Euro 2024, Group A guide: Pressure on hosts Germany to end run of tournament misery

All eyes on the three-time champions who must deal with home pressure and expectations

Real madrid and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, right, will be retiring from football after this summer's tournament in his home country. AP
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Germany

Manager: Julian Nagelsmann

Captain: Ilkay Gundogan (Barcelona)

One to watch: Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Oliver Baumann (Hoffenheim)

Defenders: Waldemar Anton, Maximilian Mittelstadt (both Stuttgart), Benjamin Henrichs, David Raum (both RB Leipzig), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Robin Koch (Frankfurt), Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid), Nico Schlotterbeck (Borussia Dortmund), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)

Midfielders: Robert Andrich, Florian Wirtz (both Bayer Leverkusen), Chris Fuhrich (Stuttgart), Pascal Gross (Brighton), Ilkay Gundogan (Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Jamal Musiala, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Leroy Sane (all Bayern Munich)

Highest Euro finish: Winners 1972 & 1980 (as West Germany), 1996.

Fifa ranking: 16

Group A fixtures: June 14 Germany vs Scotland (Munich, 11pm) June 19 Germany vs Hungary (Stuttgart, 8pm) June 23 Switzerland vs Germany (Frankfurt, 11pm)

Overview

Another extraordinary summer or another national embarrassment. No one knows quite what to expect from this Germany team heading in to the European Championship.

The optimists point to the opportunity of staging another month-long party like the one that gripped the country when it hosted the 2006 World Cup. The pessimists can point to three straight fiascos at major tournaments that have forced Germany fans to readjust their expectations.

The team was playing so badly that Hansi Flick was fired as coach last September. The latest signs seem positive, though, with Germany earning impressive wins in friendlies against France and the Netherlands in March after new manager Julian Nagelsmann instigated a shake-up of the squad.

Nagelsmann had a rocky start but threw caution to the wind when he dropped established players such as Leon Goretzka and Mats Hummels and placed his trust in players who were performing well for their clubs.

The former Leipzig and Bayern Munich manager also recalled Real Madrid star Toni Kroos, though he didn’t know at the time it would be for the midfielder’s final hurrah – the 34-year-old has since announced he will retire after the tournament.

Unlike many former Germany teams, this one will not be overly reliant on Bayern Munich players. The only Bayern players involved from the start in March were Jamal Musiala and Joshua Kimmich, although Manuel Neuer should return in goal for the tournament.

Leverkusen will probably have three players in Nagelsmann’s starting line-up with Jonathan Tah at the back, Robert Andrich in midfield, and Florian Wirtz in attack. Stuttgart's Maximilian Mittelstadt has been trusted with the troublesome left-back position while Arsenal's Kai Havertz is a likely option up front.

Scotland

Manager: Steve Clarke

Captain: Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)

One to watch: Lawrence Shankland (Hearts)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Zander Clark (Hearts), Angus Gunn (Norwich), Liam Kelly (Motherwell)

Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Grant Hanley (Norwich), Jack Hendry (Al-Ettifaq), Ross McCrorie (Bristol City), Scott McKenna (Copenhagen), Ryan Porteous (Watford), Anthony Ralston (Celtic), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Greg Taylor (Celtic), Kieran Tierney (Real Sociedad)

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Christie (Bournemouth), Billy Gilmour (Brighton), Ryan Jack (free agent), Kenny McLean (Norwich), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Scott McTominay (Manchester United)

Forwards: Che Adams (Southampton), Tommy Conway (Bristol City), James Forrest (Celtic), Lewis Morgan (New York Red Bulls), Lawrence Shankland (Hearts)

Highest Euro finish: Group stage 1992, 1996, 2020.

Fifa ranking: 39

Group A fixtures: June 14 Germany vs Scotland (Munich, 11pm) June 19 Scotland vs Switzerland (Cologne, 11pm) June 23 Scotland vs Hungary (Stuttgart, 11pm)

Overview

The aim of Steve Clarke's side at this summer’s European Championship has been well-publicised and some may say is less than onerous; to become the first Scotland team to reach the knockout stages of a major tournament.

It will be Scotland’s fourth attempt to do so at a Euros following unsuccessful bids in 1992, 1996 and 2020. Of the 24 teams who make up the six pools, only eight exit at the end of the group games. Group winners, runners-up and the best four third-placed teams will advance to the last 16.

Scotland ended their seven-game winless run with an uninspiring 2-0 victory over 203rd-ranked Gibraltar on Monday. It was hardly a ringing endorsement of their hopes for Germany.

Although their recent run of poor results included games against France, England, Spain and the Netherlands, which Clarke can rightly use as mitigation, the 1-0 defeat by a young Northern Ireland side at Hampden Park on March 26 was perhaps cause for some reassessment of ambitions.

Clarke named a provisional 28-man squad as he looks at players who are on their way back from injury or who have not had a lot of game time with their clubs.

The big hitters such as Scott McTominay, John McGinn, Andy Robertson, Callum McGregor and Kieran Tierney are all there but there was a late blow with the injury sustained in training by striker Lyndon Dykes that rules him out of the competition.

The injury leaves Clarke with only Che Adams and Lawrence Shankland as recognised centre-forwards in a squad that will be cut to 26 after Scotland’s final warm-up game against Finland on Friday.

