Preview: Kristiansund vs. Fredrikstad

Kristiansund are set to host Fredrikstad at Aker Stadion in Norway’s Eliteserien on Monday, and the result could significantly impact the relegation battle, the chase for European football, and the title race.

The home side are ninth in the table with 14 points and are one above 14th-placed Tromso, who occupy the division’s relegation playoff spot, while the visitors are fourth with 22 points and are eight from first-placed Bodo/Glimt with a game in hand.

Match preview

Although the hosts could be relegated at the end of the season given they are only four points clear of 15th-placed Sarpsborg 08, who are second last and in the automatic relegation zone, this is their first season back in the top flight.

As such, the fact they have a realistic chance of survival will no doubt please manager Amund Skiri.

Skiri has coached Kristiansund since August 2023, and this term his side have scored 18 goals and conceded 21, the sixth-best offensive and 11th best defensive records in the league respectively.

Kristiansund’s overall form has been poor considering they have won just once in their last nine league matches and have conceded 16 goals in this period.

As for their home form, they did win 3-1 last time out at Aker Stadion against Sarpsborg 08 on June 2, but this is only their second Eliteserien victory at home in their six games so far.

To Kristiansund’s credit, they have also only lost once in the league at home, which was against reigning champions and current leaders Bodo/Glimt on May 12.

Meanwhile, opponents Fredrikstad have been excellent away from home and have in fact collected 14 out of a possible 21 points on the road, which is the division’s second-best record behind Bodo/Glimt.

However, it should be noted that they did draw their last away league game 1-1 against Rosenborg on June 2 after having lost their prior away game 3-0 to Tromso on May 29.

To add to this, they have failed to win any of their last three matches in the top flight, though they did win the previous five.

Having said that, manager Mikkjal Thomassen will be delighted with his Fredrikstad side considering this is their first season in the top flight since 2012.

Additionally, he will be thrilled with the fact his team currently occupy the division’s final Europa Conference League playoff spot, and that they have two games in hand on second-placed Brann and one game in hand on first-placed Bodo/Glimt, who have 28 and 30 points respectively.

With that being said, Fredrikstad are only ahead of fifth-placed Viking FK due to goal difference.

This season, Fredrikstad have scored 20 goals and conceded 11 times, the league’s fifth best and second best records.

Team News

The hosts will be without centre-back Max Normann Williamsen for the remainder of the season after he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in late April.

Kristiansund will also have to contend with the absence of fellow centre-back Marius Berntsen Olsen due to an ankle injury, but he could return sometime later this month.

As for opponents Fredrikstad, midfielders Filip Stensland and Jeppe Kjaer are both expected to be out until mid-July.

Forward Joannes Bjartalid and Mai Traore are also injured, and much like their midfield counterparts, they are also not expected back until mid-July.

Centre-back Sigurd Kvile has not appeared since June 2, and he is a doubt for Monday’s game.

Kristiansund possible starting lineup:
Lansing; Sjatil, Jarl, Hopmark, Rakneberg; Sivertsen, Isaksen, Bruseth, Alte, Gueye; Mikaelsson

Fredrikstad possible starting lineup:
Fischer; Skaret, Aukland, Woledzi; Metcalfe, Magnusson, Segberg, Rafn; Bjorlo, Sorlokk, Olsen

Preview: Spain vs. Germany

Two European juggernauts seeking to win an unprecedented fourth European Championship title do battle at the MHPArena in Stuttgart on Friday evening, as Spain lock horns with Euro 2024 hosts Germany in the quarter-finals.

The victors of this eagerly-anticipated contest will face the winners of the last-eight tie between Portugal and France in the semi-finals.

Match preview

After winning all three group games at a European Championship for the first time since 2008, Spain remain the only nation at Euro 2024 who boast a perfect record from four matches after coming from behind to beat Georgia 4-1 in the last 16 on Sunday.

Spain were stunned in the 18th minute when Robin Le Normand inadvertently deflected the ball into his own net to put Georgia ahead – the first goal that La Roja have conceded at Euro 2024. However, Rodri restored parity on the stroke of half time, before Spain went on to outclass a courageous Georgia outfit in the second half.

Fabian Ruiz, Nico Williams and Dani Olmo were all on the scoresheet to complete the turnaround in prolific fashion and extend Spain’s unbeaten run at the European Championship to 10 matches (excluding penalty shootouts).

Luis de la Fuente’s youthful and energetic side have dazzled their way into the quarter-finals, reaching this stage for the fourth time in their last five Euros appearances, and even Germany’s Joshua Kimmich has admitted that “Spain have been the most impressive side so far” at this summer’s tournament.

Ranked eighth in the world by FIFA, Spain head into Friday’s blockbuster battle having not lost any of their last six competitive meetings (W3 D3) with Germany dating back to 1998, most recently playing out a 1-1 group-stage draw at the 2022 World Cup.

La Roja are sure to reminisce about their 1-0 triumph over Germany in the Euro 2008 final, courtesy of a first-half strike from Fernando Torres, as well as their thumping 6-0 UEFA Nations League victory in November 2020 in which Fernando’s namesake – Ferran Torres – stole the headlines with a memorable hat-trick.

However, Spain have remarkably never beaten the host nation in the knockout rounds of a Euros or World Cup, failing to win any of their last nine such matches dating all the way back to 1934.

