Euro 2024: Underdogs Preview and Odds

Euro 2024 underdogs preview
Ben Dixon
Ben Dixon Published: 10/06/2024

Euro 2024 - Why Underdogs?

The 2024 Euros will commence on Friday (June 14) and it is sure to be an exciting tournament. England and France are currently the odds favourites to take the trophy home, but we have decided to take a look at the potential underdogs for this article.

Of course, before the tournament, all eyes will be on the big teams and stars, but we must also be aware of shocks. Previous editions of the Euros have indeed offered some surprises and value can often be found for punters in that sense, betting on how far a certain team will go.

In the 2020 Euros, we saw Denmark and Turkey pinpointed as the heavy ‘underdogs’ or dark horses, with the Danes even reaching the semi-finals. The biggest surprise of them all, however, came in the 2004 edition as Greece managed to win the tournament.

Back then, heavy hitters such as Germany and Spain were eliminated in the group stage, while France, England and the Netherlands were knocked out by the eventual finalists, Portugal and Greece. In a final that many deem a miracle and one of the greatest ‘shocks in football history’, the Greeks beat the hosts 1-0.

Whether that can, or better still, will happen again is yet to be seen. However, we want to highlight some teams we feel can make it far this summer.

Underdogs to Go Far

Below, we have listed some nations that we believe could go far in the tournament this summer. Not necessarily win, in other words, but to go far which punters also can bet on.

Switzerland (Group A)

Group A is a tough group to look at, but there are some very strong teams inside the first pot. Germany, Hungary and Scotland make up the group, alongside the Swiss side, who will be looking to bounce back after their performance in the 2022 World Cup.

The previous Euros showed how good the Alpine squad can be, knocking out France in the round of 16 and reaching the quarter-finals, where they lost to Spain on penalties. While they progressed from their group in Qatar, they were demolished by Portugal. Now, though, they must look to return to the side that did so well during the last European competition, and we think they could.

As mentioned, they are in a tough group where any of the four teams could progress. However, the team has strong foundations, and we feel this could bode well for them this summer.

Current manager, Murat Yakin, led the side to a second-place finish in the World Cup group stage but they were level on points with Brazil, who were one of the favourites for the tournament. Whilst their exit was wounding, it was a learning curve for the manager, and since then, they have only been beaten once - a 1-0 loss against Romania.

Talent is threaded throughout their squad, but it is fair to say they excel with their defensive-minded players.

Between the sticks, there is the difficult choice of Yann Sommer and Gregor Kobel, who have both had fantastic seasons for their respective clubs, Borussia Dortmund and Inter. Manuel Akanji, Nico Elvedi and Fabian Schar will likely sit ahead of the ‘keeper, and this rounds up an excellent defensive unit which has experience, excitement, and, above all, quality.

It would be silly to ignore talent in other areas, as well, though. Their midfield duo of Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler is outstanding, and both have had great seasons, personally and for their club, so they will come into the tournament full of confidence. Having Xherdan Shaqiri in front of them creates an intriguing midfield trio that might be slightly older, but their elegance and experience could provide them with a cutting edge.

In attack, though, their story changes. They may have an older feel elsewhere, but their attacking lineup is youthful, exciting and raw. Yakin likely elects AC Milan forward Noah Okafor to give inspiration to their attack, and whilst he has not often been given the game time for the Rossoneri this season, he has shone when asked, and he has a chance to prove himself to any doubters that could be in place.

Group A Euro 2024

Slovenia (Group C)

This is perhaps our favourite pick of the lot. Yes, they are in a very, very difficult group consisting of England, Serbia and Denmark, but they could cause a few upsets in the group and beyond. The Three Lions will likely top the group, after all, they are one of the favourites, but that second place (or best third) could be very much up for grabs.

In the buildup to the tournament, there have been some chinks in the armour of the Danes, losing to Northern Ireland, conceding to San Marino, and not blowing anyone away with their results. And whilst they did beat Slovenia in November, we think things could be different in Germany. Looking at the Serbian side, they are very much out of form, winning only three times since September, and so we think that if Slovenia are at their best, they have a good chance of progression.

We’ve looked at the other teams in their group but have not actually taken an in-depth look into our pick yet, so let us begin. Since September, they have lost just once, the aforementioned game against Denmark, and they have earned some great results against the USA and Portugal, scoring 23 goals in 10 games.

It’s only the fourth major tournament the side has gotten to and their first since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but this is a really good period for the Dragons, with some talented players spread all over the pitch.

Perhaps the focal point of their team is their goalkeeper, Jan Oblak, who has for years been an outstanding shot-stopper for Atletico Madrid, and this has been the same this year, with him keeping 13 clean sheets in 38 games in La Liga.

Defensively there are a few players to take notice of, such as Jaka Bijol, the Udinese central defender who stood out for the side in the qualification process. Jan-Gorenc Stankovic, who you may remember from his Huddersfield Town days has since won the Austrian Bundesliga with Sturm Graz, a rare feat in itself. Finally, Adam Gnezda Cerin, the Panathinaikos holding midfielder who shields the defence very well from central midfield.

