Group F Preview – EURO 2016

The biggest international football competition of the year is just one week away! With excitement building I preview the final group which hosts some dark horses for the tournament.

The teams contesting Group F.
The teams contesting Group F.

PORTUGAL

Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo will once again be Portugal’s biggest asset as the Madeira man looks to inspire the national side to win their first international title. Portugal have bounced back from the disappointment of their early exit from the 2014 World Cup qualifying with ease topping their group 7 points clear of second placed Albania. The side is a blend of youth and experience. Young midfielders William Carvalho and Renato Sanchez will look to players such as goalkeepers Rui Patricio and Eduardo who share 80 caps between them. The defence includes well-known stars such as Real Madrid’s Pepe and the veteran Ricardo Carvalho alongside Fabio Coentrao and Bruno Alves. Coach Fernando Santos has varied between a classic 4-42 and 4-3-3 formation with Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso and Tiago providing midfield options while balancing defensive work and attacking duties. Upfront Ronaldo spearheads the attack with former Manchester United player Nani while Ricardo Quaresma provides experience out wide. The Portuguese rely on Ronaldo’s goals with the Real Madrid man bagging five goals en route to France. Portugal have a strong side and certainly enter the competition quietly under the radar.

cr7

The Coach- Fernando Santos

santos

Fernando Santos might not have played competitive football but his coaching career took off following success with Estoril-Paraia. He went on to have spells at FC Porto, AEK, Panathinaikos FC and PAOK FC in Greece as well as with Lisbon rivals Sporting and Benfica. He turned to national team football in 2010 taking charge of Greece and guided them to the quarter-final of EURO 2012 and to the last sixteen at the 2014 World Cup. Following the latter tournament he was appointed as the Portuguese manager succeeding Paulo Bento.

Portugal at EURO finals: 

  • 1960- Did not qualify
  • 1964- Did not qualify
  • 1968- Did not qualify
  • 1972- Did not qualify
  • 1976- Did not qualify
  • 1980- Did not qualify
  • 1984- Semi-final
  • 1988- Did not qualify
  • 1992- Did not qualify
  • 1996- Quarter-final
  • 2000- Semi-final
  • 2004- Runners-up
  • 2008- Quarter-final
  • 2012- Semi-final

ICELAND

Icelnad

EURO 2016 represents an exciting adventure for Iceland as it will be their first appearance at a major international tournament. They defied all the odds to qualify from their group which included the Netherlands. They opened their campaign with a 3-0 home win over Turkey,won away to Lativa and then 2-0 over the Netherlands. Iceland only lost twice and both of those came away from home against group winners Czech Republic and Turkey. The nations recent success has been spearheaded by midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson who was the sides top scorer with six goals. Other key players include defenders Birkir Mar Saevarsson and Ragnar Sigurdsson, captain Aron Gunnarsson in midfield and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Alfred Finnbogason in attack.Iceland have been brought this far thanks to coach Lars Lagerback who believes once players cross the white line onto the pitch the outcome of the game is down to them.

Gylfi

The Coach – Lars Lagerback

Lars

Lars Lagerback is enjoying a second successful career as national team manager. He previously managed the Swedish national team from 1998 to 2009 when they were regular qualifiers for the World Cup and the Euros. He stepped down after Sweden failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup before going on to manage Nigeria at the competition. He returned to the national team scene in October 2011 when he took over the reigns from Olafur Johannesson. His contract is set to expire after Iceland’s appearance in France and will be succeeded by his current assistant coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.

Iceland at EURO finals

  • 1960- Did not enter
  • 1964- Did not qualify
  • 1968- Did not enter
  • 1972- Did not enter
  • 1976- Did not qualify
  • 1980- Did not qualify
  • 1984- Did not qualify
  • 1988- Did not qualify
  • 1992- Did not qualify
  • 1996- Did not qualify
  • 2000- Did not qualify
  • 2004- Did not qualify
  • 2008- Did not qualify
  • 2012- Did not qualify

