England receives favorable draw but must be cautious of potential pitfalls in Euro 2024

Absolutely, absolutely, and absolutely. It might not have been worth some of the curious noises heard during the draw but the groups of Euro 2024 look satisfying for Gareth Southgate, exciting for Scotland football, and potentially Wales, while thrilling for anyone watching Spain and Italy’s group. The furthest the England football team manager himself would go was describing it as “interesting” when Denmark came out and potentially “dangerous” with Serbia, as he also admitted he heard “something” on stage. Most in the auditorium at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg heard noises that sounded like pornography. Uefa are investigating what actually happened. Then Danish coach Kasper Hjulmand, meanwhile, smiled ruefully about how the Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley still causes him to “wake up at night thinking about that match” “That one hurts.” It will bring edge to their meeting in Frankfurt but the fact four third-placed teams go through means it might not even have the same stakes by then. Such circumstances might even ruin that prospective “group of death”. There is the danger that Albania are beaten by everybody, which should mean all of Spain, Croatia and Italy have sufficient points to get through no matter the results against each other. A single win may be enough in this situation. A similar caveat comes with the fact three play-off qualifiers still have to be decided, meaning not even France vs Netherlands looks like the same sort of game. If the sense was that most of the summer’s prospective audience were focused on the Premier League rather than this, you wouldn’t have guessed it from the scene around the Uefa hotel. That was the Atlantic, which overlooks the Elbe, and was used in the James Bond film ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’. You can make your joke about that. It otherwise meant Uefa officials and the present legends like David Silva and Gigi Buffon were greeted by images of Pierce Brosnan and Teri Hatcher when they went to the toilet, with Bond tunes piped in. Every participating team will get €9.25m. That added a bit more edge for those play-off teams present, including Wales, who have the carrot of potential matches with Netherlands, Austria and France. Many of the smaller nations subsequently went up to Uefa to literally beg for more money, as they lobbied for solidarity money to be increased.

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