Groups D-F (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Euro 24 Part 3)

We’ve familiarised ourselves with half of the 24 nations participating in Euro 2024. Now let’s meet the rest:

Start from the start with episode 1

< Euro 24 Part 2

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We’ve familiarised ourselves with half of the 24 nations participating in Euro 2024. Now let’s meet the rest:


Group D

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Belgium (13th)

1 nation

Manager: Filip Daems

2 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Romelu Lukaku (Liverpool)

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Qualifying Record: W4 D2 L2

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Main Man: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

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Left At Home: Romelu Lukaku (Liverpool), Adnan Januzaj (Espanyol), Jason Denayer (West Brom), Michy Batshuayi (Torino)

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Up And Comers: Mohamed Hamoudan (Manchester United), Cas Willems (Anderlecht), Joran Devolder (Barcelona)

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Others To Watch: Nany Dimata (Southampton), Divock Origi (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Youri Tielemans (Real Madrid)

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Franjo’s Analysis

I’m interested to see how Belgium do in this tournament. In World Cup 2022 they underperformed dramatically, failing to qualify from a group that included Paraguay, Iran and host nation Canada. René Weiler was sacked as a result, all time most capped top goalscorer Eden Hazard retired from international football and a new era began under former Eupen boss Daems. He’s made the bold move of dropping Liverpool’s Romelu Lukaku and is trying to put his faith in the next batch of talent as Belgium’s golden generation comes towards it’s end. They’ve got some quality players and I think they’ll do well, but another Canada-esque collapse wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world. Qualifying results such as a draw against Kosovo and a loss against Estonia don’t inspire much confidence.

Group Prediction: 2nd

Overall Prediction: Out at the Second Round

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Italy (9th)

1 nation

Manager: Vincenzo Italiano

2 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), Daniele Rugani (AS Monaco)

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Main Man: Andrea Belotti (Bayern Munich)

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Left At Home: Alessandro Florenzi (AC Milan), Marco Verratti (Chelsea), Jorginho (Napoli), Simone Zaza (AC Milan), Alex Telles (FC Porto)

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Up And Comers: Alberto Di Santo (Anderlecht on loan from AS Roma), Luca Cesana (Juventus), Alessandro Sacchi (Manchester City), Yuri Brugger (Barcelona), Alessandro D’Innocenzo (Arsenal), Enrico Botta (Tottenham Hotspur), Gianluigi Cacioppini (Bayer Leverkusen)

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Others To Watch: Federico Chiesa (AS Monaco), Filippo Melegoni (Manchester United), Moise Kean (Paris Saint-Germain), Federico Bernadeschi (Chelsea)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Wow. I tell you what, the age of Italy’s international domination might well be close. Since Massimo Allegri left his post in charge of the national team, his successor Italiano has gone full steam ahead into the next generation. Just look at some of those young players they’ve got coming through! All playing regular football at top European clubs too. I’d say it’s probably a tournament too soon for them, but I would not be surprised at all if Euro 2024’s host nation bags themselves a World Cup in 2 years time or a Euros in 4. For now, it’ll just be exciting to see how this young team does.

Group Prediction: 1st

Overall Prediction: Out at the Semi Finals

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Poland (15th)

1 nation

Manager: Dariusz Banasik

2 manager

Captain and Vice-Captain: Grzegorz Krychowiak (FC København), Jaroslaw Budzyn (AS Roma)

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Qualifying Record: W5 D2 L3

5 schedule

Main Man: Kamil Padzik (Napoli)

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Left At Home: Sebastian Szymanski (Stade Rennais FC), Kamil Bartkowiak (Girondins de Bordeaux), Ryszard Baran (CS Sedan Ardennes)

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Up And Comers: Rafal Kiepura (Augsburg)

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Others To Watch: Karol Linetty (Sampdoria), Bartlomiej Dragowski (Inter Milan), Arkadiusz Milik (Napoli)

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Franjo’s Analysis

I’ve got to be honest, I’m a little disappointed that none of the lads from Katowice are going to be involved this Summer. Not surprised, but disappointed still. The closest any of them came was Ryszard Baran, who rose through GieKSa’s academy, has followed me to France and has so far won 10 caps for his country, but he’s left out. In terms of the Polish lads that are at the tournament, I’m unconvinced. They seem to have a lot of pretty decent players around the age of 23/24 who are plying their trade at a decent level, but they strike me as fairly flimsy in terms of depth. They rely on Arkadiusz Milik up front, who isn’t nearly as prolific a striker as we all once thought he’d be and apart from Linetty and Padzik, where’s the quality? Where’s the threat? I’m open to being proved wrong, but I can’t see them getting out of what is in fairness one of the strongest groups at the tournament.

