Predicting Group D at UEFA EURO 2024: Two Title Contenders

This is the fourth of a six-article series predicting the group stage at UEFA EURO 2024.

The groups at this summer’s EURO are wildly diverse – some have a clear favorite, others are total tossups and one is a complete group of death. Amidst all the chaos, Group D stands out as a perfectly balanced one. It has two of the tournament’s biggest title candidates, as well as two middle-of-the-pack teams that can cause some trouble. Here’s our prediction for Group D.

French and Dutch Hope for a Trophy

France comes into the EURO 2024 as one of its likeliest winners. Les Bleus have been the dominant force in international football for the last few years, reaching back-to-back World Cup finals and winning one of them. While they suffered a round of 16 exit at the last European Championships, the French have their sights set on the title this year.

With Mike Maignan in goal, Jules Koundé and Dayot Upamecano leading the defence, Real Madrid teammates Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga controlling the midfield, and French legends Kylian Mbappé and Olivier Giroud banging in the goals, this is one of the tournament’s strongest squads. N’golo Kanté and Antoine Griezmann, two of the best French players of this century, are both in the team as well.

Also in Group D is the ever-tricky Netherlands. The Oranje have a high ceiling, only getting knocked out on penalties at the 2022 World Cup by eventual champions Argentina. They have looked deadly in preparatory matches for EURO 2024 and bring a loaded team to the tournament.

Virgil van Dijk, Micky van de Ven and Matthijs de Ligt make for an almost unparalleled back line, while Xavi Simons, Ryan Gravenberch and Georginio Wijnaldum are all excellent options for the midfield. Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo bring firepower to the attack, creating a balanced team. Throw in Bundesliga standouts Ian Maatsen and Jeremie Frimpong and this Dutch side can be considered a powerhouse.

Austria and Poland Not to Be Underestimated

The remaining teams in this group lack the star power France and the Netherlands have, but they are gritty and strong sides. The Austrian squad is laden with experience and has a number of players from the Austrian and German Bundesliga alike. Marcel Sabitzer captains a well-synchronized team that has the ability to test the giants. Veterans Marko Arnautović and Michael Gregoritsch are a superb tandem up top.

Poland is a similar story, relying heavily on national team legends at EURO 2024. Wojciech Szczęsny and Robert Lewandowski are still the biggest names in their country’s squad, although the latter has been ruled out of the first match. There is still some young talent in the Polish team, with Nicola Zalewski and Kacper Urbański both showing flashes of ability in Serie A last season.

Austria looked excellent in the qualifiers, finishing just one point off top dogs Belgium and nine points clear of Sweden to earn a berth in the final tournament. Poland were less impressive, sinking to third in their group, but delivered in the playoffs, when it mattered most.

Final Prediction

There will be a huge battle for first in Group D between France and the Netherlands, with the French likelier to just edge ahead. If the Dutch had been drawn into almost any other group, they’d be a projected 1st place finisher. It’s simply impossible to bet against the French this year, though. The Netherlands will still place second and power through to the round of 16.

Austria are on track to finish third in this group by defeating Poland on the second matchday. It’s not a stretch to suggest that the Austrians might snag a point off the Netherlands either, which would boost the former’s chances of advancing. Austria are an ideal example of a side who will face a difficult task in the group stage but do well in the knockouts if given the chance.

Poland seems to be in a period of transition and has not looked very impressive in the last two years. Should the development of their young talents continue, the Poles could make an impressive run at either the World Cup in 2026 or the next EUROs in 2028. This year, it’s looking like a fourth place finish and a group stage exit.

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