Opinions around the team are always extreme but they go to Germany with high hopes

England fans show their support before the friendly against Bosnia & Herzegovina. Photograph: Matt McNulty/The FA/Getty Images

This article is part of the Guardian’s Euro 2024 Experts’ Network, a cooperation between some of the best media organisations from the 24 countries who qualified. is running previews from two countries each day in the run-up to the tournament kicking off on 14 June.


Let the psychodrama commence. England are the best team in the world. It would be an act of high treason if they fail to win Euro 2024. It would be because they’re woke. It would be because their players once took the knee. But also, is anyone else worried about the lack of available left-backs and the problematic third midfield spot? Wait a minute. Are England even going to get out of their group? Why are all the defenders injured? Did Gareth Southgate watch Harry Winks this season?

Opinions can be extreme when it comes to assessing England before a tournament. The reality is that they are probably the second-best team in Europe. A potential rematch with France, who knocked England out of the 2022 World Cup, would be fascinating. England were close to winning the quarter-final in Qatar. They may well have gone through if Harry Kane had scored that second penalty.

The margins are impossibly fine. England should have won Euro 2020, only for caution to prove their undoing when they lost on penalties to Italy in the final. Since then, though, the squad has improved. They breezed through qualifying, finishing comfortably clear of Italy and Ukraine, and boast a wealth of attacking talent. Supporting Kane will be Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden, with Declan Rice patrolling midfield. Cole Palmer could be around for a penalty.

But the usual doubts persist. England’s main left-back, Luke Shaw, has missed most of the season. The defence could be vulnerable against elite opposition. The right balance in midfield remains elusive and Southgate still has to prove he has the tactical chops to win a really big game. The idea they should waltz to the trophy is nothing more than the usual overheated hype.