EURO 2024: Mourinho picks favourites as Liverpool legend identifies country England can’t beat as competition starts

With the eagerly-anticipated European Championships set to kick off in Germany on Friday, a wealth of football pundits have been making their predictions on who will lift the trophy when it’s all said and done.

England head into the tournament with a litany of superstars at Gareth Southgate’s exposal, with Harry Kane, Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham leading the ranks after superb seasons respectively, but last week’s drab 1-0 defeat by Iceland suggests there’s still plenty to iron out ahead of Sunday’s Group C opener against Serbia.

While spirits are high in England, Three Lions fans are well aware of the threat posed by the likes of France, Germany and reigning champions Italy, with Portugal and the Netherlands heading to the Euros will star-studded outfits as well.

Meanwhile, it would also be unwise to rule out Spain and Belgium who, despite having headed to European Championships with stronger teams on paper, still boast talented players such as Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne respectively.

Jamie Carragher: “I don’t see how England beat them”

The Liverpool legend is forecasting English heartbreak in the Euro 2024 knockouts, proposing that Southgate’s men would not quite have enough to beat France in a head-to-head match.

If England meet Les Bleus in either the final or an earlier match, Carragher believes France’s experience will win out because they have a host of players at the biggest clubs in world football.

The Three Lions, meanwhile, have opted for several players from Crystal Palace, as well as stars from the likes of Everton, Brighton and Brentford, for example.

Carragher has also predicted that France will meet hosts Germany in the final, with the 2018 World Cup winners emerging victorious in the end.

“I don’t see how England beat France, Carragher told The Telegraph. “I think England’s best team vs France’s best team is a toss of a coin. Some of the players who can’t get in the French team they’re winning Champions Leagues, they’re playing for some of the biggest clubs in the world. That’s my only feeling.

“I keep going back to the squad of France and who they can bring off the bench. I think Germany are in the final because they’re at home. The experience they’ve got with players who won the World Cup. I just think France will have enough to beat Germany in their own backyard.”

Alan Shearer: “England can go all the way”

The Premier League’s record goal-scorer believes England will finally end their 58-year wait for a major trophy by lifting the Euros at this summer’s tournament.

Shearer says the Three Lions “can go all the way’ and expects a difficult battle with France in the final.

England reached the final of Euro 2020 and nearly won the crown, but for a heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat against Italy at Wembley.

He told BBC Sport: “England can go all the way. This is the greatest chance we’ve had in a long time.

“If it’s not going to be England, then I would have to go with France. With some of the talent and experience they have, they will be really really tough to beat.”

The new Fenerbahce manager agrees with his fellow pundits that England and France — along with Portugal and Germany — are the favourites to win the Euros.

But Mourinho predicts that Italy will struggle in their attempt to defend their Euro 2020 crown, insisting that the nation simply does not have enough talent.

His cutting remark comes despite Nicolo Barella, Federico Dimarco and Alessandro Bastoni leading Inter to a huge Serie A triumph last season. But the Italians do sit in a difficult group alongside Spain, Croatia and Albania.

He told RTP Sport: ‘I am convinced that practically everyone thinks like me. Portugal, England, France, followed by Germany and Spain.

‘But Italy as European champions? I don’t believe that. Why can’t Italy defend their European title? ‘I don’t think they have enough talent to win the tournament, they won the last European Championship, but I don’t think they’ll do it again.’

Rio Ferdinand: “I’m going with England as favourites”

The former Manchester United star, who never played at a European Championship during his esteemed career, has backed England to win the tournament.

Ferdinand does not think it will be a cakewalk for the Three Lions however, fearing that France and Germany also hold the tools to launch a tournament-winning campaign this summer.

“I think the top two favourites have got to be England and France,” he told TNT Sports. “I think England and France have kicked on from everybody else.

“I don’t think they’ll win it, but I think they could go close because of their home advantage is Germany. That mentality around tournaments, whether you think they’re a good team or not they’ve got home advantage.

