Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann has claimed all the pressure is on Hungary, and not his team, ahead of Wednesday's Group A clash.

Euro 2024 hosts Germany got off to a flying start as they thrashed Scotland 5-1 in Munich last week.

Hungary, meanwhile, were beaten 3-1 by Switzerland.

While the four best third-placed teams will progress to the last 16, Nagelsmann believes the onus will firmly be on Hungary, rather than the host nation, in Stuttgart.

"I had put Scotland and Hungary on a very similar level," Nagelsmann told reporters. 

"It depends how we play tomorrow. Hungary are under a bit more pressure than we are after the first match.

"I think they have to be a bit more aggressive than against Switzerland as they could potentially be out of the tournament."

Nagelsmann is not taking anything for granted, though.

"We have analysed the Hungarians and have a clear idea how we will play," Nagelsmann added. "It is about winning the game tomorrow.

"We saw their first match against Swiss where it was a game of two halves. Hungary deserved more than they got in the end.

"In the qualifiers, Hungary were the second-best team when it came to creating or converting chances from set pieces.

"They play a good transition game. They have strikers who are powerful in the air. They play with precise crosses. They are very dangerous."

Hungary are without a win in their last seven games at the European Championships (D4 L3) since beating Austria 2-0 in the 2016 group stage. 

However, Germany have won only one of their last six matches played on home soil against Hungary (D2 L3), a 2-0 friendly victory in June 2016.

Indeed, Germany and Hungary's three previous meetings at a major tournament have produced 20 goals, an average of 6.7 per game. Hungary opened the scoring in each of those three matches.

They met in the group stage at Euro 2020 – the match ended 2-2, with Hungary ultimately heading out while Germany progressed to the last 16, only to lose to England.

And Hungary coach Marco Rossi stated his team must be perfect if they are to pull off a win.

"We've paid for these mistakes in the first game and tomorrow we are playing Germany which, in my opinion, is the toughest rival, toughest team to play now, but we will do our best," Rossi said.

"We know on paper the German team is better than us. This should further motivate us, allowing us to give our very best show.

"Hopefully we can grasp a point tomorrow and that will allow us, I hope, to qualify for the next round. But this will call for the perfect match, all those playing must give 100 per cent."

Toni Kroos calmed Germany's nerves ahead of Friday's historic Euro 2024 thrashing of Scotland by giving an inspirational team talk, Julian Nagelsmann has revealed.

Germany recorded the largest ever win in the opening game of a European Championship at the Allianz Arena, putting 10-man Scotland to the sword as Florian Wirtz, Jamal Musiala, Kai Havertz, Niclas Fullkrug and Emre Can scored.

Kroos has come out of international retirement to represent Germany at their home tournament ahead of calling time on his glittering career, and he produced a metronomic midfield performance.

The 34-year-old completed 99 per cent of his passes against Scotland (101/102), the highest completion rate on record (since 1980) of any player to attempt 100 or more passes in a Euros match.

Joshua Kimmich was the only player to match his four chances created, while 36 of his passes entered the final third as Scotland were penned back from the off.

 

Before dominating the midfield battle, Kroos brought an air of calm to an excitable Germany dressing room, Nagelsmann has revealed.

"He is very important, just like everyone else," Nagelsmann said in his news conference when asked about Kroos. "He's very experienced and calm.

"The team were really loud and he said a few quiet words that were really powerful. He is part of the group, but that experience is what makes him different. 

"With his record, some would have problems being accepted, but he is not arrogant, he is very important for the team and a pole of calmness.

"But despite all of his successes and status, we see him as part of the group."

Germany take on Hungary in their second Group A game in Stuttgart on Wednesday, before facing Switzerland in Frankfurt on June 23.

Scotland were no match for Germany as the rampant Euro 2024 hosts made a dream start to the tournament on Friday.

Florian Wirtz got the ball rolling in the 10th minute, becoming the youngest scorer of an opening goal at the European Championships in the tournament's history.

The excellent Jamal Musiala soon made it 2-0, rifling home after he was set up by Kai Havertz inside the area.

In Wirtz (21 years, 42 days) and Musiala (21 years, 109 days), Germany became the first team in European Championship history to have two players aged 21 or younger score in the same match.

Havertz turned scorer when he slotted in from the penalty spot before half-time, with Scotland defender Ryan Porteous seeing red for a lunge on Ilkay Gundogan, after a VAR review.

Porteous became the second Scottish player sent off at a major tournament, after Craig Burley in the 1998 World Cup against Morocco.

It is the first time a player has been sent off in the opening game of the Euros since 2012, when both Sokratis (Greece) and Wojciech Szczesny (Poland) were dismissed in a 1-1 draw.

Havertz's successfully converted spot-kick also ensured Germany went in at half-time 3-0 up – it is just the third time in European Championship history a team has scored three goals in the first half of a game, along with France vs Belgium in 1984 (3-0 at half-time) and France vs Iceland in 2016 (4-0 at half-time).

Germany made their numerical advantage count to go on and secure the biggest win by a host nation in their opening match at a European Championship tournament, and their biggest victory ever at the Euros, with an own goal from Antonio Rudiger the only negative.

Indeed, that own goal was kind to Scotland, who had only one shot, which they failed to get on target, and mustered an xG of only 0.01, in comparison to Germany's 2.17.

It marks the first time Scotland have failed to have a shot on target in a major tournament match since 1992, when they faced the Netherlands in the Euros.

