As the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign unfolds, several captivating storylines and exciting matches are set to define the journey to the prestigious tournament. Let’s take a closer look at eight key highlights as teams vie for a spot in Germany next summer.
Portugal’s Perfect Start:
Portugal has been in scintillating form, winning their first six qualifying matches while netting 24 goals without conceding. Led by Roberto Martínez, the team aims to replicate their flawless Euro 2020 qualification record, showcasing their clinical performances. The addition of young talent like João Neves from the Benfica academy signals a bright future for Portuguese football.
The Hawks of Kazakhstan:
Group H features an exciting showdown with the top four teams facing off. Kazakhstan, often referred to as ‘The Hawks,’ is looking to secure their first-ever major tournament qualification. After testing their mettle against Denmark, they face Finland and Slovenia, needing to spring surprises to progress in a group they’ve already demonstrated their potential in.
Andorra’s New Era:
Andorra is entering a new era without the legendary defender Ildefons Lima, who has retired at the age of 43. The team still boasts experienced players with over 100 caps, and they have shown promise with draws against Belarus and Kosovo. Their aim is to mark Lima’s retirement with a rare home win against Kosovo.
Rising Serbian Star:
Petar Ratkov, a 20-year-old Serbian striker, is making headlines. The Red Bull Salzburg signee had multiple suitors and could have played for other countries but chose Serbia. Ratkov might make his senior debut in a crucial clash against Hungary, a game with significant implications for Euro 2024 qualification.
Scotland’s Historic Opportunity:
Scotland, under the guidance of Steve Clarke, is on the brink of securing qualification with five wins from five games. Their aim is to reach the knockout stages, an uncharted territory for Scotland, making Clarke one of the nation’s most revered managers.
Italy’s Goal Hunt:
Italy are determined not to miss out on Euro. Luciano Spalletti and his side are determined to secure qualification by avoiding slip-ups against Malta before their crucial encounter against England at Wembley Stadium. Italy are renowned for their strong defense but they need to find more goalscoring opportunities this tournament.
Depleted Dutch Dilemma:
The Netherlands faces injury woes, with key players like Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, and others missing. A match against France is critical, and a defeat, coupled with Greece’s potential win, would intensify pressure on Ronald Koeman’s team.
Albania’s Miracle Journey:
Albania, under the guidance of Sylvinho, is leading a closely contested Group E. A resounding victory over Poland in September has bolstered their chances. Sylvinho calls the upcoming matches against the Czech Republic, Moldova, and the Faroe Islands “three finals.” Meanwhile, Moldova remains a wildcard, aiming for direct qualification.
As Euro 2024 qualification unfolds, football fans can look forward to a thrilling ride filled with moments of brilliance, emerging talent, and historic opportunities for several nations. The path to Germany promises excitement and anticipation as teams vie for a coveted spot in the tournament.