Groups A-C (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Euro 24 Part 2)

Here are the first three groups:

Start from the start with episode 1

< Euro 24 Part 1

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I think it’s about time we take a closer look at the European nations that we could potentially face throughout this tournament. There are 24 nations split into 6 groups of 4, with the top 2 in each group qualifying for the second round along with the 4 best third placed teams. Here are the first three groups:


Group A

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The Netherlands (8th)

0 nation

Manager: Jurrie Koolhof

1 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Davy Klaassen (AS Roma), Jairo Riedewald (Manchester City)

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Qualifying Record: W9 D1 L0

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Main Man: Tom Watson (Arsenal)

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Left At Home: Stefan de Vrij (Paris Saint-Germain), Rick Karsdorp (AS Roma), Justin Kluivert (Valencia)

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Up And Comers: Paul van de Leuv (Sunderland AFC), Olaf de Vrij (FC København)

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Others To Watch: Virgil van Dijk, Hicham Faddil (Both Chelsea), Memphis Depay (Olympique Lyonnais), Thomas Buitink (Bayer Leverkusen)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Look, we know that the Dutch are a footballing force. Out of every nation in this tournament, I look at them with probably the most consternation as they’re one of only two sides to have bested France under my regime. They can potentially be got at in midfield, but they have a solid defence and a very, very dangerous attack. They should stroll through the group stage and have a good tournament.

Group Prediction: 1st

Overall Prediction: Out at the Semi Finals

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Northern Ireland (69th)

0 nation

Manager: Jim Magilton

1 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Francis McVeigh (Crystal Palace), Jared Thompson (Portland Timbers)

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Qualifying Record: W2 D1 L5 (Qualified through EIL Division D Group 1 win)

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Main Man: Stuart Dallas (Millwall FC)

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Left At Home: Corry Evans (Rostov), Conor McLaughlin (N/A), Lee Hodson (AFC Wimbledon)

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Up And Comers: Brendan Moore (Peterborough United), Keith Adams (Wigan Athletic)

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Others To Watch: Cameron Dummigan (Kilmarnock), Callum Camps (FC Dallas)

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Franjo’s Analysis

I’ll always root for a home nation, except for when they’re in my group and my main threat for qualification. That being said, the Northern Irish squad’s quality just isn’t there. Their best players are over the hill and the youngsters are below the level they need to be. Sorry lads, but I think it’s going to be a really rough tournament.

Group Prediction: 4th

Overall Prediction: Out at the Group Stage

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Romania (=16th)

0 nation

Manager: Ovidiu Stînga

1 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Vlad Chiriches (Espanyol), Florin Andone (Juventus)

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Qualifying Record: W5 D1 L2

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Main Man: Andrei Ivan (AFC Bournemouth)

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Left At Home: Vlad Chiriches (Espanyol), Paul Anton (Vitesse Arnhem), Steliano Filip (Norwich City)

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Up And Comers: Silviu Grozea (Derby County on loan from Manchester City), Marcel Uta (Manchester City), Aurelian Ghita (Liverpool), Cristian Bisorca (Burnley)

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Others To Watch: Dorin Rotariu (AFC Bournemouth), Dragos Nedelcu (Torino), Florin Tanase (Villarreal), Nicolae Stanciu (Anderlecht)

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Franjo’s Analysis

I quite like the look of this Romania side. They’ve got some serious creativity in midfield with the likes of Bournemouth pair Ivan and Rotariu and a ruthless striker in Juve’s Andone. On paper they should have what they need to qualify out of the group stage, although I am a bit baffled that their captain’s going to be watching their matches from his sofa.

Group Prediction: 2nd

Overall Prediction: Out at the Quarter Finals

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Russia (39th)

0 nation

Manager: Alexandre Semenov

1 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Roman Zobnin (Spartak Moscow), Vyacheslav Karavaev (Bayer Leverkusen)

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Qualifying Record: W7 D2 L3 (Qualified through playoffs)

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Main Man: Alexandr Arestov (CSKA Moscow)

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Left At Home: Oleg Shatov (Zenit St Petersburg), Georgy Schennikov (Spartak Moscow), Alexey Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow)

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Up And Comers: Vitaly Obukhov (Grasshoppers on loan from Krasnodar), Andrey Kharin (Krasnodar), Andrey Kalashnikov (Dinamo Moscow), Nikita Ovchinnikov (Zenit St Petersburg)

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Others To Watch: Alexandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow), Igor Demin (Krasnodar), Vitinho, Marat Lelyukhin (Both Spartak Moscow)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Fun fact: In Soviet Russia, Euros qualify for you. I know, shit joke. I could have spent the last half a year managing in St Petersburg getting to know a few of these players as the vast majority ply their trade in the Russian Premier Division, although I am glad I stuck with Auxerre. They look like a decent side and young Arestov in particular looks like a bit of a prodigy up front, but I reckon their overall quality is lacking. Who knows though, maybe that core group of players that know one another well from the Moscow clubs will give Russia an advantage over their opponents. For me they’re getting pipped to second place by Romania but I could see them being one of the third placed teams that goes through as (Sorry again) they should at least record a win against Northern Ireland and could pinch an extra point against Romania.

