Lars’ Euro 24 Preview: Group A

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While not the toughest group on paper, there is plenty of danger here for host nation Germany if they fail to hit their stride early during the Euros. Scotland, Hungary and Switzerland may all be a little short on star power, but they are all capable teams and there will be no room for German complacency here.

Read Lars’ preview of Group B here.
Read Lars’ preview of Group C here.
Read Lars’ preview of Group D here.
Read Lars’ preview of Group E here.
Read Lars’ preview of Group F here.


  • Odds to win the tournament: 6.50
  • Odds to reach the final: 3.75
  • Odds to win the group: 1.40
  • Odds to get knocked out in the group stage: 10.00

What a difference two friendlies can make. After poor performances in their last two tournaments, the German national team reached a nadir in the autumn of 2023 as they lost 1-0 to Poland, 2-0 to Colombia and 4-1 to Japan. Hansi Flick, brought in to give the team a new direction after the aimless and complacent final years of Joachim Löw’s tenure, had failed – winning just four of his last 17 games in charge. The DFB turned to coaching phenom and longboard enthusiast Julian Nagelsmann, but the 36 year old initially seemed no more able to figure this team out than Flick had been. After defeating the USA and drawing with Mexico in his first two games, November 2023 saw Nagelsmann’s team lose to Turkey and Austria. Playing Kai Havertz at left back against Turkey and setting the team up in an awkward 3 at the back formation against Austria, Nagelsmann looked an unlikely savior. And the backdrop to these sporting misadventures was an increasing sense of apathy among German fans, with their detachment from the team growing and television ratings for national team games shrinking. Then came March 2024 and friendlies against France and the Netherlands. Not only did Germany win them, 2-0 and 2-1, but they put in two of the most coherent performances we’ve seen from the German national team in years. With a tournament on home soil just around the corner, German fans had reason to believe that maybe, just maybe, their team isn’t bad anymore.

Nagelsmann picked the same lineup for both of those friendlies, giving us a solid hint at what he sees as his best team. And there is no shortage of good players. Up front, a problem position for Germany for many years, Nagelsmann appears to have settled on Kai Havertz.

Conveniently for Germany, Havertz has been playing his best football since his Leverkusen days this spring while playing as a striker for Arsenal. Flanking Havertz in attacking roles are Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz, two of the best young players in world football. There is talent in that trio to terrify any opponent, and if Nagelsmann wants something different he can also turn to the pace and trickery of Leroy Sane and the more blunt physique of Niclas Füllkrug. In midfield, Toni Kroos has unretired from international duty and looked right at home directing traffic for the team against France and the Netherlands. Robert Andrich will provide athleticism and defensive nous next to Kroos, while the captain Ilkay Gundogan will be looking to tie everything together with his experience and tactical intelligence. The backline has long been a concern for Germany, with Nagelsmann admitting last year that his team are “not defensive monsters”. But Jonathan Tah has played the best season of his career so far for Leverkusen this term, so him and the ever-combative Antonio Rudiger should be able to form a solid pairing. The re-introduction of Kroos to the midfield sees Joshua Kimmich drop back to right back, whether he likes it or not, and Stuttgart’s Max Mittelstädt appears to be Nagelsmann’s first choice at left back. In goal, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a world class goalkeeper.

Betsson have made Germany third favorite to win the tournament, behind England and France. It’s not hard to see why: There is certainly a lot of talent in this group, and home advantage can be a powerful thing in these tournaments. The brilliant form of Bayer Leverkusen has come at a good time for the national team, with Tah and Andrich potentially adding the midfield balance and defensive solidity Germany has seemed to lack in recent years. Florian Wirtz has established himself this season as not just one of the best young players in the world, but one of the best playmakers of any age. And if Kai Havertz can be the solution to Germany’s striker conundrum, then Nagelsmann may just have a team that could go all the way here.

The concern is that we are basing a lot of this off of two international friendlies. The Havertz gambit may not pay off, in which case Germany may still struggle to score goals. And for all the optimism unleashed by the wins against France and the Netherlands, it’s not that long ago the team were losing to Turkey and Austria – and reports in the German press suggested the players were unhappy with Nagelsmann’s approach to the job. Were these two games in March just a blip, or has Nagelsmann really found a way to put these talented players together in a team that makes sense? We will know the answer soon enough.


  • Odds to win the tournament: 75.00
  • Odds to reach the final: 30.00
  • Odds to win the group: 8.75
  • Odds to get knocked out in the group stage: 1.80

Scotland surprised a lot of people with their blistering qualification campaign, in which they won their first five games. This included a win over Spain, as well as a double over Cyprus and a win against Georgia. This run of wins did not come completely out of nowhere, as Scotland had recently topped their 2022-23 Nations League group ahead of Ukraine, Ireland and Armenia. In fact, when Scotland played England in a friendly in September 2023, they had won eight out of their last ten games – and lost just three times in their last 21 games.