Steve Clarke's team put in a sorry performance, and must now pick themselves up to face Switzerland. They will go into that match on Wednesday on the back of suffering their heaviest defeat at a major tournament since they lost 7-0 to Uruguay at the 1954 World Cup.

Germany, meanwhile, already have one foot in the knockouts, and could get the job done by beating Hungary.

Musiala really was sensational, completing five of his eight dribble attempts while also having six touches in the opponent's box – four more than Scotland managed altogether.

And finally, this match was the first match in European Championship history to see a red card, a penalty scored and an own goal scored.

Euro 2024 has started in style, even if Scotland fans will be in a hurry to forget this result.

Julian Nagelsmann hailed his Germany players for the way they handled the pressure of being Euro 2024 hosts in their 5-1 win over Scotland, adding he was surprised by the lack of aggression on show from Steve Clarke's men.

Germany recorded the biggest opening-game win at a European Championship, with Florian Wirtz, Jamal Musiala, Kai Havertz, Niclas Fullkrug and Emre Can scoring.

The result made Nagelsmann just the second coach to win his first Euros game by four or more goals, after Sweden's Lars Lagerback in 2004 (5-0 versus Bulgaria).

It was also Germany's biggest victory at the Euros, and the first time Scotland had conceded five or more goals in a competitive game since they were trounced 6-0 by the Netherlands in a Euro 2004 qualifier 21 years ago.

Germany endured a troubled build-up to their home tournament, with Nagelsmann only having eight games to prepare after Hansi Flick was sacked last year.

He believes they did an excellent job of handling the pressure that comes with a home opener, telling ITV Sport: "I'm happy, I'm satisfied. 

"In the first game as the home country… we looked back at the first games of the last tournaments and there can be a kind of pressure.

 

"Especially in the first 20 minutes, we were brilliant, we had great ball possession and great counter-pressing. 

"I was happy with the performance and we stayed focused for the whole game.

"We conceded one goal, but in the end it's okay. Our players were complaining about conceding that goal, which is a good sign when we were already four goals in the lead."

Scotland did not attempt a single shot on target and failed to register an effort of any kind until Scott McKenna forced an own goal off Antonio Rudiger in the 87th minute.

Nagelsmann admits he was expecting more from Clarke's team, who found themselves three goals and a man down by half-time as Ryan Porteous was sent off for a horror challenge on Ilkay Gundogan. 

 

"I was kind of surprised that Scotland weren't that aggressive in the first 20 minutes," Nagelsmann said.

"I think they were surprised by our possession, which was really concentrated. They started the game very well and made one mistake in the first 15 minutes.

"Then they were kind of surprised, kind of afraid. They felt we had players in the offensive row that could score goals so they defended low. 

"They didn't make the high pressure like they sometimes did in the qualifiers. I think the first 20 minutes were the key to the game."

Florian Wirtz needed only 10 minutes to spark Euro 2024 into life.

After a brilliant season for Bayer Leverkusen, in which he was named the Bundesliga's Player of the Season, Wirtz came into Euro 2024 as one of the standout youngsters.

His first-time finish to put Germany ahead in Munich on Friday, a cute side-footed effort that Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn could only help in off the post, proved why everyone is so excited to see how Julian Nagelsmann gets the best out of a player who scored 18 goals and set up 19 more in all competitions in 2023-24.

Wirtz's goal set Germany on their way to a 5-1 rout – the biggest win for a host in the opening match of a Euros in the tournament's history.

He was not the superstar of Germany's performance, though. His fellow youngster, Jamal Musiala, was spellbinding.

Having lashed in a wonderful second goal for the hosts, Musiala ran the show in the final third, and played a key role with a wonderful pass when super-sub Niclas Fullkrug made it 4-0 midway through the second half.

Musiala, who was the one bright spark from Germany's dismal performance under Hansi Flick at the 2022 World Cup, teased and toyed with Scotland. He attempted eight dribbles, completing five, had a game-high six touches in the opposition box and came out on top in nine of his 15 duels before he was replaced, fittingly perhaps, by the vastly experienced Thomas Muller.

The intriguing question ahead of kick-off was how Nagelsmann, the youngest-ever coach in the history of the Euros, would manage to get those two fantastic number 10s into the same team.

His answer was to dovetail the duo with an experienced midfield – Ilkay Gundogan (33) played ahead of Robert Andrich (29) and the imperious Toni Kroos (34) – and it worked a treat.

Wirtz is the youngest player to score the opening goal at a Euros, and the youngest player to net for Germany at the tournament. 

Once Musiala drilled home, Germany became the first team to have two players aged 21 or younger score for them in the same Euros match.

But it was not all about the flair of youth at the Allianz Arena, where the only blemish on Germany's copybook was an Antonio Rudiger own goal as Scotland mustered a meagre 0.01 xG and failed to have a shot on target.

Kroos, in the first game of his swansong, led the game for touches (108), and completed 101 (99 per cent) of his 102 passes. It was his crossfield pass that opened up the pitch for Joshua Kimmich to cut inside from the right and lay on Wirtz's opener.

Gundogan nipped around, linking the play; the Barcelona midfielder won the penalty from which Kai Havertz made it 3-0 – and which led to Scotland defender Ryan Porteous becoming the second Scottish player sent off at a major tournament, after Craig Burley in the 1998 World Cup against Morocco. 

At the back, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made his 35th appearance at a major tournament. It saw the 38-year-old surpass Philipp Lahm as Germany's all-time appearance maker in the Euros and World Cup combined.

