The draw for next year’s European Championships in Germany has been completed.
Germany is set to host the 2024 European Championships that will get underway on Friday, 14th June 2024. The game set to open proceedings for this much-anticipated tournament will see host nation Germany take on Steve Clarke’s Scotland at the Munich Football Arena – otherwise known as the Allianz Arena, the home of reigning Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich.
The history of this iconic tournament pits the best teams from several European nations against each other for one of international football’s most prestigious prizes, and its roots stretch back as far as 1883.
The original international football tournament featured England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in what was known as the British Home Championship, which was played annually from 1883. For central Europe, there was the Central European International Cup, which featured the likes of Hungary, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. This tournament was played 6 times between 1927 to 1960.
Henri Delaunay can be seen as the European Championship’s founding father, having had the idea of a pan-European Championship as early as 1927. The tournament took until 1958, after Delaunay had passed away, to be founded. The trophy was named after him in his honour.
Following its establishment, the first-ever European Championships took place in 1960. That year’s final was hosted at the Parc des Princes in Paris, and it was the Soviet Union who were the inaugural winners after beating Yugoslavia 2 – 1. Interestingly, England, Netherlands, West Germany and Italy did not take part.
In the next tournament in 1964, Spain were the hosts and the number of nations featured in the European Championships was increased to 29. Spain went on to be declared European Champions that year after beating the 1960 winners Soviet Union 2 – 1 at the iconic Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid.
Further expansions came in 1980 and 1996. Firstly, in 1980, the tournament was expanded to 8 nations before this doubled to 16 nations when England hosted the European Championships in 1996. Unfortunately, England was knocked out in the semi-final by Germany, who beat France with the first-ever golden goal in the final.
2004’s European Championship was also iconic. There are surprise packages in every tournament, none more so than in 2004 when Greece went on a tremendous run that eventually saw them beat hosts Portugal 1 – 0 in the Final.
Four years later in 2008, the competition was expanded again, this time to 24 teams. The first Championships with this in effect was Euro 2016, which memorably featured that late winning goal from Eder in the final against France to win Portugal the European Championships.
Fast forward to the most recent European Championships in 2021 (EURO 2020), which, of course, saw an unfortunate England lose to Italy on penalties at Wembley Stadium.
Italy may be the holders of the tournament, but the nation who has won the European Championships the most times is tied, with both Germany and Spain having three wins as of the time of writing. Germany’s wins came in 1972, 1980, and 1996. As for Spain, they were the winners in 1964, 2008 and 2012.
England have never won this tournament, but did of course make the final in the most recent Championships. Maybe 2024 could be the year for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions?
Moving on to the draw itself, each nation now knows who they will be competing against in the group stage with the aim of making it to the knockout rounds. The groups are as follows:
- Israel/Bosnia & Herzegovina/Ukraine/Iceland
- Czech Republic
There are a number of nations whose place in the 2024 European Championships is not certain, with 12 nations taking part in play-offs to secure qualification for the tournament in Germany. These play-off matches take place on Thursday, 21st March, and Tuesday, 26th March 2024.
The opening game for England will see them face Serbia at Schalke’s Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday, 16th June 2024. As mentioned before, Scotland’s first game will be the inaugural game of the tournament against Germany on Friday, 14th June (20:00 Kick-Off).
All eyes will be on Germany in June and July 2024 as some of the best nations and players go head to head in one of international football’s most prestigious tournaments.
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