Group F – Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Portugal
Prediction: Portugal, Austria, Iceland, Hungary
The teams of Group F will have to wait until the 14th June to kick off their tournament. It won’t matter too much to Iceland and Hungary, however, who have had to wait a long time to compete in a European Championships. Hungary since 1972, whilst Iceland have never competed in the Euros.
It may also be worth the wait for the other two teams in this group, too, as both Portugal and Austria will fancy their chances of doing something special in this edition of the tournament.
Austria hit form in qualifying, and their all-action team talisman David Alaba will be the heartbeat of their side in the tournament just as he was in qualifying. But he’ll be surrounded by quite a few form players. Christian Fuchs has had an incredible season winning the Premier League with Leicester, and he’ll captain his country this summer alongside Stoke City’s Marko Arnautovic and Werder Bremen’s free-kick wizard Zlatko Junuzovic. If they can replicate their qualifying form – nine wins and a draw in ten games – they could be dark horses for the tournament.
Whilst Portugal themselves could be considered dark horses. You get the feeling that any team with Cristiano Ronaldo always has the potential to go far in the tournament, but Portugal have a very exciting young team these days. Ruben Neves, Renato Sanches, Andre Gomes, Bernardo Silva and William Carvalho will all be part of the supporting cast for the main attraction that is Cristiano Ronaldo. Like Turkey in Group D, this tournament may come too early for Portugal’s youngsters, but the combination of a reasonably soft group and a genuine world beater up front makes them serious contenders – top the group, get a nice last 16 draw and anything can happen once the form starts flowing!
The other two teams are simply happy to be at the finals. But that doesn’t mean they can do nothing at all in the tournament. Most of Hungary’s players play in their own domestic league, but English audiences will be familiar with Gabor Kiraly – at 40 years old, he could become the oldest ever player at the European Championships – captain Zoltan Gera and striker Tamas Priskin. Though perhaps Hungary’s most dangerous player will be Adam Szalai.
Iceland, however, have Gylfi Sigurdsson and a 37 year old Eidur Gudjohnsen. Alfred Finbogasson will be a danger man up front, whilst Basel’s Birkir Bjarnasson will keep things nice and tidy in the midfield.
Things to watch out for: Two dark horses, Cristiano Ronaldo babysitting young talent, Iceland and Hungary fans enjoying their moment in the sun.