UEFA Euro 2024: Group D Preview

Euro 2024
FILE – The trophy is on display during the presentation of the European soccer championship ‘EURO 2024’ trophy at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. The European Championship in Germany is all about tried and tested stadiums with a rich soccer history. Unlike at some recent World Cups, there’s been no rush to finish stadiums on time. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

The 2024 European Championships are right around the corner! The tournament kicks off at the end of the week, and with that, it is time to go through the groups and preview each team that is looking to head to Germany and come home a month later after winning Euro 2024!

Group D sees Austria, France, the Netherlands, and Poland (strangely, all bordering host nation Germany) battling it out to make it to the knockout rounds of Euro 2024! The top two nations and the top four best third-place teams in each group will make it to the Round of 16. Here’s a look at the Nations in Group D and their upcoming matches at Euro 2024.

Euro 2024
France’s Kylian Mbappe controls the ball during the international friendly soccer match between France and Canada at the Matmut Atlantique stadium in Bordeaux, southwestern France, Sunday, June 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Yohan Bonnet)

Euro 2024: Group D

Euro 2024

Recent History

While much of Austria’s past decade has been littered with disappointments, the mood around the team has taken a sharp uptick recently, along with their form. Rejuvenated by the arrival of coach Ralph Rangnick (recently remembered for an unproductive stint at Manchester United, but it should be remembered that he was one of the architects of RB Leipzig’s rise to Bundesliga prominence) and bolstered by a solid group of players, Austria are a team poised to surprise people.

Austria finished second in their qualifying group by winning 6 games and only losing 1 (at Belgium), ending up only a solitary point behind the Belgians, and a full 9 points ahead of third-place Sweden. That loss to Belgium is their only defeat in their last 16 games across all competitions and friendlies; a stretch that goes back to the fall of 2022 and includes friendly victories over both Germany and Italy.

Tactical Outlook

Ralph Rangnick is largely responsible for creating the “Red Bull” style that has become synonymous with how the various energy drink-owned clubs around the world play: high-pressing, quick transitions, and non-stop running. In a word, gegenpressing.

Any style that relies on pressing the opponent requires hard work and togetherness, and Austria has both in spades. With a 4-2-3-1 formation that has often been associated with a high-pressing style since both rose to prominence around the same time (for good reason), Austria combines defensive solidity with a new-found attacking verve that makes them dangerous for any opponent at Euro 2024.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Rangnick’s gegenpressing is a stark contrast from the previous manager’s conservative, often ponderous style that produced the occasional good result but left fans struggling to stay awake to see it. That contrast, along with positive results, has rejuvenated both the team and fans. Perhaps the team’s biggest strength is their familiarity with the Red Bull style- a core of the team has played for Red Bull teams, and others have played for coaches influenced by Rangnick.

Unfortunately, injuries have taken their toll on the Austrian squad. Their midfield engine, and key factor behind their recent successes, Xaver Schlager tore his ACL late in the reason with RB Leipzig and will miss the tournament. Likewise, longtime stalwart and star David Alaba, who missed much of the club season, will not feature. It is heartbreaking that after weathering years of being one of the few bright spots as an up-and-coming star, Alaba misses out just when the team is beginning to rise towards his level.

Euro 2024 Betting Odds

To qualify for the Knockout Round: -125
To reach the Quarterfinals: +275
To reach the Semifinals: +850
To reach the Final: +2,800
To win Euro 2024: +8,000

Euro 2024

Recent History

France is man for man, the most talented national team in the world. Lionel Messi and destiny are the only reason they don’t enter this Euros as back-to-back World Cup winners, and two finals appearances in a row don’t exactly constitute a failure.

What does, however, was winning the group of death only to face-plant with a round-of-16 exit on penalties to Switzerland in the most recent edition of the Euros. It was a particularly galling performance coming on the heels of their 2018 World Cup win and 2016 Euros finals appearance.

