Euro 2024 Daily: France sneak into semis without Mbappé


Euro 2024 is into the quarterfinals! Our daily files give you the latest reporting from around the tournament as well as betting lines, what to watch for and best reads.

Check in with ESPN throughout the tournament as we bring you the latest from Germany.


The lead: France sneak into semis without Mbappé

HAMBURG, Germany — This one is for Melbourne 2023. For Doha 2022. For Bucharest 2021. Even for Seville 1982. This is for all the other penalty shootout heartaches that French football, men’s and women’s, has suffered over the years.

On Friday in Hamburg, Didier Deschamps and his players avenged their demons. Without captain and talisman Kylian Mbappé — substituted at half-time of extra time after a close-range header struck his recently broken nose — but with confidence and calmness, France went a perfect 5-for-5 in bettering Portugal on penalties and putting to bed the nightmares of the past.

Unlike in Qatar, where Deschamps admitted that he didn’t make the team work on spot kicks and that he thought it was a lottery anyway, this time was different. France have been preparing for this moment, working on it before the Belgium game in the round of 16 and again before Portugal.

Mentally, the players were more prepared than ever. Eighteen months after falling into the trap of Emiliano Martínez’s mind games, guess who messed with the opposition’s heads this time? Mike Maignan. The Paris-born-and-bred keeper made the Portuguese wait while he was slowly getting to his goal.

Bradley Barcola is 21 years old, has 18 months of professional football behind him and had never taken part in a penalty shootout in his career, but he took his brilliantly. Ousmane Dembélé, whose entrance after 67 minutes definitively impacted the game, put France on the right path by scoring the first penalty of the night. The rest was history.

For the fourth time in the past five major tournaments, Les Bleus are in the semifinals. It’s an incredible achievement, one that makes Deschamps arguably the greatest national team coach ever, considering he won the World Cup in 2018 and reached two more finals (Euro 2016 and World Cup 2022). He is a winner like no other, and he knew what he had to do to win on Friday, keeping faith in his incredible defence carried by Maignan and William Saliba again. France have conceded only one goal all tournament, and that was a Robert Lewandowski penalty.

The celebrations among players were wild, while Deschamps had a hug and some words for Roberto Martínez. Six years after beating Martínez’s Belgium team in the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup, the French head coach knocked him out of another major tournament. And 40 years after an epic 3-2 win in extra time in the Euro 1984 semifinals, France have broken Portugal’s hearts again. — Julien Laurens


Sights and sounds around Euro 2024

Olmo inspires Spain off the bench

STUTTGART — Dani Olmo will have been disappointed not to have started Spain’s quarterfinal win over Germany, but there is no way he won’t be in the side in the semifinal.

Olmo, 26, is well known in Germany, where he plays his club football for RB Leipzig, but there is sometimes a feeling he does not always get the appreciation he deserves in his homeland. That should change after he scored the opening goal and set up a 119th-minute winner for Mikel Merino as Spain knocked the hosts out 2-1 after extra time.

The reason for Olmo’s introduction — an injury to Pedri inside 10 minutes after a robust tackle from Toni Kroos — was one of several downsides to Spain’s progression. Overall all, though, this is a result which could take a blossoming young team to the next level.

Former Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had called them “kids” and “a youth team lacking in experience” before the match. But Lamine Yamal, who turns 17 the day before the final and may have to postpone his birthday party back home, said Spain would respond on the pitch.

They were not at their best as they embraced their more direct style of football, but they took a deserved lead in the 51st-minute when Yamal set up Olmo — the teenager now has a joint tournament-high three assists in Germany.

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente took Yamal off 10 minutes later, though. And Nico Williams and Álvaro Morata were also removed, welcoming Germany on. De la Fuente’s decisions will be analysed in the coming days, but there is also something to be said for the way Spain responded in extra time, recovering some control and led by Olmo.