Hosts Germany remain on course to win their first European Championship title since 1996 after they battled past a competitive Denmark outfit to win 2-0 in the round of 16 last Saturday.

On a night of high drama, interrupted by a first-half thunderstorm including a fierce series of lightning strikes, and later marred by VAR controversy, Germany prevailed courtesy of second-half goals from Kai Havertz and Jamal Musiala – the latter is now one of four players at the top of the Euro 2024 scoring charts with three goals.

After a “wild game” in Dortmund, Julian Nagelsmann claimed that his Germany players are “beginning to realise how good they really are” having now progressed to the quarter-finals of a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2016 – Friday’s clash with be Germany’s 19th quarter-final across the World Cup (14) and Euros (five), the most of any European nation at these two major tournaments.

Germany rank in the top three for the most goals scored (10), most attacks (265), most attempts on goal (71), highest average possession (62%) and goals conceded (two) heading into the last eight of Euro 2024, and with a vibrant home crowd behind them, Die Mannschaft have become a force to be reckoned with.

Languishing as low as 16th in the FIFA World Rankings amid their recent woes in the pre-Nagelsmann era, Germany have won only two of their last 11 meetings with Spain in all competitions – their last was a slender 1-0 friendly victory in November 2014 thanks to an 89th-minute winner from Toni Kroos.

Germany have reason to be optimistic of success on Friday, though, as they are unbeaten in their last eight games against La Roja on home soil (W5 D3), while no host nation has ever been eliminated from the quarter-final stage of a European Championship.

Team News

Spain boss De la Fuente is expected to name an unchanged starting lineup on Friday, with 16-year-old sensation Lamine Yamal and Athletic Bilbao star Nico Williams set to join captain Alvaro Morata in a three-man attack.

Both Olmo and Mikel Merino will be pushing to start ahead of Pedri in centre-midfield, but the latter is still expected to continue in the first XI alongside Rodri and Fabian Ruiz.

Nacho Fernandez has recovered from a minor foot injury to make himself available for selection, but the Al-Qadsiah man is unlikely to displace either of Le Normand or Aymeric Laporte in central defence, while Dani Carvajal and Marc Cucurella should continue as full-backs.

As for Germany, Nagelsmann could once again tinker with his starting lineup and will ponder whether to recall centre-back Jonathan Tah – who served a suspension in the last 16 – at the expense of Nico Schlotterbeck.

Left-back Maximilian Mittelstadt was dropped against Denmark, but he will be looking to force his way back into the first XI ahead of David Raum, while Florian Wirtz could return on the left side of attack at the expense of Leroy Sane, allowing Musiala to move over to the right.

Niclas Fullkrug scored an equaliser in the aforementioned 1-1 draw with Spain at the 2022 World Cup, but he is not expected to displace Kai Havertz as the central striker, while a midfield triumvirate of Kroos, Robert Andrich and Ilkay Gundogan is set to remain intact.

Spain possible starting lineup:
Simon; Carvajal, Le Normand, Laporte, Cucurella; Pedri, Rodri, Ruiz; Yamal, Morata, Williams

Germany possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Kimmich, Tah, Rudiger, Raum; Kroos, Andrich; Musiala, Gundogan, Wirtz; Havertz

Preview: Argentina vs. Ecuador

In a rematch from the 2021 Copa America quarter-finals, the reigning champions Argentina square off with Ecuador at NRG Stadium in Houston on Thursday, with a spot in the last four at stake.

La Seleccion topped Group A with a 100% record, winning their previous match 2-0 against Peru, while Ecuador held Mexico to a 0-0 draw, finishing second in Group B.

Match preview

Statistically speaking, the opening phase of this tournament was nearly flawless for Lionel Scaloni’s men, who won their three encounters and did not concede.

All five of their goals scored in the opening phase came in the second half, and they have not fallen behind in a Copa America match since the 2019 semi-finals (2-0 loss versus Brazil).

The Argentines have won eight consecutive matches across all competitions and have only conceded two goals over that stretch.

Their last three appearances in the quarter-finals of this tournament have been a breeze, with Argentina winning those encounters by a combined margin of 9-1.

Only once in this century have we seen them lose a quarter-final fixture at this tournament, when they hosted this event in 2011 and were beaten on penalties by Uruguay (5-4).

Argentina have never lost to Ecuador at the Copa America, winning their 2021 quarter-final meeting against them 3-0, while the World Cup holders have advanced beyond this stage on four successive occasions.

Despite being on the back foot for a good portion of their previous encounter, Ecuador did enough to hold off the Mexicans and claim a spot in the knockout phase on goal difference.

It is the second successive time that La Tri have qualified for the last eight of this tournament, while they have now made the quarter-finals in three of the previous four Copa Americas.

Felix Sanchez has a chance to guide this team into the semi-finals of this competition for the first time since 1993, with the Ecuadorians losing three successive Copa America fixtures in the last eight.

Ecuador have yet to concede a first-half goal in this competition, though they have only netted once in the opening 45 minutes when they lost 2-1 to Venezuela.

The last time they scored first in a quarter-final fixture at this tournament was in 1997 when they were beaten 4-3 on penalties against Mexico after that match ended in a 1-1 draw.

They have lost six of their previous seven competitive fixtures versus Argentina, with their last victory against them occurring in 2015 (2-0).

Team News

Argentine captain Lionel Messi missed their final group fixture with hamstring discomfort, though he took part in full practices this week and is expected to feature on Thursday.

