UEFA Euro 2024 Group E Preview: Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine | THT Previews

The Hard Tackle gives a lowdown on Group E of the UEFA Euro 2024, which houses Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, and Ukraine.

We are only a couple of days away from the UEFA Euro 2024 curtain raiser. The 24 teams are winding up their preparations and getting ready to give it their all to life the coveted trophy on July 14. Spread across six groups, the first hurdle in the knockout phase will be the round of 16.

Germany and Scotland will kick things off before we get into overdrive in the upcoming two weeks. Meanwhile, Belgium will be itching to bounce back after a horrendous 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign, which ended in the group stage.

Roberto Martinez made way for Domenico Tedesco, who has overseen a solid start to his tenure. The 38-year-old will be confident heading into the group stage and thanking the luck of the draw, with Slovakia, Romania, and Ukraine joining the Red Devils in Group E.

As the four teams get ready to get their UEFA Euro 2024 campaigns underway, we take a closer look at them, and some of their pivotal figures and try to predict who will progress to the round of 16. You can also go through our previews for Group A, Group B, Group C, and Group D, which we have covered this week.

Group E: Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine


June 17: Romania vs Ukraine; Belgium vs Slovakia

June 21: Slovakia vs Ukraine

June 22: Belgium vs Romania

June 26: Ukraine vs Belgium; Slovakia vs Romania


As iterated earlier, Belgium endured a nightmare of a campaign at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with Roberto Martinez’s spell ending on a whimper. Domenico Tedesco has taken charge of the Red Devils and is yet to taste defeat in 14 outings thus far.

The golden generation is on its last legs, with many players from that bunch already calling time on their careers or not a part of the squad for UEFA Euro 2024. Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany are no longer playing the game, while Thibaut Courtois has missed the cut due to his souring relationship with Tedesco.

In addition, his long-term absence through two knee injuries contributed to his ouster from the Belgian squad. Courtois’s absence will give Koen Casteels the opportunity to establish himself as the undisputed first-choice goalkeeper for Belgium.

Meanwhile, Belgium enjoyed an exceptional qualifying campaign for UEFA Euro 2024. They did not lose a game and conceded only four goals in eight outings, dropping points twice. Goalscoring was not an issue either as they found the back of the net nearly thrice in every game on average.

Belgium’s exploits earned them an arguably straightforward group, with Slovakia, Romania, and Ukraine being their opponents for the group stage. So, Domenico Tedesco will fancy his squad’s prospects heading into the first round of the quadrennial event.

Key Players: Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku

Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, and Romelu Lukaku are the last of the big hitters from Belgium’s golden generation, which took the game by storm and romped to the top of the world rankings. However, with Vertonghen gradually taking a back seat, De Bruyne and Lukaku have the onus on them to deliver the European Championships, which might be their final chance to secure continental glory.

De Bruyne remains on top of his game, having produced mind-boggling numbers in the 2023/24 campaign despite spending several weeks on the sidelines. The 32-year-old amassed six goals and 18 assists in 26 appearances across all competitions, showing that he has still got it.

The veteran playmaker is also the creative force for his national side and will link up with Romelu Lukaku, who often saves his best for the international games. Speaking of the star striker, he has also taken on the mantle of being his team’s captain since Eden Hazard called it a day.

Tedesco’s decision to appoint Lukaku as the national team’s captain rubbed some the wrong way, including a player in our next section. However, the 31-year-old continues delivering the goods, even though his club future remains uncertain. Lukaku has an exceptional record of 85 goals in 115 games for Belgium, and he will look to exorcise the demons of the 2022 FIFA World Cup by delivering success at UEFA Euro 2024.

Notable Omission: Thibaut Courtois

As iterated earlier, Thibaut Courtois is a glaring miss from Belgium’s squad for UEFA Euro 2024. While the veteran goalkeeper has had his skirmishes with Domenico Tedesco, very few would have expected his omission from the final group.

The 32-year-old returned to action with aplomb, producing top-class performances while keeping a clean sheet in the UEFA Champions League final as Real Madrid won the competition for the 15th time. However, that was not enough for him to earn a spot in the Belgian squad.

There is more to it than meets the eye, and someone will spill the beans in due course. However, for the time being, it will be odd to see someone other than Thibaut Courtois between the sticks for Belgium while the experienced shot-stopper is fit and available.


Slovakia will take part in the European Championships for the third time as an independent nation, with the previous two editions also featuring them. And the Falcons will be eager to make their mark when they lock horns with Belgium, Romania, and Ukraine in the group stage.