Group Prediction: 4th

Overall Prediction: Out at the group stage

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Sweden (12th)

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Manager: Janne Andersen

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Captain and Vice-Captain: Victor Lindelöf (Tottenham Hotspur), Linus Wahlqvist (Arsenal)

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Qualifying Record: W8 D2 L2 (Qualified through playoffs)

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Main Man: Sead Haksabanovic (Manchester City)

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Left At Home: John Guidetti (Stoke City), Karl-Johan Johnsson (Vitesse Arnhem), Christoffer Nyman (Empoli)

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Up And Comers: Robin Holmgren (Zenit St Petersburg), Jim Lindau (Chievo on loan from AC Milan), Daniel Hansson, Jonas Claesson (Both AIK)

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Others To Watch: Alexander Isak (Stuttgart), Jordan Larsson (Genoa), Ludwig Augustinsson (Olympique de Marseille), Simon Tibbling (Ajax)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Sweden are such a tough one to call. On one hand, I don’t see them finishing above either Belgium or Italy. I see them finishing 3rd. On another hand, out of the teams that I think will finish 3rd, I think that they are the best team with the best squad. On a 3rd superfluous hand though, I don’t reckon they’ll go through purely because I think they’ll lose to Belgium and Italy and will be able to get a maximum of 3 points from Poland. It’ll be a shame if I’m right because I really do like the look of Sweden and I think they could be a very exciting team to watch. I’ll be hoping to be proven wrong.

Group Prediction: 3rd

Overall Prediction: Out at the Group Stage

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Group E

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Denmark (19th)

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Manager: Anders Jensen

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Captain and Vice-Captain: Thomas Delaney (Swansea City), Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Napoli)

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Qualifying Record: W5 D1 L2

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Main Man: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)

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Left At Home: Simon Kjaer (Swansea City), Yussuf Poulsen (Olympique Lyonnais), Victor Fischer (Real Vallecano)

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Up And Comers: René Hechmann (Sheffield Wednesday), David Michaelsen (SC Bastia)

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Others To Watch: Jacob Bruun Larsen (Borussia Dortmund), Andreas Christensen (Bayern Munich), Andreas Cornelius (Anderlecht), Kasper Dolberg (New York Red Bulls)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Denmark: Our third and final opponents in Group E. The thing about Denmark is that they have a very strong and very predictable spine to their team. A solid goalkeeper in Michaelsen, an effective partnership of speed and strength in the centre of defence with Christensen and Vestergaard, a pair of silky yet steely midfielders in Højbjerg and Delaney, a legendary playmaker in Eriksen and a horrifyingly fast and powerful striker in Poulsen. Except Poulsen misses out with a broken leg. On one hand, I feel for the lad. You never want to see that happen to anyone and at 29 he probably doesn’t have many tournaments left in him. On the other hand though, fucking jackpot. Suddenly Denmark are missing an essential cog in their well oiled machine. They’re most likely to fall back on either Cornelius or Dolberg up front but to be honest neither of them scare me too much. Neither of them have the pace, the strength or the boundless energy that Poulsen would have brought. I reckon we’ll beat the Danes and I reckon England will too. They’ll be in the same boat as Sweden as a 3rd placed team with one of the best squads but I don’t think they’ll come through the Group Stage.

Group Prediction: 3rd

Overall Prediction: Out at the Group Stage

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England (5th)

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Manager: Eddie Howe

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Captain and Vice-Captain: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

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Qualifying Record: W7 D2 L1

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Main Man: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)

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Left At Home: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling (Both Arsenal), Will Hughes (Manchester United), Phil Jones (AC Milan), Joe Bell, Ryan Sessegnon (Both Stoke City)

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Up And Comers: Juddy Lokando (Manchester City), Ed Lynes (Southampton), Oliver Webb (Chelsea), David Crammond (West Ham United), Stuart Coleman (Manchester United)

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Others To Watch: Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Lewis Cook (AFC Bournemouth), Nathan Redmond (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)

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Franjo’s Analysis

I like Eddie Howe, I think he’s a class act, but what on Earth is he thinking leaving Stoke’s Joe Bell out of his squad?! The lad’s scored 57 Premier League goals in the last 3 seasons and is this year’s Premier League Golden Boot winner Eddie, you bloody manic! Madness. Anyway, England will as I may have mentioned be our first opponents in Group E. Just looking at some of the names they’ve left back in Blighty sends shivers down my spine. No room for Sterling, Hughes, the aforementioned Bell or even Phil Jones, who just very nearly won his 3rd Serie A title in a row. England have an extremely good balance of youth and experience with one of the best defences in the world, a midfield packed with creativity and pace and a strike force to rival most. Let us not forget that this is a team that got to the World Cup Final in Canada 2 years ago, only to lose to my predecessor Arsene Wenger. They will get out of the group and they will go far, but hopefully not as far as us.

