By winning Group C, England find themselves in the ‘easier’ side of the draw for the Euro 2024 knockout stage. But who are their most likely opponents in each round? We asked the Opta supercomputer to run us through its simulations.

It hasn’t been pretty so far for England fans. A squad as talented as theirs should have performed a whole lot better in what was a relatively straightforward group.

It has been an underwhelming campaign to date, but despite some poor performances, you cannot argue with the position England find themselves in. They are unbeaten, and with five points and two clean sheets they finished laboured to the top of Group C, and now face Slovakia in the first round of the knockout stages.

Winning the group was always crucial for England as it puts them on the more favourable side of the draw — away from hosts Germany, pre-tournament co-favourites France, the impressive Spain and Portugal.

In fact, only two of the eight teams in England’s side of the draw won more than one game in their group – and those two were Austria and Turkey who face each other in the last 16.

The lopsided draw is one of the main reasons why England remain favourites to win Euro 2024 according to the Opta supercomputer.

But the model can also work out the probabilities of who they will face on their route to (predicted) glory. Let’s run through its simulations to find England’s most probable route to the final.

England’s probability of getting this far: 100%

England’s last 16 opponents are Slovakia, who finished third in Group F and progressed as one of the four best third-placed teams.

In truth, this is about as good a draw as Southgate’s side could have asked for, especially given this could have easily been the Netherlands (thank you, Georgia).

Slovakia haven’t got the firepower to threaten the Three Lions, who have the best defence in the competition. Slovakia registered just 2.3 expected goals in the group stages – the fourth lowest of any team – and their xG per shot of 0.08 is the lowest in the competition.

They defended resolutely to earn the win over Belgium on Matchday 1, but England’s overall quality should be far too much for them.

England have won five of their last six games against Slovakia (D1) and will be expected to cruise through to the quarter-finals, where they will face…

England’s probability of getting this far: 81.6%

Get through Slovakia, and England’s most likely quarter-final opponents are Italy, who the Opta supercomputer predicts will narrowly beat Switzerland in their last 16 encounter. Italy are England’s quarter-final opponents in 56.1% of simulations, while they will face Switzerland in 43.9% of them.

A match-up against Italy would be a repeat of the Euro 2020 final, which the Azzurri won after a penalty shootout.

But this Italian side is vastly different to their championship-winning team of three years ago.

The absence of Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Marco Verratti, Emerson Palmieri, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne from Italy’s Euro 2024 squad means that over half of the team that started the 2020 final aren’t even in Germany this year. That, plus the fact their manager is new, too, means Italy aren’t the force they’ve been in recent years.

They are very much a side in transition under Luciano Spalletti, and didn’t impress greatly in the group stage. They were outclassed by Spain and needed a last-minute equaliser against Croatia to secure second place in Group D. Overall, they took just 19 shots in the group stage, which was only more than Scotland (10) and Serbia (14), both of whom are already out.

England beat Italy twice in their Euro 2024 qualifying group, including registering their first away win against them since 1961.

They’ve never beaten Italy in a major tournament, and it’s time to exact revenge.

England’s potential quarter-final opponents:

Italy: 56.1%
Switzerland: 43.9%

England’s probability of getting this far: 55.7%

OK, now it’s getting serious.

Beating Italy in the quarter-final would likely set up a semi-final meeting against Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands. That occurrence happened in 39.8% of the Opta supercomputer’s simulations.

In this scenario, the Netherlands would have progressed against Romania in the last 16, and then Austria in the quarter-final. But even then this is a tie you’d imagine England would be pre-game favourites for.

Like England, the Netherlands won just one of their games in the group stage, and actually ended up finishing third in Group D after a shock defeat to Austria on Matchday 3.  

They are another one of the big nations who’ve flattered to deceive at Euro 2024 so far. The Netherlands led for just 12 minutes and 27 seconds of matches in the group stage, the fewest of any side to qualify for the knockout stage, with only eliminated sides Czech Republic (7:20), Hungary (2:01) and Serbia (0:00) ahead for less time among all sides in the group phase.

Austria (28.6%) are England’s next most-common semi-final opponents. They’ve been one of the teams of the tournament so far, and look like they could give any side problems. Still, a knockout game against the 25th-ranked team in the world for a chance to play in a major final? You’d take that every day.

England’s potential semi-final opponents:

Netherlands: 39.8%
Austria: 28.6%
Turkey: 18.7%
Romania: 12.7%

England’s probability of getting this far: 38.1%

The final of Euro 2024 could be the first time England face an opponent they’d be genuinely fearful of.

Spain are their most likely opponents should they get this far. The pair meet in 27.1% of all supercomputer simulations.

La Roja were the only team to win all three of their group games, and did so in one of the hardest groups, drawn alongside reigning champions Italy, 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Croatia and Albania.

Defensively, they were excellent and didn’t concede a single goal in their three matches. They’ve looked very threatening going forwards, too. Only Portugal (5.8) have registered more non-penalty expected goals than Spain (5.5), while only Germany (39) have taken more than their 37 shots.

Luis de la Fuente’s side look a different, and arguably more dangerous prospect, than previous iterations of Spain teams. They have two electric wingers in Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal, and have adopted a far more direct, vertical style of play which has caused real problems for all three of their opponents so far.

Overall, the supercomputer predicts England win Euro 2024 in 20% of its simulations. Doing so would see them win their first men’s trophy in almost 60 years.

England’s potential final opponents:

Spain: 27.1%
Germany: 24.6%
France: 21.6%
Portugal: 15.3%
Belgium: 5.2%
Denmark: 3.6%
Slovenia: 1.4%
Georgia: 1.1%

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