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Euro 2024 Group E preview & best bet

Updated on 12:11pm GMT 6 June 2024
Euro 2024 Group E 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.

After taking a look at what looks like a strong batch in Group D, we move on to the penultimate section in our Euro 2024 guide where Belgium look the team to beat in Euro 2024 Group E, as they are perhaps the only side in this batch of four who appear genuine title contenders.

Ukraine will fancy their chances of progressing to the next round and after a solid warm-up campaign they will be hoping to at least match their run to the last eight four years ago, while the target for Romania and Slovakia will be the knockout stages.


Euro 2024 Group E preview

Belgium

Manager: Domenico Tedesco

Star Man: Kevin De Bruyne

Best Euros Finish: Runners-up (1980)

Belgium’s group stage exit at the 2022 World Cup felt like the end of an era, but there’s been no major revolution for the Red Devils. Domenico Tedesco has replaced Roberto Martinez, with the country turning towards younger talents as their golden generation fades away.

Despite that, Belgium still have plenty of talented options, led by Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. They’re joined by some impressive younger stars like Jeremy Doku, Johan Bakayoko and Charles De Ketelaere.

However, Belgium remain a side with more quality going forward than at the back. That is especially true at this tournament, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois ruled out.

Tedesco likes to organise his sides and start with a solid foundation along with a possession-heavy style. That suited the Red Devils in qualifying, where they conceded only four times across their eight games.

It remains to be seen how well that defensive record will hold up at the finals against stronger opposition. Tedesco’s backline will likely feature players at either end of their careers, with 37-year-old Jan Vertonghen pushing to be included alongside younger prospects like Anderlecht’s Zeno Debast and Genoa’s Koni De Winter.


Slovakia

Manager: Francesco Calzona

Star Man: Milan Skriniar

Best Euros Finish: Round of 16 (2016)

After a 20-year wait to make the Euros, Slovakia haven’t missed a tournament since. Despite being in the second-last pot in the qualifying campaign, Slovakia pipped Luxembourg, Iceland and Bosnia-Herzegovina to second place behind a rampant Portugal side.

One major question for Slovakia heading into the tournament is around their manager, who has been in charge of Napoli for the last few months. Francesco Calzona was twice an assistant at the Partenopei and he returned to Naples to stabilise the club after their fall from grace.

Slovakia won seven of their 10 qualifiers, but they are seen as the underdogs in Group E. Despite that, Calzona – who spent much of his career as Maurizio Sarri’s assistant – won’t want his team playing on the back foot.

Under Calzona, Slovakia line-up in a 4-3-3 formation and they’ll look to press aggressively. They have technical ability in midfield when it comes to build-up play, but they do lack cutting edge in the final-third. Robert Mak is their go-to man for goals, but the 33-year-old now plays for Sydney FC in the A-League and his best days look to be behind him.


Romania

Manager: Edward Iordanescu

Star Man: Radu Dragusin

Best Euros Finish: Quarter-finals (2000)

Romania have missed three of the five European Championships since making the last eight 24 years ago, but they qualified for Germany in style. After an unbeaten qualifying campaign, Romania finished five points clear of Switzerland at the top of their pool to spark hopes of a return to the knockout rounds.

They earned a single point at Euro 2016 and failed to qualify for the previous edition, but this Romanian side looks solid and they are odds-on to progress to the second round.

Manager Edward Iordanescu has an unsettled track record, with nine permanent spells at eight clubs in the 10 years before he took charge of the national team. However, he lifted the domestic title with Cluj in his second spell there and he has a reputation for being a meticulous planner in the run-up to games. That’s something which will likely stand out more in international management.

Iordanescu has talent to work with defensively, including Tottenham’s January signing Radu Dragusin. The former Genoa defender featured in all 10 qualifiers for Romania, in which they conceded just five goals.

Their problems tend to be at the other end of the pitch, with a lack of an out-and-out goalscorer. Captain Nicolae Stanciu was their top scorer in qualifying, with the midfielder chipping in three goals.


Ukraine

Manager: Serhiy Rebrov

Star Man: Artem Dovbyk

Best Euros Finish: Quarter-finals (2020)

Ukraine achieved their best-ever run at the Euros in the 2020 edition, ultimately losing to England at the quarter-final stage. After missing the 2022 World Cup, they hope to impress in Germany after pushing Italy all the way in qualifying.

Manager Serhiy Rebrov has multiple league titles under his belt thanks to spells with Dynamo Kyiv, Ferencvaros and Al Ain. The former West Ham striker has done a solid job with his national side as he approaches a year in the role.

Rebrov took over following Ukraine’s 2-0 defeat at Wembley and he has only suffered one defeat – a 2-1 loss in San Siro. His team claimed 10 points from their final four matches to finish behind European champions Italy on goal difference alone, before seeing off Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland in the playoffs.

There’s some real talent in this Ukraine side, including Chelsea winger Mykhailo Muryk and Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko. Pair Viktor Tsyhankov and Artem Dovbyk helped Girona to a top-four finish in La Liga this term.

Rebrov’s big decision ahead of the tournament is to pick between two highly-rated goalkeepers Andriy Lunin has forced his way into the Real Madrid side and looks set to get the nod, but Benfica’s Anatoliy Trubin is likely to be a big-money departure from the Portuguese side before too long.


Group E Best Bet

Belgium & Ukraine dual forecast

Belgium are clearly the strongest team in this batch of four, with Ukraine the next best. There is a drop in quality to Romania and Slovakia and those two teams will probably end up battling it out for third place – which would potentially be enough to reach the next round.

The Red Devils should be expected to win Group E fairly comfortably but they are just 4/9 to do so and the value option is taking Belgium and Ukraine to occupy the top two spots in any order.

Belgium are unbeaten under Tedesco and they should be expected to keep that record intact against lesser opposition through the group stages, while Ukraine have impressed in the build-up to the tournament and they recently claimed a draw with Germany in Nuremberg so they look to be coming into the tournament in form and it is hard to see either Slovakia or Romania finishing above one of these teams in the opening round.


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