The Leipzig forward ended the game on the left wing, tearing Joshua Kimmich apart. With penalties looming, his wicked cross was brilliantly headed home by Merino.

Queue madness. Spain’s bench emptied on to the pitch several times before the final whistle sounded. Fermín López only just made it back off before Dani Carvajal’s late red card — the Real Madrid defender will now miss the semifinal — but moments later they finally joined their victorious teammates on the pitch.

This was not a vintage Spain display, but it showed they can dig in when required. They had just two players with 50 caps or more on the pitch at kick off to Germany’s seven. However, they took another step towards a first European Championship trophy since 2012, ending a run of nine straight defeats against host nations at major tournaments, and it was down to a sub they might never have made. — Sam Marsden

Final tickets in demand

One of the best things about Euro 2024 has been the full stadiums in each of the 10 host cities. Before the first game had even kicked off, UEFA had received more than 20 million ticket applications.

Wherever you go, on the walk from the train stations to the stadiums, there are always fans holding signs asking to buy spare tickets and the demand has only increased as the tournament has gone on. It’s led to one supporter taking a proactive approach with their attempts to secure a seat for the final in Berlin on July 14.

Homemade posters have appeared on street signs and lamp posts all over the German capital asking for anyone with a space ticket to get in touch. It might, however, be a lost cause.

Berlin’s Olympiastadion — where the final will be played — holds 75,000 fans and authorities are expecting another 70,000 to watch the game at Berlin’s fan park at Brandenburg Gate. There are still tickets for the final available on third-party websites, with the cheapest priced at more than €2,000. — Rob Dawson

Mbappé 1-0 England

Where Kylian Mbappé led, England’s John Stones couldn’t quite follow. The France squad have won widespread praise for speaking out against the surge in support for extremists as their home country holds parliamentary elections.

“There is real urgency,” Mbappe said Thursday after the far-right Rassemblement National emerged as the biggest party in last weekend’s first round of voting in France. “We can’t let our country in the hands of people like them. it’s really urgent. We saw the first-round results, it’s catastrophic. We really hope that things will change and that everyone will get together to vote and vote for the good side.”

Defender Jules Koundé added that he was “disappointed to see the direction our country is taking” with the second round of voting due to take place Sunday.

Yet at the same time in Blankenhain, Stones was asked to discuss the UK’s general election which, while not facing the existential threat, was still a pivotal moment in the country’s history after 14 years of Conservative-led rule.

“[The camp is a] politics-free zone,” Stones said on the day the country went to the polls. “I couldn’t tell you about the other lads. I’m sure it’ll be something that’ll get brought up tonight, later on, but I couldn’t tell you who they vote for. They keep it close to their chests. We’ll see what happens.”

What happened was a Labour landslide, delivering a 174-seat majority for new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer.

England’s players don’t have a great track record in this area. When the Brexit referendum took place in June 2016, Harry Kane was asked for his thoughts the day after Britain historically and dramatically voted to leave the European Union.

“Obviously we woke up today and saw the news and a few of the lads were talking about it,” Kane said. “But I don’t think the lads are too focused on it to be honest. The Euros is the main thing, trying to progress and do well in that. I don’t think any of us know too much about it to comment on it. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.” — James Olley


Stat of the day

With Germany’s elimination, no host country has won the European Championship since France in 1984 when they beat Spain 2-0. — ESPN Stats & Information


Match previews for Saturday

England vs. Switzerland (Düsseldorf; 6 p.m. local / midday ET)

Odds (via ESPN BET): England +125, Draw +195, Switzerland +270

Gareth Southgate takes charge of his 100th game as England boss knowing it could be his last. England may have reached their fourth consecutive tournament quarterfinal under the 53-year-old, but the expectations he has raised during eight years at the helm now threaten to consume him.

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Hislop: No surprise if Southgate goes cautious for Euro quarterfinal

Shaka Hislop looks ahead to England’s Euro 2024 quarterfinal with Switzerland, and a rumoured change in formation.