Indeed, for all the talk that Nagelsmann had gone with a relatively inexperienced squad for this home tournament, and that it could act as a way to build towards the 2026 World Cup, Germany's starting XI on Friday had an average age of 29 years and 22 days. 

 

That makes it Germany's oldest starting XI at a World Cup or Euros since 2000.

There was a healthy balance all around the pitch for Germany, as Nagelsmann became only the second manager to win by four goals in his first game at the European Championship, along with Lars Lagerback in 2004 (Sweden 5-0 Bulgaria).

And the men in the middle are worth a mention.

Havertz is no longer the bright new hope for German football, but the 25-year-old was hugely impressive as he led the line, providing the assist for Musiala and coolly converting his penalty.

Niclas Fullkrug, fresh from helping Borussia Dortmund reach the Champions League final, replaced Havertz around the hour mark. Soon after, he fired in a wonderful strike.

He will be playing a back-up role in this tournament, but he should not mind that. Three of Fullkrug's major tournament goals have been as a sub, a joint-record for a European nation, along with Hungary's Laszlo Kiss, Portugal's Rui Costa, and Germany's Andre Schurrle.

Fullkrug's club-mate Emre Can, a late call-up, rounded matters off late on. 

Germany have not always clicked under Nagelsmann, but they are clearly the best team in Group A and have the weight of a nation behind them.

Hungary and Switzerland will likely provide sterner tests than Scotland, though with a perfect blend of youth and experience, the hosts laid down a marker.

Andy Robertson admitted Scotland "didn't turn up" in the first half of their chastening 5-1 defeat to Euro 2024 hosts Germany on Friday.

Backed by a vocal travelling contingent in Munich, Scotland were chasing their first major tournament victory since the turn of the century but were torn apart by Julian Nagelsmann's side.

Florian Wirtz, Jamal Musiala and Kai Havertz netted as Scotland went into half-time three goals and a man down, having seen Ryan Porteous sent off for a wild challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.

Substitutes Niclas Fullkrug and Emre Can then scored in the second half either side of an Antonio Rudiger own goal, as Scotland conceded five goals in a game for the first time since a 5-1 friendly defeat to the United States in May 2012.

At the other end, Scotland failed to record a single shot on target in a major tournament match for the first time since a 1-0 loss to the Netherlands at Euro 1992.

Speaking to ITV Sport after the full-time whistle, Liverpool left-back Robertson said Scotland's players had let boss Steve Clarke down.

"In the first half we didn't really show up. We weren't aggressive enough, we let good players on the ball," Robertson said.

"They obviously had a gameplan, like we did. Their gameplan worked a million times better than ours but it wasn't because of the practice, it was because we didn't put it together on the pitch.

"When big occasions like this come, you have to do that. In the second half, down to 10 men, I thought the lads dug in really well, to be fair to them. 

"We could have drawn the second half but it's no consolation. We're well backed here with so many supporters, and today was hugely disappointing.

"Playing against the host nation in the first game, you don't get much tougher than that. But we have to bounce back quickly because there was a lot of things wrong today."

Scotland's defeat was their heaviest at any major tournament since the 1954 World Cup, when they were trounced 7-0 by then-world champions Uruguay.

They have five days to put the result out of their minds ahead of their second Group A match, against Switzerland at the RheinEnergieStadion in Koln.

"It's a reminder of how tough this tournament is. You're playing against world-class players and their players turned up all over the park," Robertson added.

"They had an answer for everything we had. Sometimes that happens but if we sit down, we can't think we played to our maximum, and you have to do that. 

"We have five days to sort ourselves out and go again, it will be another tough test against Switzerland. We'll take tomorrow to be angry at ourselves but then come Sunday, we have to be positive."

Manuel Neuer has surpassed Philipp Lahm as Germany's outright leader for appearances at major tournaments.

Neuer started as Germany began their Euro 2024 campaign against Scotland in Munich on Friday.

That marked the goalkeeper's 35th start at either the Euros or the World Cup, seeing him overtake his former team-mate, and a fellow 2014 world champion, Lahm (34).

Indeed, only Cristiano Ronaldo (43) and Paolo Maldini (36) have made more appearances among European players at the World Cup/Euros combined.

Neuer also equalled the record by a goalkeeper, tying level with former France captain Hugo Lloris.

The 38-year-old was not the only veteran campaigner named by Julian Nagelsmann, with Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan, Joshua Kimmich and Antonio Rudiger among the seasoned internationals in Germany's starting XI.

With an average age of 29 years and 22 days, it was Germany's oldest starting XI for a World Cup or Euros game since June 2000.

Julian Nagelsmann is confident his side can beat the pressure of being the host nation as they prepare to kick off the tournament against Scotland on Friday.

The 36-year-old is taking charge of his first major tournament with Germany after taking over from Hansi Flick in September and has lost just one of his eight games since taking over.

Germany have struggled in recent major tournaments, getting knocked out of Euro 2020 in the round of 16 before crashing out of the 2022 World Cup in the group stages.

However, Die Mannschaft are aiming to end that run, chasing a fourth European title and their first since 1996, with Nagelsmann confident his team can channel their nervous energy into positive performances.

"I think we're a bit nervous, but it's an important point, we have to have a certain nervousness," he said. "There was such a buzz [in the camp], a bit like in school. It was really loud: 'Can everyone please calm down a bit!'.

"I look in our players' eyes and see the belief and will to win. I want us to believe in ourselves: we have great players, good togetherness, home advantage, we've had great training sessions and a good mentality.