Messi, Alexis Mac Allister, Julian Alvarez, and Rodrigo De Paul were among the numerous players that Scaloni rested on matchday three.

Lautaro Martinez scored for a fourth match running, as his brace propelled Argentina to a victory over Peru, while Emiliano Martinez has posted four consecutive clean sheets at this tournament dating back to 2021.

After missing their previous encounter through suspension, Ecuador’s record goalscorer Enner Valencia played the full 90 minutes on matchday three, replacing John Yeboah.

That was the one change made to their starting 11 on Sunday, while Jose Hurtado was the only newcomer to see the field for them, coming on for Angelo Preciado in second-half stoppage time.

Alexander Dominguez stopped four Mexican shots to collect his first clean sheet at the Copa America this year and his first with La Tri since March (2-0 win over Guatemala).

Argentina possible starting lineup:
E. Martinez; Molina, Romero, Li. Martinez, Tagliafico; Di Maria, De Paul, Mac Allister; Messi, La. Martinez, Alvarez

Ecuador possible starting lineup:
Dominguez; Preciado, Torres, Pacho, Hincapie; Franco, M. Caicedo; Yeboah, Paez, Sarmiento; Valencia

Preview: Sandefjord vs. Tromso IL

Two sides embroiled in a relegation battle in the Norwegian Eliteserien do battle on Wednesday as bottom-of-the-league Sandefjord face 14th-placed Tromso IL at the Komplett Arena.

The hosts are 16th in the league with just nine points from 12 matches and trail safety by four points, while the visitors are one point better off in 14th place.

Match preview

Having escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth in the last two seasons, winning the relegation/promotion playoff in 2022 and securing safety on the final day in 2023, Sandefjord are once again set to battle for their survival this campaign.

Hans Erik Odegaard and Andreas Tegstrom, who have co-managed Sandefjord since 2021, have guided their side to just two victories in the 12 league matches this year, the fewest of any side in the division.

They have failed to come out victorious in the league since remarkably recording back-to-back victories over Molde FK and Sarpsborg 08 in early May, leaving them on a run of six games without a win in the Norwegian Eliteserien heading into this one.

A 4-2 friendly victory over fourth-placed Fredrikstad FK, following two successive draws in the league, seemed to signal a run of form for Sandefjord, but a disappointing 2-1 loss to relegation rivals HamKam followed, seeing them fall further away from safety.

A second match in a row against a relegation-battling side is set to come on Wednesday, giving Sandefjord the chance to climb away from the bottom of the table if they secure a victory.

Their opponents Tromso could, however, move four points clear of the hosts if they take all three points in their trip to the Komplett Arena, although they have not picked up a win at this stadium since 2010.

After struggling in the opening weeks of the season, losing all of their first five league matches, Tromso have been much improved in recent weeks with three wins and a draw in their last seven outings.

They will be looking to keep that improved run going with a first away win of the campaign in this one as they look to avoid recording their first bottom-half finish since securing promotion back to the top flight ahead of the 2021 season.

While Tromso have struggled in their visits to Sandefjord in recent years, they have gone unbeaten in the last five meetings between these two sides, giving them plenty of confidence ahead of this one.

Team News

The hosts are set to be without no fewer than two players for this relegation six-pointer as both Aleksander Nilsson and Darrell Tibell continue their spells on the sidelines.

Eman Markovic has scored in two of his last three competitive appearances for the side and is expected to start alongside Alexander Ruud Tveter and Jakob Dunsby here.

The visitors are also unable to call upon the services of two players with both Miika Koskela and Vegard Erlien absent through injuries.

Lasse Selvag Nordas is Tromso’s top scorer with four goals this season and the forward is expected to start once again here, with his side looking to make to make the difference.

Sandefjord possible starting lineup:
Keto; Egeli, Bergile, Gjone, Cheng; Mork, Ottosson, Amin; Dunsby, Tveter, Markovic

Tromso IL possible starting lineup:
Haugaard; Paintsil, A Jenssen, Guddal, Skjaervik, Norheim; Nordas, Hjerto-Dahl, R Jenssen, Antonsen; Romsaas

Preview: Austria vs. Turkey

Both into the last 16 following an eventful climax to their group-stage campaign, Euro 2024 dark horses Austria and Turkey convene in Leipzig on Tuesday evening.

The nations’ first major-tournament meeting features a substantial prize: the winner will qualify for a quarter-final against either Netherlands or Romania.

Match preview

Having arrived in neighbouring Germany as one of Europe’s form sides, Austria qualified for the knockout rounds of Euro 2024 as Group D winners by beating Netherlands 3-2 in a thrilling contest at Berlin’s Olympiastadion last Tuesday.

Ralf Rangnick’s men were handed a tough draw alongside the Oranje and favourites France, but they accrued six points from a possible nine to finish top of the pile, ahead of Les Bleus, who were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw by already-eliminated Poland.

After they twice lost the lead, Austria captain Marcel Sabitzer struck an 80th-minute winner to snatch first place, following an opening defeat to France and a 3-1 win over Poland.

The Austrians failed to pass the group stage at their first two Euros – as hosts in 2008, and then again eight years later – so getting this far already represents an impressive achievement.

Indeed, Das Team have qualified for the knockout phase of a major tournament for only the fourth time ever, also doing so at the 1934 and 1954 World Cups and Euro 2020.

