Euro 2024: 6 Dark Horse Teams Ready to Upset the Competition in Germany

Euro 2024: 6 Dark Horse Teams Ready to Upset the Competition in Germany

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
June 9, 2024 at 2:19 PM
In this article:
UEFA European Championship logo
UEFA EURO
Europe
Croatia logo
Croatia
Croatia
26
Ukraine logo
Ukraine
Ukraine
26
Turkey logo
Turkey
Turkey
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Switzerland logo
Switzerland
Switzerland
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Austria logo
Austria
Austria
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Denmark logo
Denmark
Denmark
26
Luka Modrić logo
L. Modrić
Real Madrid logoMCroatia logo
a.guler
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Mykhailo Mudryk logo
M.Mudryk
Chelsea logoFUkraine logo
Granit Xhaka logo
G. Xhaka
Bayer Leverkusen logoMSwitzerland logo
  • Euro 2024 will present a chance for the dreams of underdogs to manifest once more
  • Greece, Denmark, and Portugal all stunned their way to European glory in the past
  • Sports Brief takes a look at the six 'minnows' that could cause upsets in Germany

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As club football increasingly leans towards exclusivity, the international stage offers a refreshing opportunity for underdogs to shine once more, with Euro 2024 on the horizon.

While powerhouses like England, France, and the Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal are tipped to win the European Championship, unexpected contenders can still make their mark.

UEFA, Euro 2024, dark horses, underdogs, unexpected, Denmark, Turkey, Croatia, Ukraine, Austria, Switzerland.
Croatia, Ukraine, and Turkey are among the underdog teams that could upset the odds at Euro 2024. Photos by MB Media/ Rafal Oleksiewicz/ Dia Images.
Source: Getty Images

History has shown that the Euros can witness remarkable fairytales.

Greece stunned Europe and the world with its triumph in 2004, and Denmark's unexpected victory in 1992 stands as a testament to the tournament's unpredictable nature, per UEFA.

Portugal's surprise win in 2016 and Denmark's impressive showing in the last edition demonstrate that dark horses can disrupt the established order.

With 24 nations competing for the coveted trophy in Germany this year, each harbours dreams of glory, but some emerging teams are poised to challenge the favourites.

Here are the six nations labelled as dark horses, poised to cause major upsets, if they hit their stride, in Germany.

6 underdog nations that could win the Euros

6. Austria - Group D

Austria is often considered a dark horse, yet this current generation has yet to make a mark at a major tournament.

Their valiant performance against Italy in the Round of 16 three years ago in the last Euros highlighted their resilience, although their lack of a proficient striker proved detrimental.

This area remains a concern with Freiburg striker, Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic, who won the Serie A with Inter Milan this season, expected to spearhead the attack.

However, under the guidance of Ralf Rangnick, revered as the architect of gegenpressing, Austria will always have a strategic approach.

Rangnick's influence has shifted the squad's mindset, instilling a belief in their ability to compete, contrasting with the previous perception under Franco Foda.

Finishing second to Belgium in the qualifiers earned Das Team a spot in Group D.

Despite facing formidable opponents like France and the Netherlands, a victory over Poland in their second match could secure their progression as one of the third-best-placed teams.

While their path to qualification, possibly as a third-place finisher, remains uncertain, Rangnick's refusal of the Bayern Munich job signifies his commitment to preparing Austria for any challenge they may encounter.

5. Turkey - Group F

Turkey entered the last Euros with high expectations but disappointed on the grand stage, succumbing to defeats against Italy, Wales, and Switzerland.

Their achievement of topping a qualifying group featuring strong teams like Croatia and Wales is commendable.

However, the presence of many players from the country's Super Lig, as well as the additions of Real Madrid wonderkid, Arda Guler and Serie A winner, Hakan Calhanoglu, add to their mystique as unpredictable entities.

While Portugal is the clear frontrunner to dominate Group F, the Crescent Stars should secure at least a second-place finish.

The Czech Republic and Georgia pose challenges, but Turkey's history of reaching the semi-finals in 2008 demonstrates its potential.

Although it will be a tough road, Vincenzo Montella's squad is evolving, and it has the added advantage of strong support from the Turkish diaspora in Germany.