Group Prediction: 2nd

Overall Prediction: Out in the Quarter Finals

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France (2nd)

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Manager: WT Franjo

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Captain and Vice-Captain: Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid)

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Qualifying Record: W8 D0 L0

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Franjo’s Analysis

You know France well enough by now and you’ll probably guess what I expect us to do. I want to try and look at us objectively like I have everyone else though.

What are France’s weaknesses?

Well for one, the age of our squad is absolutely one of if not the highest at the tournament. 22 of my 23 man squad are 25 years old or over with 20 year old Leo Gauthier the exception. 9 of them are 30 or over. This is something that I’ve been actively trying to sort over the last couple of years but the fact remains that the players we have are some of the best in the World and are still undroppable in my opinion. After this tournament though, I’ll be looking to properly ingratiate some of the younger lads like Clauss and Andre into the first team.

Another weakness we have is of my own making: Our defence. I’ve bleated on about this so many times at this point but we are weak at the back because of the almost gung-ho fluid attacking football that I want us to play, seeing as we are one of the best teams in the world and I want us to play as such. I still maintain that at least when we’re at home or in a neutral venue, my team can outscore anyone while playing in this style. So in theory we should be fine unless we meet Italy.

What are France’s strengths?

Our pace, our quality of passing, of dribbling, of shooting, of technique, our physical strength, our physical fitness, our strength in depth. We have so many strengths and that’s why I want us to win this competition.

Group Prediction: 1st

Overall Prediction: Euro 24 Winners

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Georgia (62nd)

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Manager: Giorgi Kipiani

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Captain and Vice-Captain: Levan Sopromadze (Karabükspor), Mate Tsintsadze (Verona)

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Qualifying Record: W5 D0 L3

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Main Man: Giorgi Arabidze (Shakhtar Donetsk)

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Left At Home: Lucas Hufnagel (Banik Ostrava), Otar Kakabadze (Baltika)

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Up And Comers: Malkhaz Nemsadze (Las Palmas), Zurab Samadashvili (Moreirense)

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Others To Watch: Valeri Qazaishvili (AZ Alkmaar), Akaki Gogia (Ipswich Town FC)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Poor Georgia. I honestly don’t want to sound harsh but if they don’t finish stone bottom of this group, at least 1 of the other 3 of us will have royally fucked up. Arabidze is actually quite a good player but I get the feeling that he’ll have to do everything by himself.

Group Prediction: 4th

Overall Prediction: Out at the Group Stage

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Group F

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Scotland (35th)

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Manager: Gordon Strachan

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Captain and Vice-Captain: Andrew Robertson (Hull City), Callum Paterson (Everton)

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Qualifying Record: W7 D0 L3

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Main Man: Mark Brown (Sunderland)

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Left At Home: Jordan Archer (Millwall), Kieran Freeman (Tottenham Hotspur), Barrie McKay (Glasgow Rangers)

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Up And Comers: Chris Henderson (Stoke City), Phil McAllister (Partick Thistle), Grant Wyness (Chelsea)

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Others To Watch: Kieran Tierney (Arsenal), Oliver Burke (Leicester City), Ryan Gauld (Espanyol)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Look, down the years I’ve had some light-hearted, well intentioned pops at the Scottish. But let it never be said that I don’t give credit where credit’s due: This Scotland team, assembled by legendary manager Gordon Strachan, has got some bloody quality. So much so that I think they’ll sneak out of a very strong Group F (Or Group S as it may as well be called) as the final 3rd placed qualifier. Will they get any further than the Second Round? Och aye the no. Still, at least the fans will get to spend a few extra days out of the rain than usual, eh?

Group Prediction: 3rd (But will qualify)

Overall Prediction: Out at the Second Round

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Serbia (20th)

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Manager: Slavisa Jokanovic

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Captain and Vice-Captain: Predrag Rajkovic (AFC Bournemouth), Nikola Maksimovic (AZ Alkmaar)

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Qualifying Record: W5 D2 L1

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Main Man: Sergej Milinkovic Savic (Barcelona)

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Left At Home: Sergej Milinkovic Savic (Barcelona), Nikola Maksimovic (AZ Alkmaar), Nikola Stojilkovic (Olympiakos), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Stade Rennais FC)

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Up And Comers: Milorad Stevanovic (Barcelona), Dragan Rajkovic (Girondins de Bordeaux on loan from Barcelona), Dejan Lukic (AFC Bournemouth)

