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Euro 2024 Group D preview & best bet

Updated on 6:43pm GMT 8 June 2024
Euro 2024 Group D preview & best bet

Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.

France are heavily fancied to go far at Euro 2024 and they are currently rated as the second favourites to take the title, behind England, but they have been handed a tricky draw in Group D.

Group B may appear to be the Euro 2024 ‘group of death’ but this four-way battle should also be incredibly competitive as Les Bleus are joined by fellow heavyweights the Netherlands and two potential dark horses in the shape of Poland and Austria.


Euro 2024 Group D preview

France

Head coach: Didier Deschamps

Star man: Kylian Mbappe

Best European Championship finish: Winners x 2 – 1984, 2000

Two-time winners France lost the final on home soil in 2016 before succumbing to Switzerland on penalties in an all-time classic in the round of 16 three years ago.

Luck was against them in Bucharest. Both of their left-backs, Lucas Hernandez and Lucas Digne, were injured, leading Didier Deschamps to select midfielder Adrien Rabiot on the left side of an improvised back five.

Kylian Mbappe then missed the decisive penalty but that early elimination is an outlier under Deschamps, who won the World Cup in 2018 and also lost the 2022 final in Qatar.

Mbappe made amends in the Middle East with a hat-trick in the final and a successful penalty in the shootout. Now captain, the 25-year-old leads a sparkling attacking unit backed by a stellar midfield and improving defence reinforced by William Saliba’s emergence.

Les Bleus qualified ahead of the Netherlands and have nothing to fear from Austria and Poland. The draw could then open up but regardless of the opposition, France will likely go into all of their games as favourites.

Deschamps’ side should stride through Group D and, on current form, their tournament will truly begin in the knockout rounds.


The Netherlands

Head coach: Ronald Koeman

Star man: Virgil van Dijk

Best European Championship finish: Winners x1 – 1988

The Netherlands can’t get away from France. The Oranje were second best to Les Bleus in qualifying and that could be where they finish in Group D.

Winners in 1988, the Oranje have had a roller coaster of a decade and are more pragmatic than previous vintages.

Why? Well, they have an abundance of excellent defenders, including captain Virgil van Dijk, but the talent pool is somewhat shallower in attack, prompting a succession of coaches to ditch the traditional Dutch 4-3-3 for a back five.

After failing to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, boss Ronald Koeman kick-started his country’s revival before departing for Barcelona but returned for a second stint after Louis van Gaal stepped down following the Netherlands’ quarter-final appearance in Qatar.

Nothing’s ever easy, with Koeman’s plans hit by assistant Sipke Hulshoff’s resignation to allow him to be available to work alongside Arne Slot during their first pre-season together at Liverpool.

The Dutch lost home and away to France in qualifying but beat Austria at the last Euros and also edged Poland over two games in the 2022-23 Nations League. Second place looks likely, with those two sides on the agenda either side of their game against Les Bleus.


Poland

Head coach: Michal Probierz

Star man: Robert Lewandowski

Best European Championship finish: Quarter-finals – 2016

Poland were the last side to qualify for the Euros and could be among the first to be eliminated.

The Eagles showed little ambition during their playoff win over Wales, eventually triumphing on penalties, and despite Robert Lewandowski and Piotr Zielinski’s presence, somehow lack nuance in attack.

They were lucky to make it through their group at the 2022 World Cup before barely getting in the France half in their 3-1 last 16 defeat in Doha, with their goal coming via a 99th-minute penalty.

While this is their fifth straight Euros, the Poles finished some distance behind Albania and Czechia in qualifying, relying on a playoff courtesy of their Nations League results and have generally flattered to deceive in this competition.

There are positives, with coach Michal Probierz improving the team’s defensive shape since being parachuted in following Fernando Santos’ disastrous reign but Lewandowski and Zielinski aside, Poland lack quality.

Probierz’s side’s primary focus is likely to be on their second fixture against Austria. A win could see them qualify, but a defeat in Berlin may spell zero points.

The Poles finished bottom of their group in 2021, taking just a point from their three games and it is hard to envisage any improvement.


Austria

Head coach: Ralf Rangnick

Star man: Marcel Sabitzer

Best European Championship finish: Round of 16 – 2020

Austria have qualified for their fourth Euros and third in a row after finishing second to Belgium in Group F.

Franco Foda guided them to a last-16 defeat to eventual champions Italy at Euro 2020, but Das Team has improved under Ralf Rangnick, who has given them greater structure and will have a plan for every eventuality for this summer’s tournament in his homeland.

Rangnick’s decision to stay in situ beyond the Euros rather than take up an offer from Bayern Munich will have boosted morale but that lift has been negated by captain David Alaba’s absence due to a knee injury.

Alaba aside, Austria have a talented squad, predominantly based in Germany but despite averaging over two goals a game in qualifying, lack an obvious goalscorer, meaning Marcel Sabitzer’s late runs from midfield may be something they focus on in their build-up play.

Austria start with their toughest game against France but beat the Poles in their second outing and qualification is within reach, while they might also fancy themselves to draw against the Netherlands.

Losing Alaba has robbed Austria of their best player but Rangnick will have them perfectly prepared and ready to test their rivals.


Group D Best Bet

Austria to qualify from Group D

France should have the quality to top the group and they are 8/15 to finish top of the pile, but the value play looks to be backing the Austrians to reach the next round at just shy of evens.

Das Team are missing their star man and skipper as David Alaba won’t be involved due to injury, but they still have plenty of quality within their squad – particularly in midfield where Marcel Sabitzer is joined by Christoph Baumgartner and Konrad Laimer.

Manager Ralf Rangnick has managed to turn this Austria side into an efficient unit and they impressed in qualifying. Third place may well be enough for Austria to progress to the next round and they may even be able to finish ahead of an inconsistent Netherlands outfit and snatch second spot.


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