Rangnick’s high-energy side are now trying to reach Austria’s first European Championship quarter-final, and recent results suggest they could be ready to break new ground: they have now won 14 of their last 19 matches, losing just two.

Since Rangnick took charge in June 2022, only three European nations – Portugal, Netherlands and Spain – can boast a higher win percentage, with one notable victory taking place in a friendly fixture just over three months ago.

Austria smashed Turkey 6-1 in Vienna during the spring international period, when Michael Gregoritsch helped himself to a hat-trick before the hour mark at Ernst Happel Stadion.

In competitive meetings, though, Turkey are unbeaten in their last five games against Tuesday’s opponents, keeping a clean sheet on each occasion; albeit this will be the first such encounter since a 0-0 draw in Euro 2012 qualifying.

The Crescent-Stars set up this latest clash by claiming a dramatic 2-1 win over Czech Republic in their final Group F game on Wednesday evening, when veteran striker Cenk Tosun struck in second-half stoppage time to seal a place in the last 16.

Though Vincenzo Montella’s men knew that a point would be enough – and they played most of the match with a one-man advantage – conceding not long after Hakan Calhanoglu’s 51st-minute piledriver put them in front had left their progress in some jeopardy.

Tosun’s late strike not only sparked a chaotic conclusion that saw several cards brandished but also meant Turkey finished second in the standings, having begun their Group F campaign with an eventful 3-1 win over debutants Georgia and then lost 3-0 to Portugal.

Montella’s youthful squad – who had the second-youngest starting XI on average during the group stage – have therefore taken their nation into the latter stages of the Euros for just a third time ever, and the first since 2008, when Turkey memorably made the semi-finals.

Now, their Euro 2024 adventure continues, and despite Austria’s proximity to the host nation, the Crescent-Stars are sure to have a bigger backing, with many thousands of Turkish emigrants having settled in Germany over the past 60 years.

Team News

Ralf Rangnick’s return to Leipzig, where he experienced several years of success as a club coach and advisor, will see the 66-year-old make at least one change to a winning side, as Wolfsburg winger Patrick Wimmer must serve a suspension.

Either Konrad Laimer or Christoph Baumgartner – the latter of whom has been directly involved in nine goals across his last eight international appearances – should therefore step up from the bench.

Record caps-holder Marko Arnautovic again battles it out with Michael Gregoritsch to spearhead an aggressive attack, while any two from Max Wober, Kevin Danso, Gernot Trauner and Philipp Lienhart will start in central defence.

Vincenzo Montella, meanwhile, must do without influential captain Hakan Calhanoglu and centre-back Samet Akaydin on Tuesday, after both picked up their second bookings of the tournament against Czech Republic.

Abdulkerim Bardakci is back from suspension and should join Merih Demiral at the heart of Turkey’s back four, with Okay Yokuslu, Kaan Ayhan and Orkun Kokcu vying to replace Calhanoglu in midfield.

First-choice goalkeeper Mert Gunok is still troubled by a knee injury that kept him out of the loss to Portugal but has trained and should start between the posts.

Should Juventus star Kenan Yildiz (19 years and 59 days) and Real Madrid’s Arda Guler (19 years and 128 days) both be selected, it will be just the second time any nation has started two teenagers in a knockout game at the Euros – and the first since 1964.

Austria possible starting lineup:
Pentz; Posch, Danso, Lienhart, Mwene; Seiwald, Grillitsch; Schmid, Baumgartner, Sabitzer; Arnautovic

Turkey possible starting lineup:
Gunok; Muldur, Demiral, Bardakci, Kadioglu; Yuksek, Yokuslu; Kahveci, Guler, Yildiz; Yilmaz

Preview: France vs. Belgium

A reunion of 2018 World Cup semi-final foes headlines the Euro 2024 last-16 ties, as France and Belgium cross paths in Dusseldorf on Monday evening.

Neither nation showed what they are truly capable of in the group phase, being condemned to unexpected second-placed finishes owing to disappointing final-day draws.

Match preview

With his protective mask in tow, Real Madrid-bound Kylian Mbappe finally broke his Euros duck at the third time of trying in France’s recent showdown with Poland in Group D, crashing home a spot kick early in the second half before the Poles were presented with a 12-yard opportunity of their own.

While Mike Maignan initially denied the stopping-and-starting Robert Lewandowski, the AC Milan shot-stopper was penalised for coming off his line, allowing his Barcelona counterpart to take the same run-up, aim for the same corner and achieve a different, desired outcome in a low-key 1-1 stalemate.

A miffed Maignan was left to vent his frustrations on social media – taking aim at the rules regarding penalties as Lewandowski made his “87th stutter” – as Didier Deschamps’s men were forced to accept the runners-up place thanks to Austria’s sensational beating of the Netherlands.

As Ralf Rangnick’s side prepare to take on Turkey in the friendlier side of the draw, an under-performing France have several gargantuan obstacles in their way just to reach the final; Portugal, Germany and Spain are all in the same last-16 bracket.

Furthermore, France went through the entire group stage without scoring a single goal from open play – having 47 such attempts without making the net bulge – and five of their last six matches at the European Championships have ended level after 90 minutes.

Nevertheless, one goal conceded across the group stage was the joint second-best defensive record of its kind – only behind an unbroken Spain – and Lewandowski’s retaken spot kick is the only effort that Deschamps’s men have shipped in their last five games across all tournaments.

