Power Rankings: Spain still top ahead of Final Four

Twenty teams down, four left standing. Euro 2024 has reached the semifinal stage.

One of Spain, France, England or Netherlands will be crowned champions in one week’s time, cementing their legacy and securing their own mini piece of history in the process.

Throughout this tournament we have ranked the competing nations based on how likely they are to win Euro 2024, tracking their performance and progress through the groups and into the knockouts. Now, with just four teams left, we’ll rank them one final time based on that same simple premise.

Ranking only four teams wouldn’t be much fun, so we’ve included all of the eliminated nations in this list too, in order of how impressive they were (or weren’t). Those that were eliminated at the group stage take up spots 17 through 24; the round-of-16 losers are ranked from 9 to 16, and those that dropped at the quarterfinal stage take places 5 through 8.

Previous ranking: 24

Scotland‘s campaign was bitterly disappointing. They opened up the tournament with a 5-1 shellacking at the hands of Germany, scored a single (heavily deflected) goal and totalled a miserly 0.9 Expected Goals (xG) across three group games. At least the fans put on a sublime show.

Previous ranking: 23

Serbia finished bottom of the lowest-scoring group — the one that, collectively, scored fewer goals than Germany did and literally sent fans to sleep at points. That’s a one-way ticket to the gutter of this ranking.

Previous ranking: 22

Hungary received some hype heading into this tournament, but were ultimately squeezed out at the very end of the group stage by Georgia’s remarkable win over Portugal. Frankly, that’s football justice at work: Hungary’s 100th-minute winner against Scotland may have been an incredible moment, but almost all of the football they played up until that point was torrid.

Previous ranking: 21

Poland were mathematically eliminated from Euro 2024 before they’d even played their third group game, losing to both Netherlands and Austria. That made their last match, against France, a genuine free hit. And they put a major spanner in the works by scooping a draw and preventing the French from topping the group. It was always going to be a tough group to navigate. But with Robert Lewandowski managing an injury and missing minutes, it became impossible.

Previous ranking: 20

Albania suffered the misfortune of being placed in a horrendous group alongside Spain, Italy and Croatia, but made a real fist of their attempt to upset the odds. They scored the fastest-ever European Championship goal (23 seconds) against Italy and fought to the very last against Croatia, equalising in the 94th minute. Their determination and spirit added so much to the tournament, as did their fans.

Previous ranking: 19

Czechia‘s group-stage effort can be summed up by the word “nearly.” They nearly held Portugal to a draw in Game 1; they nearly beat Georgia in Game 2; and they nearly sprung an upset, with 10 men, against Turkey in Game 3. In the end, a single point is all they got, but they were in contention from start to finish and were oh-so-close to pulling something off.

Previous ranking: 18

Croatia’s bizarrely poor European Championship form continued as they were eliminated at the group stage. And it happened in just about the cruellest possible way. They conceded ludicrously late equalisers to Albania (94th minute) and Italy (98th minute) having already lost 3-0 to Spain, leaving a nation in disbelief and star player Luka Modric in tears as he bows out of international football.

Previous ranking: 17

No team at Euro 2024 can feel more hard done by than Ukraine, who accrued four points from three games and still got knocked out. They headed home, yet had to watch Denmark and Slovenia contest the round of 16 — despite the fact both only managed three points and neither won a game.



Did ‘The Cristiano Ronaldo Show’ help or hurt Portugal vs. Slovenia?

Gab Marcotti and Steve Nicol react to an eventful game for Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed a penalty vs. Slovenia before scoring in Portugal’s shootout win.

Previous ranking: 16

Slovenia’s valiant campaign ended winless but also unbeaten — outside of penalty shootouts, of course. It was as if they put everything they had into holding Portugal at bay in the round of 16, leaving themselves nothing in reserve to put the game to bed at the other end. Benjamin Šeško‘s late miss was agonising, and not one of their three penalties in the shootout beat Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa.

Going out in this fashion is heartbreaking, but Slovenia are yet another team to carve out their own slice of history in this tournament: It’s the first time they’ve ever reached the knockouts of a major international competition, and they will rightly be proud of their efforts.

Previous ranking: 12

What could have been? Denmark fell in the round of 16 to Germany. The final scoreline (2-0) was fairly comprehensive and reflected how the game eventually played out — but had it not been for two heart-wrenching moments in the space of a minute, things could have been different.

First, a toenail offside call ruled out Joachim Andersen‘s opener; then, an unfortunate handball by the same player gave Germany a penalty, which Kai Havertz converted. Both decisions were correct per the rules, and with help from VAR, but there’s no doubt Denmark fell the wrong side of the fine margins within football.

