Following its Covid-19 postponement, Euro 2020 is being played in 2021 with Free Live Streaming on BBC iPlayer and ITV Sport. Need a Euro 2020 Football VPN?
Euro 2020 in 21 kicks off this Friday and the buzz is really starting to build. While France are the strong favourites to go one better than they did in 2016 and win the competition, it’s an open field that features a lot of strong teams that will fancy their chances.. We’ve already previewed Group A, featuring Wales, and Group D, featuring England and Scotland, and you can read them by clicking here and here. There’s also a Group B preview which can be found here, , and a Group C preview which can be read here, and a Group E preview which can be found here.
Up next, we’ve saved the best for last. It’s Group F, the Group of Death, which features the France, Portugal, Germany and Hungary.
⚽ Euro 2020
📺 Free Live Euro 2020 Streaming on BBC & ITV + Catchup on BBC iPlayer & ITV Hub
📅 11 June – 11 July 2021
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Captain: Hugo Lloris
Previous Best Performance: Winner – 1984 and 2000
Path to Euro 2020: Eight wins and a draw gave France 25 points, which was enough to top Group H in qualifying. They beat out Turkey, Iceland, Albania, Andorra and Moldova for top spot and qualify for the tournament they came so close to winning in 2016.
Key Player: Kylian Mbappe. The PSG striker is one of the world’s best players and has put together three incredible seasons in a row with 39 goals in 43 matches in 18/19, 30 in 37 in 19/20 and 42 in 47 in 20/21. When he’s on form, he’s close to unstoppable and France will need him to be at his very best in this tournament given the doubts and they have over some of their other attacking talent. Oliver Giroud is 34 and had a slightly disappointing season, Antoine Griezmann’s career has taken a downturn since moving to Barcelona, the same can be said of Ousmane Dembele, and while Karim Benzema just put together one of the best seasons of his incredible career he does come into the tournament carrying an injury. The pressure will be on Mbappe but that won’t bother him. He tends to thrive under the brightest lights and will want to add a European Championship winners medal to the World Cup winners medal he won in 2018.
Youngster to watch: Jules Kounde. There aren’t many young players in this French squad outside of Mbappe but one to watch is Jules Kounde. The Sevilla defender is a Lilian Thuram regen, capable of playing at both centreback and right back. He’s already a top 10 centreback in the world in my view with his reading of the game blended with excellent recovery pace allowing him to be the lynchpin of the Sevilla backline. Comfortable on the ball, he is a good passer but even better at carrying the ball from deep into the attacking third. He’s an excellent 1v1 defender but where he really thrives is as a help defender, covering for his centre-back partner and fullback while retaining control over his own area. If he gets an opportunity, he will excel and once he’s in the team, he’s unlikely to ever be moved out of it again.
Squad Strengths: It has to be that attack doesn’t it? Even with concerns over some of them, the sheer volume of talent is incredible. If Benzema is fit and Griezmann is Atletico Griezmann, it’s hard to see anybody matching the front three when you factor in Mbappe. Giroud, Dembele, Kingsley Coman, Marcus Thuram and Wissam Ben Yedder is incredible depth and gives Didier Deschamps plenty of options in terms of like for like substitutions he can make during games, as well as the potential to switch the shape from what will likely be either a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield that sits Griezmann behind Mbappe and Benzema, or a 4-3-3 with Griezmann and Mbappe either side, to a traditional 4-4-2 with out and out wingers in Dembele and Coman.
Squad Weaknesses: Huge Lloris. The Spurs skipper is declining and while he is still a good goalkeeper, he is no longer an elite one and is the weakest link in the team. The issue is compounded by the fact that France have a superior goalkeeper in the squad in the form of Mike Maignan, who has just secured a move to AC Milan from Ligue 1 Champions Lille after three successive seasons of being arguably the best goalkeeper in Ligue 1. Lloris has become increasingly error prone over the last couple of seasons and more hesitant than ever when it comes to dealing with crosses, relying on his centrebacks to deal with them. It’s a weak point for France as their starting centre-back pairing aren’t known for their aerial dominance.
Coach: Fernando Santos
Captain: Cristiano Ronaldo
Previous Best Performance: Winner 2016
Path to Euro 2020: Portugal finished as runners up in Group B, behind Ukraine, and ahead of Serbia, Luxembourg and Lithuania. It was a bit of a surprise that they didn’t top what was seen as a straight forward group but in truth, they should have had to go through the qualifiers. The defending Champions should automatically qualify.
Key Player: Ruben Dias. After his Player of the Season campaign for Manchester City he’s going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting at the back for Portugal. They have quality fullbacks, but they’re all extremely attack minded and tend to overlook the defensive side of the game from time to time. That will leave a lot of space to cover and given that the only other central defenders in the squad are 37 year old Jose Fonte and 38 year old Pepe – neither of whom are particularly quick or willing to make shuttle runs into the channels over and over again, Dias is likely going to have do a lot of the covering when the fullbacks bomb forward.
Youngster to watch: Nuno Mendes. There are only two young players in the squad, Mendes and Joao Felix. Felix is three years older and has already made a move for over €100mil. Everybody knows him. Mendes is less well known but that’s likely to change in the next few months. He turns 19 next week and already has five caps to his name, as well as having played a key role in Sporting CP’s incredible title win this past season. An attacking left back, he combines blistering pace with great close control and excellent delivery from wide areas. He has all the tools to become the best left back in the world over the next 3-5 years and it’s little wonder teams are already queuing up to hand Sporting massive bags of cash to take him off their hands.
