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It has already been three months since Lionel Messi climbed his final peak and led Argentina to a first FIFA World Cup triumph in 36 years in Qatar. The little Rosario-born magician cemented his legacy as the greatest football player that’s ever lived during the tournament, but football moves on. European nations are now gearing up for the next European Championships, which will be hosted in Germany.
Italy are the reigning European Champions. They defeated England on penalties in the postponed Euro 2020 tournament to lift the prize for the first time in 52 years. They didn’t even qualify for the recent FIFA World Cup in Qatar however, and Euro 2024 represents the perfect chance for them to get back on track and establish themselves as a powerhouse once more. The Azzurri finished third in the UEFA Nations League shortly after their triumph at Wembley, but they aren’t one of Europe’s form teams heading into the upcoming qualifiers. Let’s take a look at who is.
What is it with England and difficulties from the penalty spot? Harry Kane was the latest to suffer from the dreaded spot kick curse in Qatar. He skied his late penalty in the quarterfinals against France, which eventually saw Les Bleus progress before then defeating Morocco and reaching the final. While England lost to the French, there can be no denying that they were the better team on the night and justifiably felt hard done by leaving the tournament early.
Gareth Southgate has led his nation to a first World Cup semi final since 1990 as well as a first major tournament final since 1966. Euro 2024 may well be his final tournament as England’s manager, despite the stellar job he has done throughout his tenure. Young stars such as Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka will be hoping to help him bow out in style.
Despite being outplayed by England, as we have mentioned, the French managed to get the win in Qatar, and that is the sign of champions. Eventually, Les Bleus had to hand over their tag of world champions, with fate intervening and handing the aforementioned Messi his crowning moment. But as of right now, the only nation that can match the English on paper is France.
They were never truly troubled at the recent World Cup and in Kylian Mbappé, they perhaps have the finest player on the planet on current form wearing their famous blue shirt. As well as the Parisian sensation, Les Bleus have the likes of Aurélien Tchouameni and Theo Hernández both coming into their prime. They will take some stopping in Germany next summer.