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Euro 2024: Group D Preview

France are of course among the very strongest nations in this tournament, if not the best, but they'll face some healthy competition in Group D which they share with the Netherlands, Austria and Poland.

Based on FIFA rankings, Poland are the weakest side in the group, but considering they're ranked as the 28th best nation in the world, there aren't any terrible teams in Group D and they each have at least a few standout names.

Here's your Group D Euro 2024 preview.

Previous previews: Group A, Group B, Group C.

Group D

🇵🇱 Poland | Manager: Michael Probierz | FIFA Ranking: 28th

Poland have now qualified for 5 consecutive European Championships, but with the exception of a quarter-final appearance in 2016, they haven't gone particularly well as that 2016 tournament is the only edition they've won a game in. Unfortunately for them, there's a reasonable chance that their theme of winless Euros campaigns continues here, as they've been put in an incredibly difficult group.

Michal Probierz is the man in charge having been promoted from his role as U21 boss less than a year ago following the dismissal of former Portugal manager Fernando Santos who had a very disappointing 6-match reign that included defeats to Moldova and Albania. Based on their 7 (unbeaten) games under Probierz so far, Poland will be playing 3-5-2 at this tournament, but expect dogged, resilient displays rather than flying wing backs as Poland have become a fairly tired looking team that's in need of some bright young players.

Instead, Poland are still relying on the 'old guard' for any success at this tournament. Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski remains a considerable threat but is understandably not as prolific as he was now that he's 35 years of age, while in addition to that world class goalscorer they have a world class goalkeeper in 34-year old Wojciech Szcezesny (still at Juventus, at least for now).

Given the 3-5-2 system, the second striker will be a vital role for Poland with Karol Swiderski a likely candidate to play there. After a 2-year spell in the MLS with Charlotte FC, Swiderski has recently returned to Europe to play for Hellas Verona in Serie A and Poland will need either him or Krzysztof Piatek to provide chances for Lewandoski whether through passes or simply off-ball movement if they're to stand much of a chance of scoring a goal or two.

The defence is relatively strong with Premier League fans likely to recognise Arsenal's Jakub Kiwior and Southampton's Jan Bednarek, but it's perhaps unreasonable to expect clean sheets, particularly against the Netherlands and France. Poland are likely going to need goals to stay in games, so their lack of playmakers is a problem.

At the 2022 World Cup, Poland made it out of the group stage before being beaten 3-1 by France in the Round of 16. Their campaign went largely as expected in that they beat the team they should have (Saudi Arabia) but failed to beat anybody else. In this group, there isn't a Saudi Arabia, so expectations from fans are understandably quite low.

🇳🇱 Netherlands | Manager: Ronald Koeman | FIFA Ranking: 7th

The Netherlands may also play 3 at the back in this tournament, but Ronald Koeman has flexibility as he has sometimes opted for a 4-man defence and player for player they're a lot stronger than Poland. This looks like a decent Dutch squad with a nice balance of youth and experience.

This is Koeman's second spell in charge of the national team but will be his first major tournament as a manager as after leading the Netherlands to Euro 2020, he departed before the event to take charge of Barcelona. Like his other most recent spell in club football with Everton, things didn't go particularly well with Barca, so Koeman is under some pressure to make a success of Euro 2024.

As you can see on the squad graphic below, the main reason for fluctuating between 3-back and 4-back formations is a lack of a quality left back. Whereas the Netherlands have two perfectly suited right wing-backs in Jeremie Frimpong and Denzel Dumfries, there's no real equivalent on the other side of the pitch which means Nathan Ake or Daley Blind (who are both best as left centre backs) fill in. There's no shortage of elite centre backs, with Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk the best of an incredibly strong bunch.

In the opening couple of games, the midfield might be slightly makeshift as key man Frenkie de Jong hasn't played since picking up an ankle injury back in April in El Clasico. The Barcelona man is a fixture in this team and great for ball progression but will likely be replaced by Jerdy Schouten for at least the opening game against Poland. Schouten, like fellow midfield option Joey Veerman, plays for PSV who have just had a remarkable Eredivisie season, winning the league with just 1 defeat and a goal difference of +90.

Update: Despite positive reports that Frenkie de Jong had joined light group training a few days before, the Netherlands have now ruled him out of the tournament. A significant blow.