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Others To Watch: Matija Nastasic, Andrija Zivkovic (Both Manchester United), Marko Grujic (Guangzhou), Lazar Romanic (West Bromwich Albion)

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Franjo’s Analysis

So… This’ll sound a bit weird, but if I were to pick my nationality purely on footballing reasons, I think I’d seriously consider picking Serbia. They are not a glamorous team when it comes to international tournaments and are often overlooked, but they’re always there, always plugging away and always giving a good account of themselves. They’re just like I was as a player, proud to battle away in the background, ignoring the headlines, defensively solid. Yes, Milinkovic Savic is out with a broken leg, yes their vice captain and one of their best strikers have been left at home, but if you take anything away from my analyses, take this: Never write off Serbia to qualify from the Group Stage. They’re resilient bastards.

Group Prediction: 2nd

Overall Prediction: Out at the Second Round

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Spain (7th)

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Manager: Marcelino

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Captain and Vice-Captain: Koke (Atlético Madrid), Isco (Manchester City)

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Qualifying Record: W7 D0 L1

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Main Man: Abraham Pérez (Manchester United)

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Left At Home: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Sandro Ramírez (Atlético Madrid)

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Up And Comers: Jon Zabalza (Barcelona), Fran Giráldez (Crystal Palace on loan from Barcelona), Marc Alonso (Sunderland AFC on loan from Barcelona)

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Others To Watch: Germán Ramos (Chelsea), Toni Lato (Paris Saint-Germain), Jesús Vallejo (Manchester City), Asier Villalibre (Atlético Madrid), Pablo Fornals (Real Madrid)

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Franjo’s Analysis

I don’t think Spain are going to get very far in the Euros. Sue me.

Let me explain: The predictions that I’ve been making while describing each nation are not just me saying “I reckon they’ll get about this far”. I thought it’d be far more fun to actually plot who goes through from each group, then pair them off to create the second round and so on in an actual simulation of the tournament ahead. In this simulation, I have Spain winning Group S and facing the runner up of Group E, which is England. I reckon England would beat Spain, so I predict Spain, a team full of international superstars, will be out before the Quarters.

That aside, Spain are good. Very good. Practically the entire squad is made up of top players from the best La Liga, Premier League and Ligue 1 sides and prediction be damned, they might win the bloody thing for all I know. They have quality in abundance, brilliant depth and a very, very good balance of ages throughout the squad. Before I chicken out and change my prediction, let’s just all agree that they’ll at least get out of the group.

Group Prediction: 1st

Overall Prediction: Out at the Second Round

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Switzerland (=16th)

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Manager: Urs Meier

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Captain and Vice-Captain: Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Ricardo Rodríguez (Chelsea)

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Qualifying Record: W5 D2 L1

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Main Man: Arnel Kalac (Chelsea)

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Left At Home: Francisco Rodríguez (Brentford), Haris Seferovic (Getafe), Yann Sommer (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Olivier Custodio (AFC Bournemouth)

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Up And Comers: Emiljano Pllumbaj (AFC Bournemouth)

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Others To Watch: Breel Embolo (AS Roma), Denis Zakaria (AC Milan), Noah Okafor (Real Madrid), Xherdan Shakiri (Sporting)

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Franjo’s Analysis

Switzerland have good players, but I don’t think they’ll do very well. It’s very handy that I’m talking about them directly after Spain because it makes it easy to make this comparison: Spain’s squad is largely made up of top players from top teams, while Switzerland’s squad is largely made up of players from top teams. Do you see the distinction? Kalac could well turn out to be a great striker for Chelsea, but at the minute he’s inexperienced and not playing as much football as he’d like. Elvedi is a valued centre back option for Arsenal, but he’s not a starter. Embolo’s mainly a super sub for Roma, Okafor is a squad player at Real and Widmer barely plays for Manchester City. With the exceptions of Zakaria and Shakiri, regulars at Milan and Sporting and arguably Xhaka, who plays a fair bit at Arsenal, Switzerland’s squad feels like a team full of the dregs of the big clubs and I think they’ll finish beneath the might of Spain, the resilience of Serbia and the surprising competence of Scotland at the bottom of their group.

Group Prediction: 4th

Overall Prediction: Out at the Group Stage

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So that’s that. 24 nations have been expertly analysed. 24 predictions have been painstakingly made. After much deliberation, I have reached the jaw-droppingly surprising conclusion that we can win this bloody tournament. All that’s left to do now is actually bring that to fruition.

Any predictions? Potential winners? Dark horses? Potential flops? Golden boot nominees? Let me know, would love to hear them.

Euro 24 Part 4 >

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Author: wtfranjo

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

One thought on “Groups D-F (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Euro 24 Part 3)”

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