After breezing through Euro 2024 qualifying, going undefeated, and topping a group featuring 2004 Euro winners Greece, and fellow Group D side the Netherlands (who they beat twice), France go into this tournament with well-earned confidence (despite Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Canada). With some key players unlikely to still be playing by 2028, this France team will be extra motivated to rectify their past failures in this competition.

Tactical Outlook

Didier Deschamps has been manager of France since 2012, and a certain amount of tactical flexibility is a key reason why. That being said, certain aspects of play remain consistent. Deschamps favors a possession-oriented game, often taking advantage of the space created by the wingers (particularly Kylian Mbappé) to allow the fullbacks to push high.

The combination of speedy wingers and a tall, strong striker in Olivier Giroud (insert obligatory swoon here) allows France to punish opponents in a variety of ways and makes them very difficult to stop. Defensively, their midfielders cover space well (welcome back to the spotlight, N’Golo Kanté), both in the middle of the field and filling in for the fullbacks when they go forward. This is vital, as Deschamps places a lot of emphasis on transitions, and, as all top teams do, France excels at them.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The aforementioned flexibility in attack and mobility in midfield makes France very difficult to defend or attack against. Having Mbappé, the presumptive heir to the best in the world mantel, doesn’t hurt either. Every positional group can be viewed as a strength.

Is it even possible to pick out a weakness in this team? Some might say, goalkeeper, as that’s probably the weakest position, but Mike Maignan is no slouch. While many have predicted a starting centerback pairing of Arsenal standout William Saliba and Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konaté, Deschamps has shown a fondness for Dayot Upamecano which means the Bayern defender could see significant playing time. Should he continue his penchant for committing shocking errors that were seemingly ever-present over the most recent club season, this could be an Achilles’ heel that teams can take advantage of at Euro 2024.

Euro 2024 Betting Odds

To qualify for the Knockout Round: -1600
To reach the Quarterfinals: -360
To reach the Semifinals: -135
To reach the Final: +190
To win Euro 2024: +400

Euro 2024

Recent History

The nearly-men of world football must be cursing their luck to end up in the same group as the French team that beat them twice in qualifying (to be fair, it is ridiculous that two teams from the same qualifying group can end up in the same group for the tournament proper). They finally appear to be (somewhat) back on track after failing to qualify for both the 2016 Euros and 2018 World Cup, building on a round-of-16 loss to the Czech Republic in the 2020 Euros with a 2022 World Cup quarterfinals loss on penalties to eventual champions Argentina.

Ronald Koeman returns, looking to build on his own success from his first stint as Netherlands manager, when he helped them qualify for the aforementioned 2020 Euros, but then left for Barcelona before the tournament.

Both of the team’s warm-up friendlies resulted in 4-0 victories, over Canada (in American coach Jessie Marsch’s- another disciple of the Red Bull system- first game in charge of the Canadian Men’s National Team) and Iceland (who were coming off a victory over Euros favorites England).

Tactical Outlook

Koeman generally lines his team up in a 4-3-3, although there has been some variation in where that midfield set up, looking more like a 4-2-3-1 against Iceland. Perhaps surprisingly, in contrast to many top teams, they are not a possession-based, high-pressing team. They can attack at speed, with pacey wingers and generally clinical attackers- the team ranks very highly in shots-on-target percentage and goals per game.

Defensively, the Netherlands do press on occasion, they just try to pick the right moments to do so. They have been lining up with either Nathan Aké or Micky van de Ven, both natural centrebacks, on the left, while favoring a more (modern) standard wingback on the right. That’s not to say they lack pace on the left side, however, as van de Ven in particular is very fast.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The Netherlands come into Euro 2024 with a strange mix of top talent and question marks. Their back line looks incredibly strong, with presumptive starting centerback Virgil van Dijk able to be partnered by any of Matthijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij, Daley Blind, Nathan Aké, and Micky van de Ven (although, as mentioned previously, the latter two have been primarily used as left fullbacks by Koeman). They have a solid mix of youth and experience in attack, with the potential to rotate between differing styles of attacking players in players like Memphis Depay and Wout Weghorst.