4. Ukraine - Group E

According to the BBC, Ukraine displayed its trademark resilience by rallying to defeat Iceland 2-1 in the playoff, securing a spot in this year's championship.

Drawn into Group E alongside Slovakia, Romania, and Belgium, the Eastern Europeans will fancy their chances of advancing from a relatively pliable group, but their final group game against the Red Devils could decide their fate in the competition.

The runner-up from Ukraine's pool will likely encounter the second-placed team from Group D, potentially the Netherlands or Austria.

Although they lost to both the Netherlands and Austria at Euro 2020, they have shown significant improvement since then under the guidance of Serhiy Rebrov and boast talent across their squad.

In defence, the Yellow-Blues boast solid central defensive combinations in the mould of Bournemouth's Illia Zabarnyi and Shakhtar Donetsk's Mykola Matviyenko.

While promising midfielder, Heorhiy Sudakov from Shakhtar, will be one of coach Serhiy Rebrov's secret weapons.

Their attacking prowess is equally impressive, featuring talents like Chelsea's Mykhailo Mudryk and the dynamic Girona duo of Viktor Tsyhankov and Artem Dovbyk.

Dovbyk currently leads the La Liga top scorers' chart with 20 goals from 32 appearances, highlighting Ukraine's potential to surpass their quarter-final appearance at the last Euros and possibly advance even further.

3. Switzerland - Group A

Switzerland has become a regular participant in the UEFA European Championships. It will make its sixth appearance in the upcoming tournament, having missed out on the first nine editions.

Their previous successes include reaching the last 16 in 2016 and the quarter-finals in 2020, where they were eliminated by Spain in a tense penalty shootout after beating a star-studded France team in the previous round, as noted by Sky Sports.

Drawn into Group A alongside hosts Germany, Scotland, and Hungary, the Red Crosses face a challenging task of advancing beyond the first round.

With all four teams capable of qualifying, Murat Yakin's squad, featuring experienced players like Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Yann Sommer, will need to be at their best to secure a spot in the knockout stages.

The Swiss have a genuine chance to make a significant impact in the tournament, as history often sees underdogs making deep runs in the competition.

2. Denmark - Group C

Denmark overcame a shaky start at the last Euros to advance to the semi-finals, ultimately falling to England in extra time.

Pitched in the same group as the Three Lions of England, Slovenia, and Serbia, their path in the upcoming tournament could be tougher, especially if they face hosts Germany in the last 16 after finishing as Group C runners-up.

Under the guidance of coach, Kasper Hjulmand, the Red and Whites have rejuvenated their squad with young talent since Qatar, bringing in fresh energy that could trouble their opponents.

While the Danes may not be seen as frontrunners for a deep run in the tournament, their unexpected journey to European glory in 1992 serves as a reminder that they shouldn't be underestimated.

1. Croatia - Group B

Croatia has repeatedly defied expectations, proving that writing them off is a mistake. Their unexpected journey to the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup serves as a testament to their resilience.

As their Golden Generation nears its end, this tournament is likely the final chance for 38-year-old Luka Modric to win a trophy with his nation, as noted by 90Min.

Drawn into a challenging Group B alongside Spain and Italy, Croatia faces stiff competition. A third-place finish in the group sets up a daunting round-of-16 encounter against one of the tournament favourites, Portugal.

Despite the tough draw, Zlatko Dalic's team remains undaunted. Matches against Italy and Spain hold no fear for them, while Albania presents a formidable yet manageable challenge.

Croatia's proficiency in knockout football, demonstrated by victories over Japan and Brazil on penalties in the 2022 World Cup, instills confidence.

Critics may point to their lack of a prominent striker, but their adeptness at game management and composure under pressure make them genuine contenders.

Euro 2024: 7 Football Stars Who Have Never Won the Euro

Sports Brief highlighted seven standout players who have never won the Euros before.

Despite their stellar careers, stars like Manuel Neuer and Kylian Mbappe have yet to claim a Euro Championship.

As the 2024 edition of the tournament begins in Germany, these players, some retired, are still remembered for their achievements.

Authors
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe photo
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe is a Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and La Liga editor with five-year experience. He previously worked with Sports Corna and 360SportsGH.
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