarterfinals of Euro 2020, upsetting France and putting this diverse but unheralded squad from the mountainous and famously neutral nation on the map, under manager Murat Yakin they did qualify for this tournament but at times struggled to score decisive goals, and this team is not getting any younger with 30+ year olds like Granit Xhaka, Ricardo Rodriguez, and Xherdan Shaqiri all still in starting (and starring) roles. Hungary feels like a team built for the future, but Switzerland’s reliable chemistry working together is tough to beat, this is a team that is well drilled tactically and won’t easily concede, in the end of Hungary manage a goal, Switzerland should be able to match it and a draw feels like the sensible outcome. Prediction: 1-1 Draw

Henry Chung: Group A will have a close battle for second place: Hungary finished top of their qualifying group unbeaten, and Switzerland finished second of theirs with just one loss. The Swiss are very defensively sound with Yann Sommer in goal and premium centre-backs in Manuel Akanji, Fabian Schar, and Nico Elvedi. Their back five will be hard to break down, especially with Granit Xhaka sitting in front of it. However, they do lack attacking prowess with no especially proven striker. Meanwhile, Hungary will be dangerous in attack with Dominik Szoboszlai pulling the strings and Milos Kerkez playing in a very advanced wide-midfielder role for his nation. The two teams may cancel each other out. Prediction: 1-1 Draw

Ben Gray: Most are expecting Hungary to claim victory in Saturday’s early kick off, considering the form they bring with them into this tournament. Marco Rossi’s side have lost just one of their last 16 matches, unbeaten in 14 prior to a surprise 2-1 friendly defeat in Dublin earlier this month, bouncing back by smashing Israel 3-0 in Debrecen last weekend. Nevertheless, the Magyars qualified for this tournament unbeaten, having enjoyed noteworthy victories in recent times, beating Germany on the road as well as England twice during their maiden Nations League A campaign in 2022. Since the start of 2022, Hungary have kept seven clean sheets in 14 matches, conceding just ten goals in total, so we’re forecasting Péter Gulácsi will enjoy another shut-out, while Dominik Szoboszlai is their most-likely scorer up the other end.So what about Switzerland? This’ll be their 18th major tournament appearances, featuring at ten of the last 12 World Cups and Euros, reaching the knockout phase at each of the last five.However, Murat Yakın’s side are not in good form, with the Rossocrociati winning only three of their last 11, while considering the majority of their key players, Xherdan Shaqiri in particular, are past their prime, an underwhelming tournament for the Swiss could be on the cards. Switzerland have won all three meetings with Hungary since the start of the new millennium, but a Hungarian victory seems likely at RheinEnergieStadion. Prediction: Hungary 2 Switzerland 0

Spain vs Croatia (Saturday in Berlin)

Steen Kirby: In recent tournaments the Spanish national team has been criticized for playing great possession football that results in few goals or even goal scoring opportunities, simply controlling the ball for the sake of controlling the ball. A contrast to the team’s Golden Era that saw them win the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008 and 2012 while featuring stars from Barcelona and Real Madrid. This young, new look Spain team has a lot more firepower though and a more diverse roster club wise with Barcelona’s teenage sensation Lamine Yamal, Atletico Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, and Atletico Bilbao’s Nico Williams leading the attack. Manchester City’s Rodri, and RB Leipzig’s Dani Olmo feature in the midfield. If this Spain team finds a way to work well together chemistry wise this is a very good team, with a player like Real Madrid’s Joselu acting as an impact substitute. Croatia is a team that has performed remarkably well in international tournaments under this current generation roster, but it’s a team that is aging, with 39 year old Luka Modric still the main man. This game feels like the opportunity for Spain to have a coming out party, betting against Croatia never seems wise, but Spain should be able to create some magic here. Prediction: Spain 3 Croatia 1