“I’m going with England as favourites. Jude Bellingham is a top player and probably the best player in La Liga at the moment. Harry Kane is the top goalscorer in Germany and you’ve got Phil Foden firing in England.”

England Player Ratings 3-0 Bosnia: Cole Palmer, Gallagher, Eze, others shine

England got their preparations underway for Euro 2024 with a 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina at St James’ Park.

Cole Palmer’s second-half strike from the penalty spot opened the scoring for an experimental England side, as Gareth Southgate gave auditions to a number of England hopefuls.

Palmer and Eberechi Eze were given their first starts for the national team and impressed, while Southgate gave debuts to Jarrad Branthwaite and Adam Wharton as second-half substitutes.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s volley added some gloss on the win, before Harry Kane stepped off the bench to notch his 63rd England goal with an easy tap-in.

Jordan Pickford – 6

Nervy early kick after pre-match boos from Geordie crowd. Decent save before break and a spectator thereafter.

Ezri Konsa – 6

Won penalty when shirt was tugged and came close to scoring in first half. Not tested defensively but looks uncertain at right back.

Lewis Dunk – 6

Was better than March internationals, when he had a shocker. Hardly troubled all game, however.

Marc Guehi – 4

Very poor in possession, twice gifting the ball to Bosnia and almost cost his side a goal. A night to forget.

Kieran Trippier – 6.5

Had to prove fitness more than anything and looked sharp. Steady showing from skipper and will probably start at Euros.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7

Nice enough on the ball and never wasteful, even if penetration could have been better. But wonderful finish for late goal.

Conor Gallagher – 7

Part of a largely pedestrian midfield showing first half. Came into it more second half and did well. Unlucky not to score after good run.

Jarrod Bowen – 6.5

Impressed in March internationals but did not do enough here by comparison, despite one or two bursts of promise.

Cole Palmer – 7

Took penalty coolly, and that is a tournament tick. Cute pass to create chance for Watkins and one of better performers in uncompetitive field.

The night’s biggest bright spot came in the form of man of the match Eberechi Eze

Eberechi Eze – 7.5

Bright, purposeful and powerful, and for that he stood out. Stiff squad competition in those areas but did himself no harm here. MOM.

Ollie Watkins – 5

Should have done better with early opening when shot was saved and rarely threatened. Still does not convince for England.

SUBS

Harry Kane (on for Watkins 62) 7

Jack Grealish (on for Palmer 62) 6.5

James Maddison (on for Eze 62) 6

Adam Wharton (on for Konsa 62) 6.5

Jarrad Branthwaite (on for Guehi 62) 5.5

Joe Gomez (on for Dunk 74) 5

Photo Credit: England/x

REVEALED: Four key Chelsea players not suitable for Enzo Maresca’s style of play

Former Leicester boss Enzo Maresca has been confirmed by Chelsea as their new manager after Mauricio Pochettino left the west London club after the Premier League season.

Many were surprised to see Enzo Maresca win the race to become the next Blues boss but he has an excellent reputation within the game.

The Italian worked closely with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City before leading Leicester City to the 2023-24 Championship title.

His style of play is similar to Guardiola’s in that a huge emphasis is placed on possession, which should suit the majority of Chelsea’s current first-team squad.

However, there are a handful of players who could struggle to adapt to Maresca’s demands, such as Champions League winner Ben Chilwell.

Ben Chilwell

Assuming that Maresca opts for the same system he employed with Leicester, the left-back in his Chelsea team will be inverted.

The Italian often picked James Justin or Wout Faes in this position as they are comfortable moving into central areas, unlike a traditional full-back who stays wide.

This is the polar opposite of Chilwell’s instinct, which is to attack down the wing and cross the ball into the box.

This could cast the Englishman’s future into doubt, as he probably lacks the defensive attributes and technical ability to play as Maresca desires.

Ian Maatsen

Ian Maatsen enjoyed a fantastic loan spell at Borussia Dortmund in the second half of the 2023-24 season.

Despite being surplus to Mauricio Pochettino’s requirements at Chelsea, the 22-year-old proved that he can cut it at the highest level.

