Euro 2024: Georgia the surprise package as several heavyweights miss their punches

Georgia in UEFA Euro 2024
Georgia in UEFA Euro 2024 (PC: X)

RevSportz Comment

On the surface, Euro 2024 has been far removed from seismic shocks. With the exception of Croatia, whose golden generation has been in slow decline for a while now, all the heavyweight sides have negotiated a safe passage into the round of 16. Germany, Spain, England and Portugal topped their groups as expected. France were second in theirs without losing a game, and Belgium missed out on top spot to Romania only on goals scored.

Scratch beneath the surface, though, and things were nothing like as straightforward. Without an injury-time goal from Niclas Fullkrug, Germany would have finished behind Switzerland in their group. The assurance and fluency shown against Scotland and Hungary were seldom in evidence against the first top side they came up against. Denmark, their last-16 opponents in Dortmund on Saturday night, certainly won’t be intimidated.

England, after Jude Bellingham’s early goal against Serbia, were dire. Fortunate to escape with a draw against Denmark and toothless against Slovenia, their displays have left fans on the verge of mutiny. Despite possessing potentially the best front six in the competition, Gareth Southgate seems to have mastered the art of turning fine wine into dirty dishwater. First, we were told that Trent Alexander-Arnold was the problem, only for Conor Gallagher, his replacement, to look as composed as a cat on a scalding hot roof.

Bellingham looks tired, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka pale shadows of the players they are at club level, and England potentially 90 minutes away from another reality-before-hype exit. Slovakia, with Napoli’s Stanislav Lobotka pulling the midfield strings, will be quietly confident, having already beaten Belgium in this competition.

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Portugal after the loss vs Georgia
Portugal after the loss vs Georgia (PC: X)

While Portuguese egos might have been bruised by the defeat to Georgia, it shouldn’t be overlooked that they rested 10 of their starters with top spot in the group already guaranteed. Once the heavy-hitters return, they should be much too strong for Slovenia, despite the imposing presence of Jan Oblak in goal, and the threat posed by Benjamin Sesko.


Spain looked scarily good while scoring five goals without reply, but now face the Cinderella side in Georgia. After coming up short against Japan and Morocco in the 2022 World Cup, they will take nothing for granted. Georgia have one of the world’s best goalkeepers in Giorgi Mamardashvili and a proven match-winner in Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. But the group is otherwise not a patch on the golden age nearly half a century ago, when their players formed the spine of the Soviet Union team and four players finished in the top 11 for the Ballon d’Or (1981).

Along with Spain, Ralf Rangnick’s high-pressing, full-throttle Austrian side have been a joy to watch, and their contest with a Turkey side brimming with young talent like Real Madrid’s Adra Guler and Juventus’ Kenan Yildiz will be one to savour. Murat Yakin’s Swiss side may have imploded in the World Cup against Portugal, but their display against Germany will raise alarm bells in the Italian camp after the Azzurri’s far-from-convincing progress to the last 16.

Spain vs Albania
Spain vs Albania (PC: UEFA/X)

One of France or Belgium will head home on Monday night, the price a team pays when they don’t top their group. Despite the wealth of attacking talent that both possess, they tallied just two goals apiece – only Serbia scored less in the first round. Kylian Mbappe’s broken nose has disrupted France’s plans, while Belgium’s lack of composure in the final third looks likely to result in more unfulfilled expectations this time.

The Netherlands, despite being run ragged by Austria and finishing third in their group, have been granted a favourable draw, against a Romanian side that produced one of the good performances of the opening round while dismantling Ukraine 3-0. The Netherlands, too, lack an ace goal-scorer, though it’s hard to be too critical when their first-choice midfield was decimated by injuries before the tournament.

The scheduling of the tournament, at the end of an arduous European season, has seen mounting injury lists and some listless displays. This has arguably narrowed the gap between the established football powers and the smaller teams that play with more zeal and spirit. Once the dust settles though, expect the likes of Spain, Germany and Portugal to be there or thereabouts.

Also Read: Turkey get past Czechia in a thriller at Euro 2024