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UEFA Euro 2024 preview: Europe’s biggest football tournament to begin in Germany and as usual it is unpredictable – CNBC TV18

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A returning Cristiano Ronaldo, a rampant Kylian Mbappé and a resurgent Germany. Throw in a Harry Kane-powered England and defending champion Italy, and Euro 2024 is wide open. That’s without mentioning three-time winner Spain. The unpredictability of the UEFA Euro, which begins in Munich on Friday, makes it such a compelling viewing. Even in its expanded format of 24 teams, there is always the potential for a surprise.  Here are the things to know about UEFA Euro and what to watch out for in this year’s tournament.

This is the tournament, after all, that was won by rank outsider Greece in 2004. In 1992, it was won by Denmark, a team that hadn't even qualified for the finals but was granted entry at the 11th hour when war-torn Yugoslavia was banned.

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This is the tournament, after all, that was won by rank outsider Greece in 2004. In 1992, it was won by Denmark, a team that hadn’t even qualified for the finals but was granted entry at the 11th hour when war-torn Yugoslavia was banned. (Image: Reuters)

Host nation Germany hopes to create a welcoming and festive atmosphere for millions of football fans who will watch the games in stadiums or fan zones across the country – like it did when it hosted the 2006 World Cup. However, this tournament will be played in a different political context. Europe's biggest sporting event since the Russian invasion of Ukraine is taking place in the shadow of the most devastating conflict in Europe since World War II.

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Host nation Germany hopes to create a welcoming and festive atmosphere for millions of football fans who will watch the games in stadiums or fan zones across the country – like it did when it hosted the 2006 World Cup. However, this tournament will be played in a different political context. Europe’s biggest sporting event since the Russian invasion of Ukraine is taking place in the shadow of the most devastating conflict in Europe since World War II. (Image: Reuters)

Ukraine is participating and can expect a warm reception in Germany, which hosted the team's home matches during the qualifying campaign. Russia was excluded from qualifying – it has been suspended from all international competitions by the European soccer body, the Union of European Football Associations, and its global counterpart, the International Federation of Association Football.

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Ukraine is participating and can expect a warm reception in Germany, which hosted the team’s home matches during the qualifying campaign. Russia was excluded from qualifying – it has been suspended from all international competitions by the European soccer body, the Union of European Football Associations, and its global counterpart, the International Federation of Association Football. (Image: Reuters)

Meanwhile, Georgia is coming to its first major football championship as a political crisis deepens at home. The South Caucasus country has seen weeks of protests against a controversial law that opponents say would crack down on media freedom and hinder efforts to join the European Union. And across the EU, voters will still be digesting the results of elections to the European Parliament – the 27-member bloc's legislature – as the tournament gets underway. Early results showed a surge in nationalist and far-right sentiment, which has often manifested itself in Europe's football stadiums, particularly among hardcore ultras.

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Meanwhile, Georgia is coming to its first major football championship as a political crisis deepens at home. The South Caucasus country has seen weeks of protests against a controversial law that opponents say would crack down on media freedom and hinder efforts to join the European Union. And across the EU, voters will still be digesting the results of elections to the European Parliament – the 27-member bloc’s legislature – as the tournament gets underway. Early results showed a surge in nationalist and far-right sentiment, which has often manifested itself in Europe’s football stadiums, particularly among hardcore ultras. (Image: Reuters)

German authorities are stepping up border controls during the tournament. More than 20,000 police officers will be on duty. Given the tensions surrounding the Gaza war, UEFA and Germany avoided even higher security concerns when Israel was knocked out in the playoffs for Euro 2024.

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German authorities are stepping up border controls during the tournament. More than 20,000 police officers will be on duty. Given the tensions surrounding the Gaza war, UEFA and Germany avoided even higher security concerns when Israel was knocked out in the playoffs for Euro 2024. (Image: Reuters)

England are one of the favorites to win this year. Three years ago, England was just a penalty shootout away from winning its first trophy since the 1966 World Cup but lost the final to Italy. Since then, manager Gareth Southgate has seen the emergence of Jude Bellingham as one of the top talents in world soccer, while Phil Foden is living up to the hype he generated when first emerging at Manchester City. Meanwhile, Harry Kane scored 44 goals in 47 games in his first season at Bayern Munich.

