Titleholder Italy joins Spain, Croatia in tough group at Euro 2024. Host Germany opens vs Scotland

Titleholder Italy joins Spain, Croatia in tough group at Euro 2024. Host Germany opens vs Scotland

HAMBURG, Germany — Defending champion Italy was drawn in a tough group at the 2024 European Championship with two-time winner Spain, 2022 World Cup semifinalist Croatia and Albania on Saturday.

Italy, the Euro 2020 winner, shaped as the most difficult option from the draw pot of lowest-ranked teams and so it proved.

Italy beat Spain – the back-to-back title winner in 2008 and 2012 – in the semifinals to win that title.

The draw ensured the other Euro 2020 semifinal also will be a rematch in Germany next year. England will again face Denmark, which it beat to reach the final. Their group also includes Slovenia and Serbia.

France, the World Cup finalist a year ago, was drawn with Austria, the Netherlands – which the French beat twice in a qualifying group this year – and the winner of a playoff bracket in March involving Poland, Estonia, Wales and Finland.

Germany, on a run of poor results, will open its home tournament against Scotland on June 14 at Bayern Munich’s stadium. The group includes Hungary and Switzerland.

Germany lost six of its 13 friendlies this year and will not play a competitive game until facing Scotland to start the month-long tournament.

Portugal, still led by Cristiano Ronaldo, was the only team to come through qualifying groups with a perfect winning record and will play Turkey, the Czech Republic and the playoff winner from Georgia, Luxembourg, Euro 2004 champion Greece, and Kazakhstan.

Belgium was grouped with Romania, Slovakia, and the playoff winner from Israel, Iceland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ukraine. That playoff bracket could see a final between Ukraine and Israel with a place at Euro 2024 at stake.

Just 21 of the 24 tournament teams are confirmed, with three placeholders in the draw for the eventual winners of qualifying playoffs. The 12 teams in three knockout brackets will play single-leg semifinals and finals from March 21-26.

The draw was made at a waterside concert hall in the northern port city Hamburg, and was disrupted by unexplained noises clearly heard on stage and in the international broadcast.

Hamburg is among 10 cities that will host the 51 games, and only Düsseldorf’s stadium was not also used at the 2006 World Cup.

The final is on July 14 at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin which also staged the final in 2006.


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