AUSTRIA

austria-national-soccer-team

Austria are a proud footballing nation but have spent quite some time in exile but now want to return as contenders on the grand stage. This time they will be dangerous outsiders after a remarkable qualifying campaign achieved by a team astutely managed by Marcel Koller and inspired by the versatile David Alaba. Koller has managed to achieve a remarkable transformation since he took over in 2011. At the time the nations footballing fans were dejected following their failure to qualify for EURO 2012 but Koller managed to unite the team and watched his side narrowly miss out on qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. They drew with Sweden in the opening game of their qualifying campaign and those two dropped points turned out to be the only hiccup of the entire campaign. They won every one of their nine subsequent games including 1-0 wins both home and away over Russia who finished eight points behind in second place.Only England’s ten wins from ten could better Austria’s record with lone striker Marc Janko the leading marksman with seven goals. The road to France has been a long one for Austria but considering their qualifying record no none will dare to doubt their ability this summer.

DAVID aLAVBA

The Coach – Marcel Koller

koller

Swiss coach Marcel Koller had never played or coached in Austria before he was appointed national coach in November 2011 after they had failed to qualify for EURO 2012. Koller had a very successful club career spending the entirety of it with Grasshopper winning seven league titles and five cups. He appeared at EURO 1996 with Switzerland. As a coach Koller worked at FC Wil 1990 before guiding both FC St Gallen and Grasshopper to Swiss league titles. Spells in Germany with FC Koln and Bochum preceded his appointment as Austria’s manager.

Austria at EURO finals:

  • 1960- Did not qualify
  • 1964- Did not qualify
  • 1968- Did not qualify
  • 1972- Did not qualify
  • 1976- Did not qualify
  • 1980- Did not qualify
  • 1984- Did not qualify
  • 1988- Did not qualify
  • 1992- Did not qualify
  • 1996- Did not qualify
  • 2000- Did not qualify
  • 2004- Did not qualify
  • 2008- Group stage
  • 2012- Did not qualify

HUNGARY

hungary

Hungary’s revived national team picked themselves up impressively to reach EURO 2016 via the playoffs. Manager Bernd Storck mixes his German knowhow with Hungary’s proud football heritage and he has put together a squad that possesses renewed self-belief based on wise old heads in defence and bright new stars in attack. Bernd Storck took over in the summer of 2015 stepping up from his role with the under 20 side. Initial results in qualifying Group F were not promising: Hungary were held by both Romania and Northern Ireland, defeated the Faroe Islands and then lost to Greece. Only then did they pull themselves together to see off the Norway in the playoffs to return to the Euros at long last. Only five in the squad were born when Hungary last played on the world stage in the 1986 World Cup. They include veteran goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly who is the nations most capped player. Not far behind him in terms of service are defenders Ronald Juhasz and Vilmos Vanczak. Ahead of them responsible for turning defence into attack and mainly down the wings have been Zoltan Gera and Balasz Dzsudzsak. Dzsudzsak is the nations most expensive player costing Dinamo Moscow €19 million in 2012. In attack Hungary look Tamas Priskin as well as newcomers such as Laszlo Kleinheisler. The youngster marked his debut by scoring the only goal in the play-off first leg against Norway.

ZOLTAN

The Coach- Bernd Storck

bernd-storck2-e1458049146933-1024x576

German Bernd Storck is one of the small band of “foreign coaches” at EURO 2016. He played in the Bundesliga with Bochum and Borussia Dortmund winning the cup in his final season. After several roles as assistant coach Storck built on his career outside of his home nation notably in Kazakhstan with FC Almaty in 2008 and the country’s national youth teams. He spent two years in Greece with Olympiacos before moving to Hungary initially as under 20 coach. Their progress at the U20 World Cup saw him promoted to the head role with the senior squad.

Hungary at EURO finals:

  • 1960- Did not qualify
  • 1964- Third place
  • 1968- Did not qualify
  • 1972- Fourth place
  • 1976- Did not qualify
  • 1980- Did not qualify
  • 1984- Did not qualify
  • 1988- Did not qualify
  • 1992- Did not qualify
  • 1996- Did not qualify
  • 2000- Did not qualify
  • 2004- Did not qualify
  • 2008- Did not qualify
  • 2012- Did not qualify

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.