On paper, this doesn’t look like a team with much in the way of weaknesses, despite, similarly to Austria, dealing with some injury problems. Midfield stalwarts Frankie de Jong and Teun Koopmeiners won’t play a part, and the Netherlands will surely miss players of that quality in the center of the pitch. There are some question marks around young goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen, but he at least has a world-class defense ahead of him. Perhaps the biggest potential weakness is mentality. A history of failures and near misses haunts this team (although to be fair, they did win the Euros in 1988), and this latest squad will be looking to exorcise those demons at Euro 2024.

Euro 2024 Betting Odds

To qualify for the Knockout Round: -400
To reach the Quarterfinals: +125
To reach the Semifinals: +300
To reach the Final: +750
To win Euro 2024: +1,600

Euro 2024

Recent History

Poland enters their 5th straight Euros by the skin of their teeth, having edged Wales 5-4 on penalties to qualify from the playoff. They finished a disappointing 3rd in their relatively weak qualifying group, behind the Czech Republic and surprise group winners Albania. It was a perfectly symmetrical campaign with 3 wins, 2 draws, and 3 losses, as well as 10 goals both for and against.

Poland will need to show up as the squad that drew 1-1 against Spain in the 2020 Euros (not the one that lost the other two group games of that competition) and qualified for the round of 16 in the 2022 World Cup if they are to have any hope of shocking the world and advancing from this strong group at Euro 2024.

Tactical Outlook

Since promoting their under-21s coach Michał Probierz to the main men’s national team last September, Poland has played with a 3 centerback system that allows them to send their wingbacks forward, providing width in attack and crosses to their two strikers, as well as the opposite wingback crashing the back post. They remain the big, strong team that they have been for a while now, but the wingbacks inject some much-needed speed and pace.

Despite this tactical tweak in attack, Poland remains a defense-first team. They will sit back and absorb pressure all day long before playing direct balls forward, either to the forwards or to the wingbacks as they bomb forward.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Poland is mostly comprised of solid, good-not-necessarily-great players with one notable exception leading the line. Robert Lewandowski is still one of the best strikers in the world, despite being a few years beyond the time he had a legitimate claim to being the single best. As he goes, Poland will go too.

Unfortunately, similarly to Austria and the Netherlands, Poland has caught the injury bug, and Lewandowski is one of several victims. In a friendly against Turkey on Monday, he suffered a torn muscle in his thigh, at minimum ruling him out of the team’s opener against the Netherlands on Sunday. The team doctor claims to be holding out hope Lewandowski may be available to play a part as soon as their second game, against Austria, but a torn muscle doesn’t sound promising.

Paweł Dawidowicz and Charlotte FC striker Karol Świderski also picked up minor injuries in the match, although neither is expected to miss much if any game time. This all comes on the heels of an injury to Arkadiusz Milik in the previous friendly against Ukraine, which ruled him out of the tournament. Between Lewandowski, Świderski, and Milik, Poland’s biggest strength may be turning into its biggest weakness.

Euro 2024 Betting Odds

To qualify for the Knockout Round: +150
To reach the Quarterfinals: +550
To reach the Semifinals: +1,800
To reach the Final: +6,500
To win Euro 2024: +20,000

Euro 2024 Group D Match Information

  • Netherlands vs Poland | Sunday, June 16 @ 9 pm EST | TV: FS1
  • Austria vs France | Monday, June 17 @ 3 pm EST | TV: FOX
  • Poland vs Austria | Friday, June 21 @ 12 pm EST | TV: FS1
  • Netherlands vs France | Friday, June 21 @ 3 pm EST | TV: FOX
  • Netherlands vs Austria | Tuesday, June 25 @ 12 pm EST | TV: FS1
  • France vs Poland | Tuesday, June 25 @ 12 pm EST | TV: FOX

PSN’s Other Euro 2024 Previews

Group A | Group B | Group C

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Featured Image Credit: AP Photo/Yohan Bonnet