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Euro 2024 group stage: Major winners and losers

The group stage of Euro 2024 has come to an end, and it was filled with excitement and drama. Let’s take a look back at the biggest winners and losers from the tournament so far in Germany.

Winner: Ralf Rangnick

Ralf Rangnick deserves an apology from everyone. The “Godfather of the Gegenpress” has done an incredible job with Austria, turning them into genuine contenders despite missing key players like David Alaba and Xaver Schlager. Rangnick’s uptempo system has been fully implemented, and his squad looks like the most structurally sound team in the tournament. Austria’s thrilling 3-2 win over the Netherlands secured them a top spot in their group, and they are now on the favorable side of the knockout bracket. Rangnick’s coaching abilities have been proven, and more praise could be coming his way.

Loser: Gareth Southgate

England came into the tournament with a talented squad, but Gareth Southgate has failed to bring out their best. The team has been uninspiring, scoring only twice and winning just once in the group stage. Southgate’s tactics and personnel choices have been questionable, and it seems like the talent pool has outgrown his capabilities as a manager. England may have ended up on the weaker side of the knockout bracket, but their success will be in spite of Southgate, not because of him.

Winner: Spain

Spain has been the most complete team in the tournament so far, winning all their group stage matches. They have retained their possession-based style of play but now have the option to attack more directly with the emergence of young wingers Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams. Spain can beat opponents in different ways, making them a formidable team.

Loser: Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku has had a frustrating group stage, failing to score despite numerous opportunities. He had the most shot attempts, shots on target, and big chances missed in the tournament. VAR also denied him three goals due to offside and handball infractions. Lukaku’s profligacy played a role in Belgium settling for second place in their group, putting them on the more challenging side of the knockout bracket.

Winners: Anybody rooting for chaos

The Euro 2024 group stage provided plenty of excitement and upsets, making it a thrilling tournament to watch. There were goals aplenty and stunning finishes, with underdogs like Georgia securing historic last-16 spots. The tournament offered a much-needed respite from the slog of club football and reminded us of the passion and color that international tournaments bring.

Loser: Stadium security

UEFA and local security enforcement seemed unprepared for the influx of selfie-seeking fans during Portugal’s match against Turkey. Several fans managed to get onto the pitch, causing frustration for Cristiano Ronaldo and highlighting security failures. UEFA’s response to the situation has been lacking, raising concerns about their ability to handle such events.

Bonus winners: Bologna

Bologna is reaping the benefits of their players’ standout performances at Euro 2024. Riccardo Calafiori has impressed for Italy, attracting interest from top clubs like Juventus. Switzerland, filled with Bologna players, has benefited from the pace of Dan Ndoye. Other teams should consider giving Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee a chance to shine in the knockout rounds.

Overall, the group stage of Euro 2024 provided thrilling moments and surprises, setting the stage for an exciting knockout bracket.

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