Euro 2024

Group E Stat Pack: Best bets for Belgium, Ukraine, Slovakia and Romania

KDB is one of many Belgian stars capable of creating something special

When you look at Group E, most eyes are still drawn to the side that finished runner-up in 1980, Belgium, but in Slovakia, Romania and especially Ukraine, there are three sides more than capable of causing an upset and this group could become incredibly intriguing.

Betfair are offering customers a chance to earn a free bet each time the side they back to win Euro 2024 (£10 stake) scores a goal during the group stages. Do you opt for a side who is likely to go deep, like France, or, is your faith in a Portugal side who banged in 36 goals in 10 qualifying matches?

Romelu Lukaku is toward the top of the Golden Boot market after finishing the qualifying campaign as the top scorer with 14 goals - that was 64% of Belgium's 22 goals, so could he and the Red Devils be the side to back with the offer in mind?

Perhaps it is an outsider you fancy to surprise us all - like the much fancied Austria, Hungary or Ukraine, and a few goals in their opening three games could well pay you back for your faith in them before the tournament, and hope their big price takes you all the way!

Make sure you opt-in on the Betfair Sportsbook before the opening game and place a £10 bet (or £5 EW) in the Winner market to qualify!

Belgium 16/117.00 to win Euro 2024

Key Player - Jeremy Doku
The Goalscorer - Romelu Lukaku
The Shooter - Yannick Carrasco
The Fouler - Amadou Onana
The Creator - Leandro Trossard
The Dictator/Passer - Kevin de Bruyne
The One to watch - Johan Bakayoko

Many people believed that Belgium's widely regarded golden generation was destined to win a major tournament but after a hugely disappointing FIFA World Cup campaign two years ago, Roberto Martinez resigned as the nation's head coach having failed to guide The Red Devils to glory.

Despite producing some mesmerising football under the Spaniard, the Belgians have ultimately let a whole host of quality slip by without any major silverware to show for it. That said, they do still boast a squad brimming with remarkable talent, with the formidable Kevin de Bruyne, the sublime Jeremy Doku and Romelu Lukaku to lead the line, but despite not losing a single fixture since November 2022, few are predicting that they'll claim success this summer. Having won six and drawn two of their eight games in qualifying, they are 16/117.00 to win Euro 2024.

As they look to mark the start of a new era in major competition under Martinez's successor, Domenico Tedesco, who is yet to experience defeat as the nation's manager, a lot of focus has been on a key omission from the squad, Thibaut Courtois. Capped 102 times, he has fought his way back from an ACL injury and kept a clean sheet for Real Madrid in the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at the start of June with a mighty fine display.

Whilst the manager announced very early on that the shot-stopper would not be selected, claiming that he wanted to focus solely on players in good shape and avoid a 'tit-for-tat situation', Courtois certainly showed at Wembley that there should be no question marks over his current form or fitness.

Tedesco has tinkered with the side's formation throughout the qualifying campaign but when you look at the players at his disposal, particularly in the midfield area, there is an overwhelming amount of strength.

Renowned for his exceptional passing accuracy, it'll come as no surprise that no European player has delivered more assists at major international tournaments than Kevin De Bruyne since the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He currently has nine, including five in European Championships. He is 12/113.00 to finish the event with the most assists but there are a couple of other Premier League stars that I believe will be crucial when it comes to Belgium's build-up play this summer.

As well as Jeremy Doku, I expect Leandro Trossard to play a big role in the new manager's plans, after a mighty fine campaign for Arsenal. Intelligent and very hard for defenders to read, his importance at club level has continued to grow, he's making a habit of scoring crucial goals, is clever and constantly proves a nightmare for defenders with and without the ball.

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Having come through the ranks at Genk, Trossard worked extensively with Ribeiro, focusing heavily on developing him into a player as comfortable on his left foot as he is on his right, a huge asset of the 29-year-old's and he could be crucial when it comes to unlocking defences.

21-year-old Johan Bakayoko is an incredibly exciting youngster who has become a crucial cog in the way his club, PSV, operates. Electrifying in one-on-one situations, his combination play and close control are also mightily impressive as he continues to develop at both club and international level after turning down a move to the Premier League last summer. If he is able to replicate the level shown in the Netherlands this season in the time he gets on the pitch this month, he will undoubtedly attract more interest from top flight clubs, he is 50/151.00 to be named UEFA Young Player of the Tournament.

Having spent the last two seasons out on loan at Inter Milan and Roma, Romelu Lukaku is set to be offloaded by Chelsea ahead of next season and will be hopeful of an eye-catching campaign in Germany.

Already Belgium's top scorer at major tournaments with 11 goals in 22 appearances, his importance to the national side was demonstrated time and time again throughout the qualifying campaign as he finished top scorer, finding the back of the net 14 times across their eight matches, scoring every 39 minutes on average and converting almost half of his shots.

When he's in form, there's no question that he's still a hugely potent threat and the former Manchester United man is 5/61.84 to finish the tournament as Belgium's top goalscorer.

Ukraine 100/1101.00 to win Euro 2024

Key Player - Georgiy Sudakov
The Goalscorer - Mykhailo Mudryk
The Shooter - Viktor Tsigankov
The Fouler - Yukhym Konoplia
The Creator - Georgiy Sudakov
The Dictator/Passer - Oleksandr Zinchenko
The One to watch - Georgiy Sudakov

A lot of talk in the build up to Ukraine's fourth successive appearance at the Euros has been about their main source of inspiration and motivation for this tournament. The emotions etched on many faces following their victory over Iceland in the play-offs, a reflection that qualification meant so much but ultimately changed nothing for a nation experiencing so much pain. With their country at war, the importance of triumph in Germany pales into insignificance but Serhiy Rebrov's men will unite to try and provide a source of encouragement and share an important message on behalf of those back home.

