• Underdog Teams to Keep an Eye on At Euro 2024

    Published Thursday 30 May 2024 08:14am

    7 min read

    With the 2024 European Championships getting steadily closer, here are the underdog teams that we’ll be keeping our eye on across the tournament.

By WherestheMatch Team

With the 2024 European Championships rapidly approaching, excitement is at an all-time high. We get another month of elite football action with some of the worlds’ best footballers in action for their home nations. While nobody can deny the quality of a France, Spain, or England, there’s always an underdog side that wins the hearts of the footballing faithful. Turkey reaching the Semi-Finals at Euro 2008, Wales making it to a major tournament for the first time since 1958 and making it all the way to the Semi-Finals in Euro 2016, or Switzerland simply playing some of the most exciting football at the 2022 World Cup – here are some of the teams we expect to join the fondly remembered and make a splash at this year’s European Championships.

Serbia

While they’ve never really gotten much publicity as a top footballing nation, the Serbian side looks very strong this year. With a very experienced Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (Torino) between the sticks as well as Serie A compatriot Nicola Milenkovic of Fiorentina aiding in the defensive efforts backed by a midfield talent pool comprising of Dušan Tadic (Fenerbahçe), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Al Hilal), Filip Kostic (Juventus), and Saša Lukic (Fulham), the quality is certainly there on paper. The defence and midfield look good, but it’s the attacking positions where Serbia could really set itself apart; Dušan Vlahovic of Juventus has long been one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe and after a 16-goal season you can be sure that he’ll be causing opposition defenders plenty of issues. Throw in Aleksandar Mitrovic who was last season’s second top scorer in the Saudi Pro League and you’re looking at a forward line that has both depth and attacking threat. 

Austria

Premier League fans will be plenty familiar with Austrian manager Ralf Rangnick who made the switch to international management shortly following his somewhat disastrous spell in charge of Manchester United. While he won’t be fondly remembered in Manchester, his stock is a lot higher in Central Europe with his time in charge of the Austria National Team indicating some very positive growth. Making their way through a group consisting of France, The Netherlands and Poland might be a bit too much to expect from the Austrians, especially after losing captain and star player David Alaba (Real Madrid) to long-term injury, but you can certainly expect them to play some top-quality football along the way. 

Ukraine 

Despite political unrest in their home nation, the Ukrainian sporting world looks stronger than ever. The Ukrainian national team have rallied in recent games despite missing out on automatic qualification to Italy and having to make their way through Bosnia Herzegovina and Iceland to book their place at the tournament. A fortunate draw has meant that they share a group with Belgium, Slovakia and Romania; Belgium will naturally be the favourite to take top spot, but second place is very much still to play for and a couple of strong performances would be all that it takes for Ukraine to make their way to the knockout stages. With a squad consisting of Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, Arsenal fullback Oleksandr Zinchenko and Mykhailo Mudryk of Chelsea, Ukraine certainly don’t look a bad side.

Turkey

At the last European Championships (2020), it seemed like Turkey were everyone’s ‘dark horse’ team – after all, they were playing some great football in qualifiers and had an array of very promising talent in the squad. After losing to every other team in the group stages, Turkey were knocked out of the tournament with zero points and the worst goal difference of any team in the competition. The weight of expectation seemed to be a bit much for the Turkey team and with a lack of cohesive tactics to move them forward, it seems that the team was destined for failure. Four years later and Turkey are back, with a new manager and some talented youth that will no doubt be looking forward to making their mark on the international stage. The old guard that the world had so much faith in remains the same, indicative of the quality that the side still possesses. Another side with a somewhat favourable group draw, Turkey will be facing off against Portugal, Georgia and Czechia – a group where they will no doubt be targeting a second-place finish.

Croatia

It may be a bit of a stretch to describe Croatia as an underdog side, but since they still aren’t recognised as a top team (and are currently only barely in FIFA’s top 10 rankings), we decided to include them anyway. The quality of the Croatian squad far exceeds any other team on this list, however, combining poor form and a quickly ageing team has meant that many no longer consider them a competitor and are now outside bets for the tournament. Sharing a group with Italy and Spain will make progressing quite challenging, but if star players like Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Andrej Kramaric can turn it up for just one more tournament, they might just end up surprising everyone.

Slovakia

Slovakia have been on the rise recently with new manager Francesco Calzona completely evolving the squad since taking over in 2022. So greatly has his stock risen that he was even appointed as interim manager for Napoli, a role that he has filled alongside his national team obligations. The squad may not be packed with globally known superstars, but with Milan Skriniar of PSG, Stanislav Lobotka of Napoli and Feyenoord’s David Hancko, the team has a very solid spine and is likely to pose a challenge to even some of the more gifted opposition.

We can’t wait to watch this years’ European Championships which start on the 14th of June 2024. Who are the underdog teams you’ll be keeping an eye on? All of the upcoming Euro 2024 fixtures are available through our European Championship Fixture Guide.