Going forward, there are two players to take notice of. Former Middlesbrough and Sporting Club striker Andraz Sporar has had a decent season in Greece at Panathinaikos, scoring eight times in 27 games.

The star, the gem, the prodigy, Benjamin Sesko deserves his own paragraph. The young striker has struggled for minutes in the Bundesliga this season with RB Leipzig, but he has still scored 14 goals, averaging a goal every 110 minutes, and his prolificacy extended to the Euro qualifiers, with him scoring five goals in nine games.

Group C Euro 2024

Austria (Group D)

Austria, without a doubt, are in one of the Group of Deaths and for the keen-eyed among you, it is a group we shall revisit very shortly. Consisting of France, the Netherlands, and Poland, it is a ridiculously strong group, and all four teams would be imagined to progress without being in the group they are.

Regardless of this, though, their credentials are fantastic and they have had an extremely solid few months leading up to the tournament. Since November 2022, they have only lost once - a 3-2 loss against Belgium in October last year.

However, they have had some impressive results in this time, beating Italy, Turkey, and the hosts Germany, and we think they are a really good pick coming into this tournament.

With Ralf Rangnick taking charge of the side, we like the look of his squad. The former Manchester United is highly respected for his work and methodologies, and he could do well in tournament football.

Defensively there are some real talents, and we’re looking at Kevin Danso - the brick-wall central defender from Lens, who will be watched very closely this summer with several clubs vying to earn his signature, and Max Wober - the Leeds United loanee, could extend his impressive Bundesliga form into the tournament.

However, the midfield will be the key to progression. Austria's quality is in the middle of the park, and there are two shining lights: Marcel Sabitzer and Konrad Laimer. Both were instrumental to their respective club’s Champions League success this season. Furthermore, Nicolas Seiwald and Florian Grillitsch offer some other great options in the midfield.

Marko Arnautovic has not had the best season for Inter, but he will be aiming to spearhead his national side into the late stages of the competition in what could be his last international tournament with his country.

Group D Euro 2024

Ukraine (Group E)

Looking at their group, Ukraine have been given an easier one than some of the others in this list. Behind Belgium, they are the favourites to progress from the group, and they should fulfil this task ahead of Slovakia and Romania.

Compared to other qualification routes, they have had a reasonably easy run-in, but this should not take away from their quality. Since their loss against Italy, albeit only by a goal margin, they have been on a roll, winning five of their seven games.

The other two games have been draws against Italy and Germany, both times goalless, which shows they are good defensively which is vital to progressing through the group stages.

Quality is there in their team, from front to back, and they have some really underrated talents who should be heavily respected in the tournament. They could cultivate a really impressive run if they are at their best, and they are certainly an interesting team to look at.

Between the sticks, Anotoliy Trubin is a fantastic option and several teams were looking at him with interest last summer, and the intrigue has continued and will continue this summer. For Benfica, he has 13 clean sheets in 28 games in the league, and with three clean sheets in six qualification games, he is a real gem.

Illia Zabarnyi and Oleksandr Zinchenko are the stars of their defence, and both have been impressive in spells during their respective Premier League seasons.

Their attacking talent is electrifying as well, and we’re taking a real look at Viktor Tsygankov, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Artem Dovbyk, and Roman Yaremchuk, who could be fantastic for them in the summer. All four are very dynamic and can cause opposition defences some real danger, and we think that they are certainly players to watch in the competition, let alone for the country.

Underdogs to Win

The main focus of this piece has been to identify some teams that could progress far into the tournament, but we also wanted to give a small mention to two sides that are in for a chance of winning the tournament. Both of which are not among the main favourites to win.

Italy (Group B)

The first team, and perhaps the most obvious one, is the Azzurri. As the reigning champions, there are potential debates about whether they are an ‘Underdog’ to win it again, but we think it is fair to put them in this bracket.

Not only have they seen some radical changes in their side, but they have also entered a new era under Luciano Spalletti's guidance. Many of the players who featured in the 2020 edition have since moved away from the national team, and there are some really good younger players coming through.

Additionally, they have a player we think could be an outsider for the top goalscorer award, namely Gianluca Scamacca. Spalletti's men are rightfully not the favourites to win the tournament, only just qualifying for it in the first place, but they cannot be ruled out either.

Group B Euro 2024

Netherlands (Group D)

Listing a team like the Netherlands as an outsider in an international tournament feels somewhat strange. However, they have not won an international tournament in 36 years and have struggled in recent years to establish themselves among the top football nations in tournament settings.

Not much needs to be said about the quality of their players. As to be expected, they have a relatively young side, with experience threaded throughout, but there can be no question about their talent in the side.

As a result, we think they are at a really nice price to win the tournament, and they could cause some shocks to bring them back into the European limelight in a competitive setting.

Group D Euro 2024
Ben Dixon
Ben Dixon
Last updated: 17/06/2024

Accredited football journalist with a focus on Italian football, working for the likes of SempreMilan and Serie A Total. As an avid punter, I enjoy browsing sportsbooks for the best-value bets.