England are favourites to win Euro 2024 with the Opta supercomputer, but can they finally back up their claim to be the best European national team?

According to the Opta supercomputer, England are the pre-tournament favourites to win Euro 2024. The pressure is now on Gareth Southgate’s side to prove their worth and win a first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup, ending 58 years of hurt. Of course, that is if you weren’t satisfied with the famous 1997 Le Tournoi win… or the 2004 FA Summer Tournament… or even the 1991 England Challenge Cup.

The last edition of the European Championship ended in the most English way possible, by losing a penalty shootout in the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley versus Italy. Much was then expected of England at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as the Three Lions looked to improve on reaching the semi-finals in 2018. Fans were to be disappointed, however, as they exited at the quarter-final stage following a 2-1 defeat to France.

But can Euro 2024 be different? Will England finally find a way to win a tournament outside of their country? Southgate has come closer than any other manager since Alf Ramsey led them to success in 1966, but if rumours prove accurate, this could be his last attempt at winning a trophy for England.

Here, we look at five reasons why it could be England’s time to celebrate. Equally, it could be five reasons you can laugh at on 14 July, when they’ve failed to win yet another tournament.

Harry Kane’s Just Had His Best Season Ever

Yeah, keep laughing. Harry Kane went another season without winning a trophy, despite moving to a club who hadn’t gone without one for 12 years.

While Bayern Munich had a hugely disappointing season, Kane kept up his part of the deal with a brilliant first campaign in Germany following his move from Tottenham last summer. The England captain scored 44 goals in 45 appearances across all competitions in 2023-24 – only Kylian Mbappé could replicate this from three games more (44 in 48 apps) of all players at clubs in the top five European leagues.

Top Scorers in Europe 2023-24

Thirty-six of his goals came in the Bundesliga. No other player across the top five leagues reached 30, with Serhou Guirassy’s 28 Bundesliga goals the next best. Kane’s tally was the highest by any player in their debut season in the Bundesliga since it began in 1963, while only three players have ever managed to score more in a single season of the competition.

England’s all-time leading scorer has scored 12 goals at major international tournaments for his country – eight at the World Cup and four at the European Championship – which is two more than any other player for the Three Lions, ahead of Gary Lineker (10).

Euro 2020 was a slow burner for Kane, who failed to score in the group stage before ending up with four goals in the knockout stage en route to the final; at the end of the tournament, only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick had scored more (5 each). However, while Kane is important to potential success for England this summer, there are goals throughout this squad.

Strength in Depth in Attacking Positions

Alongside Kane’s 44 goals at club level this season, England have numerous attacking options that can provide goals should their all-time leading scorer suddenly lose his scoring touch.

Five of England’s 33-man provisional squad for Euro 2024 scored over 15 Premier League goals this season. Only Erling Haaland (27) scored more often than Cole Palmer (22), while Ollie Watkins and Phil Foden both scored 19 times in the competition in 2023-24.

Bukayo Saka and Jarrod Bowen both added 15 goals from supporting positions, while Jude Bellingham scored 19 times in his debut La Liga season.

Across all competitions, six of England’s provisional squad reached the 20-goal mark this season at club level, while they could even afford to leave 21-goal Dominic Solanke out entirely. Among all players at clubs in the top five European leagues, more English players (seven) reached the 20-goal mark than any other nationality.

In fact, of players listed in the provisional Euro 2024 squads at the time of publication, only two other nations have as many as two players with 20+ competitive goals for clubs from the top five European leagues in 2023-24: France (Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann) and Belgium (Romelu Lukaku and Loïs Openda).

Jude Bellingham is a Wonderkid

Bellingham doesn’t turn 21 until the group stage of Euro 2024 is over, yet he’s arguably been the MVP in his first season at Real Madrid on the way to winning a La Liga and UEFA Champions League double. To show his impact, no player collected more Opta Points across the league season for Real Madrid than Bellingham.

A player who seems to thrive under pressure, Bellingham’s 36 goal involvements (23 goals, 13 assists) were more than any other player for a La Liga club in all competitions across 2023-24, and if England are to succeed this summer, then he’ll need to continue his form.

Jude Bellingham Goal Involvements Real Madrid

Currently the second youngest player to appear at the European Championships following his debut at Euro 2020, Bellingham also became England’s third youngest scorer at a major international tournament with his goal versus Iran at the 2022 World Cup.

Including all added time, Bellingham’s played 3,944 minutes of club football this season – that’s less than 14 players in the England squad. Hopefully that means there’s plenty left in his legs following Madrid’s UCL final win over Dortmund on 1 June.

Southgate’s Tactics Can Protect a Weaker Defence

England’s ‘weak’ point is their defence, but that hasn’t changed much during Southgate’s tenure as coach and didn’t stop them from reaching at least the quarter-final stage in three successive tournaments.

Across the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and Euro 2020, England conceded 12 non-penalty goals in 1,830 minutes (including extra time) over 19 games.

On a per-90-minute basis, they let in fewer goals in those three tournaments (0.59) than teams such as France (0.75), Spain (0.83), Belgium (0.73) and Germany (1.60), while their non-penalty expected goals against (xGA) average per 90 (0.72) was only bettered by France (0.67) and Italy (0.54) among leading European nations.

Southgate’s propensity to focus on the defensive structure of his side and ‘play safe’ has ultimately been England’s undoing in major tournaments across his reign, but with a weaker defence than attack over those three tournament appearances, it’s somewhat understandable why he takes this stance.

However, with England fans wanting to see their attacking talent fully unleashed this summer, will it mean Southgate abandons that ethos and leaves England’s defence under-protected?

There are already question marks over the fitness of first-choice defenders Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, while some of their understudies are inexperienced in international tournament football and haven’t even played in the UEFA Champions League at club level. It remains to be seen if they would be able to step up and perform at the very top against Europe’s best.

The Opta Supercomputer Favours Them

… so, they’ll win it, right?

If only it was that easy. The data favours England following strong showings at three successive major tournaments under Southgate, but can they handle the pressure of being favourites?

France were the Opta Supercomputer’s (and many others’) favourites for the 2022 World Cup, being given a pre-tournament chance of 17.9%, just ahead of Brazil (15.7%). Argentina eventually won it but only lifted the trophy in 6.5% of our pre-tournament simulations before a ball was kicked.

Back at Euro 2020, France were also made favourites then (20.5%) with eventual winners Italy given just a 7.6% chance pre-tournament, while England were ninth-favourites (5.2%) before eventually missing out on the trophy following a penalty shootout in the final.

In short, international tournaments are incredibly hard to predict and prone to big surprises. But if the Opta supercomputer has confidence in Southgate’s side, then perhaps an end to all those years of hurt is finally in sight for England fans.

Can England win Euro 2024? We can’t say yes, but you have to say that this is their best chance of winning a major international trophy for a very long time.

Can England Win Euro 2024

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