"We have everything: we just have to show it tomorrow, and that's why belief is very important.

"We can beat pressure, and we can beat Scotland as well."

Scotland arrive as heavy outsiders and are making just their fourth appearance at the Euros compared to Germany's record 14.

The Tartan Army qualified second in their group after a strong opening to their campaign, and Nagelsmann praised their performances under Steve Clark.

"They don't have world stars, but that makes them very dangerous," he added. "They work very hard and have a classic mentality, but it's not a kick and rush team. They can do that, but they can play football.

"We will have more pressure on us than Scotland, and they will want to capitalise on that."

Euro 2024 kicks off on Friday as Germany take on Scotland in Munich, and a flying start is on the agenda for Julian Nagelsmann's team.

Scotland, in their fourth appearance at the European Championships, would probably have been hoping for an easier start than going up against the hosts in the tournament's opening match.

Steve Clarke's team qualified in second place, behind Spain and ahead of Erling Haaland's Norway, from their group.

Germany, meanwhile, have picked up form under Nagelsmann since he was appointed as Hansi Flick's successor, and the former Bayern Munich coach has plenty of talent at his disposal, even if the Euro 2024 hosts are not considered to be among the biggest favourites.

Mats Hummels, Serge Gnabry and Leon Goretzka are three big-name absentees from Germany's squad, while Bayern youngster Aleksandar Pavlovic had to withdraw from the squad on Wednesday due to injury.

But in Jamal Musiala, Florian Wirtz, Leroy Sane, Kai Havertz and Borussia Dortmund's Niclas Fullkrug, Germany have an exciting attack, while Toni Kroos will anchor the midfield before he heads off into retirement.

This is Nagelsmann's first major tournament as head coach. Jupp Derwall was the last Germany boss to win a major tournament with them at the first attempt (Euro 1980).

Here, we use Opta data to preview the Euro 2024 opener.

 

What's expected?

It's no surprise to see that Germany are the overwhelming favourites to win this match, with Opta's supercomputer ranking their chances of victory at 58 per cent. 

Germany and Scotland are facing each other for the third time at a major tournament. Germany won the two previous encounters, in the group stages of the 1986 World Cup (2-1) and Euro 1992 (2-0). 

Indeed, Scotland have won only one of their last 13 matches against Germany (D4 L8); it was in April 1999, with Don Hutchison scoring the only goal in a Bremen friendly (0-1).

After losing to Turkiye and Austria, Germany have gone unbeaten in their last four matches. That being said, they were not particularly impressive in their warm-up matches. 

Following a 0-0 draw with Ukraine, Germany beat Greece 2-1 last time out, though they mustered a disappointing 0.88 expected goals (xG), in contrast to their opponents' 2.14.

The scoreline is the statistic that matters at tournaments, with Havertz grabbing an equaliser midway through the second half before Pascal Gross secured a late victory, but it should give Scotland some hope, even though they are handed just a 21 per cent win likelihood, with the draw threat also at 21 per cent.

Scotland won their first five Euro 2024 qualifiers but then failed to win any of their final three (D2 L1), conceding seven goals in those games after only shipping one goal in their first five games.

They beat Gibraltar 2-0 and then drew 2-2 with Finland in their warm-up friendlies, though they head into Euro 2024 without some key players, with full-backs Aaron Hickey and Nathan Patterson, and striker Lyndon Dykes, out due to injury.

Germany have won only one of their last five matches played in Munich (D3 L1), a 4-2 victory against Portugal at Euro 2020, so while the smart money is on the hosts, Scotland should not go into this one without confidence, with captain Andrew Robertson and midfield duo John McGinn and Scott McTominay offering a threat, too.

Home hopes

This is the fourth time that Germany are sole hosts of a major international tournament, reaching the final four in each of the previous three editions: champions at the 1974 World Cup, semi-finalists at Euro 1988 and third place at the 2006 World Cup.

Germany are taking part in their 14th Euros, more than any other team. They have won the trophy three times, the joint-most alongside Spain.

Nagelsmann has been happy to lean on inexperience for his squad selection, and in Wirtz and Musiala, he has two of the most exciting youngsters in world football at his disposal.

Wirtz scored 11 goals and added 11 assists during Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten Bundesliga title-winning campaign to claim Player of the Season honours in Germany's top tier.

Musiala, meanwhile, scored 10 goals from an xG of 7.9 in the league.

Behind them, the returning Kroos brings plenty of experience, alongside Ilkay Gundogan, who created the second-most chances of any player in Europe's top five leagues in all competitions in 2023-24, with 132.

Havertz is likely to lead the line with support from Fullkrug, but Thomas Muller is another weapon in Germany's arsenal. He has scored 10 goals in 19 appearances at the World Cup (36 shots), but he has never scored in 15 appearances at the European Championships (31 shots).

Will it finally be Muller time? 

 

At the other end of the pitch, though, Germany do have some issues. On paper, Jonathan Tah, Nico Schlotterbeck and Antonio Rudiger are a fine trio to choose from in the centre of defence, while Joshua Kimmich can play at right-back, but Nagelsmann needs to make sure the team's defending is better than it was against Greece. Perhaps Hummels' experience would have been useful?

Germany have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 12 games at major international tournaments. The last time they kept a clean sheet was against Slovakia in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.

Fourth time lucky?

This is Clarke's second major international tournament as a manager, after Euro 2020. He is the first Scotland boss to lead the team into two consecutive Euros.

