Champs Italy to meet Spain in group stage

04 December,2023 07:59 AM IST |  Hamburg  |  AFP

Gareth Southgate’s much-fancied England side will meet Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia, with hosts Germany taking on Scotland in the tournament’s opening game on June 14 in Munich.

Luciano Spalletti

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Reigning champions Italy were placed in the same group as Spain in Saturday's draw for Euro 2024, while France will come up against the Netherlands and England avoided any of the toughest opponents. Gareth Southgate's much-fancied England side will meet Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia, with hosts Germany taking on Scotland in the tournament's opening game on June 14 in Munich.

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Italy, who beat England on penalties at Wembley in the final of the last European Championship in 2021, and Spain will also face Croatia and Albania in Group B. Spain, victors over Italy in the final of Euro 2012, will take on 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia in their opening match in Berlin on June 15. Italy were always likely to face a difficult draw after being placed in the bottom pot based on their results in qualifying, when they scraped through with a 0-0 stalemate against Ukraine in their final match.

"When you're in the fourth pot you know that you have a lot of teams ahead of you, but you can't forget that you represent Italy and you have to play every match with pride," coach Luciano Spalletti told broadcaster RAI. The meeting of France, the 2022 World Cup runners-up, and the Netherlands will be the other heavyweight tie of the opening phase. They were in the same section in qualifying, with France winning both encounters. The two nations are in Group D along with Austria and a play-off winner, which will be one of Poland, Wales, Finland or Estonia.

England, in contrast, will have few complaints about their opponents in Group C, although a Denmark side ranked 19th in the world were arguably the team to avoid from the second pot of seeds.

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