Maatsen was crucial to Dortmund’s magical Champions League run that culminated in a 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the final on Saturday night.

Like Chilwell, however, he is more suited to taking up wide positions, rather than acting as another central defender.

Axel Disasi

With the imminent signing of Tosin Adarabioyo, Chelsea have an excess of central defenders.

Thiago Silva has already left the club, but Wesley Fofana, Trevoh Chalobah, Levi Colwill, Axel Disasi and Benoit Badiashile all remain.

Chalobah is expected to be sold this summer as because he is an academy product, the entirety of the fee received for him would go down as profit in the books.

However, the centre-back that Chelsea should be selling is Disasi, who is by no means a bad player, but one that does not suit Maresca’s style of play.

The Frenchman is the least comfortable on the ball of the aforementioned players and would make the most sense to put up for sale.

Djordje Petrovic

Djordje Petrovic made an impressive start to life at Stamford Bridge, overtaking Robert Sanchez in the goalkeeping pecking order.

The Serbian played 31 times in all competitions and, besides a few mistakes, won over the Blues faithful with consistently good performances.

An issue that he could face under Maresca, though, is that much more will be asked of him in terms of playing out from the back.

This is not an area of strength for Petrovic, who is accustomed to being a traditional goalkeeper rather than a ‘sweeper keeper’.

Villarreal’s Filip Jorgensen and Las Palmas’ Alvaro Valles are among those to have been linked with a summer move to the Stamford Bridge.

Leicester chiefs reveal why they’re disappointed over Enzo Maresca’s Chelsea move

Enzo Maresca move to Chelsea has left Leicester disappointed that the Italian chose to depart after just one season at the club.

Maresca was confirmed as the new Stamford Bridge boss on Monday on a five-year contract, after leading Leicester to promotion from the Championship in his first senior job in English football.

Leicester will begin their hunt for a new manager immediately but Mail Sport understands the manner of Maresca’s departure has left a slightly sour taste, with senior figures disappointed that the 44-year-old has opted to leave the club after such a short time. Some even feel Maresca openly courted the job.

Maresca had a compensation clause of about £10million included the three-year deal he signed when Leicester hired him a year ago.

During last season, he had expressed frustration with certain off-field matters but it is thought many of these had been ironed out following promotion, and that Maresca had been looking forward to leading Leicester in the top flight. That all changed when Chelsea parted ways with Mauricio Pochettino and Maresca quickly became a leading candidate for the job.

Leicester’s return to the Premier League is likely to face challenges, with the Foxes set to be docked points for breaching spending rules. That is no longer a headache for Maresca, but is likely to make life more difficult for his successor. Among those Leicester admire is Carlos Corberan, who led West Brom to the Championship play-offs last season despite huge financial uncertainty for the first half of the season.

A Leicester statement read: “Given the promising foundations established during his single season in charge, the Club is disappointed that Enzo has decided at this stage that he no longer wants to be part of our vision.

“However, with Enzo’s decision made and the Board’s terms for his departure met, we wish him well in his future endeavours. He leaves with the appreciation of everyone at the Club for his work in helping us to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League during the 2023/24 season.

“Staff members Willy Caballero, Danny Walker, Michele De Bernardin, Marcos Alvarez, Javier Molina Caballero and Roberto Vitiello will also be leaving the Club.

“The Board will now commence the process of appointing a new manager that will lead our return to the Premier League and continue the implementation of our long-term vision for the success of Leicester City Football Club.”

Photo Credit: ChelseaFC/x

Jose Mourinho wants to make Fenerbahce reunion with forgotten Chelsea star

Jose Mourinho could be set to sign Romelu Lukaku again after taking over at Turkish club Fenerbahce.

Club presidential candidate has told reporters he has already discussed transfer targets with the ‘Special One’, revealing they talked about the prospect of bidding for the 31-year-old.

Lukaku has two years left on his deal at Chelsea.

Arsenal battle Liverpool for Barcelona wonderkid (Watch youngster in action)

Arsenal have enquired about the availability of Barcelona prospect Mikayil Faye, reports the Daily Mail.