Francesco Calzona’s men qualified for UEFA Euro 2024 by finishing runners-up in Group F of the UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifiers. Slovakia only lost against Portugal, although they gave the Seleccao a run for their money.

So, Calzona will fancy his squad’s prospects when they kick things off against Romania on July 17. However, Slovakia’s head coach will know there is no margin of error, as there is very little to separate them from Romania and Ukraine.

Calzona has not sprung a surprise with his squad selection apart from omitting Robert Mak. However, apart from the veteran winger, the Italian tactician has all his resources at his disposal. Among them, captain Milan Skriniar will be a man on a mission after failing to set the stage alight in his debut season with Paris Saint-Germain.

Stanislav Lobotka is also in the same boat after a horrendous 2023/24 campaign for Napoli. Others, like Ondrej Duda and David Hancko, will be out to impress the scouts from various clubs. Meanwhile, Slovakia will be eager to return to the knockout phase after failing to reach the round of 16 at UEFA Euro 2020.

Interestingly, the Falcons have finished third in both editions they have made the finals. This time, Slovakia will aim to go one better, which should be possible considering the opposition in the group stage at UEFA Euro 2024.

Key Players: Milan Skriniar and Stanislav Lobotka

As iterated earlier, Skriniar and Lobotka will be itching to make a point after frustrating 2023/24 campaigns with their respective clubs. While Skriniar struggled to stamp his authority at Paris Saint-Germain, Lobotka’s team was dreadful throughout the season.

Nevertheless, Lobotka was a standout performer in a bad team, and Francesco Calzona took a closer look at the holding midfielder after taking temporary charge of Napoli. The 29-year-old also earned an admirer in Xavi Hernandez this season, and he will be the glue to hold Slovakia together from the middle of the park.

As for Skriniar, he will need to keep things tight alongside David Hancko to allow the attackers to play freely. That will enable Slovakia to get past the tricky opponents like Romania and Ukraine and finish second in the group stage.

Notable Omission: Robert Mak

Francesco Calzona does not usually make major changes to his squad. However, Robert Mak is a notable omission for Slovakia despite a decent campaign. However, playing outside Europe might have been his undoing. Nevertheless, despite Mak’s absence, Calzona has a strong group that can make it to the round of 16.


UEFA Euro 2024 will be the sixth instance of Romania qualifying for the finals. The Tricolorii first qualified for a European Championship in 1984 and managed only one point in three games to finish at the bottom of a difficult group that included Spain, Portugal, and West Germany.

Romania’s next participation at the Euros came in 1996, and they were even worse this time. With France and Spain in their group, they finished fourth, losing all three games while finding the back of the net only once. However, things improved in Euro 2000 as they sprang a surprise by finishing second, with England and Germany missing out.

While Portugal cruised to the top of the standings, only three points separated the fourth-placed team from second. However, Romania’s journey ended in the quarter-finals, with Italy clinching a 2-0 win. Since that edition, Romania’s only other campaigns have ended in the group stage, with the Tricolours managing only three points.

Meanwhile, Edward Iordănescu has picked all the familiar names, with only Cristian Manea missing out. That might not hurt Romania, with George Puscas, Nicolae Stanciu, Razvan Marin, Ianis Hagi, and Radu Dragusin forming the core of a formidable squad.

These players helped Romania finish atop Group I in the UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifiers, with the Tricolorii not losing a single game. Interestingly, they condemned Switzerland to the second spot, enjoying an impressive qualification campaign. That will give Edward Iordănescu and his charges the confidence to take the game to the other three teams in their group.

Key Players: Radu Dragusin and Ianis Hagi

As iterated earlier, Edward Iordănescu has a big core group he will bank on to reach the round of 16. Nicolae Stanciu, George Puscas, and Razvan Marin will play their parts to help Romania progress to the next phase. However, we have picked Radu Dragusin and Ianis Hagi for this section.

Radu Dragusin will be a man on a mission at UEFA Euro 2024 after struggling to secure regular game time at Tottenham in the second half of the 2023/24 season. An impressive showing at the Euros can help his cause heading into the 2024/25 campaign.

As for Hagi, he will be the playmaking extraordinaire for Romania. He enjoyed a decent campaign with Deportivo Alaves and will aim to extend his fine run at UEFA Euro 2024. If he rises to the occasion, the Tricolours will be in business to

Notable Omissions: None

Edward Iordănescu has not sprung a surprise with his squad selection for UEFA Euro 2024. While Cristian Manea has missed out, his presence in the squad would not have made a difference. So, Iordănescu has picked a squad that is moral enough to get the job done in the coming weeks.