England’s football at Euro 2024 has mostly been turgid, leading to fans voicing their discontent during three of the four matches to date. In his search for an improvement in performance, Southgate is considering switching away from a 4-2-3-1 shape to a back three, although a final decision on that is yet to be taken. Key midfielder Jude Bellingham will be available after UEFA decided to hand him a €30,000 fine and a suspended one-game ban for a lewd goal celebration against Slovakia. Centre-back Marc Guéhi is out after picking up two yellow cards earlier in the tournament, while left-back Luke Shaw is battling to be fit having been sidelined since February with a hamstring problem.

Switzerland have won just one of their past 24 meetings with England and are in only their fifth ever major tournament quarterfinal. They have never reached a semifinal, but coach Murat Yakin has Switzerland in excellent form, impressively knocking out holders Italy in the round of 16. — James Olley

Netherlands vs. Turkey (Berlin; 9 p.m. local / 3 p.m. ET)

Odds: Netherlands -175, Draw +300, Turkey +450

Netherlands have been backed by terrific support in Germany with a huge bank of orange shirts at all of their games. But they’re set to be outnumbered by Turkey supporters in Berlin on Saturday, with defender Daley Blind saying the players are expecting an “away game” atmosphere at Olympiastadion for their quarterfinal.

“It will be an away match I think, the Turks will be there en masse,” Blind said. “They are passionate, it will be an emotional match. We have to be on guard, we will have to be well prepared. The trick is to put the right emotion and passion into it on the pitch, but also choose to use good positional play at times to silence them.”

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Which Netherlands will turn up vs. Turkey?

Shaka Hislop previews the final Euro 2024 quarterfinal between Netherlands and Turkey.

After losing 3-2 to Austria and then beating Romania 3-0 in the round of 16, Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has admitted he can’t explain the different levels of performance throughout the tournament and Blind had admitted they’re fortunate to have a chance to reach the semifinals.

“We have been pretty lucky after the group stage, there’s no need to deny that,” he said. — Rob Dawson


Betting tip (odds via ESPN BET)

England have been so poor and there have been absolutely no signs of improvement. This hope that they will click all of a sudden is something we can definitely take advantage of. Switzerland are underdogs — they shouldn’t be, but we’ll take advantage of that and get +135 for them to advance. — Dan Thomas


One big read

COLOGNE, Germany — There is only one host nation at Euro 2024, but two of them can say they have home advantage. Just as Germany can count on the backing of thousands of passionate, expectant supporters, so can Turkey. The success of Vincenzo Montella’s team is creating as much noise in Cologne, Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich as anything Julian Nagelsmann’s side have achieved.

Turkey are the unofficial second home nation of this tournament thanks to the huge Turkish diaspora in Germany — 2.9 million claim to have Turkish heritage — mirroring that of Mexico’s status in this summer’s Copa América in the United States prior to their group stage elimination.

But while Mexico flopped in the Copa despite their incredible support, Turkey are now preparing for a Euro 2024 quarterfinal against Netherlands in Berlin on Saturday. Win that and Bizim Cocuklar (Our Kids) would potentially be just 90 minutes away from the final, possibly even facing Germany should both sides continue to advance.

– Ogden: ‘Bring on the noise’: Why Turkey are Euro 2024’s second hosts


And finally …

The father of 16-year-old Spain winger Lamine Yamal has posted a remarkable unseen photograph of his son at just six months old alongside former Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.

“The beginning of two legends,” Yamal’s dad, Mounir, wrote alongside the image ahead of Friday’s quarterfinal between Spain and Germany.

In the picture, Yamal is being bathed by his mum, with Messi, who was 20 at the time, leaning in and smiling at the baby who has gone on to star for Barça and Spain as a teenager.

The photo was taken at the end of 2007, the year Yamal was born, by the photographer Joan Monfort and was part of a solidarity calendar put together by the Catalan newspaper Diario Sport. — Marsden





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