Scotland have never reached the knockouts of the Euros in any of their three previous appearances at the tournament.

They have won just two of their nine Euro matches, with those victories coming over CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) in 1992 and Switzerland in 1996. Scotland have failed to score in six of their nine games at the European Championships.

While Germany are one of the toughest possible opponents to face first up, if Scotland could get something from this match, then they would be in a great position ahead of meetings with Hungary and Switzerland.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Germany – Toni Kroos

Kroos' presence in midfield will be a major boost to a team that averaged 59.3 per cent possession at Euro 2020 – second only to Spain (66.8 per cent).

The 34-year-old came out of international retirement to feature for Germany in their home tournament, though of course, it will now mark the final competitive event of his career.

Kroos – who won his sixth Champions League with Real Madrid this month – played more line-breaking passes (214) and passes leading to final-third entries (69) than any other player in UEFA's flagship club competition in 2023-24.

Scotland – Scott McTominay

A strong defence helped get them through qualifying, with a sprinkling of quality from McTominay, who was the top scorer in qualifying Group A with seven goals – one more than Manchester City superstar Haaland managed for Norway.

 

McTominay's goal tally is the joint most by a Scottish player in a Euros/World Cup qualifying campaign, along with Steven Fletcher (Euro 2016) and McGinn (Euro 2020).

And what is even more impressive, is that McTominay's goals came from just 1.77 xG, an overperformance of 5.23.

Germany will be without Bayern Munich's Aleksandar Pavlovic for Euro 2024 after the 20-year-old came down with tonsillitis three days before their Group A opener against Scotland. 

Pavlovic was set to feature in his first international tournament for his country despite only earning his first cap in a recent friendly against Ukraine.

However, he has since been ruled out after being absent from training in Herzogenaurach on Monday and Tuesday. 

Die Mannschaft coach Julian Naglesmann was quick to name his replacement, welcoming Borussia Dortmund captain Emre Can to his ranks. 

Can helped guide his side to the Champions League final where they lost to Real Madrid at Wembley, with Nagelsmann identifying the former Liverpool midfielder, who has 43 caps for Germany, as an ideal replacement for Pavlovic. 

"We wanted another Six in the squad and we decided to nominate Emre Can," Nagelsmann said.

"He was instantly excited and said he was ready to join the team. We wanted a player in the squad who has played a lot of matches and who knows how to handle pressure. He fits the profile and we can now use him."

Pavlovic's absence in the German squad will be felt having enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at the Allianz Arena under the guidance of Thomas Tuchel. 

The 20-year-old made 19 appearances in the Bundesliga this season, winning 15 of those, with the team scoring 54 goals in the process. 

Pavlovic would miss 15 games in the league, and his presence in midfield was missed as Bayern would win just eight times in the German's absence, as well as conceding 14 more goals.

Ilkay Gundogan says it will be "a huge honour and privilege" to lead host nation Germany in what will be a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" at Euro 2024. 

The three-time champions will host their first major international tournament since the 2006 World Cup, where they finished third after losing to eventual champions Italy in the semi-finals. 

Julian Nagelsmann's side are seeking an upturn in fortunes, having suffered back-to-back World Cup group-stage exits, while they were beaten by England in the round of 16 at Euro 2020.

Germany, whose final two warm-up games brought a goalless draw with Ukraine and a narrow 2-1 win over Greece, have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 12 games at major tournaments, last keeping a clean sheet against Slovakia in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.

DFB will launch the tournament at Munich Football Arena on Friday against Scotland, a team they have beaten in both previous major tournament encounters at the 1986 World Cup and 1992 European Championship.

And former Manchester City captain Gundogan, who skippered the Citizens to an historic treble in 2022-23, hopes he can use his leadership skills to inspire his nation to a strong showing on home soil.

"It's a huge honour, a huge privilege to be captain," the Barcelona midfielder said. "I have experienced an awful lot in my career, lots of great times but also lots of difficult times. I kind of know what it takes to be successful.

"All I can do is lead from the front, both on and off the pitch. I think the people of Germany – not just the fans – deserve some success.

"We know it'll be a tough game against Scotland. They have a lot of quality, lots of stars from the Premier League, so it's going to be a challenge, but we are confident.

"We're very well set up, full of quality and there's lots of potential in the squad; we just have to deliver now. We haven't done ourselves justice in recent tournaments.

"We hope this time that we benefit somewhat from the euphoria in our home country and the support of the fans, and that this carries us along. But we know we first have to earn the trust of our fans on the pitch. If we do, I think we will go a long way.

"Playing a [tournament] in your own country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so obviously it feels really special."

Gundogan also praised the impact of Nagelsmann, who is preparing for his first major international tournament as head coach since replacing Hansi Flick last September.

The 36-year-old is aiming to become the first Germany boss to win a competition at his first attempt since Jupp Derwall at the 1980 European Championship.

"He has brought structure to the team," Gundogan observed. "He has clear ideas about what he wants, but still, there is a calmness about how the coaching team deals with the squad, and there's a sense that they have confidence in the players, which reflects well on us.

"We knew that not everything would go perfectly, we knew we would make mistakes, but we have always felt that the coach was right behind the team. We have the right set-up and are capable of producing our best, to pay back the confidence he has in us."

Euro 2024 is almost upon us, with Europe's finest preparing to battle it out to be crowned continental champions in Germany.

It all gets under way on Friday as Julian Nagelsmann's hosts face Scotland at the Allianz Arena. 