Ukraine will round up Group E of UEFA Euro 2024, and they will be the dark horses to finish atop the standings if Belgium’s hangover from the 2022 FIFA World Cup continue to show its side effects.

Amid the crippling effects of the war with Russia, the Blue and Yellows have soldiered on to reach UEFA Euro 2024. Interestingly, they nearly qualified for the finals by securing an automatic berth, finishing level on points with Italy in Group C of UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifiers, with England cruising to the top spot.

So, Ukraine had to take the scenic route to UEFA Euro 2024, clinching two narrow victories over Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland to reach the main draw. They could not have hoped for a better draw, and Sehiy Rebrov will fancy his team’s prospects at the Euros.

The Blue and Yellows have become regulars at the Euros since their debut in the 2012 edition, which they co-hosted with Poland. And after reaching the knockout phase for the first time at UEFA Euro 2020, Ukraine will hope to emulate that feat in Germany.

Rebrov has several in-form players in his squad, with Artem Dovbyk and Viktor Tsygankov arriving at the Euros after an exceptional La Liga campaign with Girona. Meanwhile, Mykhailo Mudryk and captain Andriy Yarmolenko will have a point to prove.

Rebrov’s squad also features many experienced heads, including Yarmolenko, Heorhiy Bushchan, Taras Stepanenko, and others. So, Ukraine should have a healthy mix of youthful exuberance and the calculated approach of those who have been there and done that.

Key Players: Artem Dovbyk and Viktor Tsygankov

Andriy Yarmolenko will be a man on a mission, while experienced players like Taras Stepanenko and Serhiy Sydorchuk bring a lot to the table. Meanwhile, Heorhiy Sudakov will aim to impress his suitors, while Mykhailo Mudryk will look to gain sharpness and confidence at the Euros. But we have picked Artem Dovbyk and Viktor Tsygankov for this section.

The Girona duo are familiar with their games after pairing up in the final third for the Catalan outfit. They were instrumental in the White and Reds finishing third in La Liga to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. They will aim to make more history with Ukraine at UEFA Euro 2024.

Notable Omissions: Oleksandr Karavayev and Serhiy Kryvtsov

Like his counterparts in Group E, Serhiy Rebrov did not spring a surprise. However, he did leave two experienced players out of his squad for UEFA Euro 2024. Oleksandr Karavayev and Serhiy Kryvtsov will feel they were unfortunate to miss the cut for the latest edition of the European Championships. However, Rebrov has a formidable unit that can topple the competition.

Potential Underrated Difference Makers

Johan Bakayoko

Bakayoko is not an unknown quantity. However, he is not an undisputed first-choice starter for Belgium, meaning he has a point to prove in the upcoming competition. The eyes of scouts from most big clubs will also be on the youngster.

Bakayoko arrives at UEFA Euro 2024 on the back of an exceptional campaign that saw him help PSV Eindhoven regain the Eredivisie title. If given the chance, he can be the x-factor that Belgium’s gameplay has sorely missed since Eden Hazard’s pomp. Expect him to grown in stature as the tournament progresses.

Viktor Tsygankov

Our second pick is another wide attacker who has enjoyed an excellent 2023/24 campaign. Like Johan Bakayoko, he has several high-profile clubs chasing his signature after helping Girona finish third in a historic performance.

Tsygankov will channel that energy for Ukraine, and his exploits from the wide areas will help the Blue and Yellows stave off competition from Slovakia and Romania. While Artem Dovbyk might hog the limelight again with match-winning output, the game-changing performances should come from Tsygankov’s boots.

Likely to Qualify: Belgium, Ukraine, Slovakia

Belgium might have squandered the opportunity to qualify for the round of 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but a repeat act is not on the cards. The Red Devils are much more formidable under the tutelage of Domenico Tedesco, who should oversee a record-breaking group stage campaign by his side.

Meanwhile, Group E should witness three teams qualifying for the knockout phase. We pick Ukraine and Slovakia to rack up the points, with Romania narrowly missing out on the top-three berths.

Ukraine will ride the coattails of the brilliant Girona pairing of Viktor Tsygankov and Artem Dovbyk. On the other hand, Slovakia will produce solid performances that will keep all three opponents at bay for large periods and force a few points from them.

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