The versatile defender was expected to be integrated into the first team next season under Xavi, but Barca’s decision to sack the Spaniard has prompted Faye’s suitors to attempt to pounce on the situation.

Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen are all said to be interested in the 19-year-old, with Arsenal now joining the teenager’s growing list of admirers.

A fee in the region of £17million is expected to test the resolve of Barca, though it remains to be seen whether Hansi Flick has long-term plans involving Faye.

Photo Credit: x

Bayern Munich begin move for Man United star, open talks with agent

Bayern Munich have opened talks with the agent of Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes ahead of a potential summer transfer, according to reports from Portugal.

New Bayern boss Vincent Kompany is eager to add to his squad, with the German club having endured a rare campaign without a trophy, despite Harry Kane’s impressive goal scoring record since his arrival.

It has already proven a summer of big changes at the Allianz Arena, with Kompany’s appointment as Bayern manager confirmed this week to replace former boss, Thomas Tuchel, who Bayern had attempted to persuade to stay at the club.

Now, though, reports from Portuguese outlet O Jogo via Daily Mail have claimed that the Bavarian titans have approached Fernandes’ agent, Miguel Pinho, over what would be a sensational move for the United skipper.

Although Bayern are reportedly targeting the player, they may have to act quickly, with Barcelona also interested in signing him as per the reports.

Fernandes’ future at United is uncertain, especially given that it isn’t clear whether manager Erik ten Hag will remain in charge.

Bayern Munich boss Vincent Kompany’s staggering wages REVEALED

New Bayern Munich boss Vincent Kompany will be getting paid nearly £2.5million more than predecessors Julian Nagelsmann and Hansi Flick.

The Belgian has been appointed the new manager at the German club – a decision that came as a surprise to many. Kompany has presided over Burnley’s relegation with the Clarets getting just 24 points in the Premier League. Prior to that the 38-year-old had led them to the Championship title.

Bayern missed several of their top targets, Xabi Alonso among them, before settling on Kompany, who is due to land a similar wage to Thomas Tuchel following his exit from the Allianz Arena.

Sky Germany report that the former Manchester City player could get paid up to £7.67m (€9m) gross per year with add-ons included. Nagelsman and Flick both had annual earnings of around £5.11m.

Photo Credit: FCBayernEN/x

Former Chelsea manager wants England national team job, snubs Leicester, Brighton

Graham Potter will snub approaches from Leicester and Brighton because he wants the England job.

Potter has been without a job since being sacked by Chelsea in April 2023, but has recently been linked with Leicester – who are about to lose Enzo Maresca to Chelsea – and Brighton, who need a replacement for Roberto De Zerbi.

But having already snubbed approches from Ajax, Napoli and Nice, Potter will do the same this summer because he wants to wait for Gareth Southgate to step down from the England job, according to The Sun.

Havertz explains new role at Arsenal as Arteta plots move for Chelsea target

Kai Havertz says he sees himself as a No9 for Arsenal and Germany as the north London club are plotting move for RB Leipzig forward Benjamin Sesko.

Havertz told Welt am Sonntag: “I clearly see myself as a number 9 in the national team – and that’s what I am now at Arsenal. But I don’t mean the classic nine.

“Where else are they available? Even Erling Haaland or Harry Kane, who you immediately think of, don’t just stand in the box and wait for the finish.

“The players who are waiting there no longer exist in modern football. I am someone who enjoys letting go and making deep runs. But it is also clear to me that I will be measured by goals.”

His comments are interesting given Arsenal are now chasing Benjamin Sesko to fulfil that very role.

Arsenal are moving decisively for RB Leipzig striker – and they are very confident of landing him.

The 21-year-old has been sounded out and is keen to join the Gunners, with Leipzig valuing him at around £45million.

According to reports in Germany, Arsenal have made it clear they want the deal done before June 14 – the start of the transfer window and Euro 2024, where Sesko will be playing for Slovenia.

Photo Credit: kaihavertz29/x