It seems remarkable to think Die Nationalelf – the most successful national team in Europe – have gone eight years without a knockout win at a major tournament, and they will be desperately hoping home advantage inspires a better run this time around.

England, meanwhile, will be looking to bring football home and end 58 years of hurt in the country their captain Harry Kane thrived in last season.

The Three Lions' 2022 World Cup hopes were ended by France, who are again among the favourites. There is plenty more intrigue elsewhere, from defending champions Italy being drawn in a 'group of death' with Spain and Croatia to Cristiano Ronaldo leading Portugal into a sixth edition of the Euros.

And who could forget Georgia's first tournament as an independent nation, or Scotland's attempts to upset the odds in Group A?

As Euros fever grips the continent, we run through the main storylines and contenders, pick out some underdogs and breakout stars to watch and take a look at the Opta supercomputer's predictions.

THE HOSTS

This will be the first edition of the Euros to take place solely in a unified Germany, though the Allianz Arena hosted games at Euro 2020 and West Germany staged the 1988 tournament – won by the Netherlands as Marco van Basten scored one of the most iconic goals in history against the USSR in the final.

This will be Germany's fourth major tournament as sole hosts overall, and they have always gone far on home soil, winning the 1974 World Cup and going out in the semi-finals at Euro 1988 and the 2006 World Cup.

Hopes were not high for them in late 2023 as a dismal run of friendly results saw Hansi Flick become the first Germany coach to be sacked. However, Nagelsmann has restored optimism and has a supremely talented group of players to work with.

Florian Wirtz's emergence as one of Europe's best attacking midfielders offers cause for excitement – the 21-year-old scored 11 goals and added 11 assists during Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten Bundesliga title-winning campaign to claim Player of the Season honours.

Wirtz, Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan will likely support Kai Havertz in a fluid attacking quartet, while Toni Kroos' presence in midfield will be a major boost to a team that averaged 59.3 per cent possession at Euro 2020 – second only to Spain (66.8 per cent).

Kroos – who won his sixth Champions League with Real Madrid this month – played more line-breaking passes (214) and passes leading to final-third entries (69) than any other player in Europe's premier club competition in 2023-24.

The major question mark could pertain to Kroos' partner, with Germany having lacked a true midfield enforcer for some time.

They have conceded at least one goal in their last 12 major tournament games, last keeping a clean sheet against Slovakia in the last 16 at Euro 2016. Will that soft underbelly cost them again?

THE FAVOURITES

England

England's Euro 2024 preparations have been far from perfect, with defensive mainstay Harry Maguire missing out through injury and their final friendly ending in defeat against Iceland. However, Gareth Southgate's side enter the tournament as the Opta supercomputer's favourites.

It is not difficult to see why. In Kane, England have a striker whose tally of 44 goals in 2023-24 was only matched by Kylian Mbappe among players from Europe's top five leagues.

In Jude Bellingham, they have the outstanding player from Madrid's double-winning side, recording 36 goal involvements (23 goals, 13 assists) in his debut season in Spain. 

And in Phil Foden, Southgate can call upon the Premier League's Player of the Season, who produced talismanic performances against Manchester United, Aston Villa and West Ham to cap Manchester City's fourth straight title success. 

With Southgate thought likely to depart whatever the outcome of England's campaign, this tournament must be the culmination of their development into genuine contenders. Penalty shoot-outs excluded, England have only lost one of their last 18 Euros games (10 wins, seven draws) – against Iceland in 2016. 

With Marc Guehi now likely to partner John Stones following injury-disrupted campaigns for both players, the key may be Southgate's ability to protect his backline. 

Across the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and Euro 2020, England conceded just 0.59 goals per game and allowed opponents a paltry 0.72 expected goals (xG) per match – a figure only bettered by France (0.67) among the leading European teams to make each tournament. Reproducing that kind of solidity will be crucial. 

France

Didier Deschamps is eyeing history in Germany, where he could become the first person to win the World Cup and the Euros as both a player and a manager. 

Having reached the final at three of their last four major tournaments, Les Bleus are right up there among the favourites again.

The likes of Hugo Lloris, Raphael Varane, Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema may be gone, but France still boast an incredible depth of talent, with Mbappe leading from the front as captain.

Mbappe endured a terrible tournament at Euro 2020, failing to score from chances amounting to 1.7 xG in four games, before missing the vital penalty as France were beaten by Switzerland in a last-16 shoot-out. 

Coming into this tournament on the back of a 44-goal season with Paris Saint-Germain and with his long-term future decided, few expect a repeat from Madrid's newest Galactico. 

Among the more interesting selections from Deschamps is a recall for N'Golo Kante, who was missed at the 2022 World Cup but failed to prevent Al-Ittihad from finishing a lowly fifth in the Saudi Pro League in 2023-24. With Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni also included, opposing midfielders are in for a tough time. 

A difficult group-stage draw means France will be tested from the very off, though. If they can top a pool containing the Netherlands, Austria and Poland, they could be on course to meet England in a titanic semi-final. 

Spain

Spain are the only nation to win back-to-back editions of the Euros, bookending their golden era by triumphing in 2008 and 2012. Since then, La Roja have won just two knockout ties at five major tournaments, with a 2022 World Cup exit to Morocco their nadir.  

Luis de la Fuente is the man tasked with bringing back the good times, and victory in the 2022-23 edition of the Nations League represented a decent start.

