Euro 2024 will get into full swing with three exciting group-stage matches on Saturday.

At 9 a.m. ET, Hungary and Switzerland battle as they look to get out on top of Group A. Hungary is on an incredible rise, evoking comparisons to the 1954 team that finished second at the World Cup. It qualified for three straight Euros and finished unbeaten in their most recent qualifying run. They’re one of the sleepers of the tournament, especially through captain Dominik Szoboszlai and United-linked fullback Milos Kerkez.

But it’s Switzerland who are the favorites. Considering their run to the Euro 2020 quarterfinals and 2022 World Cup round of 16, Switzerland has a penchant for success. Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri lead a promising Swiss attack. Stars like Manuel Akanji, Gregor Kobel and Denis Zakaria look to forge a deep run into the knockout rounds.

Spain and Croatia headline the three-game Saturday with a match at noon. It’s a rematch of Euro 2020’s eight-goal thriller. Spain beat Croatia 5-3 in extra time. It’s an important match that will likely decide the order of Group B. A loss is catastrophic for either.

16-year-old Lamine Yamal will become the youngest player to appear at the Euros. Meanwhile, Rodri, Pedri and Nico Williams are the stars for Spain. A legendary midfield of Luka Modrić, Marcelo Brozović and Mateo Kovačić leads Croatia.

With the last game of Saturday, Albania takes on a mighty Italy side with nearly 50,000 fans in support at 3 p.m. ET. Despite the mass excitement both in Germany and Albania to watch Armando Broja and company at the Euros, Italy is the favorite to take home the full three points. They will begin their quest to win a second straight European Championship, only done by Spain in 2008 and 2012.

Things to watch in the first full day of Euro 2024

Hungary’s defense needs to remain flexible against the dynamic Swiss attack.

This Hungary squad is arguably the most talented since the days of Ferenc Puskas and the Magnificent Magyars. They finished undefeated in their Euro 2024 qualifying group, mainly through a sturdy backline that starts quick, blistering counters. It’s shown in their shape. Under manager Marco Rossi, Hungary lines up with three central defenders, two wingbacks, and a double pivot. The biggest point for this Hungarian team and the only way they can get through the group stage will be by hunkering down and frustrating their opponent’s attack. Leipzig’s Willi Orban and Freiburg’s Attila Szalai will play huge roles in repelling this Swiss attack.

Switzerland’s attack isn’t something to shrug at either. Burnley striker Zeki Amdouni will start up top, while pieces like Ruben Vargas, Noah Okafor, and Dan Ndoye can all wreak havoc if unchecked. They can dominate the ball and break offenses. This Hungarian squad needs to win the ball often and strike off the counterattack through captain Dominik Szoboszlai to succeed.

Spain’s vulnerable defense needs to hold its own against Croatia.

Spain’s defense enters Euro 2024 with a questionable track record. They look as vulnerable as ever, and their 3-3 friendly draw to Brazil is damning evidence of it. Aside from Unai Simon’s error in the 40th minute, where he inadvertently passed the ball to Rodrygo with an open net, Spain looked solid in the first half. They crumbled in the second half; they looked uncoordinated and unfocused when they gave up Endrick and Lucas Paqueta’s goals. Even worse for Luis de la Fuente and Spain, starting center-back Aymeric Laporte will miss their opening game through injury and Barca prodigy Pau Cubarsi was dropped from the squad.

Croatia’s midfield is arguably one of the best at the Euros — Modrić, Kovačić, and Brozović are all elite midfielders with success at the international level. If they can play at their peak and beat Spain on the ground, Spain’s defense could easily crumble. This Spanish squad isn’t used to playing on the back foot, so they will be stretched to their minutes early.

Can Italy find its number nine?

With the lack of quality and the relative inexperience of Albania, Italy is a heavy favorite for their Saturday opener for Euro 2024. The biggest question for Italy isn’t whether they can push back against Armando Broja and the Albanian offense, but where Italy’s goals will come from. It’s one of their biggest weaknesses and a huge reason for their failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

Manager Luciano Spalletti will likely start Gianluca Scamacca, who has scored just one goal in 16 appearances for Italy. The Atalanta striker has been solid for his club. Yet, he struggled in a friendly against Bosnia. He could also turn to Argentina-born striker Mateo Retegui, who scored nine goals for Genoa this season and started against Ukraine in another friendly. Either way, Spalletti’s options aren’t overly exciting, especially with limited time to find a starter ahead of their match.

In the news

Spain defender Aymeric Laporte will miss Spain’s Saturday match against Croatia through injury. The Al Nassr center-back missed team training on Friday and is suffering from minor discomfort, per the Spanish FA. It’s a big blow for manager Luis de la Fuente, whose only other options at center-back are Nacho, who will likely start alongside Robin Le Normand and Dani Vivian.

Poland talisman Robert Lewandowski will also miss his country’s opener, a Sunday clash with the Netherlands. He suffered a ruptured muscle in his thigh while playing in a friendly against Turkey. Lewandowski has scored 82 goals for Poland, which is the most in the nation’s history. Polish team doctors are optimistic of getting Lewandowski back in action for their match against Austria.

Despite missing Italy’s tune-up for Euro 2024 against Turkey and Bosnia, Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella will feature against Albania on Saturday. Yesterday he did everything in training. He will participate in training matches later today and we’ll consider that,” manager Luciano Spalletti said. “And we’ll wait on how he feels because he’s had a similar problem in the past.” Barella will be a key player for Italy.

Switzerland recently lodged a formal complaint to UEFA surrounding the quality of the pitch at their training camp. Head coach Murat Yakin was unhappy with the conditions of the pitch. However, he will continue to use it due to the lack of time to switch to another stadium. The Swiss are also unhappy about a TV tower next to the stadium, fearing that teams could send spies to watch their practices.


Euro 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Euros!
Euro Bracket: Download a free PDF bracket for the tournament
Euro 2024 Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Euro games live in 2024
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer