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Title contenders England and Denmark meeting again in Euro Group C

With two semifinalists from the last European Championship, Group C boasts teams that believe they can go the distance this summer.

England, a beaten finalist in 2021, aims to go one better and win its first trophy since the 1966 World Cup.

Denmark was the other team. It was beaten in extra time by England in the 2021 semis. The Danes won Euro ’92 with one of the most improbable victories in sports. They failed to qualify for the finals but were given entry when war-torn Yugoslavia was banned.

Serbia and Slovenia will be hoping for their own fairytales after qualifying for the Euros for the first time in more than two decades.

Here’s a look at Group C:


England manager Gareth Southgate has proved himself adept at negotiating tournament soccer having led them to the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2021. Defeat to France in the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup was a setback for an England team that looked like it was ready to win a first major tournament since 1966 and prompted questions about whether Southgate was the right manager to get his team over the line. The Euros could well be his last tilt at a trophy because his contract expires at the end of the tournament. He is blessed with some of the world’s best players in Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden and Declan Rice — it is just a case of whether he can come up with a winning formula. Injuries to key defenders Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw could be the biggest obstacle to success.


That 2021 run to the last four will always be remembered after Denmark was galvanized by the shock of star player Christian Eriksen suffering a cardiac arrest on the field in its opening game against Finland. He is playing again and in the squad. Denmark will likely be looking to Eriksen’s Manchester United teammate Rasmus Hojlund as one of its main inspirations in Germany. Hojlund’s seven goals in qualifying were behind only Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Harry Kane. Kasper Hjulmand, the coach in 2021, was also there when Denmark crashed out of the 2022 World Cup at the group stage without a win. Denmark finished top of its group in Euro qualifying to secure its place at these finals.


A Serbia team blessed with firepower could surprise a few at its first Euros since 2000. Aleksandar Mitrovic has the quality to make an impact in Germany, just ask Cristiano Ronaldo. Mitrovic’s goals helped fire Al-Hilal to the Saudi Pro League title in May ahead of Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr. The much-traveled forward was so impressive in his first year in Saudi Arabia — scoring 17 league goals — that Al-Hilal lifted the title even without the injured Neymar. And Mitrovic is one of several star names in the lineup, alongside Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic and AC Milan striker Luka Jovic. With that depth of attacking talent, coach Dragan Stojkovic will hope to have enough to get out of the group.


Slovenia showed what a threat it could be by finishing level on points with Denmark in their qualifying group. This is only its fourth major tournament and its second European Championship appearance after previously qualifying for Euro 2000. Coach Matjaz Kek led Slovenia to the World Cup in 2010 and is in his second spell in charge of the national team. Striker Benjamin Sesko’s reputation is on the rise after his first season with Leipzig. He scored 23 goals for club and country and goes into the Euros in hot form after scoring in each of his last seven games of the season. Sesko was previously a reported target for Manchester United and he has been linked with Premier League clubs Arsenal and Chelsea this summer.


AP soccer: https://ift.tt/tmY0WzX

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