Our football expert previews some of the biggest Euro 2024 qualifiers as the opening group games take place across the continent, with holders Italy and 2016 winners France both in action.
Italy v England
Euro 2024 qualifiers don’t get much bigger as two old foes face off in Group C. The Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples hosts this mouth-watering tie on Thursday.
The Italians haven’t lost to their opponents since August 2012, with three wins and three draws since, including the Euro 2020 final at Wembley on penalties against the Three Lions.
However, due to several injuries, the home side are slight underdogs currently at 2.78. Roberto Mancini will look for the perfect start as they set out to retain the European Championship next summer.
Gareth Southgate’s men will be buoyed by their performance against France in the World Cup quarter-final back in December. Ultimately it’s results they need against the world’s best to have any hope of winning a major tournament again. A win over the Azzurri would be a statement result, currently priced at 2.45.
Harry Kane is 2.70 to score in the game and become England’s all-time leading goalscorer with 54, surpassing Wayne Rooney (53).
France v Netherlands
Euro 2016 winners France begin their qualification journey on Friday with a tough home tie against the Netherlands, who welcome Ronald Koeman back to the dugout.
Kylian Mbappe and Co will look to shake off their World Cup final defeat to Argentina and lead a fresh Le Bleus side to a win (1.72). Key players such as Hugo Lloris and Raphael Varane retired from the national team at the end of 2022.
In his second spell as Dutch boss, Koeman might’ve hoped for an easier start as the national team coach. Equally, it’s a chance to make a statement against arguably the world’s best sides over the last decade. They’re currently an outside shot at 4.16.
The two sides last met at the Stade de France in 2018, with France winning 2-1 after goals from Mbappe and Olivier Giroud. The PSG star is 2.20 to be on the scoresheet once again.
**Odds are subject to change. Odds accurate as of 12:00pm GMT Thursday 23rd March**
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