However, La Roja have been drawn into what is surely the toughest group at the Euros, with Croatia and Italy their first two opponents before they face Albania.

Spain's attractive, possession-based brand of football won them plenty of plaudits at Euro 2020 and the Qatar World Cup, but it did not win them enough games, with Italy, Japan and Morocco all keeping them at arm's length at those tournaments.

As well as averaging the most passes per sequence during Euro 2024 qualifying (six), Spain averaged the most sequences of 10+ passes per game (28.5). Adding an end product is now the aim of the game.

Alvaro Morata must step up after missing a tournament-high six big chances at Euro 2020. He did score 15 goals in LaLiga last term, though, and exciting wide duo Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams should provide him with plenty of service.

Spain's key men in midfield will be Pedri and Rodri.

Man City star Rodri saw his 18-month unbeaten run ended by Manchester United in last month's FA Cup final, but he developed into more than a midfield enforcer in 2023-24, scoring nine goals and adding 14 assists. 

Pedri, meanwhile, netted twice in a dominant 5-1 win over Northern Ireland last week, and is back to form after an stop-start season with Barcelona. His Blaugrana team-mate Gavi will be absent through injury, however.

If La Roja are to add punch to their possession play, this pair may need to be the driving force. 

Portugal

Portugal are the fifth team to be given more than a nine per cent chance of glory by the Opta supercomputer, as Cristiano Ronaldo heads into his 11th – and potentially final – tournament. 

Injury limited Ronaldo to the role of cheerleader when Portugal won Euro 2016, but he has already written his name into the competition's record books and can underline his legacy further in Germany.

Ronaldo holds the records for most games (25), most goals (14), joint-most assists on record (six – since 1972) and most editions with at least one goal (five) at the Euros. 

His place was called into question at the Qatar World Cup, but Roberto Martinez has built around him since taking over last year, with the Selecao plundering 36 goals in 10 qualifiers and conceding just two.

With the likes of Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leao, Joao Felix, Diogo Jota and Pedro Neto all making their squad, Portugal have one of the most exciting attacking line-ups at the tournament. 

A kind group-stage draw – pitting them against Czechia, Turkiye and tournament debutants Georgia also plays into their hands – and the Selecao also know topping Group F would put them on the opposite side of the draw to England and France, should they also win their groups.

Lionel Messi's triumph at the last World Cup will only have heightened Ronaldo's desire for more international silverware. With a strong supporting cast behind him, he should not be written off.

THE UNDERDOGS

Scotland

Scotland fell flat on their first tournament appearance of the century at Euro 2020, but there are reasons to suggest the Tartan Army might have more to cheer this time around. 

Steve Clarke's side were promoted to the top tier of the Nations League in 2022-23, while a famous 2-0 win over Spain at Hampden Park – courtesy of a Scott McTominay double – set the tone for their successful qualification campaign.

Having lost Aaron Hickey, Nathan Patterson and Lewis Ferguson to injury, Clarke's men face a difficult first test against Germany. However, one win could be enough to qualify under the 24-team format, and they might just fancy their chances of upsetting Hungary or Switzerland. 

Austria

Looking to bloody the noses of France and the Netherlands in Group D are Austria, tipped by many to be something of a surprise package under Ralf Rangnick.

Austria finished just one point behind Belgium in qualifying, Rangnick needing little time to implement his high-pressing style. They allowed opponents just 8.3 passes per defensive action (PPDA) in qualifying – the fewest of any team.

Austria also attacked with the highest direct speed (2.03 metres per second), and if their Group D opponents do not match their intensity, they could spring a surprise.

Georgia

One of the stories of the tournament can be found in Group F, with Georgia featuring at a major tournament for the first time as an independent nation – they are the only Euros debutants in Germany.

They failed to qualify directly - their Nations League performance teeing up a penalty shoot-out victory over Greece in the play-offs. They were the only team to reach the tournament while posting a negative goal difference (-6) in their qualifying group.

When it comes to one-off games, though, they do have match-winners. Napoli's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia completed the joint-most dribbles of any player in qualifying (44), alongside Jeremy Doku, also scoring four goals and providing one assist.

Georgia also have international pedigree in the dugout, with Willy Sagnol their head coach. The former France right-back only lost one of his 12 games at major tournaments as a player (six wins, five draws).

THE BREAKOUT STARS

All eyes may be on Kane, Mbappe and Ronaldo, but major tournaments are often defined by breakout stars, those players who earn big-money moves or become household names within a matter of days.

Slovenia's Benjamin Sesko could be a candidate, having attracted interest from several of Europe's biggest clubs, though he has now signed a new deal with RB Leipzig. Bellingham (19) was the only player aged 21 or younger to better his 14 goals in Europe's big five leagues last term. 

The Netherlands, who are shorn of Frenkie de Jong, may need to spread the goals around in the absence of a top-class number nine, and Feyenoord's Lutsharel Geertruida – who has played at centre-back, right-back or in midfield – had 13 goal involvements in the Eredivisie last term (eight goals, five assists).

Defending champions Italy are being overlooked by many as Luciano Spalletti oversees a period of transition. Inter midfielder Davide Frattesi could emerge as a star for the Azzurri, having scored five goals in 15 caps – more than any team-mate since his debut in 2022.

This tournament has been touted as something of a last dance for Belgium's 'Golden Generation', and PSV winger Johan Bakayoko is the Red Devils' next big hope. Only seven players bettered his 164 opposition-half take-ons in Europe's top six leagues last term, with fellow Belgium wide-man Doku (171) among them.

