Can England’s men’s team finally win the European Championship?

Euro 2024, or to give it its proper name – UEFA European Football Championship – kicked off on June 15 (3am, Malaysian time).

Germany (1972, 1980, 1996) and Spain (1964, 2008, 2012) have three titles each, followed by Italy (1968, 2020) and France (1984, 2000).

Seven other nations have one win each – Russia (1960), Czechoslovakia (1976), Netherlands (1988), Denmark (1992) and Greece (2004).

Conspicuously missing from the list is England, Europe’s perennial underachiever, who has only reached one final – three years ago – when the tournament was delayed by a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nonetheless, its overly optimistic supporters always believe “it’s coming home”, but they have yet to be proven right for the men’s team – the England women’s team won the title in 2022.

Going into this year’s tournament, England is again listed as among the favourites, although England boss Gareth Southgate made some surprising omissions from his squad.

He has trimmed his provincial squad of 33 to the 26 he will take to Germany. Manchester United’s Harry Maguire, Southgate’s first choice centreback, misses out as he has yet to recover from a calf injury.

Also out are Tottenham’s James Maddison, Liverpool duo Curtis Jones and Jarell Quansah, Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite, Burnley’s James Trafford and Manchester City’s Jack Grealish.

Combined with several others who failed to make the provincial squad, Southgate’s new-look team has 12 players who have never been to a major tournament.

So, can England pull off a surprise in Germany?

It should have no problems getting out of Group C. England begins its journey with a clash against Serbia on June 17 (3am, Malaysian time), while Denmark takes on Slovenia three hours earlier.

The top two teams automatically qualify for the Round of 16, while four of the best third-placed teams from the six groups will also reach the knockout stage.

Of the 24 teams who will start the tournament, only eight will say goodbye after the group matches.

England should easily reach the knockout stage, and captain Harry Kane will look to redeem himself in his ‘new’ homeland, as his move to Bayern Munich last summer – while successful personally (scoring 36 goals in 34 games) – was a failure for the Bavarians.

Bayern failed to win the Bundesliga after 11 consecutive titles and ended the season without silverware for the first time since 2012.

Kane will hope to prove to German fans that he is not an “unlucky charm” as he has failed to win a winner’s medal in his career.

Despite Kane’s form in front of goal, Southgate’s defensive tactics could mean another teary exit for the Three Lions.

ENGLAND SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale
Defenders: Lewis Dunk, Joe Gomez, Marc Guehi, Ezri Konsa, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo, Declan Rice, Adam Wharton
Forwards: Jude Bellingham, Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze, Phil Foden, Anthony Gordon, Harry Kane, Cole Palmer, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney, Ollie Watkins

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