For many, football is a wonderful source of escapism and Ukraine will this summer have the opportunity to keep their country fresh in everyone's minds but also, through football, the players will join together to show that Ukraine will never give up.

There has been much talk of their character and it is undoubtedly a quality this side has shown in abundance. Quarter-finalists at Euro 2020, their best ever run in this competition, they'll be targeting the same this time around. With Romania and Slovakia well below Ukraine in the FIFA rankings, I think this very exciting and talented side could thrive whilst also delivering a key message to the world.

Georgiy Sudakov is a player I believe will thrive during the group stages. With maturity beyond his years on the pitch, the attacking midfielder is technically brilliant and there are many reasons why he is being linked with a number of Premier League clubs already.

Currently plying his trade at Shakhtar Donetsk, he is widely regarded as one of his country's brightest talents, with a style of play that has seen him likened to Phil Foden. Superb in tight spaces, unflustered with a superb range of passing and I expect him to be heavily involved in a lot of Ukraine's best attacks.

He provided the assists for both of Ukraine's goals in their victory over Iceland in the play-off final and overall in the side's qualifying campaign, Sudakov created the most chances, 14 and he also won the joint most fouls.

Oleksandr Zinchenko is of course one of Ukraine's most prominent stars having spent six years as a Manchester City player before making the switch to North London club Arsenal where he last season shared the left-back role but behind Takehiro Tomiyasu in the pecking order, he is being linked with a move to Vincent Kompany's Bayern Munich this summer.

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Remarkably, in their 11 previous matches at the Euros, Ukraine have never kept a clean sheet, conceding 19 in that time.

Over the course of their qualifying campaign, Ukraine fell behind in six of their 10 matches but impressively recovered to win four of them, the most of any nation, they really are a country that will not give up and I think this side is ready to explode on the big stage, I'm backing them to finish runner-up to Belgium in Group E at 9/52.80.

They face Romania in their opener and I fancy them to beat the handicap of -0.5 goals at 11/102.11 in that match.

Romania 250/1251.00 to win Euro 2024

Key Player - Horatiu Moldovan
The Goalscorer - Nicolae Stanciu
The Shooter - Ianis Hagi
The Fouler - Razvan Marin
The Creator - Ianis Hagi
The Dictator/Passer - Razvan Marin
The One to watch - Radu Dragusin

Having failed to qualify for the 16th edition of this competition four years ago, Romania finished top of their group this time around, not losing a single match and keeping six clean sheets along the way in order to book their spot in a sixth European Championship event and their first since 2016, where they finished bottom of their group with just a single point.

Their record when they have managed to qualify for this event has been pretty dismal with just a solitary win across their 16 matches, drawing five.

That victory came back in 2000 as they beat England 3-2 to advance through to the quarter-finals at the expense of the side they downed. They'll be confident that they can add to that tally of victories this summer though and continue their impressive form, maintain their consistent performance level and prove a force to be reckoned with.

Whilst they may not boast a squad full of household names, they still have numerous players capable of causing problems for their opposition. Captain and creative midfielder Nicolae Stanciu has found the back of the net 14 times during his international career, more than any of his teammates, and is set to start at number 10 while the attacking threat of dynamic midfielder Razvan Marin is also going to be key if Romania are to advance into the knock-outs.


As for former Rangers man Ianis Hagi, he is so much more than just the son of Gheorghe Hagi, the greatest Romanian player of all time!

With his quick feet and superb close control he is excellent and exciting to watch in one-v-one situations and is as effective when he comes in field as he is when he plays out wide, I expect many of his deliciously weighted through balls to result in clear goalscoring opportunities for Romania this month.

Slovakia 500/1501.00 to win Euro 2024

Key Player - Milan Skriniar
The Goalscorer - Robert Bozenik
The Shooter - Robert Bozenik
The Fouler - Ondrej Duda
The Creator - Dávid Hancko
The Dictator/Passer - Stanislav Lobotka
The One to watch - Tomas Suslov

The same price to win the tournament as Georgia, Slovenia and Albania, Slovakia are the 5/61.84 outsiders to qualify for the knock-out stages of Euro 2024. They qualified with relative ease, winning seven of their 10 games, their joint most ever in a qualifying group but despite that, I think life in Group E could get incredibly difficult for The Falcons.

Francesco Calzona is in a unique situation heading to Germany, as Slovakia's head coach is now also the manager of Napoli. His success with the Italian club has been nowhere the level that he's enjoyed with the side he'll guide this summer. Despite their joy in the build up to this summer and the fact that they twice lost to Portugal by just a single goal, they conceded many chances in those two fixtures and when we look at the last two staging's of this tournament, no team has conceded more set-piece goals than Slovakia, 7, out of the 13 they let in came from a set-piece.

One of Slovakia's most notable figures over the years, Marek Hamsik retired in the summer of 2023, their talisman leaving a huge void in midfield.

Left back Dávid Hancko was involved in more goals for Slovakia during qualifying than any other player, finding the back of the net twice and also chipping in with 3 assists, the Feyenoord defender also created more chances than any other Slovak player, 17.

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Napoli man Stanislav Lobotka will be the one tasked with controlling play in the middle of the park, with superb vision and a wonderful range of passing, he's so often made the Italian club tick, he'll be hoping to do the same for The Falcons this month.

Given the quality of the other three sides in this group, I predict Slovakia will be the team to struggle so am doubling up and backing Belgium to win Group E and Slovakia to finish bottom at 5/23.50.

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Now read James Eastham's Group D stat pack here!

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