Germany and Scotland prepare to open Euro 2024 in Munich

By PA Sport Staff

Euro 2024 gets under way on Friday night as hosts Germany take on Steve Clarke’s Scotland in their Group A opener.

The match in Munich is the first of 51 to decide the next European champions, with the final taking place at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on July 14th.

England are in the unusual position of being overall favourites to win it, just ahead of France, but Germany are next on the list and will be looking to make a statement in front of their own fans on the opening night.

Here, we bring you up to speed before the tournament kicks off.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Previews – Thursday June 13th
Munich will be the setting for the opening fixture of Euro 2024 (Andrew Milligan/PA) Photo by Andrew Milligan

Scotland have made it to the finals of a European Championship for the fourth time, and an appointment in the tournament’s opening fixture will put them firmly in the spotlight.

Few will fancy them against the Germans, a nation Scotland have never beaten in a competitive fixture, and there is little in their recent form to suggest an upset is on the cards.

They finished second in qualifying on the back of winning their opening five qualifiers, then failing to win any of the last three.

In fact, they have won only one of their last nine matches – a 2-0 friendly win over minnows Gibraltar at the start of the month, and their recent record includes a home defeat to Northern Ireland and a heavy loss to the Dutch in March.

RB Leipzig v Manchester United – UEFA Champions League – Group H – Red Bull Arena
Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann is younger than some of the players in his squad (PA/DPA) Photo by PA Wire via DPA

Few players in Germany’s powerful squad will need much of an introduction. Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer, Antonio Rudiger and Ilkay Gundogan are all hugely experienced players who have competed at the highest level for several years.

But while so many of the faces are familiar, we know far less about their recent form given they have played so few competitive games in recent times. Bypassing qualifying by virtue of being hosts, Germany played 11 friendlies last year but won only three, losing six.

Former Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, at 36 younger than the likes of Kroos and Neuer, took over in September and they are unbeaten since the turn of the year, a run that has included wins over France and the Netherlands – but the pressure has been off. At least until now.

“Now we’re all getting kind of nervous, a little bit,” Nagelsmann said on the eve of the tournament. “I think it’s normal, but it’s good as well, because if you’re kind of nervous, you’ll be focused, on the first game especially.”

England Training – Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land – Thursday June 13th
John Stones returned to training with England on Thursday (Adam Davy/PA) Photo by Adam Davy

England do not get their campaign under way until Sunday, when they are due to face Serbia in Gelsenkirchen.

But there was good news for Gareth Southgate on Thursday as John Stones returned to training to mean there was a full compliment of players going through their paces in Blankhenhain.

Stones was withdrawn as a precaution during Friday’s friendly defeat to Iceland after taking a blow to the ankle, and then missed Wednesday’s training session with an unspecified illness.

But the versatile Manchester City defender now appears to be back up to full speed.

UEFA EURO 2024 – Previews – Thursday June 13th
Germany and Scotland fans shake hands at Marienplatz, Munich (Bradley Collyer/PA) Photo by Bradley Collyer

Germany v Scotland, 8pm, RTÉ 2