It might seem harsh to drop them from 12th in these rankings after a spirited performance against one of the tournament’s best teams, but the reality is the Danes — like Slovenia — did not win a single game at Euro 2024

Previous ranking: 14

In our ranking after the group stage, we theorised that Romania had run out of steam after that blistering start to life at Euro 2024. That ultimately proved true, as they bowed out in the round of 16 by losing 3-0 to Netherlands — the same score (except in reverse) as their thumping win over Ukraine in the opener.

They were largely unfancied heading into the tournament, with massive concerns over how fit and sharp their key attackers were, so to even get this far counts as a phenomenal display … even if it did crumble at the very end.

Previous ranking: 9

Alarm bells rang as soon as Italy’s XI was revealed for their match with Switzerland. Riccardo Calafiori suspended, Jorginho dropped, Stephan El Shaarawy preferred to Mattia Zaccagni (who scored the 98th-minute equaliser against Croatia), Matteo Darmian at left-back … the signs were there.

Italy put in a very poor performance and were unable to find any fluency or deal with the Swiss’ energetic combinations. They went into the half-time break 1-0 down, then came back out and conceded within a minute to effectively finish the game. In the end, the 2-0 scoreline flattered them.

Overall, the Italians did well to overcome an early scare against Albania in their tournament opener and did play well in that game, but from that point looked extremely ropey.



Nicol: Williams & Yamal scare the life out of defenders at Euro 2024

Steve Nicol praises Spain for their 4-1 comeback win over Georgia in the round of 16 at Euro 2024.

Previous ranking: 15

The writing was on the wall for Georgia’s chances of advancing any further than the round of 16, as their opponents, Spain, beat them 7-1 and 3-1 in qualifying, rubber-stamping a clear gulf in quality between the two.

And, save for an early shock as Georgia took the lead thanks to an own goal, this meeting followed suit as Spain eventually ran out 4-1 winners, wearing them down and, in the second half, running riot.

Georgia bowed out exhausted and defeated but still immensely proud of their major international tournament debut. And rightly so.

Previous ranking: 11

Slovakia were a single minute away from a quarterfinal spot before England’s Jude Bellingham rose skyward to execute a devastating overhead kick in the 95th minute to equalise in the round of 16. Barely recovered from that shock as extra time kicked off, Harry Kane turned the game on its head a minute in and Slovakia had no way back.

It represents a cruel way for their adventure to end. They took part in some brilliant games, shocked the world with an opening win over Belgium and set the stage for some of the best midfield performances of the finals courtesy of Stanislav Lobotka.

Previous ranking: 10

Belgium’s fate was sealed in the third group game when they ambled to a 0-0 draw with Ukraine that landed them second place — instead of gunning for a win that would secure first. Failing to win that group sent them to the stronger side of the bracket, where they fell at the first hurdle vs. France.

They put up a good fight and worked Les Bleus‘ defensive line hard, but nothing came off. In fact, nothing really seemed to go right for them at any point in this tournament — remember, Romelu Lukaku had three goals chalked off by VAR! — so it was perhaps fitting that an unfortunate own goal settled the tie and sent them home.

Previous ranking: 6

The single shock result that the round of 16 provided came in the very last fixture as Austria lost to Turkey on a wild night in Leipzig.

They conceded in the first minute of the game from a corner and were on the back foot immediately. Despite racking up attempts on goal — they totalled 2.7 xG, the joint-second highest tally of the round — Austria were defeated in an epic downpour of rain, with an incredible 94th-minute save from Turkey goalkeeper Mert Günok the final nail in the coffin.

Despite winning Group D (and making a bit of a name for themselves in the process), Austria are the first of the three qualified teams from that group to bow out of the tournament, which is somewhat ironic.



Melchiot: Netherlands stepped up under pressure to complete comeback win

Former Netherlands defender Mario Melchiot breaks down how the Dutch turned things around to beat Turkey and secure a spot in the Euro 2024 semifinals.

Previous ranking: 13

In the end, Turkey were exactly as advertised: Electric fun in attack, capable of bringing you to the edge of your seat, but far too defensively suspect to truly challenge for the crown.

They came unstuck in the quarterfinals after taking the lead against Netherlands, then dropping far too deep to try to see it out. Absorbing pressure isn’t their strong suit.

After conceding twice in six minutes, they poured everything they had into finding a late equaliser and came oh-so-close, forcing Bart Verbruggen into a couple of brilliant saves and Micky van de Ven into a goal-line clearance.

Turkey brought the fun, the energy and the chaos. For that, we salute them on their way out.

Previous ranking: 3

We were fairly bullish on Portugal following the group stage, as they’d showcased not only great quality in their 3-0 destruction of Turkey, but also great resilience and depth of talent in the late 2-1 win over Czechia.

Unfortunately, from the moment the knockout stage began, they dried up in front of goal. Cristiano Ronaldo endured a nightmare in the round of 16 against Slovenia (eight shots, one missed penalty, zero goals) and the entire team struggled to crack France’s rearguard.

