Group C favourites England ready to make Euro 2024 ‘headlines’

Harry Kane in action for England. File photo

England are ready to make Euro 2024 “headlines” as the Group C favourites prepare to launch their bid for a first major trophy in 58 years.

Gareth Southgate’s side, who face Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia in the group stage, head to Germany as one of the leading contenders for Euro glory after a series of painful near misses in recent tournaments.

England lost on penalties to Italy in the coronavirus-delayed European Championship final at Wembley in 2021.

The Three Lions were defeated by Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and were eliminated by France in the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals after Harry Kane missed a late penalty.

Those agonising failures have only sharpened England’s desire to get their hands on major silverware for the first time since Bobby Moore lifted the 1966 World Cup.

Able to call on world-class talents including Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden, England are ranked alongside France — World Cup runners-up two years ago — and hosts Germany as the bookmakers’ three top title contenders.

And in what could be his final tournament in charge, England boss Southgate, whose contract expires in December, is embracing those expectations as he eyes a place in the final in Berlin on July 14.

“Everybody is waiting for that headline (‘We can win the Euros’). I would be an idiot if I said ‘no’, and equally if I said ‘yes’ that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of work ahead of us,” Southgate said.

“There is no doubt what’s possible, they have gone close already. Are we one of those teams that can win? Yes, absolutely.

“They know what is possible, they know what they’ve won at club level and what that’s taken. You can see cup football, you have to navigate game by game.”

England’s first game is in Gelsenkirchen on June 16 against Serbia, who finished second in their qualifying group behind Hungary.

Denmark test for England

It will be England’s first encounter with the Serbs since their split with Montenegro in 2006.

Southgate’s men, unbeaten in their eight qualifying matches, take on Denmark four days later in Frankfurt before finishing the group stage against Slovenia in Cologne on June 25.

England fans will recall their side, then managed by Fabio Capello, beat Slovenia 1-0 in a must-win group game to reach the knockout stages at the 2010 World Cup.

If they are to win the European Championship for the first time, England would greatly benefit from finishing top of Group C.

As group winners, they would face a last-16 tie against a team that finishes third in Group D, E or F, while they would probably face a daunting last-16 clash against Germany if they finish second.

England’s toughest group game is likely to come against Denmark, who pushed them to the brink in a dramatic Euro 2020 semi-final eventually won 2-1 by Southgate’s side after extra time.

Denmark famously won the 1992 Euros and, while Kasper Hjulmand’s squad failed to make it out of their group at the last World Cup, they are still capable of causing a surprise in Germany.

Slovenia are participating in a major tournament for only the fourth time and the first since the 2010 World Cup.

Having reached their first European Championship for 24 years, Matjaz Kek’s team are hoping to make the knockout stages of a major event for the first time.

Serbia will rely on Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic, Fenerbahce forward Dusan Tadic and AC Milan striker Luka Jovic to fuel their bid for a place in the last 16.

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