In addition to left back, the Netherlands' most likely weakness is perhaps going to be a lack of an elite striker, though in Cody Gakpo, Memphis Depay and Donyell Malen, you have players that are very capable of showing themselves to be just that on the big stage. Depay has extra motivation (as if a major tournament isn't enough already!) to perform strongly considering he's a free agent looking for a move this summer.

Keep an eye out for 21-year old attacking midfielder Xavi Simons too as he's just had a great campaign with RB Leipzig while on loan from PSG. Simons, Frimpong and Gakpo are all exciting young players that I think will make the Netherlands a fun watch in this tournament, it's just that the Oranje are less certain to fire on all cylinders than tournament favourites such as France.

🇦🇹 Austria | Manager: Ralf Rangnick | FIFA Ranking: 33rd

Ralf Rangnick, who many of you will know from his interim spell in charge at Manchester United, is leading Austria in this tournament having taken over in 2022 and after starting with a disappointing Nations League campaign, things have gone pretty well ever since.

In fact, since the end of that Nations League run, Austria's 2-3 defeat to Belgium last October is their only loss in 16 games, and during that time standout results have included a 6-1 win over Turkey and a 2-0 victory over Germany.

It's probably a stretch to say that anyone in the Austria squad is a 'star', but there are notable names in what has become a solid, well drilled outfit under Rangnick, perhaps unsurprisingly given his close connections with the Bundesliga and particularly the Red Bull teams which this squad is full of players from. Key men Konrad Laimer (Bayern), Marcel Sabitzer (Dortmund) and Nicolas Seiwald (Leipzig) are typical of the high energy, tenacious approach we can expect from Austria.

As with Poland, Austria's problem is that they're in a very tough group. A match against France isn't really how you want to start your tournament, but if they can compete in that fixture then they'll feel confident they can get something from the all-important game against Poland in Round 2.

The fact that Austria are entering this tournament with such form is quite impressive considering the players they are missing through injury. The one man that would be a genuine star in this squad, Real Madrid's David Alaba, has missed the entire 2023/24 campaign with an ACL problem, while first choice goalkeeper Alexander Schlager will also be missing with a knee injury.

Given their improvement under Rangnick, it's almost a shame that Austria have such a tough group. They're certainly capable of progressing regardless though, and if they do, they could surprise a few...

🇫🇷 France | Manager: Didier Deschamps | FIFA Ranking: 2nd

Didier Deschamps is approaching 12 years as manager of the French national team, and it's easy to see why when you look at their major tournament performances with this fantastic generation of players. France have made the final of 3 of the last 4 major tournaments, losing Euro 2016 in Extra Time, winning the 2018 World Cup and only losing out on back-to-back World Cup wins because of a penalty shootout defeat to Argentina.

The last Euros (2020) was therefore one of few French failures at a recent major tournament, and they'll be out to avenge that Round of 16 defeat against Switzerland (also on penalties) by going all the way here. France's squad depth is incredible, so much so that they could probably name an extra squad on top of this one that would also compete.

The pleasant surprise in the French squad announcement was the return of N'Golo Kante (because who doesn't love him?) as he seemed to have stepped away from international football following his move to the Saudi Pro League.

Mike Maignan will play in goal now that Hugo Lloris has retired from international football, and centre back Raphael Varane has also stepped away from the national team, but we can otherwise expect a similar setup to what we saw in the 2022 World Cup. The fairly settled attacking trio of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Demble playing behind all-time top goalscorer (for now) Olivier Giroud is a tried and tested formula that is as strong as anything else we will see in this tournament.

Mbappe, who is 10 goals behind Giroud in 54 fewer appearances, has finally had his transfer to Real Madrid confirmed. Of the many remarkable things he has displayed in becoming perhaps the best player in the world at the moment, Mbappe's tendency to deliver on the big stage for his country stands out. Euro 2020 was a notable exception, but with the 25-year old looking as strong as ever in warm-up friendlies following the confirmation of his Madrid move, you'd be brave to bet against him having another decisive tournament.

France look like group winners, but will it play out that way? And may 3rd place in this group struggle to progress given the quality of opposition?
85,289 caps
France and Netherlands for top spot. I fancy France. Don't think 3rd place in this group will go through.
10 Jun 11:57
94,535 caps
Somewhere an upset will be coming.....
10 Jun 12:49
765 caps
France are winning the euros
10 Jun 14:40
85 caps
Poland are winning the Euros
12 Jun 11:23