Such praiseworthy defensive statistics make for grim reading for a Belgium side who failed to score in two of their three affairs in Group E, where all four sides incredibly finished on the same amount of points, unsurprisingly a European Championship first in the men’s game.

Domenico Tedesco’s men appeared to have rediscovered their attacking touch in a 2-0 beating of Romania on matchday two, only to be stunted in a goalless draw versus Ukraine on Wednesday, where they had both Koen Casteels and their visitors’ wastefulness to thank for saving their Euros bacon.

As the eliminated Blue and Yellow departed in dejection, Belgium sneaked through in second spot behind Romania and their superior goal difference, but Tedesco has many an attacking conundrum to solve after his side managed just two goals across the group stage; only one-strike Serbia netted fewer.

While Mbappe may finally be off the mark, the luckless Romelu Lukaku has yet to open his Euro 2024 account but can take solace from the fact that only one of the Red Devils’ last 18 matches in all tournaments has ended in defeat, even if that did come just a fortnight ago to the plucky Slovakians.

A third-straight Euros knockout appearance now awaits the Belgians, who have progressed from each of their last four last-16 games at major tournaments since being eliminated by eventual winners Brazil at the 2002 World Cup; a positive omen for Deschamps’s squad if they can prevail on Monday.

Frequent foes of France over the past century, Belgium suffered 2018 World Cup semi-final heartbreak in a 1-0 loss before also going down 3-2 to Deschamps’s men in a 2021 Nations League semi-final, but Portugal or Slovenia will await the Red Devils if they can avenge those Bleus blues.

Team News

Having completed 90 minutes against Poland with no ill-effects, Mbappe will undoubtedly be fine to spearhead the France charge here, and Deschamps is expected to have every single one of his troops available to him.

The France boss opted to demote Antoine Griezmann to the bench for the final Group D draw, but an immediate return to the first XI is on the cards for the Atletico Madrid man, whose reinstatement should see France revert to their 4-2-3-1 shape.

Who is sacrificed for Griezmann is the subject of much speculation, but Adrien Rabiot has reportedly been rehearsing on the left during training, so Bradley Barcola will likely be demoted to the bench.

In addition, Deschamps is also expected to axe the under-performing Ousmane Dembele and instead go for a 4-3-1-2 formation, which would see Marcus Thuram reinstated to the tip of the attack alongside Mbappe.

Liverpool centre-back Ibrahima Konate suffered a recent knee injury scare, but there would have been no chance of the defender displacing William Saliba or Dayot Upamecano either way.

Sticking with the theme of wingers, Belgium head coach Tedesco will have Dodi Lukebakio back at his disposal on Monday following his suspension and could recall the Sevilla man to the XI at the expense of Leandro Trossard, who was ineffective against Ukraine, but Yannick Carrasco was a threat last time out and is a contender too.

Axel Witsel (adductor) and Thomas Meunier (thigh) remain the only two injury concerns for Tedesco to contend with, and while both are heading in the right direction with their respective recoveries, neither should be involved in Dusseldorf.

Tedesco’s defensive dilemma would be further complicated if Wout Faes picks up a suspension-inducing yellow card on Monday, but the Leicester City man did himself justice last week with a goal-saving block to deny Ukraine’s Artem Dovbyk and is a guaranteed starter regardless.

France possible starting lineup:
Maignan; Kounde, Saliba, Upamecano, Hernandez; Kante, Tchouameni, Rabiot; Griezmann; Thuram, Mbappe

Belgium possible starting lineup:
Casteels; Castagne, Faes, Vertonghen, Theate; Tielemans, Onana; Doku, De Bruyne, Carrasco; Lukaku

Preview: Germany vs. Denmark

The second of two Euro 2024 last-16 ties taking place on Saturday, hosts Germany clash with Denmark at the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund in the late kickoff.

Julian Nagelsmann’s men topped Group A to cruise into the knockout rounds, while their Scandinavian counterparts nabbed second place in a highly forgettable Group C.

Match preview

Banishing the demons of their last two World Cup campaigns, which both ended with premature group-stage exits, Germany had already rubber-stamped their knockout place with just two games gone thanks to putting a combined seven goals past Scotland and Hungary.

Simply avoiding defeat versus Switzerland on the final matchday and Die Mannschaft were guaranteed to progress as group winners, but Nagelsmann’s men were on the brink of being unexpectedly demoted down to the runners-up spot thanks to Dan Ndoye’s opener.

However, on an evening of dramatic late goals in Group A, Niclas Fullkrug – who takes to home turf this weekend – popped up with an injury-time leveller to just about ensure Germany’s status as group winners, thereby avoiding a last-16 battle with reigning champions Italy.

In a peculiar turn of events, though, Switzerland are arguably now on the easier side of the knockout draw, as Germany have been grouped with fellow heavyweights Spain, France, Portugal and Belgium as their reward for winning the group and reaching the last 16 for the fifth time in a row.

A quarter-final clash with either Spain or the unfancied Georgia will await if Germany can do the business against Denmark, and they arrive at Borussia Dortmund’s headquarters still unbeaten from their seven matches in the calendar year, prevailing in five and playing out two draws.

Speaking of one-point affairs, Group C was one for the stalemate specialists in England, Slovenia, Serbia and Denmark, all of whom contributed to the joint lowest-scoring men’s Euros group in history with just seven goals scored across six games.