The supercomputer's prediction

According to the Opta supercomputer, football may finally arrive home on July 14. 

England emerged triumphant in 19.9 per cent of Opta's 10,000 tournament simulations, making them favourites ahead of France (19.1 per cent).

There is then a significant gap to the third favourites, with Germany victorious on home soil in 12.4 per cent of projections, ahead of Spain (9.6 per cent) and Portugal (9.2 per cent). 

The Netherlands (5.1 per cent) and Italy (5.0 per cent) are next, with tough group-stage draws working against them. Belgium (4.7 per cent), Denmark (2.2 per cent) and Croatia (2 per cent) round out the top 10.

Julian Nagelsmann said he would "not allow any discussion" surrounding Manuel Neuer following his mistake against Greece in their final game ahead of Euro 2024. 

The Bayern Munich goalkeeper was at fault for the opening goal of their encounter with Nikos Papadopoulos' side in Monchengladbach, spilling Christos Tzolis' shot into the path of Georgios Masouras, who tapped home. 

But the tournament hosts were able to overcome that initial setback, with Kai Havertz levelling 10 minutes into the second half before Pascal Gross secured the victory in the final minute of normal time. 

Neuer's error came shortly after it was announced that Stuttgart goalkeeper Alexander Nubel had been dropped from Nagelsmann's 26-man squad, with Oliver Baumann and Marc-Andre ter Stegen named as the other two within the group. 

The 38-year-old has played in every single major tournament for his nation since 2010 but has not played for his country since 2022 due to injury. 

Speaking shortly after the friendly fixture, the German head coach was quick to defend his number one ahead of their Group A opener against Scotland next week, stating that everything was fine before Die Mannschaft's 14th appearance in the competition. 

"I won’t let any discussion arise, even if everyone tries to start one," Nagelsmann said. 

"When he makes a mistake it's easy to say that it was his fault. But at the end of the day, it was a series of mistakes. He pulled off three class saves during the match - saves that others might not be able to make. Everything is fine."

Julian Nagelsmann announced he has "basically" made a decision about his final Euro 2024 squad but would not be revealing it until Friday.

Germany face Greece in their final warm-up game on Friday before their home tournament, which they will kick off against Scotland on June 14.

Nagelsmann initially named a provisional squad of 27 and needs to reduce that by one, confirming the official 26-man group by Friday.

The former Bayern Munich manager conceded that places will still be up for grabs depending on performances against Greece but would not give any hints about whom the player likely to drop out would be.

"We have our starting 11 in our heads but the performance in the match and in training must fit," Nagelsmann told a press conference on Thursday.

"Overall, the squad decision has been taken, but I won't announce it, nor talk with those affected, because in the worst case, someone is injured tomorrow, and the player affected needs to slip back in, and it would be silly to have that chat now.

"The decision has basically been made. We'll announce it after the game tomorrow.

"The roles are clear. If Kai [Havertz] performs, he will have the edge. He has to perform. [Niclas Fullkrug] will get his playing time and will be able to score goals and cause a furore.

"Nothing is set in stone. You have to perform to get it set in stone."

One of those included in the preliminary squad is Bayern's Leroy Sane, who sustained a bone injury in May that kept him out of Germany's friendly draw with Ukraine on Monday.

Nagelsmann provided a positive update on the winger's availability, which could be a boost if he stays in the squad for the tournament.

"He is an option for tomorrow. He has done two training sessions," he added.

"However, we cannot calculate him in for 90 minutes of every match. He has found a good way when the tension is there [in his injury] to take it out."

Julian Nagelsmann challenged Germany to demonstrate "more aggression" following their goalless draw with Ukraine in Nuremberg.

The Euro 2024 hosts were held in their penultimate warm-up match before the tournament, which begins on June 14, despite registering 27 shots on goal at Max-Morlock-Stadion.

Nagelsmann knows Germany must improve ahead of facing Scotland in the opening match of the European Championship, but observed the positives of their performances. 

"Obviously, we would have preferred a 2-0 or 3-0 win, but we played very well for long stretches of the game," he told Germany's official website. "To me, we looked like a team who really wanted to win.

"We were very good in the first 20 minutes, and we should have taken the lead. We also had six or seven chances just after the break. We need to show more aggression from crosses and put more pressure on the opposition defence."

"It's difficult to score goals against opponents who sit so deep," Joshua Kimmich added. "It's a shame we weren't able to get the goal.

"You could tell we were going for the win. We have to continue in the same vein and then, hopefully, get a win in our final friendly [against Greece on Friday]."

The introduction of debutant Maximilian Beier in the 59th minute breathed new life into the hosts, with the Hoffenheim striker rattling the crossbar within moments of his introduction and also drawing a smart save from Ukraine goalkeeper Anatolii Trubin soon after.

Nagelsmann, who named seven strikers in his provisional 27-man party, must cut one player before submitting his final squad later this week, but the Germany boss said the 21-year-old did his chances of remaining no harm.

"Maxi got stuck in well and played a good game," the head coach added "He handled everything well and worked hard defensively. He had three good chances.

"As it stands now, no one deserves to go home. He has made it more likely [that he will remain]."

Nagelsmann is set to lead Germany into his first major international tournament.

The 36-year-old has sought advice from former bosses including Rudi Voller, Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Low, and revealed there was a recurring theme in their words of wisdom.

"There is no blueprint," he said. "The answers were very similar; you have to listen to your gut feeling. You have to react to the here and now,"

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