Group Prediction: 3rd (But will qualify)

Overall Prediction: Out at the Second Round

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Group B

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Czech Republic (40th)

1 nation

Manager: Karel Jarolim

2 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Ales Mateju (Hull City), Jan Baranek (FC København)

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Qualifying Record: W5 D0 L3

5 schedule

Main Man: Patrik Schick (Inter Milan)

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Left At Home: David Pavelka (AS Saint-Étienne), Pavel Kaderabek (Lazio), Jan Baranek (FC København)

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Up And Comers: Simon Krecek (Stade Brestois 29), Martin Kubala (Benfica on loan from Liverpool), Jan Ptacek (Lokomotiv Moscow)

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Others To Watch: Tomas Latal (Legia Warsaw), Vladimir Bilek (Southampton), Tomas Havlicek (Stoke City), Vlastimil Bartos (Olympique Lyonnais on loan from Arsenal), Vaclav Cerny (Ajax)

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Franjo’s Analysis

I’m not too sure what to make of Czechia. On paper they’ve got some decent players but with the exceptions of perhaps Schick and Latal, nobody in their squad can claim to have had a truly good season for their clubs. Qualifying went well but one glaring defeat against Northern Ireland in particular (I really am so sorry) highlights how much of a hit and miss team they are. I think if that second tier of players like Bilek, Havlicek and Cerny turn up, they could definitely get out of the group. In fact I’ll even go as far as to say that I think they’ll scrape through with Russia as one of the best third placed teams.

Group Prediction: 3rd (But will qualify)

Overall Prediction: Out at the Second Round

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FYR Macedonia (63rd)

1 nation

Manager: Igor Angelovski

2 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Ilija Nestorovski (DC United), Stole Dimitrievski (Girondins de Bordeaux)

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Qualifying Record: W5 D4 L1

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Main Man: Erdal Rakip (Trabzonspor)

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Left At Home: Ezgjan Alioski (FC Lorient), Gjoko Zajkov (Nottingham Forest)

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Up And Comers: Saso Aliji (Slaven Belupo on loan from Vardar), Martin Momitovski (Varazdin), Blagojce Filipovski (Slovan Bratislava)

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Others To Watch: Nikola Gjorgjev (Pescara), Aleksandar Trajkovski (Córdoba), Leonard Zuta (Rijeka)

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Franjo’s Prediction

Bare in mind that I do not say this lightly anymore, but I will eat my fucking hat if Macedonia make it out of Group B. Rakip’s a good little player and Dimitrievski’s thwarted me on a few occasions in the last couple of years for Bordeaux, but other than that I can’t see any danger whatsoever in their team. I think the best Macedonia can hope for is that the Czechs have a horrible tournament so that they can finish 3rd, otherwise…

Group Prediction: 4th

Overall Prediction: Out at the Group Stage

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Portugal (6th)

1 nation

Manager: José Barros

2 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Rúben Dias (Benfica), João Mário (Real Madrid)

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Qualifying Record: W7 D1 L0

5 schedule

Main Man: Renato Sanches (Chelsea)

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Left At Home: Rui Patrício (Sporting), William Carvalho (Juventus), Nélson Semedo (Barcelona), André Gomes (Sevilla on loan from Monaco)

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Up And Comers: António Branco (Liverpool), Paulo Almeida (Red Bull Leipzig)

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Others To Watch: André Silva (Bayern Munich), Bernardo Silva (AS Monaco), Raphaël Guerreiro (Real Madrid), Gonçalo Guedes (Barcelona)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Surely one of the favourites for the tournament, Portugal have some absolutely fantastic talent among their ranks, including a mouth watering front 4 of Martins, Benardo Silva, Guedes and André Silva. They actually could be slightly top-heavy, as their defence is far less well stocked than their midfield and attack, but along with the Netherlands they’ve beaten my France team and I would not relish the opportunity to meet them again. Should go extremely far.

Group Prediction: 1st

Overall Prediction: Out at the Semi Finals

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Ukraine (25th)

1 nation

Manager: Illya Galyuza

2 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Taras Stepanenko (Shakhtar Donetsk), Maxim Tankov (Arsenal)

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Qualifying Record: W8 D2 L0

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Main Man: Maxim Tankov (Arsenal)

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Left At Home: Yaroslav Rakitskyi (Shakhtar Donetsk), Sergiy Rybalka (Dynamo Kyiv), Maxym Malyshev (Shakhtar Donetsk)

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Up And Comers: Alexey Ivanov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexey Sukhov (Hamburg)

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Others To Watch: Alexey Yusupov (Borussia Dortmund), Victor Kovalenko (Shakhtar Donetsk), Olexandr Zinchenko (Olympique Lyonnais)

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Franjo’s Analysis

2 words: Maxim Tankov. The Arsenal striker isn’t Ukraine’s only threat, but my God… It’d be lazy to compare Maxim to Andriy Shevchenko, but I think the 22 year old’s record of 37 goals in 47 international appearances speaks for itself and I expect him to fire his nation out of the group stage single-handedly if need be. Depending on how deep into the tournament Ukraine go, the Golden Boot could well be a possibility for the boy too.

