Euro 2024: The 6 teams that are favourites to win the Euros

Kylian Mbappe in action for France. (AFP)
Kylian Mbappe in action for France. (AFP)


The Euros is second only to the World Cup in terms of popularity. Lounge evaluates the chances of the 6 main favourites to win Euro 2024

It’s been less than two years since that astonishing World Cup final in Qatar between France and Argentina that swung like a pendulum on speed. Argentina won the match, but the memories of that contest will now segue to the next big international competition, Euro 2024, starting 15 June.

France, naturally, would be one of the favourites in the 24-team continental competition that’s second in scale only to the World Cup (along with the Copa America) in international tournaments. Coincidentally, the Copa America starts on 21 June in the US, with Lionel Messi’s Argentina touted as the favourite to win. Both the South American and European champions will be decided on 14 and 15 July respectively—and it would be a delicious irony if Argentina and France top those.

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Little separates the European teams at this level, barring a few underrated teams that may be underestimated by the big guns at their peril. Among the 600-plus players in the fray are some of the most decorated footballers of European leagues, their biggest goal-scorers and Ballon d’Or winners. Missing in competition are also some of the sport’s most recognisable names, most notably Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard, since Norway has not qualified for the Euros.

Predicting a winner is an onerous task, given the uncertainty of a knockout round and that group winners, runners-up and the best four third-placed teams among six groups will advance to the round of 16.

The dangers of predictions is evident from precedence: Portugal did not win a single group game in the 2016 edition (drawing all three matches), but still won the trophy: Defending champions Spain lost to Italy, who were beaten by Germany who were, in turn, beaten by France who then lost to Portugal. Similarly, in 2020, the Netherlands won every group game before being beaten by the Czech Republic in the round of 16.

Here's a look at some of the favourites for Euro 2024:


Mbappe. That World Cup final.

Qatar was just the precursor for a generation of footballers who are promising so much more. Purely on the strength of its team, Euro 2024 should end with France winning its third title (after 1984 and 2000).

With the powerful Kylian Mbappe, as well as players of the calibre of Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele, France is well stocked with strikers. Goalkeeper Mike Maignan, and defenders Ibrahima Konate, Benjamin Pavard, Theo Hernandez and Ferland Mendy form a solid defence that has conceded only three goals in qualifying. N’Golo Kante’s return to the team, from the Saudi league, adds depth in midfield.

France coach Didier Deschamps with Kylian Mbappe.
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France coach Didier Deschamps with Kylian Mbappe. (AP)

France began their qualifying campaign with a 4-0 win over the Netherlands, and won their next six games, till a draw against Greece. There was a 0-2 defeat to Germany earlier this year in a friendly game, thanks to a goal from Florain Wirtz after seven seconds—Germany’s fastest ever international goal. But that merely showed that the French can be vulnerable or overconfident.

Of the 25 players selected in the French squad, 18 have been in a World Cup final, while seven have actually won it. This depth of experience makes France the kind of team that knows how to win big and has the players for it.


“We’ve been one kick away from being European champions, so we know it’s possible," England’s coach Gareth Southgate said recently, pointing to England’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final on penalties to Italy. For England, a big title has always been a case of so near yet to far.

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This side has some serious firepower up front. Harry Kane is coming off a Bundesliga season with 36 goals off 32 games. With Bukayo Saka, Ollie Watkins upfront, midfielders like Manchester City’s Premier League winner Phil Foden and Cole Palmer make for a strong bench, even if Southgate is not able to start with them all.

England players Trent Alexander-Arnold (right) and Jude Bellingham take part in a training session.
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England players Trent Alexander-Arnold (right) and Jude Bellingham take part in a training session. (AFP)

There are questions over the centre of defence with fitness issues shadowing the full-backs, but England can just outscore others. In 20-year-old Jude Bellingham, England have a La Liga and Champions League winner with Real Madrid—a player difficult to stop for the opponents.

“Very often teams talk about winning, but the evidence doesn’t back that up," Southgate said. “We can back that up."


He may not be the crux around which the team revolves any more. He is also 39 years old, and typically in international football only goalkeepers last that long. But Cristiano Ronaldo scored nine goals in 10 Euro qualifying games for Portugal, turning the clock back and showing why he should be more than just a figurehead for the team. He has 14 goals in the five Euros he has played, having won it once in 2016.

