Football Features

Five things learned as Euro 2024 Group C concludes: England stutter again

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:09, 25 June 2024 | Updated: 10:45, 27 June 2024

England ended their Euro 2024 group stage in an underwhelming fashion despite securing top spot in Group C.

Gareth Southgate’s side played out a goalless draw with Slovenia, meaning they won just one of their three group games. But the job was done, and they will be joined in the last 16 by Denmark and Slovenia.

Here’s how the final round of fixtures went down.

More questions than answers for England

England went into the final round of fixtures having already qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2024. All that needed to be decided was their position. The Three Lions were in top spot RESULT

But they haven’t inspired any more optimism among their fans. It was another abject display for England and this time they didn’t get a goal.

Gareth Southgate made one change for this game, ending the Trent Alexander-Arnold midfield experiment, replacing him with Conor Gallagher. But that didn’t work either, as Gallagher is much better off the ball than on it, and this was a game England would be dominating.

In the first half, England didn’t make a single tackle, just the second time on Opta’s record that that has been the case at a major tournament — also doing so against Wales at the 2022 World Cup.

At half time a change was made with Kobbie Mainoo replacing Gallagher and he immediately lifted England’s midfield. Mainoo got involved in the attack as another option high up the pitch, looking to run into spaces left by Bukayo Saka.

But that still couldn’t bring a big enough change to force a goal, even with Cole Palmer also impressing off the bench.

England’s left-back issues show

Another problem for England was at left-back, and it’s a growing issue. In the past, playing Kieran Trippier on the left has worked for Southgate. He was solid defensively and reliable going forward, particularly from set pieces.

But the Euro 2024 version of Trippier is not that. He looked weak defensively when Slovenia attacking down his flank, taking an early booking having been caught out. He also doesn’t add enough going forward to cover Phil Foden on the left wing, who didn’t want to be on the left wing.

And even his set pieces were poor on the rare occasion he was handed the responsibility. There was one free-kick won in a very dangerous position in the final 20 minutes that Trippier floated to no one at the back post.

Southgate needs to sort this out, not just for Euro 2024 but for England’s long-term future.

The most confusing qualification

England will be joined in the last 16 by Denmark and Slovenia, who finished second and third respectively. And there’s currently confusion among fans as to how they were separated.

Denmark and Slovenia were level on points, head-to-head, goal difference and goals scored, with the next tiebreaker disciplinary points. For players, they both received six yellow cards and no reds, so there is no separating them there. But Slovenia’s assistant manager was booked in their first game — against Denmark. Should that count, then Denmark finish above on disciplinary points. If it doesn’t, they’re separated on their qualifying rankings, with Denmark finishing ninth and Slovenia 15th.

To make that even more bizarre, Denmark and Slovenia were in the same qualifying group and finished level on points there! On that occasion, Denmark finished on top having won one and drawn one of their two games against Slovenia.

Who would’ve thought that Denmark beating Slovenia 2-1 in November 2023 would potentially be the reason for them finishing second in their Euro 2024 group.

Group of (bore you to) death

Every major tournament seems to have a Group of Death, that’s nothing new. But allow us to introduce you to the Group of Bore You to Death.

Group C (annoyingly not Group B for boring) has been quite possibly the worst group at Euro 2024 for excitement, both for neutrals and fans of the participating nations.

In the six games of Group C there were just seven goals. England, Denmark and Slovenia all scored two goals, while Serbia finished on one. England conceded one goal and the rest, two.

There was also just one victory, with England beating Serbia 1-0 in their opening game. So that means there were also five draws, three finishing 1-1 and the final two games ending goalless.

Everyone will be grateful that Group C is over.

Serbia bow out with a whimper

Serbia took until the 92nd minute to get their first shot on target in their final game against Denmark. They were just a few minutes away from joining Scotland as only the second side to fail to have a shot on target in a match at Euro 2024.

But that shot on target wasn’t enough to stop them ending Euro 2024 without a win. They drew twice and lost once, only scoring in one of their three group games.

In their final game, they had just five shots and posted an xG of 0.29. And in total their xG was 2.11, the third-worst at Euro 2024, with only Slovakia (1.43) and Scotland (0.95) posted a lower xG.