Euros Euphoria - The Lowe-Down Predictions - Part 1

 

Euros Euphoria

And just like that, Euro 2024 is upon us. Can you believe it was three whole years ago we had our hearts broken at Wembley? This summer’s edition is, of course, being held in one of Europe’s finest footballing countries, Germany. With a whole host of countries having a genuine claim to being crowned Europe’s finest, where on earth do we start with any predictions? Luckily, I’ve enlisted the help of some footballing experts, the Lowe-Down pundits.

Our first pundit needs no introduction if you read his very successful blog on Nottingham Forest’s struggles earlier this season. I caught up with Alex Jeffery to get his opinions on this summer’s football.

The second pundit is a student of the game and dare I say it, even more obsessed with the beautiful game than I am. Welcome to the Lowe-Down blog, Josh Spencer. Such is Josh’s dedication to football he is currently in Japan on a scouting mission to recruit some soccer players to join his College in America where he is the Assistant Head-Coach. Dedication.

Without further ado, into the predictions!


TOP SCORER:

Who will be lifting the golden boot this summer?

Alex: Kylian Mbappe
I just can't see past Mbappe. He consistently thrives on the biggest stages and with his move to Real Madrid now sealed I'm expecting a huge tournament from him.

Josh: Harry Kane
England may have struggled in the warm ups, but Kane seems fresh. A pressure free end to the season, a tan, and a new haircut. Our main man is ready to go!

Lowe-Down: Harry Kane
Coming off of a record-breaking first season at Bayern Munich, Kane is fit, firing and in top form. He’s also free of any niggles and injuries which he’s tended to carry into some previous tournaments. England’s marksman is arguably the best finisher in world football and with the supply line behind him, looks set to produce a sparkling tournament. Both Kane, and England need an iconic Kane goal and fingers are crossed it comes this summer.

 

BREAK-OUT STAR:

Think Rooney 2004 or Renato Sanches 2016. Who will be the break-out star this Euros?

Alex: Florian Wirtz
19 assists across all competitions for Bayer Leverkusen last season confirms his creative abilities. I expect him to be the lynchpin in Germany’s attack this summer.

Josh: Kenan Yildiz
Let’s go for Kenan Yildiz of Turkey. It’s safe to say that the Turks have underwhelmed in recent years, and so have Yildiz’s Juventus. But, his breakthrough into Juve’s first team seemed to provide a spark this season. There are some similarities to Dybala in how he drifts and links with his attacking counterparts, whilst being 6ft2 and physically much stronger. If the Turks do progress, he’ll have a major part in that.

Lowe-Down: Lamine Yamal
Lamine Yamal joins Gavi, Pedri and even Ansu Fati in a long list of those who have recently graduated from La Masia. Some have faired better than others. At 16 years old, Yamal will become the youngest player to ever play at a European Championship. I’ve watched Barcelona twice this season and in both games I’ve been amazed with the electric pace, dribbling and most of all, the composure Yamal has displayed. He has a claim as one of the top 10 wingers in Europe and if you don’t believe the hype, just trust me and watch him.


DARK HORSE:

Who’s the dark horse you’d tip for glory?

Alex:
Croatia, especially if extra time is in the equation.

Josh:
Hmm, that’s a tough one. Probably the Netherlands.

Lowe-Down:
I’m not sure if they qualify as a “Dark Horse” given their personnel, but they aren’t one of the bookies favourites at the time of writing and I think they have a real chance. Portugal. Their squad is blessed with so many top players in the prime, as well as having the inevitable Cristiano Ronaldo. Having appointed Roberto Martinez as their head-coach, Portugal breezed through their qualifying campaign playing with a swagger they’d never have been capable of under the defensive Fernando Santos. They are certainly one to watch this summer.

A proper “dark-horse” would be Austria who have been galvanised by the appointment of Ralph Rangnick.


BIGGEST FLOP:

Who’s the team that is most likely to flop?

Alex: Belgium
Their golden generation is no more with only De Bruyne and Lukaku remaining and they’ve not had an influx of talented players come through.

Josh: Italy
A lot of injuries and some big retirements since their win 3 years ago. That along with being in arguably the group of death. It could be an awkward summer for the Azzurri. Sorry Luca!

Lowe-Down: Italy
Since their triumph in 2021, it’s been all change for the Azzurri. They’ve lost their head-coach, legendary centre half partnership and Qatari-based Marco Verratti no longer makes the squad. What’s left? Not a lot. Oh, and they’re in a tough group too! Luciano Spaletti is a fine coach and his recent Serie A title with Napoli shows what he can do with an unfancied side. Sadly, I don’t see a repeat of that this time.

 

UNPOPULAR OPINION:

What’s your Euros unpopular opinion?

Alex:
This is probably more relevant to another conversation, but I don't think Southgate's England tenure should be defined by this tournament. He inherited a mess and restored credibility and pride, whilst also making us extremely competitive.

Josh:
The Euros is arguably a tougher tournament to win than the World Cup.

Lowe-Down:
Southgate’s England aren’t that bad to watch, especially in tournament football. England were arguably the most exciting team going forwards at the World Cup in 2022 and I don’t see why we can’t be the top scorers in the summer.

 

I know what you're all thinking. So.... Who's going to lift this thing then? Find out in the next instalment of the Euro Predictions!

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