EURO 2024 qualification begins: A guide to all the key fixtures

EURO 2024 qualification begins: A guide to all the key fixtures
Kylian Mbappé is the new French captain.
Kylian Mbappé is the new French captain.
Football Europe has taken a break from league competitions, but that's only to allow the fight for qualification for EURO 2024 to begin. Several teams have changed their coaches in the recent past, and the matchday menu is already full of big headliners. 46 matches will be played over the six days and Livesport picks out the most interesting ones.

Thursday 23 March

Italy - England (20:45 CET, Group C, Naples)

A clash of giants who dream of great success, but also have problems to solve. Italian coach Roberto Mancini complained about the lack of suitable strikers, so Mateo Retegui arrived in Naples from as far away as Argentina to make his first start for the Squadra Azzurra. His Italian citizenship is due to the fact that his grandmother lived in Sicily. England have again only reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup, and so begin their next quest to win their first major tournament since 1966. Coach Gareth Southgate has taken time to reflect but has finally decided to continue with the team and this will be his fourth shot at glory.

Friday 24 March

France - Netherlands (20:45 CET, Group B, Paris)

World champions France have a new captain in Kylian Mbappé. What hasn't changed, however, is the coaching position. Didier Deschamps, who has already won the World Cup with the team, remains the coach, but he is missing the triumph from the European Championship. He would certainly like to win the missing trophy to match German legend Helmut Schön and Spaniard Vicente del Bosque. Returning to the Netherlands bench is Ronald Koeman, for whom this is a second stint with the Oranjes. The first time he managed to beat France 2-0 in 2018.

Sweden - Belgium (20:45 CET, Group F, Solna)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns to the Swedish national team and coach Janne Andersson's team is having a good season despite his absence at the World Cup in Qatar. The team has won its last four preliminary matches against Mexico, Algeria, Finland and Iceland. Thirty-seven-year-old coach Domenico Tedesco, who previously led Leipzig, will make his debut for Belgium. However, a number of players from the era of previous coach Roberto Martínez remain.

Czech Republic - Poland (20:45 CET, Group E, Prague)

A big feast for Czech fans who are looking forward to the performance of the rejuvenated national team and the start of Polish star Robert Lewandowski. The match was sold out by Christmas. The Poles are now led by Fernando Santos, who coached Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup in Qatar back in December.

Saturday 25 March

Croatia - Wales (20:45 CET, Group D, Split)

Croatia confirmed their quality in Qatar and coach Zlatko Dalic is again relying on experience. Veterans Ivan Perisic and Luka Modric are not missing, but Benfica striker Petar Musa, who previously played in the Czech league with Liberec and Slavia, has been invited for the first time. Wales coach Robert Page is building a new team after the end of Gareth Bale and has invited seven newcomers, including 17-year-old Fulham midfielder Luke Harris. Aaron Ramsey, who is at Nice, will be the new captain.

Spain - Norway (20:45 CET, Group A, Malaga)

It was supposed to be a battle between Erling Haaland and the Spanish defence, but the striker had to excuse himself due to injury. Still, the Norwegians won't be without a chance, as the team will be led by the ever-improving Martin Odegaard. After the Qatar debacle, the Spaniards will be newly led by Luis De La Fuente, who entrusted the captain's armband to Álvaro Morata. But it won't be easy. The national team is reverberating from the recent El Clásico, in which mainstays Gavi and Dani Ceballos had a conflict.

Sunday 26 March

England - Ukraine (18:00 CET, Group C, London)

Should England fail to succeed in Italy, they will have to try and gain a win at home to Ukraine. For the war-torn country, the match at Wembley will be a holiday and the English Football Federation has also donated 1,000 free tickets to the families of Ukrainian refugees. It will be curious to see how Oleksandr Zinchenko and Roman Yaremchuk fare under coach Ruslan Rotan.

Monday 27 March

Ireland - France (20:45 CET, Group B, Dublin)

The match will be played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, where Ireland's rugby players destroyed France in the Six Nations tournament in February, giving inspiration to the football team. The story of the controversial goal in 2009, when France knocked the Irish out of the World Cup at the hands of Thierry Henry, still lives on between the rivals. Although the latter later said he would have preferred to replay the match, it was too late. The Irish haven't been to a major tournament since 2016 and this time it will be a tough mission for coach Stephen Kenny's team as well.

Tuesday 28 March

Turkey - Croatia (20:45 CET, Group D, Bursa)

Football is a passion in Turkey, but their great achievements have been slowly forgotten. Its German coach, Stefan Kuntz, almost secured World Cup qualification but fell from a losing position at the hands of Portugal. Now he has a second chance to succeed. The leader and captain of the team is Hakan Calhanoglu of Inter Milan. The Croatians will not have it easy in Bursa.