The Athletic FC: Euro 2024 kick-off – opening matches analysed; big transfers rated

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It’s kick-off time at Euro 2024. News, analysis, live blogs — we’ll have it all for you over the next month. Load up that fridge and dive right in…

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(Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)

On the way:

🎬 The curtain rises in Germany. But who will play for England?

🏟️ Tracing the dark past of Berlin’s Olympiastadion

📈 The Athletic 500, injecting science into transfer deals

Euro 2024 Kick-off: Germany and Scotland prepare to dance

First up, hosts Germany play (and probably beat) Scotland in Munich today. Lock up your bierkellers — or rather don’t, because there’s a fortune to be made.

Germany, you see, farm major honours for fun. In contrast, the Scots spend many international tournaments watching from home so naturally, hordes of them are now in Bavaria. They’re all over the lager, and I’m certain they’re all over our live match blog too.

John McGinn had a go at dancing with men in lederhosen but come kick-off, he’ll have to dance with Toni Kroos, the German era-definer whose playing career is signing off at this tournament.

When other players talk about Kroos, like his Germany team-mate Jamal Musiala, they talk about a magician. You can’t comprehend Kroos is quitting at 34, long before he’s lost it.

He’ll be key today and key overall. If Kroos has a top Euros, Germany will too. As for Scotland, I’ll be looking for Lawrence Shankland. He’s been banging in goal after goal for Heart Of Midlothian (sorry, any excuse for a mention). Let’s see how the big time suits him.

📺 Group A: Germany vs Scotland (today, 3pm ET/8pm UK), Fubo, ITV 1, ITV X. Full fixture list.

Which country have most on the line? As I answered in The Pulse: unequivocally, England. A 58-year trophy drought and manager Gareth Southgate won’t get another shot at this. He’s talking about moving on if England fall short. This is a must-win for him.

Our Michael Cox has picked up on the specific problems facing Southgate; no proven centre-back partner for John Stones, no fixed midfield partner for Declan Rice, no sure thing at left-back. Which all leaves you thinking: what’s his best XI for Sunday’s opener against Serbia?

Of the England teams selected by our writers, I’m going with Tim Spiers (below). Phil Foden to the right of Jude Bellingham makes sense, and Michael’s piece makes a good argument for Anthony Gordon on the left.

Spiers EnglandXI Serbia 1


📺 Serbia vs England (Sunday, 3pm ET/8pm UK), Fubo, BBC One

Group ‘B’ for Big hitters

At least England can hope to win their group. For Italy and Spain, their mutual presence in Group B is a handicap from the start.

Calling up Juventus’ Nicolo Fagioli is a bold step on Italy’s part. He’s only just out the other side of a long ban for betting offences. We all deserve second chances, I guess. As for Spain, the intrigue there surrounds Lamine Yamal — 16 years old but silky beyond belief, and growing up so rapidly.

📺 Group B: Spain vs Croatia (Saturday, noon ET/5pm UK), Fubo, ITV; Italy vs Albania (3pm ET/8pm UK), Fubo, BBC One

A complicated history

The final of these Euros, on July 14, will be hosted by Berlin’s Olympiastadion. The stadium has such an eerie feel to it: flooded with echoes of the Third Reich and 1930s Germany.

Adam Crafton went to Berlin to chronicle the background of a sporting venue with a dark history like few others. The most unsettling thing about his feature, which focuses on the 1936 Olympic Games, is the cynical effort made by the Nazis to fool the outside world about their intentions — like keeping publications such as Der Sturmer off the streets while the Olympics were in full flow.

The Olympiastadion has seen much happier occasions too, and Euros final day next month should be another of them, but the reality behind it should never pass into irrelevance.

Around The Athletic FC

Top transfers?

The definition of a good transfer is fundamentally a transfer that works out. But we’re going data-wild in trying to make our judgements more scientific. Welcome to The Athletic 500, our points-based rating system which will use statistics and five categories to give this summer’s big deals a score out of (yep) 500.

First up, Tosin Adarabioyo to Chelsea as a free agent. You’ll see sexier signings — as we reported yesterday, Chelsea are making enquiries about Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise — but, Cole Palmer aside, Tosin is as rational a move as the club have made in a long time.

(Top photo: Carl Recine/Getty Images)

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