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Euro 2024: Guardian writers’ predictions for the tournament

<span><a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/spain/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Spain;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Spain</a>'s Nico Williams, <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/france/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:France;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">France</a>'s Warren Zaïre-Emery, <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/portugal/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Portugal;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Portugal</a>'s Bernardo Silva and <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/england/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:England;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">England</a>'s Harry Kane.</span><span>Composite: Guardian design</span>

Who will reach the final – and who will win?

It all shakes down to a France v Portugal showdown – with no Eder on hand to deny Didier Deschamps and company this time. Nick Ames

France and Portugal with Didier Deschamps’ side coming out on top. Ben Fisher

France to beat Portugal. David Hytner

France to get revenge on Portugal for the Euro 2016 final. Jonathan Liew

England genuinely could be very good. And Portugal could be too. And there’s always someone, somewhere, you didn’t expect. But France and Germany. And Germany to win it. Sid Lowe

France v Germany – and Germany will win. A classic final combo decided by Germany’s set of schemers (Jamal Musiala, Leroy Sané, Florian Wirtz and, oh yeah, Thomas Müller). Paul MacInnes

Germany will meet France. France to beat the hosts by the odd goal in three. Ewan Murray

England and Germany. Germany win on penalties. And everyone’s just fine with it because they did well to get there and it’s a game of tiny details in the end. Barney Ronay

France will have enough to overcome home advantage when they face a resurgent Germany in the final. Jacob Steinberg

Germany, coming into form at just the right time and with home advantage, to beat France in the final. Jonathan Wilson

Who will win the Golden Boot?

Whether or not you think Harry Kane has spent the past season picking low hanging fruit in the Bundesliga, there is no denying he is in exceptional form and England’s group should offer him plenty of chances to top the charts. Even if the thought causes mirth in west London, I’ve a funny feeling Kai Havertz may run him close in an increasingly confident Germany side. NA

Olivier Giroud. Had the pleasure of watching him break France’s goalscoring record at the Al Thumama Stadium 18 months ago and if this is to be his last dance for his country, he will be determined to go out with a bang. BF

Kylian Mbappé. DH

This is the dawning of the age of Niclas Füllkrug. Resistance is futile. JL

Harry Kane or Kylian Mbappé. Yeah, I know: really pushing the boat out here. SL

Harry Kane. An elite goalscorer at the top of his form (when isn’t he?), there will be an opportunity for goals in group C. PM

Kylian Mbappé, inspired by his move to Real Madrid. EM

Harry Kane (six, two pens). Simple. Clean. Classic. BR

Could this be the tournament when Kylian Mbappé announces himself to the world? JS

Kylian Mbappé. He doesn’t involve himself over-much in the game, but he is a fine finisher and France are set up to play to his strengths. JW

Who will be the surprise team?

Simply being at Euro 2024 is an achievement for Ukraine but they are capable of much more. A side packed with Premier League and La Liga talent should fancy itself to go far if injuries and suspensions can be avoided. Elsewhere, Albania have been cast as rank outsiders but have plenty of Serie A savvy; just one shock result in Group B could turn that quartet, and perhaps the tournament, on its head. NA

Hungary were unbeaten in qualifying and should be optimistic about their chances of getting out of Group A. Won home and away against England in the Nations League two years ago, in which they also beat Germany. BF

It will be interesting to watch Ralf Rangnick’s Austria but I’m worried about their draw so I’m going to say Turkey, who I can see getting to the last 16 and maybe beyond. DH

Not lost a competitive game in almost two years. Held France and Germany at the last Euros. Beat England in their last two meetings. Hungary are much, much better than people give them credit for. JL

If I knew, it wouldn’t be a surprise, etc and so on. Everyone always says Turkey and they never are. Serbia. SL

I will plump for the Czechs who have a strong record coming into the tournament and have shown themselves to be adaptable and durable. PM

Turkey. Won their qualifying group and are in a relatively soft section in Germany. EM

Austria. Perhaps the most room temperature breakthrough semi-final imaginable. But they’re quite good. BR

Trick question. You want us to say Turkey. I’m not saying Turkey. Not again. Let’s go with Rangnick’s Austrian pressing demons. JS

Austria have improved dramatically under Ralf Rangnick and they were exceptional in hammering Turkey in March. JW

Who will be the breakthrough player?