Upcoming foes Germany were coincidentally involved in the only previous seven-goal section in 2016, and despite not winning any of their games in the group, Denmark’s three draws with their three foes was enough for Kasper Hjulmand’s side to clinch the silver medal position.

The Danes were responsible for just two of the seven strikes in Group C – although Morten Hjulmand’s rocket versus England will certainly go down as a goal-of-the-tournament contender – and they have now qualified for the knockout stages of back-to-back Euros for the first time ever.

Hjulmand will be under no illusions that improvements are required quickly if his troops are to stand a chance of shocking the tournament hosts, but they coincidentally share Germany’s seven-match unbeaten run in 2024 and have just one loss under their belts from their last 15 contests.

However, Germany emerged triumphant over Denmark during their last competitive showdown at the 2012 European Championships – prevailing 2-1 in the group phase thanks to Lukasz Podolski and Lars Bender – but both friendly encounters since have ended 1-1.

Team News

Germany boss Nagelsmann went with the same starting XI for all three of his side’s Group A games, but he will be forced into at least one alteration here, as Jonathan Tah has been booked twice and must serve a one-match ban.

Furthermore, Tah’s regular centre-back partner – Antonio Rudiger – has been hampered by a hamstring problem and did not train with the team earlier this week, although there is still optimism that he will be able to marshal the Mannschaft defence, likely alongside Nico Schlotterbeck.

Robin Koch and Waldemar Anton are both waiting in the wings if need be, and Fullkrug’s strike off the bench against Switzerland gives Nagelsmann a bit more food for thought up top, but there is no indication that Kai Havertz will lose his place.

Similarly, Denmark head coach Hjulmand must also work around a suspension to an integral figure on Saturday, as Sporting Lisbon midfielder and his namesake Morten Hjulmand is also on the naughty step due to a totting-up of yellow cards.

The Red and Whites boss is not short of options to replace him, though, as Brentford duo Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen are competent alternatives, as is Thomas Delaney, who recovered from illness to come off the bench against Serbia.

Further up the field, Jonas Wind has not been cutting the mustard up front since his delicate assist for Christian Eriksen against Slovenia, so any of Andreas Skov Olsen, Kasper Dolberg or Yussuf Poulsen might threaten his position.

Germany possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Kimmich, Schlotterbeck, Rudiger, Mittelstadt; Kroos, Andrich; Musiala, Gundogan, Wirtz; Havertz

Denmark possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Andersen, Christensen, Vestergaard; Bah, Hojbjerg, Delaney, Maehle; Eriksen; Hojlund, Wind

Preview: Panama vs. USA

The USA can potentially qualify for the knockout stage of the Copa America on Thursday when they face Panama in matchday two action at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

In their opening match, the tournament hosts had no trouble with Bolivia, winning 2-0, while Los Canaleros lost 3-1 to Uruguay.

Match preview

For over 80 minutes, the Panamanians were within striking distance in their opening fixture before falling apart in the latter stages.

Thomas Christiansen’s men gave up two goals in the final five minutes of the second half plus stoppage time, losing consecutive fixtures for the second time this year.

Since taking charge of this team in 2020, the Danish manager has never suffered three successive defeats on the international stage, a streak that will be in jeopardy on Thursday.

After losing their final two matches at the 2023-24 CONCACAF Nations League, this team have won consecutive games against teams in their region, winning their two World Cup qualifiers this month by a combined score of 5-1.

A defeat combined with a victory for Uruguay versus Bolivia would officially eliminate the Panamanians from this competition for the second time in two appearances.

La Marea Roja have emerged victorious in two of their previous three meetings with the Americans, most recently defeating them on penalties in the semi-finals of the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

In front of over 47,000 fans, the host nation gave their supporters something to cheer about early, scoring after three minutes and doubling their advantage just before the interval.

In the opening half, it was one-way traffic for the Yanks, as they managed 18 touches in the attacking box, while the Bolivians did not have any over that span.

Two moments of pure class were more than enough for Gregg Berhalter’s men on the day, as the 50-year-old coach recorded his 44th victory in charge of this team, surpassing Bob Bradley for third all-time, with only Jurgen Klinsmann (55) and Bruce Arena (81) registering more.

That was the Americans’ third successive victory in the group stage of this tournament and the third straight time they failed to concede in this portion of the competition.

Since a new rotational system was implemented to host this event in 1987, every host nation has made it beyond the group stage of this competition, and an American victory, combined with a Uruguayan win or draw, would ensure that streak continues.

Only once have we seen the United States lose to Panama on home soil in normal time, when the Yanks suffered a 2-1 defeat to them at MetLife Stadium during the group phase of the 2011 Gold Cup.

Team News

This past weekend, we saw three newcomers to the Panamanian starting 11 who had not begun their previous friendly with Paraguay – Edgardo Farina, Jose Luis Rodriguez, and Adalberto Carrasquilla.

Carrasquilla, who plays for the Houston Dynamo, is one of three individuals on this roster currently featuring for an American club, along with Omar Valencia (New York Red Bulls II) and Carlos Harvey (Minnesota United).

Michael Murillo had the only goal in their defeat against Uruguay, the eighth for the Marseille defender in a Panamanian shirt.

The average age of the US starting 11 on matchday one was 25 years and 339 days, with the youngest being Joe Scally at 21, while Tim Ream became the oldest American player to feature in this tournament (36 years and 261 days).

