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Top 5 Dark Horses For Euro 2024

Top 5 Dark Horses for UEFA Euro 2024

April 25, 2024

UEFA Euro 2024 looks set to be one of the most hotly-anticipated tournaments in recent years, and there is little doubt it will throw up a shocker or two. 

According to the bookies, England and France are the two clear favourites to win the tournament, but there are a few dark horses who should get a mention, who look destined to make some waves this summer. 

While I don’t necessarily believe these teams will win the tournament, I do think they have the capacity to go deep and pick a few scalps along the way.

So, let’s take a look at the teams I think fall into the category of dark horses for the upcoming Euros.

Croatia 

Having finished runners-up in the 2018 World Cup and secured third place in the 2022 World Cup, Croatia are no strangers to upsetting the apple cart on the biggest stage. Yes, they are in the so-called “Group of Death” for the Euros alongside Spain and Italy this time round, but if there’s anything this footballing nation has proven time and again is that they should never be ruled out, especially given a third place can also do the job for them. 

The Croatian golden generation is winding down, and this will surely be 38-year-old Luka Modri?’s swansong, but with an experienced pool of players including Andrej Kramari? and Ivan Periši? among many others, the Checkered Ones have the tools in place to again hurt teams and go deep in the tournament. 

Denmark 

The Danes emerged as the story of Euro 2020, reaching the semi-finals of the competition against the odds after Christian Eriksen’s near life-ending tragedy in Copenhagen.

That Denmark side was built on compactness out of possession, efficiency in transition, and an unbreakable collective. Three years down the line, the Red and Whites arguably possess more talent heading into this Euro.

Still, it’ll be a tough ask for Kasper Hjulmand’s men to repeat their Euro 2020 magic.

Also read: UEFA Euro 2024 Sponsors

Turkey 

Turkey were the unanimous dark horse heading into Euro 2020, but calling that campaign of theirs a complete disaster won’t be an understatement, as they finished bottom of Group A after losing all three of their games.

Nevertheless, that won’t stop them from garnering the “dark horse” tag once again ahead of this summer’s tournament. The Turks have played some wonderful stuff under Vincenzo Montella and, given their sprinkling of exciting young talent, they may well enjoy a campaign similar to 2008 as opposed to 2020 this summer.

Austria

Austria, in recent years, have been blessed with a crop of talent that makes for arguably their finest for generations, despite underperforming consistently whenever required. 

However, the national team has since been invigorated by the appointment of Ralf Rangnick who, after a difficult start to his reign, has overseen Austria’s progression into Euro 2024.

Austria this time have a clear tactical identity, an experienced coach, and a pool of very talented players to choose from as well as excellent recent form. 

Although placed in a much harder group with the likes of France, Poland, and the Netherlands, Austria’s prospects might not look that promising from the onset, but don’t bet against a quarter-final appearance for the Burschen.

Ukraine 

Despite war ravaging their country, the Ukrainian men’s football team have been on a steady upward trajectory. Their goalie Andriy Lunin and the centre-back pairing of Illia Zabarnyi and Mykola Matviyenko provide a solid defensive base to give their star forwards like Georgiy Sudakov, Viktor Tsygankov, Roman Yaremchuk, and Mykhaylo Mudryk licence to charge forward and make a difference for the team. 

If you look at their recent form over the past 12 months, Ukraine have won most games against teams in and around them while drawing games against the likes of Italy and England, their sole defeat having come against Italy away from home in November 2023.

Thus, writing Ukraine off would really be foolish on anyone’s part. Having been drawn alongside Belgium, Romania, and Slovakia, they’ll be hoping to at least finish runners-up to the mighty Belgium in the group stage before shifting their focus to the knockouts. 

Rahul Saha

An engineer taking the road less taken. I love writing, live and breathe football, and am always up for a tactical conversation.

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