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Euro 2024: Group C Preview

Now that we've taken a look at Group A and Group B in Euro 2024 previews thus far, it's time to move on to Group C where we find Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia and England.

England stand out as group favourites, but this looks like a group of great opportunity for the other three nations too. As I keep saying in the other previews, the fact that 3rd place will be enough to progress in 4 of the 6 groups means there's every chance that a single win could get you into the Round of 16.

Here's how each nation in Group C of Euro 2024 is shaping up ahead of the tournament.

Group C

🇸🇮 Slovenia | Manager: Matjaz Kek | FIFA Ranking: 57th

Slovenia look like the weakest side in Group C on paper, but there's still some very recognisable faces at either end of their starting XI who could have a big say in how things play out. One big performance could be enough for a place in the knockouts as mentioned in the intro, and Slovenia have shown they are capable of that during qualifying and with a 2-0 friendly victory over a strong Portugal lineup in March.

Having already previously managed the national team between 2007 and 2011 which included successful qualification for the 2010 World Cup, Slovenia manager Matjaz Kek returned to the role in 2018. A strong Nations League campaign in 2020-21 has been followed by qualification for this tournament - Slovenia's first appearance at the Euros in 24 years.

As an independent nation, Slovenia are yet to win a Euros game, having drawn 2 and lost 1 of their 3 games in the Euro 2000 group stage. In attempting to change that this time around, Slovenia will largely look to their two key players who are each at very different stages of their respective careers.

Goalkeeper Jan Oblak is among the most recognisable in Europe having been a standout performer for Atletico Madrid for a decade. Oblak is perhaps slightly past the peak of his powers based on recent form, but considering he's still only 31 years of age, this tournament is a great opportunity for him to remind people that he was in the 'best goalkeeper in the world' conversation not too long ago, as he's likely to be a busy man that Slovenia will be relying on to perform well if they're to stand much of a chance.

At the other end of the field (well, maybe not since they might have to defend deep as a group a fair bit), 21-year old striker Benjamin Sesko is attracting interest from some of Europe's biggest clubs ahead of a possible transfer this summer having scored 18 goals for RB Leipzig this season. Sesko, who has come through the Red Bull pathway playing two seasons for Salzburg before his Leipzig move, is a tall yet skilful forward (there's shades of Zlatan Ibrahimovic about him without getting too carried away!) who scored in 7 consecutive games at the end of the Bundesliga season.

Slovenia play 4-4-2 and with that in mind, there may also be room for Josip Ilicic who it's fantastic to say is back in the squad having not played for his country since 2021 due to suffering with some mental health issues. The former Atalanta striker who had a fantastic 2019/20 campaign came off the bench to score in Slovenia's 2-1 friendly win over Armenia earlier this week.

🇩🇰 Denmark | Manager: Kasper Hjulmand | FIFA Ranking: 21st

Having made the semi-finals in Euro 2020 with an inspiring run that began so scarily with Christian Eriksen suffering a cardiac arrest in their first game of the tournament, Denmark will again expect to reach the knockout stages of this year's championships and certainly have quality. Yet after a poor 2022 World Cup, it's equally not too difficult to picture them struggling.

In Qatar, Denmark failed to win a game in their group with France, Australia and Tunisia. Qualification for this tournament was smooth enough with only 2 defeats in 10 games (away vs. Kazakhstan and Northern Ireland) but Kasper Hjulmand's squad for this tournament has disappointed quite a few fans due to the selection of several experienced players in spite of a lack of club playing time, rather than younger, in-form players to mix things up a bit.

Celtic midfielder Matt O'Riley can perhaps feel most hard done by having been overlooked despite an excellent season with 19 goals and 18 assists. Instead, Denmark's midfield options include Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who has played here and there for Tottenham, Brentford's Mikkel Damsgaard who has hardly played at all, and Christian Eriksen who has spent most of the campaign as a Manchester United substitute. Not bad players by any means (and you wouldn't drop all 3), but also not players who are likely to light up this tournament.

Nevertheless, you would expect Denmark to come out on top in their opening game against Slovenia which you feel is a must-win to set the tone.

The Danes have solid, experienced defensive options in goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and central defenders Joachim Andersen, Andreas Christensen and Jannik Vestergaard. In attack, it looks like Manchester United's Rasmus Hojlund will be relied upon for goals despite being one of few younger squad members, though the likes of Kasper Dolberg and Yussuf Poulsen can certainly chip in.

Denmark are likely to be fairly difficult to beat, but they don't really have the feel of an exciting side ready to cause the big guns some trouble in my opinion.

🇷🇸 Serbia | Manager: Dragan Stojkovic | FIFA Ranking: 33rd

I was genuinely surprised to find that this will be Serbia's first appearance at a European Championships as an independent nation considering how often they have featured at the World Cup, but a debut it is for Serbia as 'Serbia' and they have the potential to cause some issues if their key men are sharp enough.