Heorhiy Sudakov is one of Europe’s best young playmakers: his vision, timing and weight of pass form an exquisite package, and the sought-after 21-year-old from Shakhtar should see the queue of suitors lengthen by the end of Ukraine’s campaign. The Georgia striker Georges Mikautadze, prolific in Ligue 1 with Metz, could make a bigger name for himself too. NA

Could this tournament provide lift-off on the biggest stage for the 21-year-old named after Xavi Hernández? The Netherlands’ Xavi Simons scored his first Dutch goal in their final warmup game against Iceland on Monday, a 4-0 win. BF

Watch out for Turkey’s Arda Güler, who finished his debut season at Real Madrid well. DH

Interactive

Spain’s Álex Grimaldo has had a sensational season for Leverkusen and could easily be the Leonardo Spinazzola of 2024. JL

Does it count as a breakthrough if everyone already knows about you? I guess it does if you’re still only 16, for goodness sake. Lamine Yamal. Nico Williams – no, not the one who plays for Wales – is very exciting too. SL

There are lots of young stars, some whose names are more well-known than others (see: Musiala again, Jude Bellingham, Pedri). Of the next tier to come up, Warren Zaïre-Emery of France and Xavi Simons of the Netherlands are perhaps the most promising. PM

Surely Benjamin Sesko will continue his rapid rise by making an impact for Slovenia in a major tournament. EM

There are so few these days. Everyone knows everyone. But Florian Wirtz might get to show he’s at least as good as a few more hyped-up members of the next gen. BR

Slovenia’s Benjamin Sesko is one of the best young strikers in Europe. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United were after him but he is set to stay at RB Leipzig for at least another season. JS

From an England point of view, you hope it’s Kobbie Mainoo, and it could be, but after his fine season at Leverkusen, this could be time for Florian Wirtz to go mainstream. JW

How far will England and Scotland get?

England feel more of a shot in the dark than a month ago, but Gareth Southgate’s squad does appear fresh and a semi-final spot seems likely. Scotland’s best hope is the third-place lottery and the sense is they will fall just short of the knockouts. NA

Semis and group stage respectively. BF

I will be extremely disappointed if England do not reach the semi-finals, where they could face France. They lost a 50-50 game to them in Qatar and, if it happens again, it would be the same kind of situation – hard to call. If England could edge it, I’d back them to go all the way. Right now, my pessimistic side says a heartbreaking semi-final exit. I don’t think Scotland will get out of a difficult group. DH

England semi-finals. Scotland … I really, really, really want them to get out of the group. I mean, I’m emotionally invested in it. But it’s not going to happen. JL

England will reach the semi-final, where they will provide material for an epic, emotional BBC montage. Scotland will get out of the group. SL

England will lose to France again in the semi-finals and Scotland won’t get out of the group, again. PM

England will lose to France in the semi-final. Scotland will emerge from a group for the first time and, still giddy from the experience, duly be knocked out by Spain. EM

Late stage bottle-job agony for England. Early stage braveheart agony for Scotland. BR

Another group-stage exit for Scotland, who have an awkward draw. England don’t look in the right condition to win a likely semi-final against France. JS

England should win their group, which would set up a last-16 tie against a third-place team. Croatia probably await in the quarters. France in the semis might again be a bridge too far. Scotland have never got out of a group at a major tournament so far so achieving that has to be their goal; much will hang on their second game, against Switzerland. JW

What are you most looking forward to?

An event that feels as it should: a coming-together between tens of thousands of supporters from different nations, held in a perfectly located country that has proved it can put on a show. The atmospheres at games in Qatar, Russia and, of course, the Covid-struck Euro 2020 often felt removed and other-worldly. The hope must be that this summer brings a timely reminder of tournament football at its very best. NA

Seeing Dortmund’s Yellow Wall in action, even if it may look a bit different to a Bundesliga game. Surely there will still be room for a grand tifo. BF

After the soullessness of Qatar, it will be great just to feel the energy of this tournament around Germany’s towns – especially when games are on in bars or squares or wherever. DH

The first big heavyweight clash of the knockout stage. For me, this is the point at which tournaments take on a darker, deeper hue, start to quicken the pulse, begin the process of writing their legacy. Two years ago in Qatar it was Netherlands v Argentina. In 2021 it was England v Germany. In 2018 it was France v Argentina. Once you’re past that point, you realise that everything before it was preamble. JL

Showing that bloody green owl just how good my German is and then turning him/her off for ever. Mein Vater ist groß. Brot und Wasser, bitte. SL

Looking forward to being at a tournament where people can travel and mingle freely, creating what is commonly known as an “atmosphere”. PM

A normal tournament. The Euros in 2021 were unfulfilling in so many ways. German cities and capacity crowds provide a beguiling mix. EM

On the pitch, Netherlands v France in Leipzig, second group stage game. Just feels so, so deep Euros. This could be happening in 1984. Off the pitch, cramming my face daily with cabbage, bratwurst, pretzels, Ritter sport chocolate bars, generically mashed/boiled potatoes and all related varieties of central European soul food. BR

England not basing themselves in Baden Baden. JS

A tournament that is manageable by train – assuming Deutsche Bahn ups its game. JW