Euro countdown begins. It is certainly on and we are only a day away until the competition starts. Termed as “Mini World Cup”, this competition is one of the most viewed tournaments across the globe. Spanned across nine countries this year, the Euros have everything to offer – world-class players, teams, stadiums, etc. The tournament excites us with high-profile matches which include teams like Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, England, Belgium, etc.
There also are the dark horses (Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, etc.), the teams who can certainly upset the “Favorites”. In this article, we will be focusing on Group F, also known as the “Group Of Death”. Teams in this group are Portugal, Hungary, Germany & France”. This group can grasp a lot of eyes, most certainly everyone following this tournament.
Teams in Group F
The team which has won the last two European competitions i.e. Euro 2016 & UEFA Nations League in 2019 is one of the favorites for this year’s Euros as well. Portugal surprised everyone in 2016 when they clinched the title. Since then, they have been a force to beat the European continent. Big things are expected from them as they boast players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Diogo Jota, Pepe, Bruno Fernandes, Rui Patricio & Ruben Dias in their squad.
The Winners of Euro 2016 Portugal has a perfect blend of youth and experience in their squad. Pepe is still a force in the defense whereas, Ronaldo is the pioneer of the attack. On the other hand, they have Ruben Dias in the heart of the defense, who was recently voted as the Premier League Player of the Year. On the attacking end, they have Joao Felix, who is quick as well as clever on his runs. Portugal also boasts a star-studded midfield with Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Neves, Sergio Oliveira & an experienced William Carvalho.
Overall they have talent all across the pitch for Euro 2020-21. It is in fact a headache for Fernando Santos to choose his best XI.
Players to watch
The talisman and the highest active goal scorer at the International level, Cristiano Ronaldo is still a force in the attack. A player with an elite mentality and fitness, he turns the games around on his own. With a much better midfield this time, Cristiano Ronaldo will certainly look to add more goals to his kitty.
The young defender has come in with an excellent domestic season behind him. Dias has been instrumental in the heart of the defense for Manchester City. He will look to carry forward the same form for his National team as well. The prolific center-back has all the attributes to compete against the best attackers. He will also be rock-solid in the defense, to cause enough nightmares for the opposition.
Another Portuguese who has had an amazing individual season, Bruno Fernandes will look to replicate the similar stats and impact for his national team as well. Even though his numbers for Portugal aren’t great, he will be looking to revamp those in this competition. Known for his swift and smart passing, Bruno Fernandes will be a constant threat to the opposition defenders.
The dark horse of this group. Hungary was drawn with Portugal in the 2016 edition of Euros as well. Even though Hungary finished at the top of the table, above Iceland and the eventual winners Portugal, they ultimately lost 4-0 to Belgium in the RO16. Despite being an outsider to this group, they are touted as dangerous by many.
Hungary do have some important players in their ranks who can upset any big team on the given day.
Players to watch
The goalkeeper has been an undisputed No. 1 for Hungary. Peter Gulacsi is incredibly proactive off his line and is also an immense shot-stopper. He is also the Vice-Captain and will play a key role, both on and off the pitch for Hungary. With so much experience over the years with RB Leipzig, Gulacsi will have enough experience in battling against Europe’s best forward.
The defender has played almost 200 games for RB Leipzig and has also played under the managers like Julian Nagelsmann, Ralph Hasenhuttl. The 28-year-old center-back is proficient in his position as well as is strong in the air, and is tactically sound. These attributes are enough for him to command his place in the National Team. Orban’s performances in the defense could hold the key for Hungary’s chances to progress to the next round.
Even though Adam Szalai has not had a great domestic season playing for Mainz, but at the International level, he still is an important player and part of Hungary’s team. The forward has scored 23 goals in 70 caps. Coming into the team with a sparse goal record, Adam Szalai could still be crucial in the forward line, as he has the ability to score from the set pieces which can upset the defensive setup for Portugal, France, and Germany.
Another heavyweight in this group, the Germans enter into this tournament ( Euro) outside the Top 10 FIFA rankings. With Joachim Löw stepping down from his coaching role, he would certainly look to bow out with the trophy, which has eluded him the most. Löw would very much like to add this feather in his cap, in order to complete his trophy cabinet at an International level.
After an embarrassing exit from the 2018 World Cup, the Germans have certainly made the necessary tough decisions, by cropping the old soldiers out and including the young guns to balance their squad. The squad boasts players like Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry etc. These players are enough to give nightmares to their opposition teams.
