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European Qualifiers: What to look out for in March

A 2020 final rematch, an emotionally charged reunion and a meeting between two European giants are on the agenda as the road to UEFA EURO 2024 begins.

Kylian Mbappé has been named France captain ahead of their opening game against the Netherlands
Kylian Mbappé has been named France captain ahead of their opening game against the Netherlands AFP via Getty Images

The qualifying campaign for UEFA EURO 2024 begins with a bang in March as some of the biggest names in European football go head to head.

UEFA.com identifies the main talking points ahead of the opening two rounds of fixtures.

Kane eyes record against Azzurri

The opening night of qualifying action includes a rematch of the EURO 2020 final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium. The Azzurri failed to qualify for the World Cup finals in Qatar last year but have held the upper hand over the Three Lions in recent games, famously defeating Gareth Southgate's team on penalties in London before registering a goalless draw and a 1-0 victory in the 2022/23 Nations League league phase.

The teams' latest meeting at Napoli's Stadio Diego Armando Maradona may prove to be a very special one for Harry Kane. Having become Tottenham's outright all-time leading goalscorer in early February, the 29-year-old needs just one more goal to become his country's record marksman. Kane's penalty in England's 2-1 World Cup quarter-final defeat by France drew him level on 53 goals with current holder Wayne Rooney.

Watch great Harry Kane England goals

Emotional reunion in Copenhagen

Finland claimed their first victory at a major finals on their last visit to the Danish capital, but the teams' EURO 2020 group stage fixture was overshadowed by a medical emergency involving Christian Eriksen shortly before half-time. The midfielder returned to competitive action just 259 days after the incident and has since become an integral part of Erik ten Hag's new-look Manchester United side.

However, Eriksen will miss the start of their EURO 2024 qualifying campaign with an ankle ligament injury sustained in the Red Devils' FA Cup tie with Reading in January, meaning Kasper Hjulmand will need creativity from elsewhere at Parken on 23 March. Those with the potential to step up include Mikkel Damsgaard and Mathias Jensen, who have both shone for Brentford this season.

Highlights: Denmark 0-1 Finland

European giants lock horns

France missed the chance to become the first team to defend a FIFA World Cup title since 1962 after losing to Argentina in December's pulsating final. Kylian Mbappé became only the second player to register a hat-trick in the showpiece as Didier Deschamps' side recovered from 2-0 and 3-2 down, but La Albiceleste – inspired by Lionel Messi – emerged triumphant to deny Les Bleus a third world title.

Like France, Netherlands were ousted on penalties by the eventual tournament winners – in their case in the quarter-finals. The team's Group B opener not only marks the return of Ronald Koeman to the Oranje hot seat, following the retirement of Louis van Gaal, but a special milestone for defender Daley Blind. If selected, the Bayern München veteran will win his 100th Netherlands cap at Stade de France on 24 March.

Kylian Mbappé great France goals
All the qualifying fixtures

European Qualifiers in March

All kick-offs 20:45 CET unless stated

Thursday 23 March
Group C
: Italy vs England, North Macedonia vs Malta
Group H: Kazakhstan vs Slovenia (16:00), Denmark vs Finland, San Marino vs Northern Ireland
Group J: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Iceland, Portugal vs Liechtenstein, Slovakia vs Luxembourg

Friday 24 March
Group B
: France vs Netherlands, Gibraltar vs Greece
Group E: Czechia vs Poland, Moldova vs Faroe Islands
Group F
: Austria vs Azerbaijan, Sweden vs Belgium
Group G: Bulgaria vs Montenegro (18:00), Serbia vs Lithuania

Saturday 25 March
Group A
: Scotland vs Cyprus (15:00), Spain vs Norway
Group D: Armenia vs Türkiye (18:00), Croatia vs Wales
Group I: Belarus vs Switzerland (18:00), Andorra vs Romania, Israel vs Kosovo (18:00)

Sunday 26 March
Group C
: England vs Ukraine (18:00), Malta vs Italy
Group H: Kazakhstan vs Denmark (15:00), Slovenia vs San Marino (18:00), Northern Ireland vs Finland
Group J: Liechtenstein vs Iceland (18:00), Luxembourg vs Portugal, Slovakia vs Bosnia and Herzegovina

Monday 27 March
Group B
: Netherlands vs Gibraltar, Republic of Ireland vs France
Group E: Moldova vs Czechia, Poland vs Albania
Group F
: Austria vs Estonia, Sweden vs Azerbaijan
Group G: Hungary vs Bulgaria, Montenegro vs Serbia

Tuesday 28 March
Group A
: Georgia vs Norway (18:00), Scotland vs Spain
Group D: Türkiye vs Croatia, Wales vs Latvia
Group I: Kosovo vs Andorra, Romania vs Belarus, Switzerland vs Israel

EURO 2024: The host cities