Midfield seems the strongest part of this Scotland team, with John McGinn, Scott McTominay, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie playing in every single qualifier and providing a good mix of industry and forward thrust. McTominay ending up top scorer in the qualification group was something of a surprise, but a very welcome one as Scotland lack a consistent goalscorer. The United man’s knack for making well timed runs into the box may provide some compensation for the fact that Scotland’s striking options are rather underwhelming. Another strength of this team are Andy Robertson’s galloping forward runs from left wingback. The team brings a lot of industry and physicality to their games, and they showed against their biggest group rivals in the qualifiers that this can be enough to beat opponents with more illustrious names on their team sheets.

There are question marks in both ends of the pitch, with both goalkeeper and striker being something of a problem position. While the team is capable of putting in rugged defensive performances, their central defenders are not outstanding individually and could be vulnerable if left isolated against skilful opponents. And while the glorious run at the beginning for the qualified group was hugely impressive, Scotland’s results have taken something of a turn since then. They now haven’t won in their last seven, and in the March friendlies they lost 4-0 to the Netherlands and 1-0 to Northern Ireland.

Betsson have priced Scotland as the team most likely to finish bottom of this group, which is not entirely unfair. At the same time, they showed in the qualifiers that this group is capable of stopping highly regarded opponents, and neither Hungary nor Switzerland are opponents the Scots can’t overcome. As the Tartan Army descends on Germany, this team could well have a surprise or two in it.


  • Odds to win the tournament: 75.00
  • Odds to reach the final: 25.00
  • Odds to win the group: 7.50
  • Odds to get knocked out in the group stage: 2.25

While more associated with football history than modern football, this Hungarian team are deceptively capable. Italian coach Marco Rossi, who has been in charge since 2018, has turned them into a team that is very difficult to beat – and they have a real star in Liverpool’s Dominik Szoboszlai. The team have lost just twice in the last 21 games, which is all the more remarkable for the fact that the run includes Hungary’s 2022-23 Nations League group where they faced Italy, Germany and England. In that group they beat England both home and away, got a home draw against Germany and beat the Germans 1-0 in Leipzig. They were in pot 1 for the qualifying draw for this tournament, so received a fairly kind qualifying group consisting of Serbia, Montenegro, Lithuania and Bulgaria – and they topped that group with five wins, three draws and no defeats.

Hungary play a 3-4-2-1-formation and tend to be patient and well organised. They are likely to sit back, soak up pressure, and hit opponents on the counter when the opportunity presents itself. They’re not always easy on the eye, but have demonstrated that on a good day they can spring an unpleasant surprise on any calibre of opponent.

They are unlikely to go far in the tournament, but can punish complacent, unprepared or underperforming opponents.


  • Odds to win the tournament: 65.00
  • Odds to reach the final: 20.00
  • Odds to win the group: 6.50
  • Odds to get knocked out in the group stage: 2.25

For the last 10 years, Switzerland have been an impressively consistent tournament team: They made it out of the group stages of the 2014, 2018 and 2022 WCs, as well as in the European tournaments in 2016 and 2020. For a country that’s just the 22nd most populous in Europe and that historically hasn’t been a footballing powerhouse, qualifying for and getting out of the group stages or five straight international tournaments is nothing to sniff at. Some of the players that have led the way for Switzerland during this decade have reached the end of their careers, but several are still around. In the 0-0 draw with Denmark in March, Switzerland fielded a back three of Fabian Schar, Manuel Akanji and Ricardo Rodriguez, as well as a central midfield of Denis Zakaria, Remo Freuler and Granit Xhaka. That’s a solid core with a lot of experience, both internationally and at club level.

But while the defensive spine of the team looks solid, the attack is somewhat less impressive. Xherdan Shaqiri, so often the player to add spice and decisive attacking actions for this team, has been underwhelming for the Chicago Fire in MLS – and while he is just 32 years old it’s hard not to question whether the former Liverpool man still has what it takes to make a difference (that said, he did score a direct free kick against Ireland in March). Switzerland has scored a modest three goals in their last five games, and while Milan’s Noah Okafor and Burnley’s Zeki Amdouni are capable players you suspect that the Swiss lack the attacking firepower needed to go far in the tournament. But the squad is stronger than both Scotland and Hungary on paper, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Swiss do what they tend to do: Get out of their group, and then get knocked out by the first strong opponent they come up against.

The odds might have changed since the writing and publication of this post.

Last Updated: 05.07.24