Group Prediction: 2nd

Overall Prediction: Out at the Quarter Finals

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Group C

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Croatia (11th)

1 nation

Manager: Marijan Vlak

2 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Mateo Kovacic (Paris Saint-Germain), Domagoj Vida (Girondins de Bordeaux)

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Qualifying Record: W7 D2 L1

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Main Man: Marcelo Brozovic

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Left At Home: Domagoj Vida (Girondins de Bordeaux), Marko Rog (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

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Up And Comers: Emanuel Glavica, Ivan Damjanovic (Both Everton)

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Others To Watch: Marko Pjaca (Manchester City), Tin Jedvaj (Manchester United), Josip Brekalo (Olympique Lyonnais), Nikola Vlasic (Galatasaray)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Croatia are at the point now where they really need to put up or shut up as their golden-ish generation is in it’s prime. 15 of their 23 man squad are between the ages of 28 and 32 and 8 are 30 or over, so they have plenty of experience. For this reason though they don’t have a great balance in the squad, with Glavica and Damjanovic of Everton the youngest players selected. It’s a risky strategy going for so much experience and might cause problems for the national team further down the line, but I think they should at least get out of the group on this occasion.

Group Prediction: 2nd

Overall Prediction: Out at the Second Round

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Germany (4th)

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Manager: Joachim Löw

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Captain and Vice-Captain: Silvio Cvitanovic (Paris Saint-Germain), Mohamed Acheampong (Red Bull Leipzig)

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Qualifying Record: W7 D3 L0

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Main Man: Christopher Dieckmann (Bayern Munich)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Unfortunately there isn’t too much I can say about Germany. That being said, they are Germany, so they’ll do alright.

Group Prediction: 1st

Overall Prediction: Out at the Quarter Finals

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Norway (21st)

1 nation

Manager: Arne Erlandsen

2 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Birger Meling (Anderlecht), Kristoffer Ajer (Swansea City)

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Qualifying Record: W6 D0 L4 (Qualified through playoffs)

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Main Man: Martin Ødegaard (Chelsea)

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Left At Home: Håvard Nielsen (Derby County), Martin Linnes (Swansea City), Mohammed Elyounoussi (Basel)

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Up And Comers: Oddbjørn Thoresen (Young Boys on loan from Manchester City), Olav Engen, Ronny Rossbach (Both Young Boys)

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Others To Watch: Iver Fossum (Leicester City), Sander Berge (KRC Genk), Tobias Svendsen (Watford)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Norway will… Hmm… You know what, I honestly have no idea how Norway will do. A spotty qualifying campaign, admittedly in a group containing 2 good sides in Belgium and Denmark, was followed up by playoff wins against Cyprus and Austria. A win over Austria is very credible indeed but it just leaves me at a loss as to guess how the Norwegians will do. They have a very talented midfield, but are fairly lacking at both ends of the pitch. I’ll go for a clean sweep for these 3 groups: Norway, along with Russia and Czechia, will finish 3rd but qualify for the Second Round. Along with Russia and Czechia though, that’s probably as far as they can hope to get.

Group Prediction: 3rd (But will qualify)

Overall Prediction: Out at the Second Round

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Turkey (=22nd)

1 nation

Manager: Ersun Yanal

2 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Ozan Tufan (Fenerbahçe), Çaglar Söyüncü (Galatasaray)

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Qualifying Record: W6 D1 L1

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Main Man: Enes Ünal (Olympique de Marseille)

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Left At Home: Yunus Malli (Fenerbahçe), Alper Potuk (Kayserispor)

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Up And Comers: Hayri Yilmaz (Besiktas), Tayfun Ünsal (Galatasaray)

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Others To Watch: Salih Özcan (Köln), Hakan Çalhanoglu (Lekhwiya Sports Club), Yigithan Güveli (Schalke 04), Emre Mor (Brentford)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Turkey are an odd one. I don’t think they’re that poor a side but I think that out of Group C, they are probably the weakest. They breezed through a qualifying group where the only real threat was Switzerland and both teams took a win each from their encounters. I can’t decide whether I really like the balance of their squad either, with half the players between the ages of 20-23 and the other half between 26-31. In theory this is a good mixture of youth and experience but in my opinion the age gap between the two core groups could result in a lack of chemistry. Çalhanoglu is a good player and is wasted in the Qatari league, while players like Tufan, Özcan and especially Ünal have the potential to cause some upsets, but I can see them finishing at the bottom of the group.

Group Prediction: 4th

Overall Prediction: Out at the Group Stage

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Euro 24 Part 3 >

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Author: wtfranjo

My name is Franjo. And I will be a Football Manager.

2 thoughts on “Groups A-C (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Euro 24 Part 2)”

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