Most European football fans will be aware of former Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and ex-Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, and as well as being Serbia's most dangerous duo, the pair now play together in Saudi Arabia for Al Hilal which may well mean increased chemistry on the international stage. Clearly Euro 2024 is likely to pose more challenging opposition than the Saudi Pro League, but Mitrovic has certainly kept scoring goals since his move away from the Premier League - in 43 appearances for Al Hilal he's scored 40 goals and managed 7 assists. Milinkovic-Savic has 14 goals and 16 assists.

Serbia's recent results haven't been the best and they only won half of their 8 qualifying games against Hungary, Montenegro, Lithuania and Bulgaria. Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic will provide further goalscoring power (likely from the bench) but Serbia haven't been great defensively in their 3-4-2-1 shape which largely serves to provide Mitrovic service from the wings. That attacking power and aerial threat could hurt teams (England? We'll get to that...) despite being predictable, but at the World Cup we saw Serbia's defence cost them in a 3-3 draw with Cameroon and a 2-3 defeat to Switzerland.

Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (Torino) will likely continue in goal but there is now a bit more competition since Djordje Petrovic has been starting for Chelsea, while Salzburg's Strahinja Pavlovic is perhaps the best of three central defenders who are regularly left exposed.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England | Manager: Gareth Southgate | FIFA Ranking: 4th

Euro 2020 was the closest England have come to a major trophy in a long, long time, but the Three Lions *still* remain without one since the 1966 World Cup. As always, expectations are high from supporters, but there's reason for that in this instance. England's squad is almost certainly among the top four for quality in this tournament, and is arguably in the top two. Yet the mental barrier of finally getting over the line in a major tournament remains England's biggest obstacle (along with France), as we saw in that penalty-shootout final defeat at Wembley in 2021.

Gareth Southgate has often been known to stick with his 'favourites' when selecting a squad, so this year's selection feels very different. Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling didn't even make the provisional squad, while James Maddison, Jack Grealish and Harry Maguire haven't made the final 26 though the latter is due to injury. It means England have plenty of exciting fresh faces in Germany in a squad full of attacking talent.

When you consider the attacking numbers Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Cole Palmer have put up alone this season, England should be causing every team in this tournament a lot of problems. Kane has just scored 44 goals (plus 12 assists) in his debut season with Bayern Munich, Foden has 27 goals, 12 assists and the Premier League Player of the Season award, Bellingham's scored 23 goals with 13 assists in a double winning first season with Real Madrid and Cole Palmer's first campaign with Chelsea saw him score 25 goals with 15 assists.

However, when your eyes scan across to the left side of that graphic and view the defence, there are far more question marks. In my opinion, Thursday's surprise news that Harry Maguire won't be at the tournament is a huge blow for England. Often criticised and even laughed at when playing for Manchester United, Maguire has been a consistently strong performer for Southgate and has regularly been immense in both boxes in major tournaments.

Without him, the most natural replacement felt like Jarrad Branthwaite, but he's also been left out so we can expect a back four of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Marc Guehi and Kieran Trippier in England's opener. Trippier is playing at left back in place of Luke Shaw who won't be fit til later in the tournament, and while that backline is still a very good one, I'm not sure it can be the base of a team considered favourites to win the Euros and an injury to (injury prone) John Stones would be a disaster.

Much has also been made about who will play in midfield alongside Declan Rice for England, but I feel this is less of a problem and England can in fact rotate depending on their opposition with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton all excellent players.

Without Maguire, England look vulnerable to physical, aggressive forwards (like Mitrovic) but will their attacking quality make up for that? Southgate's approach has rarely been to simply out-score teams but he's already surprised us with plenty of his selections!

How do you see Group C playing out?
85,289 caps
England 1st. After that I guess Danes
8 Jun 10:01
5,907 caps
1. england
2. serbia
3. denmark
4. slovenia
8 Jun 10:16
49,208 caps
England are very weak defensively, and I'm not sure that Southgate has the tactical nous to stop teams exploiting it. I can see Denmark getting the better of this team.
8 Jun 12:46
21,053 caps
England to finish third in the group.
8 Jun 14:27
42 caps
8 Jun 15:46
34,895 caps
After last nigths game Southgates England will be lucky to get out of the group.
8 Jun 17:21
765 caps
My belief in England winning the euros has dropped 60% after last night. Round of 16 at worst
8 Jun 20:51
765 caps
It should be
8 Jun 20:51
22,659 caps
9 Jun 07:26
1,250 cap
1. England
2. Denmark
3. Serbia
4. Slovenia

But also Serbia to get through as one of the four best third placed teams
9 Jun 07:41
22,659 caps
The 4 I picked is for the competition chances of winning it outright
9 Jun 08:32
22,659 caps
9 Jun 08:32
269 caps
9 Jun 18:47
765 caps
9 Jun 18:50
25,541 caps
Very difficult group could be a BIG surprise if iEngland don\'t 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 go through not likely they have a powerful team.
12 Jun 10:36
459 caps
Come on England
15 Jun 09:52