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England are one of the favorites to win this year. Three years ago, England was just a penalty shootout away from winning its first trophy since the 1966 World Cup but lost the final to Italy. Since then, manager Gareth Southgate has seen the emergence of Jude Bellingham as one of the top talents in world soccer, while Phil Foden is living up to the hype he generated when first emerging at Manchester City. Meanwhile, Harry Kane scored 44 goals in 47 games in his first season at Bayern Munich. (Image: Reuters)

France also suffered the heartbreak of a shootout defeat when it lost the World Cup final in Qatar to Argentina. Mbappé remains its star attraction, but he is surrounded by top-class talent throughout the French squad in the form of Antoine Griezmann, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurélien Tchouameni, Ousmane Dembélé and Kingsley Coman.

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France also suffered the heartbreak of a shootout defeat when it lost the World Cup final in Qatar to Argentina. Kylian  Mbappé remains its star attraction, but he is surrounded by top-class talent throughout the French squad in the form of Antoine Griezmann, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurélien Tchouameni, Ousmane Dembélé and Kingsley Coman. (Image: Reuters)

Cristiano Ronaldo will be back competing in Europe after heading to Saudi Arabia to play his club soccer. Even at 39, the former Real Madrid and Manchester United striker is still a goal machine — scoring 10 during Portugal's perfect qualifying campaign.

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Cristiano Ronaldo will be back competing in Europe after heading to Saudi Arabia to play his club soccer. Even at 39, the former Real Madrid and Manchester United striker is still a goal machine — scoring 10 during Portugal’s perfect qualifying campaign. (Image: Reuters)

Germany is a question mark after a string of disappointments at recent major tournaments. But, new coach Julian Nagelsmann has lifted the mood of the host nation just in time for Euro 2024, with morale-boosting wins in friendlies against France and the Netherlands.

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Germany is a question mark after a string of disappointments at recent major tournaments. But, new coach Julian Nagelsmann has lifted the mood of the host nation just in time for Euro 2024, with morale-boosting wins in friendlies against France and the Netherlands. (Image: Reuters)

It's a dangerous game to make predictions about Italy after the traditional powerhouse of international football failed to qualify for the last two World Cups but won the Euros in between.

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It’s a dangerous game to make predictions about Italy after the traditional powerhouse of international football failed to qualify for the last two World Cups but won the Euros in between.(Image: Reuters)

Spain is looking to restore its former glory after having dominated international soccer from 2008-2012 when it won two Euros and was also crowned world champion. There is no shortage of talent at coach Luis de la Fuente's disposal, with Man City midfielder Rodri establishing himself as arguably the best in his position and Barcelona's Lamine Yamal among its emerging stars.

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Spain is looking to restore its former glory after having dominated international soccer from 2008-2012 when it won two Euros and was also crowned world champion. There is no shortage of talent at coach Luis de la Fuente’s disposal, with Man City midfielder Rodri establishing himself as arguably the best in his position and Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal among its emerging stars. (Image: Reuters)

Other teams to watch include Croatia, which came third at the Qatar World Cup and still has Luka Modric producing at the highest level with Real Madrid. Belgium's golden generation has disbanded, yet it still qualified as a group winner, with striker Romelu Lukaku the top scorer with 14 goals. In a tournament that has produced some of the international's biggest shocks - anything seems possible.

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Other teams to watch include Croatia, which came third at the Qatar World Cup and still has Luka Modric producing at the highest level with Real Madrid. Belgium’s golden generation has disbanded, yet it still qualified as a group winner, with striker Romelu Lukaku the top scorer with 14 goals. In a tournament that has produced some of the international’s biggest shocks – anything seems possible.(Image: Reuters)

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