All eyes will be on the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg on December 2 when the draw for Euro 2024 takes place.
The identity of all 24 finalists is still not known, with a playoff round to decide the final three qualifiers in March next year. The draw for those fixtures takes place on November 23, with regular qualifying having this week come to a close.
Nevertheless, teams have already been separated into seeding pots for the draw, meaning those who have already booked their places in Germany can begin putting together best- and worst-case scenarios.
With that in mind, what’s the toughest, most tantalising group-stage foursome the draw could throw together for the finals next June?
Here’s The Sporting News‘ Euro 2024 Group of Death, based on the way teams have now been seeded, their relative strength and ranking by FIFA, and how competitive the group can be. Let’s see if this is how things turn out come December…
Pot 1: Germany
It’s essentially impossible to pick a weak team from Pot 1, but for true Group of Death jeopardy, a team with few weaknesses and a good chance of pulling away from the competition simply won’t do. If you’re going to win three out of three in the group stage, we don’t want you here. Portugal: 10 wins out of 10 in qualifying. Next. England and France probably have the two strongest squads on paper, while reigning Nations League champions Spain also progressed at a canter.
We want serious talent and obvious flaws. Step forward, Germany. Since being awarded the hosting rights to Euro 2024, Die Mannschaft have parted company with a long-serving, World Cup-winning manager after a disappointing Euro 2020, bowed out at the group stage for a second World Cup in succession and sacked a Champions League-winning coach. Julian Nagelsmann is trying to pick up the pieces but Germany won only three of 11 matches in 2023.
Nagelsmann has huge talent to call upon but a tough draw and a less-than-perfect start could quickly turn home advantage into a burden.
POT 1 IN FULL: Germany, Portugal, France, Belgium, Spain, England
Pot 2: Denmark
A scan through Pot 2 reveals a few potentially softer options over whom the Pot 1 giants will be licking their lips. Denmark are certainly not one of those. Semifinalists last time around, Kasper Hjulmand’s technically gifted side bounced back from a group-stage exit at the Qatar World Cup and a dramatic early qualification defeat to Kazakhstan to win Group H. A dead rubber defeat to Northern Ireland in their final qualifier snapped a run of five successive wins.
POT 2 IN FULL: Hungary, Turkiye, Denmark, Albania, Romania, Austria
Pot 3: Netherlands
Pot misfortune begets pot misfortune for the Netherlands. If Ronald Koeman’s side hadn’t been drawn with France in qualification, there’s every chance they would be heading to Germany as group winners with a more favourable seeding. The Oranje won their six other Group B matches outside of a pair of defeats to France, meaning they are now the Pot 3 team everyone will want to avoid.
The Netherlands crashed out in the last 16 of Euro 2020 despite winning all of their group games and took Argentina to the brink in Qatar before losing a gripping quarterfinal on penalties. Frank de Boer and Louis van Gaal took charge of those two tournaments but Koeman, who guided the Dutch to the Nations League Finals in 2019 before a dream job presented itself at Barcelona, is back at the helm with a sense of unfinished business.
POT 3 IN FULL: Netherlands, Scotland, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic
Pot 4: Italy
What better way to wrap up our dream lineup than with the defending champions? Since beating England on penalties to lift the trophy two and a half years ago, life has been tough for the Azzurri. They bungled qualification to the 2022 World Cup from a huge position of strength and Roberto Mancini departed as head coach to take charge of Saudi Arabia during the Euro 2024 preliminaries.
Appointing Luciano Spalletti in the afterglow of his Serie A triumph with Napoli was a significant coup but it was still a struggle to pick up the pieces as a 3-1 defeat to England at Wembley meant Gareth Southgate’s team did the double over Italy. They won only four of their eight qualifiers and needed a nervy 0-0 draw against Ukraine to pip the Eastern Europeans to the runners-up spot in Group C. Seedings being determined by group position and points in qualifying means Italy will have to do it the hard way if they are to overturn the odds and defend their title.
POT 4 IN FULL: Italy, Serbia, Switzerland, Playoff A, Playoff B, Playoff C