It is summer time and the sun is out and best of all, Euro 2024 is around the corner. Ladies and Gents, this is the moment you have all been waiting for.

There is nothing like international tournaments. Soccer games are nearly every day, it is warm outside, so you can kick back and enjoy some cold drinks while watching. Kick back, relax and enjoy unless your nation is playing.

Euro 2024 begins on Friday and the tournament will be held in Germany. Like any international tournament, expect some drama, excitement and fails that make you laugh or go: “What just happened?”

There are a lot of storylines heading into Euro 2024. Who will win it all? Who will disappoint? Who will score the most goals? Or who will make a name for himself?

Let’s go over five storylines heading into Euro 2024.

France are seen as the favourites to win but will they?

France has been one of the best soccer nations for years. After all, they won the World Cup twice; in 1998 and 2018 and were runners-up in 2006 and 2022. They won the Euros in 1984 and 2000 and were runners-up in 2016.

After a 0-0 draw in a friendly against Canada, the French are determined to win Euro 2024. After all, many experts are picking them to win it.

It is hard not to see why. First, they are led by superstar Kylian Mbappe, who just joined Real Madrid. In attack, they have their all-time leading scorer Olivier Giroud. The 37-year-old striker will join LAFC of MLS after the Euros and shows no signs of slowing down. He has 57 goals for his country.

The French have a deep squad. In attack, they have Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann, PSG’s Ousmane Dembele and Marcus Thuram of Inter Milan. Their midfield has the veteran N’Golo Kante of Al-Ittihad and two of the best young midfielders in the world; Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni. Both play for Real Madrid and are 21 and 24 respectively.

The French backline possesses size and physicality as well as great ball playing. That includes Jules Kounde of Barcelona, Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konaté and William Saliba, who has been instrumental in Arsenal’s recent success. Mike Maignan has emerged in the last few years as one of the world’s best goalkeepers with AC Milan.

France has an excellent squad and they should win Euro 2024 on paper. But will they? Being the favourite doesn’t mean they will win it. The French were the favourites to win Euro 2020 (Actually 2021) but got knocked out on penalties to Switzerland.

But if they do the things they are supposed to do, there is no reason why they can’t.

#2: Can England take football home? Could this be Gareth Southgate’s last stand as the boss?

England fans will sing Three Lions by Baddiel, Skinner and The Lightning Seeds for the next few weeks. The chorus goes: “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, football’s coming home!” Well, football hasn’t been home since 1966.

England manager Gareth Southgate has faced criticism from fans and media. They have said he isn’t making the right decisions with the squad or during the games. This might be his last chance for success as the boss of the Three Lions. A disastrous tournament could see Southgate be given a pink slip and he would have to take his waistcoats with him. Southgate himself has said he likely won’t continue as England head coach if they fail to win the Euros.

Despite being a meme throughout the soccer world, England is one of the strongest sides in the world. They are led by this year’s Golden Shoe winner; Harry Kane. He scored 36 goals with Bayern Munich.

England have a ton of young talent. Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham is one of the best in the world and is known for his vision, creativity and goal-scoring. Chelsea’s Cole Palmer is a gifted and technical player who can score goals and make great passes. On the pitch, he’s cool as ice. Bukayo Saka is also an excellent dribber and 19-year-old Kobbie Mainoo displays excellent defensive and offensive traits.

England have a good squad. However, the concern seems to be the defence. No disrespect to John Stones, Joe Gomez, Kyle Walker or Kieran Trippier but it feels like the backline could be a major weakness.

The pressure is on Southgate and England. Euro 2024 could be a make-or-break tournament.

#3: Can Germany impress on home soil?

Germany is hosting the Euros for the first time as a united country as West Germany hosted the Euros in 2024. There will be pressure on them to deliver on home soil. They want to be seen lifting the trophy at the Olympiastadion on July 14.

After getting shockingly fired from Bayern Munich in 2023, Julian Nagelsmann has revitalized the German squad. After getting knocked out of the group stage in the last World Cup and losing to England in the quarterfinals in Euro 2020, the Germans want to return to being a soccer powerhouse.

Their squad is a mixture of young and old. The young guys include 21-year-old Florian Wirtz. The attacking midfielder or left winger played a huge part in Bayer Leverkusen’s first-ever Bundesliga title this past season. His stock could rise even more in this tournament. Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala is also 21 is a key player for the German attack.