On Sunday, Tyler Adams made the starting 11 for the first time since their victory over Mexico in the March Nations League final, while Giovanni Reyna has started four consecutive matches for the Yanks.

Folarin Balogun netted his fourth with the national team, while Christian Pulisic became the third American to score in five different competitions, joining Eric Wynalda and Clint Dempsey.

Panama possible starting lineup:
Mosquera; Murillo, Farina, Cordoba, Miller, Davis; Rodriguez, Welch, Carrasquilla, Barcenas; Fajardo

USA possible starting lineup:
Turner; Scally, Ream, Richards, A. Robinson; Reyna, Musah, McKennie; Weah, Balogun, Pulisic

Preview: Czech Republic vs. Turkey

Battling it out for a place in the Euro 2024 knockout phase, Czech Republic and Turkey clash at Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion on Wednesday evening.

Both aiming to join Group F winners Portugal in the last 16, the Crescent-Stars must simply avoid defeat to wrap up second place, while their Czech counterparts must win and hope Georgia fail to cause an upset.

Match preview

The hero of their run to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals, Czech Republic again turned to star striker Patrik Schick when in need of inspiration, as he scored a second-half equaliser to deny Georgia a first major tournament victory last weekend.

After losing their opening game to Portugal, the Czechs were in serious trouble when Georges Mikautadze coolly fired home a penalty in first-half stoppage time; however, Schick struck back near the hour mark to net his sixth goal in just seven European Championship appearances.

Though they failed to find a winner, Ivan Hasek’s side now have their destiny within their own hands heading towards a dramatic Group F finale, which will see three teams scrapping for one certain last-16 spot behind Portugal.

The Czechs can finish second if they beat Turkey and Georgia do not stun the Selecao in Gelsenkirchen – but if both were to win, then goal difference would be required to separate them.

Drawing could still end Czech Republic’s journey at the group stage, while they will definitely be unable to reach the knockout rounds should they lose.

Hasek’s squad may have arrived in Germany on a run of five straight wins – mostly in friendlies – but they have won only four of their last 15 competitive matches ahead of such a high-stakes showdown.

Furthermore, the Euro 1996 runners-up have now taken maximum points from just one of their last eight group games at the European Championship, against Scotland three years ago.

Turkey, meanwhile, may be more inspired by a look through the history books, as they came out on top in their two previous meetings with Czech Republic at the Euros – both in the final group game.

A spectacular 3-2 comeback win in 2008 was followed by a 2-0 victory eight years later, and by making it three from three on Wednesday, the Crescent-Stars would book their place in the next round.

In fact, Turkey will be through to the last 16 as group runners-up if they simply avoid defeat in Hamburg, where they are sure to have a huge following – many thousands of Turkish emigrants have settled in Germany over the past 60 years.

Only if they lose and Georgia win, Vincenzo Montella’s men might fail to progress; otherwise, they will become the first Turkey team to reach the knockout phase since a memorable run to the semi-finals in 2008.

That is all despite suffering a 3-0 defeat to Portugal last time out, in which a calamitous mix-up between stand-in goalkeeper Altay Bayindir and centre-back Samet Akaydin resulted in the latter scoring an awful own goal.

Nonetheless, a 3-1 victory over Georgia in their opener leaves the Crescent-Stars needing just one point to certainly go through – and they have lost only three of their last 16 competitive matches.

Team News

Patrick Schick saved Czech Republic’s blushes against Georgia last week, while becoming his country’s all time top scorer at the European Championship, but he is a major doubt for Wednesday’s game.

Including the World Cup – and games as Czechoslovakia – only Oldrich Nejedly (seven) has scored more at major international tournaments for the Czech national team; however, the Bayer Leverkusen striker looks set to be sidelined.

If required, Mojmir Chytil or Schick’s clubmate Adam Hlozek would most likely fill in, perhaps even being paired as Ivan Hasek tries to take the initiative in an almost must-win match.

Little else is expected to change, with West Ham United duo Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal playing influential roles in central midfield and at right wing-back respectively.

Both are among six men at risk of missing a potential last-16 tie, having already been booked: Schick, Tomas Holes, David Jurasek and Lukas Provod are the others.

Meanwhile, Vincenzo Montella will hope to have first-choice goalkeeper Mert Gunok back in the fold. Having missed the defeat to Portugal with a knee injury, it remains to be seen whether the Besiktas stopper can come straight in for Altay Bayindir.

Orkun Kokcu is struggling with an ankle problem, but Irfan Can Kahveci took part in full training and should be available; Real Madrid wonderkid Arda Guler could be ready to start after a minor groin injury restricted him to a cameo role on Saturday.

Having been booked for the second time in two games, Abdulkerim Bardakci must now serve a suspension, so Merih Demiral is set to step into Turkey’s back four.

Captain Hakan Çalhanoglu starts in midfield, currently topping his team’s rankings for touches (191), successful passes (149), passes into the final third (20) and possession won (14) at Euro 2024 so far.

The Inter Milan playmaker will walk a disciplinary tightrope, though, as he joins Samet Akaydin and Zeki Celik in being one booking away from a ban.

Czech Republic possible starting lineup:
Stanek; Holes, Hranac, Krejci; Coufal, Soucek, Provod, Doudera; Barak, Hlozek; Chytil

Turkey possible starting lineup:
Bayindir; Muldur, Demiral, Ayhan, Kadioglu; Yuksek, Calhanoglu; Akturkoglu, Guler, Yildiz; Yilmaz

Preview: Netherlands vs. Austria

Requiring just one point to ensure a place in the knockout phase of Euro 2024, the Netherlands meet Austria for their final Group D fixture on Tuesday.

