Euro 2020: Group F Preview

After a delay of one year due the Coronavirus pandemic Euro 2020 is nearly upon us. The month long festival of European football looks set to thrill us with some of the biggest stars in the game hoping to lead their nation to glory.

Here’s a comprehensive look at Euro 2020 Group F, the group of death which features Hungary, France, Portugal and Germany, these group games look certain to entertain.

HUNGARY

Despite a fiendish group, and the absence of star player Dominik Szoboszlai through injury, Hungary will be quietly confident of pulling an upset against at least one of their more fancied group opponents. Rossi has overseen an encouraging run of form prior to the warm-up games, with Hungary losing just one of 11 games ahead of those friendlies.

Onlookers may have written off Hungary’s chances, and their presence at the tournament was only guaranteed after they came through the play-offs via the Nations League. What could weigh in their favour, however, is that they play two of their group-stage matches at the Puskas Arena in Budapest.

The Manager – Marco Rossi 

The 56-year-old will be fondly by Brescia and Sampdoria supporters for his time there as a defender in the 1990s, but he has gone on to forge a managerial career in Slovakia and Hungary. Marco Rossi replaced George Leekens as manager of the national team in June 2018 after the nation failed to qualify for an eighth consecutive World Cup.

One to watch – Adam Szalai

RB Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi will no doubt be kept busy throughout the group stages, but in the absence of Szoboszlai – voted the Austrian Bundesliga’s player of the year last season – the team’s focal point will fall on 33-year-old captain Adam Szalai.

The Mainz forward has scored 23 goals in 70 international appearances, but his four strikes in 20 club appearances hardly inspires confidence in a team seen as the whipping boys in the group of death.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Ádám Bogdán (Ferencváros), Dénes Dibusz (Ferencváros), Péter Gulácsi (Leipzig)

Defenders: Bendegúz Bolla (Fehérvár), Endre Botka (Ferencváros), Attila Fiola (Fehérvár), Ákos Kecskés (Lugano), Ádám Lang (Omonoia), Gergő Lovrencsics (Ferencváros), Willi Orbán (Leipzig), Attila Szalai (Fenerbahçe)

Midfielders: Tamás Cseri (Mezőkövesd), Dániel Gazdag (Budapest Honvéd), Filip Holender (Partizan), László Kleinheisler (Osijek), Ádám Nagy (Bristol City), Loïc Négo (Fehérvár), Ándras Schäfer (Dunajská Streda), Dávid Sigér (Ferencváros)

Forwards: János Hahn (Paks), Nemanja Nikolić (Fehérvár), Roland Sallai (Freiburg), Szabolcs Schön (Dallas), Ádám Szalai (Mainz), Kevin Varga (Kasımpaşa), Roland Varga (MTK Budapest)

Best Euro finish: Third place (1964), Fourth place (1972), Round of 16 (2016)

Fixtures:

  • Tuesday June 15: Hungary vs Portugal; Kick-off 5pm (Budapest)
  • Saturday June 19: Hungary vs France; Kick-off 2pm (Budapest)
  • Wednesday June 23: Germany vs Hungary; Kick-off 8pm (Munich)

PORTUGAL

Portugal are seeking to win back-to-back European Championships emulating their Iberian neighbours Spain who achoeved the feat in 2008 and 2012.

Curiously, they drew all three of their group stages matches five years ago, and it was not until the semi-final stage that his side won a game in normal time – extra time was needed to defeat Croatia and penalties to sneak past Poland. A surprise winner back then, a difficult group this time around will not prevent them from dreaming big again.

The Manager – Fernando Santos

The 66-year-old had enjoyed moderate success with Porto, winning the domestic title in 1999 followed by consecutive Taca de Portugal triumphs.

Fernando Santos was in charge of Greece as they reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 and the second round of the World Cup two years later, but it is at Portugal where he has excelled. Having guided his country to glory in Euro 2016, Santos also secured the inaugural Nations League title in 2019.

One to watch – Cristiano Ronaldo

With 103 goals for Portugal to his name, Ronaldo is bidding to become the all-time leading scorer with a national team and has Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals for Iran in his sights. The Juventus forward said back in 2019: “All records must be broken and I will beat that record.”

Ronaldo has been Portugal’s talisman for many years, but he now has talent pool around him to help phase in the next generation of stars. Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Dias and Diogo Jota will all want to help Portugal should Ronaldo have an off day.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Patrício (Wolves), Rui Silva (Granada)

Defenders: João Cancelo (Manchester City), Nélson Semedo (Wolves), José Fonte (LOSC Lille), Pepe (Porto), Rúben Dias (Manchester City), Nuno Mendes (Sporting CP), Raphael Guerreiro (Dortmund)

Midfielders: Danilo Pereira (Paris), João Palhinha (Sporting CP), Rúben Neves (Wolves), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), João Moutinho (Wolves), Renato Sanches (LOSC Lille), Sérgio Oliveira (Porto), William Carvalho (Real Betis)

Forwards: Pedro Gonçalves (Sporting CP), André Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), João Félix (Atlético Madrid), Rafa Silva (Benfica)

Best Euro finish: Champions (2016), Runners-up (2004).