In addition to the young talent, there is a lot of experience in the German squad. That includes Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Antonio Rudiger, İlkay Gündoğan, Leroy Sane and Toni Kroos. Many of these players have been with Germany in past international tournaments. Müller, Kroos and Neuer are the only three remaining from the 2014 World Cup squad.

For Kroos, this is the end of the line. After Euro 2024, the dynamic and creative midfielder will be retiring. He won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid two weeks ago to end his club career. It would be very satisfying if he ended his international career by lifting one more trophy.

After some disappointing tournaments, Nagelsmann and his squad will be ready to change the narratives on home soil.

#4: Cristiano Ronaldo’s last dance?

Love him or hate him, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest soccer players ever. Even at 39 years old, he displays greatness as he scored 35 goals and managed 11 assists for Al-Nassr this past season.

This is likely Ronaldo’s last Euro tournament and he will look to add another one to his trophy cabinet. He may or may not start each game but he will look to lead Portugal to glory.

After Ronaldo, Portugal’s side is very talented. That includes Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias, Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes, Barcelona’s Joao Felix, AC Milan’s Rafael Leao, PSG’s Goncalo Ramos and 41-year-old Pepe of Porto. The veteran centre-back will be playing in his fifth Euro tournament and has 137 caps for Portugal. He will be the oldest player at Euro 2024.

Pepe was in his first season with Porto in 2004. That was the year Joao Neves was born. The 19-year-old midfielder who plays for Benfica is looking like a future star. He is quick and intelligent and Euro 2024 is an oppurtunity for him to announce himself to the soccer world.

Ronaldo has got himself a solid team around him. Portugal has the talent to go far but can Ronaldo lead the way for the last time?

#5: Who will survive the Group of Death

Every major tournament has a “Group of Death,” and Euro 2024 is no exception. The Group of Death is Group B. It has Spain, Italy, Croatia and Albania.

Italy are the defending champions. A few members of the Euro 2020 winning squad are in including goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnaruma, midfielders Jorginho and Nicolas Barella and striker Federico Chiesa.  Chiesa and Barella are the key players for the Italians. Head coach Luciano Spalletti brings an attacking style type of soccer to the Italians but he has had only two friendlies to experiment with, a draw against Turkey and a 1-0 win over Bosnia While they haven’t been as star-studded as the Italian teams of the past, they can’t be underestimated. But are they ready for Euro 2024? We shall see.

Spain lost to Italy in the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and Morocco in the Round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup. Both times, they were knocked out on penalties. Obviously, this isn’t the Spain of old. Gone are the days of Xavi, Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas and more. Spain’s new generation is led by the likes of Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams, (21) Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal, (16, the youngest player in Euro 2024) and Pedri, who also plays for Barcelona. (21)

An important player for the Spanish (And perhaps, their most important) is Rodri. The Manchester City player has been the best defensive midfielder in the world. He went 74 games without losing a competitive game for Man City until they lost to Man United in the FA Cup Final last month. Along with Rodri, Dani Olmo of RB Leipzig will be a key part of the midfield. The 26-year-old can also play left wing and is a maestro at playmaking and knows how to finish.

Spain is one of the favourites to go deep at Euro 2024 but can a team with young talent take the next stop?

Croatia is an aging team but that does not mean they should be taken lightly. Luca Modric will lead the way and what is (likely but who knows) his last international tournament. There are other veterans on the team such as Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic. Dominik Livakovic of Fenerbahçe will be looking to build off a strong World Cup performance in Germany.

While Croatia has a lot of veterans, the next generation has already arrived. The biggest young star is Josko Gvardiol. The 22-year-old centre-back has had an excellent debut season with Manchester City. There is also Bayer Leverkusen’s Josip Stanisic. He was sent out on loan from Bayern Munich this past season and played a key part in Leverkusen’s Bundesliga win. Stanisic can play both right back and centre back. The 24-year-old’s stock can rise in Euro 2024.

Then there is Albania. Sure, you can place them to finish fourth in the Group of Death. But stranger things have happened before. Albania is a team that likes to defend and be quick on the counterattacks. Some notable players include Fulham’s Armando Broja, (on loan from Chelsea) Brentford’s Thomas Strakosha and Inter Milan midfielder Kristjan Asllani.

Like any Group of Death, Group B is hard to predict. May the best team win.

Euro 2024 predictions

Winner: France beats Germany 3-1 in the final

Golden Boot: Harry Kane of England

Player of the Tournament: Kylian Mbappe of France

Breakout star: Florian Wirtz of Germany