To their credit they remained defensively stout, with 41-year-old Pepe in particular defying Father Time to put in some magnificent work, but their inability to find the back of the net ended up costing them.

Previous ranking: 8

Switzerland were eliminated by five perfect England penalties in a quarterfinal shootout, ending what was threatening to become a bit of a dream run.

They went into the match rightly confident, having held Germany to a draw and beaten Italy with ease. Granit Xhaka and Manuel Akanji were two of the best players of the entire tournament, but in typically cruel football fashion, it was the latter who missed the consequent penalty that sent the Swiss home.



Hislop disappointed that Toni Kroos won’t play on longer

Shaka Hislop pays tribute to Toni Kroos who is now retired following Germany’s 2-1 defeat to Spain at Euro 2024.

Previous ranking: 4

Germany were the consensus second-best team at Euro 2024, so to see them drop out at the quarterfinal stage was a huge shame. Their only misstep was to encounter the only team better than them, Spain, earlier than anyone would have liked.

Even then, they pushed La Roja all the way. An 89th-minute Florian Wirtz equaliser forced extra time, and at that stage it felt like Germany had the momentum, that they’d go on and kill the game, but Spain substitute Mikel Merino had other ideas.

No team scored more goals (11) than Julian Nagelsmann’s men through five games at this tournament and a feeling had been building that they could go all the way. In the end, it wasn’t to be.

Previous ranking: 7

The Dutch survived a nail-biter against Turkey in the quarterfinals, scoring twice within six minutes to take the lead in the second half, then defending for their lives to see it out.

At no point have they felt like one of the true best teams in the tournament — they did finish third in their group, after all — but they have been able to navigate the soft side of the bracket by conjuring some big moments in attack when required. Cody Gakpo is having one hell of a tournament.

They’ll face England in the semifinals, which feels close to a coin flip of a matchup. Clearly, though, in ranking Netherlands fourth, we’re giving their opponents a very slight edge.



Is it time to put ‘England are bad at penalties’ to bed?

Steve Nicol says the quality of penalty takers that England have means that they should no longer fear penalty shoot-outs.

Previous ranking: 5

The unanimous verdict on England’s performances at Euro 2024 is that they’ve been terrible … but they’re still in it, they’re one of the final four and are just two painful, scraped wins from glory. This is tournament football in its most brutal form.

While fans will linger on the negatives (of which there are many), opponents are taking note of some of the positives: With each game England play, they get a bit better, a bit more functional; they respond extremely well to going behind on the scoresheet; and the penalties they took against Switzerland? Wow. Just wow.

The dream of fluid, flowing football is dead, but Gareth Southgate’s men find ways to get the job done.

Previous ranking: 3

France have underwhelmed many at Euro 2024 so far, with much of that focus falling on the fact they’ve scored zero open-play goals in five games. In fact, they’ve scored only one for themselves, as Austria and Belgium own goals secured them their only victories in normal time.

But dig a little deeper and it seems apparent this could change at any moment. Their xG total over five games is 7.8, the fourth-highest in the competition; it’s not as if they haven’t created any chances. The problem is finishing: Antoine Griezmann (-1.9) and Kylian Mbappé (-1.7) are two of the tournament’s four biggest xG underperformers in front of goal. If they snap out of this daze and find their focus, the story becomes very different, very fast.

Add to that the fact France have still conceded only one single goal — a Robert Lewandowski penalty that was actually saved at first, then retaken and scored — and it’s clear that if there’s even a small improvement up top, the team will fully sync up and they could easily lift this trophy.

Spain will be a brutal matchup for them, but France have the solidity, physicality and — theoretically — the attacking prowess to get through it.



Leboeuf calls for Kylian Mbappe to be dropped

Frank Leboeuf says that if Kylian Mbappe is struggling with his mask, he should be dropped for the Euro 2024 semifinal vs. Spain.

Previous ranking: 1

Spain retain their place atop this ranking. Based on everything we’ve seen so far, there’s no question they deserve it.

Not only are they the only team to have won all five of their games at Euro 2024, but the list of casualties they’re building — Croatia, Italy and Germany all among them — suggests they’re doing this the hard way, rather than profiting from any sort of softer path.

That quarterfinal win over Germany damaged them, though; they were pushed to the limit, securing the win in the closing moments of extra time, and in the process lost a fair few players to suspension and injury. Pedri, Dani Carvajal and Robin Le Normand will all miss the semifinal.

Generally speaking, they have great depth and can find solutions; Nacho will step in at centre-back, Dani Olmo will take up the mantle in midfield. But right-back is a concern: Are Spain about to field 38-year-old Jesús Navas against Mbappé and Theo Hernández? If so, does that change the complexion of this tie?

This concern is so serious, it was nearly enough to drop Spain to second in the ranking but, out of respect for the football they’ve played so far and manager Luis de la Fuente’s capacity to gameplan for this weakness, they remain top.


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