Fixtures:

  • Tuesday June 15: Hungary vs Portugal; Kick-off 5pm (Budapest)
  • Saturday June 19: Portugal vs Germany; Kick-off 5pm (Munich)
  • Wednesday June 23: Portugal vs France; Kick-off 8pm (Budapest)

FRANCE

France have reached the final in each of the last two major international tournaments involving European nations, and they will view being in the July 11 showpiece at Wembley as the minimum requirement once again given their embarrassment of riches.

Not many opponents have the same quality and depth in each position. Deschamps is at home and is happy with his squad, so much so that he did not stand in the way of Aymeric Laporte as he declared his new allegiance to Spain.

The Manager – Didier Deschamps

The 52-year-old, who previously managed Monaco, Juventus and Marseille, became just the third man after Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer to lift the World Cup both as a player and a manager when France were crowned champions in 2018.

Deschamps has converted Les Bleus into a cohesive unit, but he has elected to veer slightly away from his tried and tested formula by bringing Karim Benzema in from the international wilderness.

One to watch – Kylian Mbappe

France have match-winners everywhere you look, but the Paris Saint-Germain forward is primed to be among the contenders for the player of the tournament again having starred in Russia three years ago. The 22-year-old has been in sensational form this campaign, scoring 37 goals and providing 10 assists in all competitions.

Having won the World Cup in such convincing fashion, the fear for their European counterparts is that this France side, with Mbappe at the fore, is yet to peak.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham); Mike Maignan (Lille); Steve Mandanda (Marseille).

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton); Leo Dubois (Lyon); Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich); Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain); Jules Kounde (Sevilla); Clement Lenglet (Barcelona); Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich); Raphael Varane (Real Madrid); Kurt Zouma (Chelsea).

Midfielders: Ngolo Kante (Chelsea); Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid); Paul Pogba (Manchester United); Adrien Rabiot (Juventus); Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham); Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich).

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco); Karim Benzema (Real Madrid); Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich); Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona); Olivier Giroud (Chelsea); Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona); Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain); Marcus Thuram (Borussia Munchengladbach).

Best Euro finish: Champions (1984, 2000), Runners-up (2016)

Fixtures:

  • Tuesday June 15: France vs Germany; Kick-off 8pm (Munich)
  • Saturday June 19: Hungary vs France; Kick-off 2pm (Budapest)
  • Wednesday June 23: Portugal vs France; Kick-off 8pm (Budapest)

GERMANY

Joachim Low has named an experienced squad, handing international recalls to Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels, and they will need to hit the ground running in the opener with France having failed so spectacularly in the 2018 World Cup and suffered a dismal first Nations League campaign later that year.

Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan and Manuel Neuer are still around, but a younger generation has emerged, spearheaded by Serge Gnabry, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.

The Manager – Joachim Low

The outgoing manager will want to end his 15-year spell in charge in style. The 61-year-old led Germany to victory in the 2014 World Cup and will leave his post in the summer and be replaced by Hansi Flick. It was felt he might have left his position sooner but Low has stood the test of time, overseeing a cycle of transitions since his initial spell as Jurgen Klinsmann’s assistant.

One to watch – Joshua Kimmich

Part of Germany U19s Championship-winning side of 2014, the Bayern Munich midfielder was just 21 when he emerged as a starter in Germany’s run to the semi-finals in France, and was named in UEFA’s Euro 2016 team of the tournament having enjoyed a breakout tournament.

Since then, he has developed into one of the world’s best No 6s and his strong leadership will be behind any further success Germany experience this summer. Now 26, Kimmich has added goals to his repertoire while already providing 14 assists in all competitions this season at club level.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Bernd Leno (Arsenal), Kevin Trapp (Frankfurt).

Defenders: Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach), Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea), Robin Gosens (Atalanta), Christian Günter (Freiburg), Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), Robin Koch (Leeds), Niklas Süle (Bayern Munich).

Midfielders: İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Emre Can (Borussia Dortmund), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Kai Havertz (Chelsea), Jonas Hofmann (Borussia Monchengladbach), Leroy Sané (Bayern Munich), Florian Neuhaus (Borussia Monchengladbach).

Forwards: Timo Werner (Chelsea), Kevin Volland (Monaco).

Best Euro finish: Champions (1972, 1980, 1996), Runners-up (1976, 1992, 2008)

Fixtures:

  • Tuesday June 15: France vs Germany; Kick-off 8pm (Munich)
  • Saturday June 19: Portugal vs Germany; Kick-off 5pm (Munich)
  • Wednesday June 23: Germany vs Hungary; Kick-off 8pm (Munich)

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