Henry Chung: Spain vs Croatia will be a close match with both nations sitting in the top ten of FIFA World Rankings. Despite a talented Luka Modric in the Croatian midfield, Spain will likely dominate that area of the pitch with Rodri the linchpin. However, two young wingers in Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal will likely steal headlines as they show the world exactly what they are capable of. Whilst Croatia have overperformed as underdogs at previous tournaments, they slightly struggled in qualification – losing to both Turkey and Wales. It will be a cagey match in which the Spaniards snatch all three points. Prediction: Spain 2 Croatia 1

Ben Gray: Saturday’s headline fixture from Berlin will see Croatia and Spain go head-to-head at a fourth successive European Championships. 12 years ago, a last-gasp winner saw Spain prevail 1-0 in Gdańsk, en route to retaining the Henri Delaunay Trophy, although Croatia did get revenge in 2016, prevailing 2-1 in Bordeaux, while la Roja had the last laugh at Euro 2020, sneaking through 5-3 after extra time, following a thrilling round of 16 tie at Parken. The duo also clashed in last June’s UEFA Nations League Final, playing out a very forgettable goalless draw at De Kuip, before the Spanish prevailed 5-4 in the subsequent penalty shootout, thereby capturing the trophy in Rotterdam.Point is, clashes between these two are always tight and tough to call, hence why a draw at Olympiastadion appears the most-likely outcome.

In this format, four points is always enough to see a team reach the knockout phase so, with both set to face Albania after this, the pair will both feel confident of a victory in that one, thereby making a point here a good result.

Spain have lost only four of their last 29, while Croatia have only tasted defeat in four of their last 37, with neither figure expected to rise in the German capital. Prediction: 1-1 Draw

Italy vs Albania (Saturday in Dortmund)

Steen Kirby: Little is known about this Albania team that has players drawn from across Europe, including the complex Albanian diaspora, this is a team that surprised both Poland and the Czech Republic in qualifying and will have high hopes of what would be a miracle upset of an opponent where a fierce national rivalry for historical and political reasons exists. Defending Euro champions Italy will not be underestimated anymore, this is a defensively sound team that has at times struggled to find goals. Given Albania is expected to play defensively minded as well, Italy are unlikely to run riot, but 3 points is 3 points as a heavy favorite, look for Juventus Federico Chiesa to be on the scoresheet. Prediction: Italy 1 Albania 0

Henry Chung: Defending champions Italy will be raring to go in this tournament. Their defence, as ever for the Italians, is their strength. They have conceded just one goal in their last five, including matches against Euro 2024 dark horses Turkey and Ukraine. It may look to the neutral that Luciano Spalletti is missing a clinical striker, but West Ham United flop Gianluca Scamacca has turned his career around this season. Since March 30 he’s scored six goals in seven Serie A starts. Meanwhile, Albania impressively qualified top of their group ahead of Poland and the Czech Republic, though the quality of their squad could be questioned. Prediction: Italy 2 Albania 0

Ben Gray: Italy begin the defence of their trophy in Dortmund on Saturday night, near-unanimously expected to kick off with a win. Since taking over a year ago, Luciano Spalletti has only lost one of ten matches in charge, this against England at Wembley, currently unbeaten in six, enjoying victories over Venezuela, Ecuador and, just last week, Bosnia in 2024.

Gli Azzurri are hardly a free-scoring side, only netting three or more goals in five of their last 29 outings, but they don’t concede many either, enjoying three successive clean sheets, so we’re expecting Gianluigi Donnarumma to add to his 28 shutouts for the national team. Italy have won all four previous encounters with Albania, most-recently leaving Arena Kombëtare 3-1 winners two years ago, a trend we’re expecting to continue at Westfalenstadion.

So what about Albania, are they capable of a colossal upset? Well, probably not, considering this is only the Red and Blacks’ second appearance at a major tournament. Sylvinho’s were uber-impressive in qualifying, beating both Poland and Czechia in Tirana, although friendly defeats to Sweden and Chile earlier this year emphasised that this team still has a ceiling. This clash is unlikely to be high-scoring, with a comfortable Italian victory very likely. Prediction: Italy 2 Albania 0



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