As excitement has built ahead of the upcoming European Championships, much of the debate has circled around Group F, which is by far the most intriguing of the six groups. The phrase ‘group of death’ is thrown around a bit too often, but this particular bunch of teams certainly warrant that title. France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary will go head-to-head to try and make it into the last 16, and we could well see one of international football’s giants bow out at the group stage.
With just days to go until this fascinating group gets underway, we’ve put together a guide to each of the four teams. Read on!
The world champions head into Euro 2020 as the tournament favourites in the odds for Euro 2021, and France will be expected to top Group F should they find their best form from the outset. It’s fair to say that Les Bleus probably have the strongest starting line-up of any team at the Euros, but they’ll need to be sharp from the word go if they’re to avoid slipping up.
The return of Karim Benzema to the squad is arguably the biggest talking point ahead of the tournament. He had fallen out with coach Didier Deschamps in the past over a number of controversies, but if the pair have patched things up, then Benzema will be an important player for the team. Alongside Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé, he’ll help to form one of the most fearsome front threes at the tournament.
Although they went on to win the World Cup three years ago, they started the group stage slowly, narrowly beating Australia and Peru before drawing with Denmark. If they are not at the races in their first match against Germany, the world champions could soon find themselves in a sticky situation. With so much quality in the team, you wouldn’t expect them to slip up, but you just never know.
It’s difficult to know what to expect from Germany at Euro 2020. Their World Cup title defence in 2018 ended in humiliation with a group-stage exit, and you can bet they’ll be fired up to prove themselves once again. This will be coach Joachim Löw’s final major tournament in charge of the side, and he’ll have his eyes set on one final flourish before he goes out.
While their squad is perhaps not as strong as previous tournaments, there is still a promising blend of youth and experience. Thomas Müller has been recalled to the squad, and along with Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Toni Kroos, Germany have a solid core to their team. In addition, younger players like Kai Havertz and Serge Gnabry will give defenders a difficult time.
Germany’s first two group games see them take on France and Portugal, but the fact that all of their group matches are being played in Munich could give them an extra edge. Despite the limited capacities as a result of the pandemic, the German fans will be keen to see their team produce a more worthy showing than in Russia three years ago.
Portugal head to Euro 2020 as defending champions, having lifted the trophy in Paris four years ago. They were surprise winners at the time, but after following it up by winning the UEFA Nations League in 2019, you can’t rule out Fernando Santos’ side.
Cristiano Ronaldo is still the heartbeat of the team, and although he has had to adapt his game to cope with the advances of time, he is still a hugely dangerous player. Aside from him, Portugal’s biggest threat is Bruno Fernandes, who has been in stellar form for Manchester United and will be keen to strut his stuff on the international stage.
Portugal qualified from their Euro 2016 group without even winning a match, advancing as one of the best third-placed teams, so they won’t be panicking at the sight of France and Germany in the same group as them. The fact that they play Hungary in their first match could help them get off to a perfect start, although the two teams were grouped together at Euro 2016 and Portugal could only manage a 3-3 draw.
It’s fair to say that Hungary represent a goldfish amongst sharks in Group F, but they’ll be determined to prove what they can do against three of international football’s big boys. While many will write them off before a ball has been kicked, it must be remembered that they finished second in their group at Euro 2016 to qualify for the knockout rounds, where Belgium proved too much for them in the end.
Key players this time around include goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi, who has been a mainstay in RB Leipzig’s success over the last few years. Captain and striker Ádám Szalai is their biggest goal threat, and his strength and power can prove a handful for any defence. Ádám Nagy will be one of their most important players in midfield, while Gergő Lovrencsics provides a domineering presence at the back.
Hungary are a difficult team to beat, and they certainly won’t be afraid to take on their more fancied opposition. With the prospect of going through with a third-place finish, they’ll have their sights set on the opening game against Portugal. A shock win would give them a great platform, and would leave the bigger teams perspiring just a little bit.