What Are England And Gareth Southgate’s Realistic Expectations For Euro 2024?

Gareth Southgate, after a week of thinking, has confirmed that he will stay on as England manager with the hope of leading the Three Lions into Euro 2024, should they qualify. It’s been a remarkable few years for Southgate in charge of the national team as he has helped transform them from major flops on the world stage into genuine contenders.

He might not get the credit he deserves after a quarter-final exit to France, but there’s no doubting England are far better under his tenureship than they were before. The players respond to him and were desperate for him to stay on, which is far more telling than anybody’s opinion on Twitter.

But now the emotions have calmed and the World Cup is over, what are England’s true expectations for Euro 2024 in Germany? The initial reaction from many, would be that Southgate has to win it, otherwise he is a certified failure. It’s a very simplistic way of viewing things, and one that doesn’t take into consideration the progress of other national teams, injuries, or the brutality of tournament football.

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It’s also a viewpoint that stinks of English arrogance. Yes, this is a fantastic England squad that Southgate has assembled, but it’s also one that is lacking in central defence. Where will Harry Maguire be in 18 months time for example?

Having come within a penalty shootout of winning the last final, England will be one of the favorites should they qualify. But Europe is stacked full of great nations that could look incredibly strong like the summer of 2024.

Germany, reeling from another group stage exit, will be desperate to prove themselves on home soil. England learned last summer just how important home advantage can be and this time around Die Mannschaft will be the only country with that benefit. They reached the final four when hosting the World Cup in 2006 and Jamal Musiala could have established himself as one of the best in the world by then. Betfred have them as early 5/1 favorites to lift the trophy.

Spain were unlucky to lose on penalties again and need to regroup without Luis Enrique, but as Lionel Scaloni has shown, the right manager can turn things around quickly when in charge of a national side. Pedri and Gavi will be even better in two years time and with those two in midfield, anything is possible.

France have the strongest squad in world football and almost defended their World Cup crown with a whole host of injuries. Kylian Mbappe will almost certainly be the outright best in the world by then, while we saw the emergence of other talents such as Randal Kolo Muani and Eduardo Camavinga. They could play major roles for Didier Deschamps, should he decide to continue as manager.

Reigning champions Italy are a force to be reckoned with under Roberto Mancini, even if they’ve taken a hiatus from the World Cup in recent years. They were from minute one the best team at Euro 2020 and will be desperate to make an impact having watched the World Cup from the sidelines again. They’re currently fifth favorites at 9/1 but a strong qualification campaign could see that price shorten as the chances of them winning back-to-back Euros, just as Spain did, increases.

Then we come to the smart choice: Portugal. Fernando Santos left his job having been knocked out of the World Cup by Morocco in the quarter-finals, but before he left, he made the big call that showed Portugal the future. Stop playing Cristiano Ronaldo. Goncalo Ramos at 21 is a far superior option to lead the line and he actually runs and presses for the team unlike Ronaldo, who will be 39 when the next Euros start.

With Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes, Rafa Leao and Ruben Dias only going to improve, this is a Portugal squad that could be the strongest on paper by the time they arrive in Germany. 10/1 on them to win the whole thing seems long, but it all depends on their next managerial appointment. Jose Mourinho’s even reportedly been considered as an option.

England could lose to any of the aforementioned giants of world football. And there is no shame in that. But what Southgate has made almost a guarantee during his tenure of him is that the Three Lions will be at Euro 2024. They’ll also probably make it out of the group.

Neither of those two things should be taken for granted, especially given the shocks we have seen at this World Cup. The next challenge for England is to beat one of these major nations at a tournament. Only then can the Three Lions realistically expect to go all the way.

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