“What surprised me about Cristiano is that he always defies his age," coach Roberto Martinez told “That’s contagious… He’s a winner and he’s unique in the way he sees the game."

Cristiano Ronaldo and Diogo Jota of Portugal.
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Cristiano Ronaldo and Diogo Jota of Portugal. (AFP)

The former Belgium coach, Martinez prefers a crowd pleasing, attacking style of football, which he has brought to Portugal as well. The team won each of its matches in the Euro qualifying campaign, making it one of the favourites for the title on 15 July.

In Joao Neves, the team has a potential star of the tournament. There is experience in the form of Pepe, who, at 41, is even older than Ronaldo. If he plays in Germany, Pepe would become the oldest in European Championships, beating the record of Hungarian goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly. He has with him Nuno Mendes, Joao Cancelo, Diogo Dalot among others in defence; Bruno Fernandes was prolific in the qualifiers and along with Bernando Silva, Rafael Leao and Diogo Jota, provides the team with an embarrassment of riches.


Italy beat England in the 2020 final, their second title in Europe after winning it in 1968. But the blow-hot-blow-cold team could not qualify for the following World Cup in Qatar. Coach Roberto Mancini quit last year to seek employment in lucrative Saudi Arabia and Italy sought out Luciano Spalletti, who was on a sabbatical from football. Spalletti had taken Napoli to the Serie A title last season, their first in 33 years since the glorious Diego Maradona era.

Spalletti’s start with the team has been anything but glorious. First, Italy lost to England in qualifying. Then there was a betting scandal, which led to the suspension of midfielder Sandro Tonali, followed by a goalless draw against Ukraine that brought the team the much needed qualification.

The Italy team in a training session.
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The Italy team in a training session. (AFP)

The team’s strength has always been in its defence. Goalkeeper Donnarumma, who was player of the tournament in the last edition of the Euros, will guard the citadel. But they lack experience this time round, with defenders Alessandro Bastoni and Gianluca Mancini, needing to rise to the occasion. The Italians have won titles before without an outstanding striker and Spalletti had to invite legends Alessandro Del Piero, Roberto Baggio and Francesco Totti to Italy’s training, to “push the boys to elevate their performance levels".


Spain have had a strong run leading up to the Euros, winning all 10 of their qualifiers under new coach Luis de la Fuente, who came in after the team’s disappointing early exit at the World Cup.

Spain squad in training.
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Spain squad in training. (AFP)

While only a handful of players who went to Qatar are part of the squad for Germany, de la Fuente is expected to work better with the young crop of Spanish players, having coached prodigious talents like Gavi, Pedri and Ansu Fati through age-group football.

16-year-old Lamine Yamal, Spain’s youngest ever international player, is an exciting star-in-the-making. Should he play a game in Euro 2024, he would become the Championships’ youngest competitor, an apt counterpart to Pepe’s oldest.


The advantage of playing at home beats all else and Germany have won the title more times (3) than any other team (alongside Spain), though their last title was way back in 1996. They too have a new manager in Julian Nagelsmann, besides a host of experienced campaigners like Toni Kroos, who has come out of retirement for one last shot at glory, midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, defenders Joshua Kimmich, Antonio Rudiger and striker Thomas Muller.

Germany's Florian Wirtz.
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Germany's Florian Wirtz. (AP)

Bayer Leverkusen’s Bundesliga-conquering team has provided players like Florian Wirtz, Robert Andrich and Jonathan Tah to the German squad. Wirtz, along with Jamal Musiala—at 21 already a four-time Bundesliga champion—form two of Europe’s most exciting talents on display. While Leverkusen lost in the Europa League final, and Borussia Dortmund lost in the Champions League final, Germany could end up winning the biggest European prize of all.

The hosts kick off their campaign against Scotland, against whom they have lost just once since 1964. Should Germany top their group A, they would probably faceDenmark, Serbia or Slovenia—assuming England top Group C—in the next round, which improves their chances of getting into the quarter-finals.

Arun Janardhan is a Mumbai-based journalist who covers sports, business leaders and lifestyle.

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