Hungary

Manager: Marco Rossi

Captain: Dominik Szoboszlai (Liverpool)

One to watch: Dominik Szoboszlai

Squad: Goalkeepers: Denes Dibusz (Ferencvaros), Peter Gulacsi (RB Leipzig), Peter Szappanos (Paksi SE)

Defenders: Botond Balogh (Parma), Endre Botka (Ferencvaros), Marton Dardai (Hertha Berlin), Attila Fiola (Fehervar), Adam Lang (Omonia Nicosia), Willi Orbán (RB Leipzig), Attila Szalai (SC Freiburg)

Midfielders: Bendeguz Bolla (Servette), Mihaly Kata (MTK Budapest), Milos Kerkez (AFC Bournemouth), Laszlo Kleinheisler (Hajduk Split), Adam Nagy (Spezia), Zsolt Nagy (Puskas Akademia), Loic Nego (Le Havre), Andras Schafer (Union Berlin), Callum Styles (Sunderland)

Forwards: Martin Adam (Ulsan Hyundai), Kevin Csoboth (Ujpesti), Daniel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union), Krisztofer Horvath (Kecskemet TE), Roland Sallai (SC Freiburg), Dominik Szoboszlai (Liverpool), Barnabas Varga (Ferencvaros).

Highest Euro finish: Semi-finals 1964.

Fifa ranking: 26

Group A fixtures: June 15 Hungary vs Switzerland (Cologne, 5pm); June 19 Germany vs Hungary (Stuttgart, 8pm); June 23 Scotland vs Hungary (Stuttgart, 11pm)

Overview

Hungary may not yet have reached the same heights as their team's golden era in the middle of last century but they could be dark horses at Euro 2024 having stormed through qualifying and narrowly missed out on reaching the Nations League finals.

Led by Italian manager Marco Rossi, Hungary are set for their third successive Euros, having previously missed out since 1972. They were unbeaten in Euro 2024 qualifying Group G, recording impressive home and away victories over Serbia in the process.

Ferencvaros forward Barnabas Varga and midfield dynamo Dominik Szoboszlai were the team's four-goal joint leading scorers in qualifying and will be crucial to Hungary's hopes of reaching the last 16, as they did in France in 2016.

Szoboszlai, already Hungary's captain at 23 years old, impressed for his new side Liverpool since moving from RB Leipzig last summer and looks to have recovered from injury in good time for the tournament.

Denes Dibusz looks likely to keep the No 1 jersey ahead of Peter Gulacsi, while they have experience in abundance at the back as Attila Szalai, Willi Orban, Adam Lang, Loic Nego and Endre Botka have more than 250 caps between them.

Hungary were expected to finish bottom of their Nations League group in 2022 but instead shocked their more illustrious opponents, beating England home and away and drawing 1-1 with Germany at home. They then defeated the Germans 1-0 in Leipzig with an early goal from veteran former forward Adam Szalai.

Switzerland

Manager: Murat Yakin

Captain: Granit Xhaka (Bayer Leverkusen)

One to watch: Manuel Akanji (Manchester City)

Squad: Goalkeepers: Goalkeepers: Yann Sommer (Inter), Yvon Mvogo (Lorient), Gregor Kobel (Borussia Dortmund)

Defenders: Ricardo Rodriguez (Torino), Fabian Schar (Newcastle United), Manuel Akanji (Manchester City), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Silvan Widmer (Mainz 05), Cedric Zesigner (Wolfsburg), Leonidas Stergiou (Stuttgart)

Midfielders: Granit Xhaka (Bayer Leverkusen), Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire), Remo Freuler (Bologna), Denis Zakaria (Monaco), Michel Aebischer (Bologna), Fabian Rieder (Rennes), Ardon Jashari (Luzern), Vincent Sierro (Toulouse)

Forwards: Breel Embolo (Monaco), Steven Zuber (AEK Athens), Ruben Vargas (Augsburg), Renato Steffen (Lugano), Noah Okafor (AC Milan), Zeki Amdouni (Burnley), Dan Ndoye (Bologna), Kwadwo Duah (Ludogorets).

Highest Euro finish: Quarter-finals 2020.

Fifa ranking: 19

Group A fixtures: June 15 Hungary vs Switzerland (Cologne, 5pm); June 19 Scotland vs Switzerland (Cologne, 11pm); June 23 Switzerland vs Germany (Frankfurt, 11pm).

Overview

Switzerland will bank on their track record of consistency at major tournaments to reach the knockout stage following a below-par qualifying campaign that unnerved their captain and put the coach in the spotlight.

Managed by Murat Yakin, the Swiss have a reputation for finding a way to perform at major tournaments, unburdened by the pressure star-studded teams face to reach the late stages.

They have featured at all but one major finals since 2004, and reached the Euro 2020 quarter-finals by knocking out world champions France in a shoot-out after recovering from 3-1 down with nine minutes remaining.

To get of out Group A, Switzerland will have to rediscover the momentum they had early in qualifying before uninspired performances caused worried captain Xhaka to criticise the squad for a lack of intensity in training.

In a qualifying group with weaker sides such as Israel, Kosovo and Belarus, they finished second, two points ahead of Israel and five behind Romania. Switzerland recorded five draws, four wins and one loss.

Their tepid qualifying campaign stirred debate about whether Yakin, who remains under contract until after the finals, should be fired, but the Swiss FA issued a statement last November backing the manager.

Since their disappointing qualifying campaign, Switzerland have looked solid at the back, led by goalkeeper Yann Sommer. They had two clean sheets in beating Ireland 1-0 and drawing 0-0 with fellow Euro qualifiers Denmark in friendlies in March.

Updated: June 10, 2024, 6:58 AM