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Euro 2024: Group E preview and team guide

The European Championship is round the corner and ahead of the action we have profiled each of the 24 competing teams.

Group E features Belgium, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine.

Euro 2024: Group E preview and team guide

Belgium

  • Head coach: Domenico Tedesco
  • Key player: Kevin De Bruyne
  • One to watch: Johan Bakayoko
  • FIFA Ranking: 3
  • Best Euro performance: Runners-up (1980)

Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ era appears to have passed without silverware, with a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup the closest the Red Devils have come across the last decade. Gone are Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Vincent Kompany and Mousa Dembele from that squad, while survivors including Jan Vertonghen and Axel Witsel are in the twilight of their time with the national side.

Domenico Tedesco’s side remains ranked third in the world, however, despite a disappointing group stage exit at the World Cup 18 months ago. Romelu Lukaku continues his extraordinary record on the international stage and broke the record for goals scored in a European Championship qualification campaign (14).

The 31-year-old has his detractors but only seven players have ever scored more international goals (83) than Lukaku for any nation. One more will see him level the great Ferenc Puskas as the second-highest-scoring European player of all time.

Kevin De Bruyne has had a mixed time at Manchester City with injuries of late but remains the key name in the side, though Thibaut Courtois has been left out despite his recent return to fitness at Real Madrid, due to his lack of football this season.

There’s exciting young talent emerging. Arthur Theate is building a solid reputation at Rennes, while Lois Openda has scored 24 league goals in his debut campaign at RB Leipzig. Jeremy Doku, Johan Bakayoko, Arthur Vermeeren and Amadou Onana are all aged 22 or under.

Slovakia

  • Head coach: Francesco Calzona
  • Key player: Milan Skriniar
  • One to watch: David Hancko
  • FIFA Ranking: 48
  • Best Euro performance: Winners – as Czechoslovakia (1976)

After failing to qualify for the World Cup, Slovakia are back in the European Championship for the third straight edition. Francesco Calzona’s side were solid in qualification to finish as runners-up behind Portugal, with their only two defeats coming to the flawless group winners.

Slovakia conceded just eight goals in their 10 qualification campaign and centre-back is the area of strength in this season. Paris Saint-Germain defender Milan Skriniar will captain the side and is the sole player in the squad operating at an elite club, though centre-back partner David Hancko has impressed at Feyenoord. The 26-year-old, who has been linked with following Arne Slot to Liverpool, led the Eredivisie for touches and progressive carrying distance last season and ranked third for progressive passes and passes into the final third.

Elsewhere, Ondrej Duda remains a reliable performer in midfield with an international goal record (12 in 69 caps) that defies his lack of productivity (1 goal in 47 appearances) for Hellas Verona across the last two seasons.

Romania

  • Head coach: Edward Iordanescu
  • Key player: Radu Dragusin
  • One to watch: Ianis Hagi
  • FIFA Ranking: 46
  • Best Euro performance: Quarter-finals (2000)

Romania will be aiming to progress out of the group stage for just the second time this summer, over two decades on from stunning England en route to the last eight at Euro 2000.

Radu Dragusin is the most high-profile player in Edward Iordanescu’s squad, having completed a £26.7m move to Tottenham in the January transfer window. The centre-back has had limited action in North London but built an impressive reputation with Genoa in Serie A.

Nicolae Stanciu provides experience in midfield, while Ianis Hagi will inject creativity into the side. The 25-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Alaves from Rangers, is the son of Gheorghe, regarded as Romania’s greatest-ever player.

Expect Romania to defend deep in a low block, to frustrate opponents.

Ukraine

  • Head coach: Serhiy Rebrov
  • Key player: Artem Dovbyk
  • One to watch: Heorhiy Sudakov
  • FIFA Ranking: 22
  • Best Euro performance: Quarter-finals (2020)

Ukraine came through the play-offs to earn a place at Euro 2024, an achievement in itself for the nation given the ongoing events at home. Under the management of ex-Spurs striker Serhiy Rebrov, Ukraine will have quiet confidence of reaching the knockout rounds. Qualification saw Ukraine finish level on points with Italy earn spirited draws with both the Azzurri and group winners England.

There’s quality in the ranks with Artem Dovbyk arriving at the tournament as one of Europe’s breakout stars. The 26-year-old ended the campaign as La Liga’s leading scorer for Girona, becoming the first Ukrainian to top one of Europe’s top five leagues for goals since Andriy Shevchenko two decades ago.

Andriy Lunin has impressed in goal for Real Madrid this season, Mykhailo Mudryk and Viktor Tsyhankov offer real pace and quality in the wide roles, and Heorhiy Sudakov will be under the microscope in Germany. The latter is being courted by Europe’s top clubs and could be the next player to earn Shakhtar Donetsk a significant windfall. A strong tournament from him could see clubs pull the trigger on a deal for the 21-year-old.

Read – Euro 2000 – Zidane’s zenith as France reign supreme

See more – Euro 2004 – Charisteas completes Greek miracle in Lisbon

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