The teams convene in Berlin, with the Oranje having four points on the board following their stalemate with France; Ralf Rangnick’s men swept past Poland last time out but must now avoid defeat to have a good chance of reaching the last 16.

Match preview

Aiming to reach the knockout rounds for an eighth time in their last nine European Championship appearances, the Netherlands took one step closer to their primary goal by holding tournament favourites France to a 0-0 draw on Friday night.

Though neither side could break the deadlock in Leipzig, Xavi Simons appeared to have put his team ahead in the 69th minute, with the skilful forward firing into the bottom corner after France goalkeeper Mike Maignan had denied Memphis Depay.

However, following a lengthy VAR check, the strike was ultimately ruled out for offside, with Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries judged to have been interfering with Maignan’s dive – that left boss Ronald Koeman fuming, but his side still managed to put themselves within a whisker of the last 16.

Having previously beaten Poland 2-1 in their opener, the Oranje will secure a place in Group D’s top two should they avoid losing to Austria; guaranteeing first place if they win and France fail to deliver against Poland.

Meanwhile, if Koeman’s men draw and France win they will still finish second – even in defeat, four points would likely prove enough to progress as a third-placed finisher.

Since the 2014 World Cup, the Netherlands are unbeaten in group matches at major tournaments, winning nine of 11 and scoring in each game except Friday’s goalless encounter with Les Bleus.

During that streak, Austria were beaten 2-0 at Euro 2020, when Depay and Dumfries were both on target at the Johan Cruijff Arena. A repeat would now take a highly-rated Dutch squad through to the next phase with room to spare.

Including defeat in Amsterdam three summers ago, Austria have lost their last seven matches against the Netherlands – their longest ongoing sequence against a single opponent.

In fact, their last victory over the Oranje dates back to May 1990, but ending that barren run may be necessary on Tuesday evening, in order to ensure qualification for the last 16.

Austria will actually win Group D if they take maximum points and France do not, but should they draw and Les Bleus lose, the Austrians will instead finish third on head-to-head record.

One point would surely prove sufficient to progress as a best third-place team in any case, helping Das Team reach the European Championship knockout rounds for the second consecutive edition. Having failed to get past the group stage in their first two appearances – as hosts in 2008, and then again eight years later – that would represent an impressive achievement.

After suffering defeat to France in their first match at Euro 2024, two players recalled to the starting lineup were on the scoresheet as Ralf Rangnick’s side recorded an important 3-1 victory over Poland on Friday afternoon.

Gernot Trauner opened the scoring, and Christoph Baumgartner netted Austria’s second after a clever dummy from Marko Arnautovic, who went on to confirm all three points from the penalty spot with 12 minutes remaining.

Following their 3-1 victory in Berlin, the Austrians could now win back-to-back games at a major finals for the first time since 1982 when they step out at the iconic Olympiastadion once again.

Team News

Ronald Koeman should have a full squad at his disposal for the Netherlands’ final group fixture, as Ajax striker Brian Brobbey was back on the bench for the France game after overcoming a hamstring injury.

Introducing Jeremie Frimpong for PSV midfielder Joey Veerman was Koeman’s only change on Friday, but with one foot already in the last 16, further switches will surely be considered.

Both Veerman and his clubmate Jerdy Schouten are one booking away from suspension, which may be a minor factor in team selection, potentially opening the door for Ryan Gravenberch or Georginio Wijnaldum to join Tijjani Reijnders.

The latter completed more line-breaking passes than any Dutch player last time out (13), also boasting the best pass completion rate of any outfield starter (97%).

Up front, Wout Weghorst will hope to supplant Memphis Depay, who is just five goals shy of equalling Robin van Persie’s record total for the Oranje.

At the back, Virgil van Dijk made eight clearances against France: the most by a Netherlands player in a group game at the European Championship since 2008. The Liverpool stalwart will captain his national team once again.

Meanwhile, Austria boss Ralf Rangnick tinkered with his starting XI ahead of the victory over Poland, so more changes cannot be ruled out on Tuesday.

Against France, Max Wober and Kevin Danso were paired in central defence, but Gernot Trauner and Philipp Lienhart stepped into the side last time out. After scoring the opener, Trauner was later forced off by a muscular problem, so his fitness is now in some doubt.

Christoph Baumgartner claimed the ‘Man of the Match’ award so is likely to be retained, while all-time top scorer Marko Arnautovic again battles it out with Michael Gregoritsch to spearhead the Austrian attack.

Captain Marcel Sabitzer will make his 10th major tournament appearance, becoming the first Austrian to do since the 1982 World Cup. His fellow midfielder Nicolas Seiwald has recovered possession 11 times and made 10 tackles in two games at Euro 2024 so far – both the most of any Austria player – and is yet to concede a foul.

Netherlands possible starting lineup:
Verbruggen; Dumfries, De Vrij, Van Dijk, Ake; Reijnders, Schouten; Frimpong, Simons, Gakpo; Depay

Austria possible starting lineup:
Pentz; Posch, Danso, Lienhart, Mwene; Seiwald, Laimer; Wimmer, Baumgartner, Sabitzer; Gregoritsch