Players to watch
The World Class goalkeeper is still the undisputed No. 1 for the German National Team and the coach. The goalkeeper is coming into this tournament with a trophy-laden season with Bayern Munich. Although Neuer has not had a great season by his standards, he has still managed to keep his clean sheets tally in double digits in all competitions, in the last season. Joachim Löw will heavily rely on his leadership qualities, to guide Germany to its fourth European title.
Once considered to be a perfect replacement for Philip Lahm, Kimmich has amazingly transitioned to the No. 6 role, so much so that he is now considered as one of the best central midfielders in the world. Not only he good at keeping the ball, but the midfielder also possesses the ability to tear the defenses open and keep the team ticking with his accurate passes and perfect composure. Kimmich even though playing as a central midfielder, boasts an amazing stat of 14 assists in 33 games across Bundesliga and Champions League, last season. It’s not only about his precise passing, but also his ability to shoot from a distance that makes him a worthy difference maker in this German squad.
It has been quite a renaissance for Serge Gnabry, ever since he started featuring regularly for Bayern Munich. He has been an absolute joy to watch up front. Apart from the speed he possesses, Gnabry has an ability to toy with the defenders inside-out with his dribbling abilities as well. So far Serge Gnabry’s record has been outstanding for Germany, scoring 15 goals in 20 appearances. His direct attacking means he will be a constant threat, as he will always look to get himself in front of the goal. Also, his clever interchanging of positions between the width and centre, makes him unpredictable going forward.
The most complete team of Euro 2020, France has world-class players in all the possible positions. The World Cup winners are the firm “Favourites” as the predicted finalists, much like the previous edition. Should France win this year’s Euros, they will lift the title for the third time and will also have a chance to become the World & European Champions for the second time.
Didier Deschamps considers each and every player to be an integral part of his squad and system. Even though Karim Benzema pulled out from the last warm-up game, they still have enough firepower up front. The French team boasts players like Hugo Lloris, Raphael Varane, Benjamin Pavard, Ngolo Kante, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe etc.
Players to watch
The prolific center-back has won each and every trophy at club level and will be looking to replicate the same feat, at the International level. When in form, he is one of the best center-backs in the world. However, he does get under pressure when he has to play the role of the leader of the backline. His rock-solid partner in the 2018 World Cup was Samuel Umtiti however, in Umtiti’s absence he has to rely on the solidarity of Presnel Kimpembe. Nevertheless, when it comes to big competitions like the Euros, you can expect the very best from Raphael Varane, who is strong, quick, and flawless, when he gets going.
The most underrated and hard-working player in the French National Team. Ngolo Kante has the ability to control the game, right from minute one until the final whistle is blown. His ability to take on 2-3 players in the midfield helps others in the team around him to find spaces and create chances. Touted as the favorite to win the Ballon D’or, if France wins the competition, Ngolo Kante will look to replicate similar performances, as he did for Chelsea in the Champions League. If France is to do anything, they will need Kante at the top of his game throughout the tournament.
France’s lethal weapon upfront, Kylian Mbappe will look to recreate what he did at the World Cup in 2018 as a teenager. Kylian Mbappe has been the French team’s most decisive player, ever since Antoine Griezmann’s form has dipped. Averaging close to more than one goal involvement in 90 minutes, Mbappe has the speed, skill, and precision in goalscoring, to kill the games off. Having entered the international arena as a teenager, he will look to dominate the game and tournament more, with his exposure and experience at the highest level.
Important matches in Group F
15 June 2021 – France vs Germany
19 June 2021 – Portugal vs Germany
23 June 2021 – Portugal vs France
When you have three top teams in the world, it’s hard to predict who would qualify for the next round of Euro. As per our predictions, France & Portugal would eventually qualify for the next round (RO16). Germany will have to settle for 3rd place. It may be tough luck for the Third-placed team however, the format does give an outside chance for the third-placed teams, to go through the next round. With no disrespect to Hungary, they have been really unfortunate to be put in such a group. It’s going to be a mammoth effort from Hungary to eliminate two top teams out in the very first round.
Group F in Euro is by far the most exciting group in the competition. The group features 3 out of 4 previous Euro winners. It will be a thrill, excitement, and joy to watch such teams battle it out in the group stage of such a high-profile tournament. Although most of them may have predicted which teams in this group are likely to progress, it will be a different ballgame but it no surprise, if there are any upsets in the results within this group. It is certainly a feast for football lovers that they don’t have to miss the action of the domestic leagues, as their favorites stars battle it out for their respective countries in Euro 2020-21.
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