2023-09-18 · 0 min read · UEFA Euro Cup/Soccer
UEFA Euro 2024

UEFA via Getty Images | Edit by SkySports

“International break” is one of the worst phrases in the footie calendar. Tell any footie fan this weekend is an International Break, and you will get the same response - something along the lines of “ughhhh I swear we just did this”.
Despite the disappointment of taking a break in your favourite domestic league in Europe there is excitement and lots on the line during the international qualifiers. There are only three more international breaks between now and 2024 UEFA European Championship in Germany in June 2024 and still plenty to be decided. Here are the top storylines after another round of qualifiers.
Italy tops Ukraine but is not in the clear
The Azzurri must have felt a sense of déjà vu last Saturday when they once again dropped points to tiny North Macedonia, the same nation that beat Italy last year and doomed the four-time world champions to a second consecutive World Cup qualifying failure.
Italy rebounded Tuesday, beating the Ukrainians 2-1 at the San Siro Stadium in Milan. The three points keep them clinging to second place (and the automatic Euro 2024 berth that comes with it). Still, this is a team that can't afford to take anything for granted, not anymore, even if it has played one fewer match than the rest of its Group C opponents.
England's margin for error narrows
The Three Lions reached the final of the last Euros and got off to a hot start in qualifying for next summer's edition, winning their first four contests. But last weekend's draw against Ukraine in the neutral site of Poland makes matters just a little more urgent for Gareth Southgate's star-studded side. England still comfortably leads Group B. But Italy's win Tuesday means they would be just three points behind the Lions if they win their game in hand.
Portugal stays perfect
Portugal has been the undisputed best team in Europe during qualifying, with six wins in six tries and a +24 goal differential thanks largely to Monday's record-setting 9-0 drubbing of Luxembourg without the suspended Ronaldo.
Will the coaching switch stir Germany?
As hosts of Euro 2024 Germany have automatic qualification to the tournament meaning any of their games during the international break are strictly tune-ups.  After another loss to Japan 4-1 last week, Coach Hansi Flick was fired the following day. His successor has yet to be named, but whoever it is must get Germany back on track quickly. The talent is there — on Tuesday, the three-time European champs, whose last title came decades ago now, beat World Cup runner-up France 2-1. But there's now just three more FIFA windows to prepare before the main event kicks off in Munich next June.
Poland has plenty of work to do
The Poles topped the Faroe Islands, as expected, 2-0 in Warsaw last Thursday on two Robert Lewandowski goals. But the victory wasn't as convincing as it should've been; both strikes, the first one via the penalty spot, came late in the second half.
That lackluster result foreshadowed the calamity that would follow on Sunday, a shocking 2-0 loss at Albania. The defeat left Poland in fourth place in Group E more than halfway through qualifying, putting them in danger of missing out on Germany 2024. They'll likely need to win their final three matches (at the Faroes and home to Moldova next month, then home to Czechia in November) to have any chance of finishing in the top two spots.
Scotland keeps rolling against the odds
Tuesday's 3-1 friendly loss to England stings, but Scots stayed perfect this qualifying window by beating Cyprus — their fifth win in as many Euro 2024 preliminaries — to remain well ahead of Spain atop Group A for now. Scotland is comfortably on track to reach the finals for the first time this century.
The next three games won't be easy, though. Three-time Euro titlist La Roja — which pounded Cyprus 6-0 Tuesday — will be out to avenge its March loss in Glasgow in the Oct. 12 rematch in Seville. Scotland will then hit the road again in November (to Georgia) before closing out qualifying at home against Erling Haaland-led Norway.
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By: Aaron Cantin


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