Squad Strengths: They are absolutely loaded in attack. Cristiano Ronaldo remains their main goal threat but he will have the support of Andre Silva who enjoyed a career year for Eintracht Frankfurt, Diogo Jota who was hugely impressive in his first season with Liverpool, the exceptionally talented Joao Felix and the talented but enigmatic Goncalo Guedes. Few teams can match their options in attack, and when you add the attacking midfield talents of Bruno Fernandes, Bernando Silva and Pedro Goncalves you begin to see a team with the talent and potential to blow any opposition away with their firepower.
Squad Weaknesses: Loaded upfront, very strong in midfield and potentially strong at the back, Portugal’s concern has to be Rui Patricio in goal. The 33 year old had a poor season with Wolves and has been steadily declining for a couple of years now. Portugal have a superior goalkeeper on the bench in Anthony Lopes but loyalty to players who’ve performed legendary feats such as winning the 2016 European Champions runs strong within the make-up of Portuguese football and that’s completely understandable. They just can’t afford for him to carry his club form into the competition if they want to retain their crown.
Coach: Joachim Low
Captain: Manuel Neuer
Previous Best Performance: Winner 1972, 1980 and 1996
Path to Euro 2020: Seven wins saw Germany attain 21 points and finish top of Group C in qualifying, beating out the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Belarus and Estonia. They scored goals for fun, racking up 30 in eight games while conceding only seven. Serge Gnabry top scored with eight goals, but there were plenty more spread out as Leon Goretzka notched four while Ilkay Gundogan, Toni Kroos, Marco Reus and Leroy Sane bagged three each.
Key Player: Serge Gnabry. The Bayern winger didn’t repeat his magical form from last season, when he established himself as one of the best wide players in world football. He still put together a respectable season, but he was hampered by injuries and Covid. In 2019/20 he produced 23 goals and 14 assists in 3350 minutes, and while he didn’t come close to that this past season, 11 goals and 7 assists in just 2350 minutes is still a respectable return. For Germany to have a chance of winning this tournament, they are going to need Gnabry at his absolute best. His goalscoring record at international level, 16 in 22, shows a player who’s very comfortable against this calibre of opposition and the hope will be that he excels throughout the competition.
Youngster to watch: Jamal Musiala. Germany won the tug-of-war with England for the gifted 18 year old attacking midfielder and he is set to play a starring role for them over the next decade or more. A lovely player to watch, Musiala is capable of playing in wide areas but really excels in the number 10 position where his movement and ability to glide past players open the game up for him and his team. After scoring seven goals in his first full season as a senior player with Bayern, you can see why there was so much hype around him and why England were so desperate to keep hold of him. He’s seen as the long-term successor to Thomas Muller at club level, can he become the same at international level?
Squad Strengths: Have you seen the midfield? Kroos, Gundogan, Kimmich, Goretzka, Neuhaus. That’s not even taking into account the wide players. Germany enjoy an embarrassment of riches in the middle of the field, but Joachim Low will have to get the balance right. There is a school of through that the best collective midfield trio would be Gundogan-Kimmich-Goretzka but it seems unfathomable that Low would leave out Kroos. It’s possible that all four share the field, with Kimmich used at right-back and that’s an appealing prospect considering the lack of a recognised right back in the squad, but Kimmich has been sensational since returning to midfield for Bayern in recent years.
Squad Weaknesses: It has to be that defense. Gosens is excellent on the left but remains far more a wingback than a conventional fullback, while his competition for the role is Christian Gunter who has only won three caps and lacks experience at this level. There are no recognised right backs in the squad. And in the middle, there’s more questions than answers. Can Matthias Ginter and/or Antonio Rudiger find a consistency that has been lacking from their games? Do Marcel Halstenberg and Lukas Klostermann fit in a back four if Low wants his fullbacks to attack? Both are best suited as flanking centre-backs in a back three. Will Emre Can, a midfielder, get the nod at right back and how will he cope? Can Mats Hummels roll back the years after three straight years of decline? Has Robin Koch overcome his injury issues? And what of Niklas Sule? Two years ago he was seen as the future of Bayern and the national team at centre-back and now he finds himself a mere squad player at Bayern and fortunate to be included in the national team.
Coach: Marco Rossi
Captain: Adam Szalai
Previous Best Performance: 3rd place – 1964
Path to Euro 2020: The qualified through the playoffs after finishing fourth in Group E of qualifying, after Croatia, Wales and Slovakia, and ahead of Azerbaijan. Four wins and four defeats gave them 12 points, which sent them into Path A of the playoffs. A 3-1 win over rivals Bulgaria was followed by a 2-1 victory over Iceland. Having trailed for most of the game, Hungary equalised in the 88th minute through Loic Nego and clinched qualification with a Dominik Szoboszlai wonder goal in the 92nd minute.
Key Player: Peter Gulacsi. The answer would have been Dominik Szoboszlai had the brilliant young midfielder not been ruled out through injury, but with the RB Leipzig man missing out on the tournament that he secured qualification for, it’s his club mate Gulacsi who comes into focus. Hungary landed the worst possible draw in this tournament, pitted against three of the favourites to win the whole thing. They are going to be massive underdogs in each of their group matches and frankly they will be doing well if they avoid getting thumped in each of them. Key to surviving a thumping will be Gulacsi, who’s very quietly built an impressive career within the Red Bull network after leaving Liverpool. A good shot-stopper who organises his defense well, the 31 year old will need to be at his very best this summer.
Youngster to watch: Attila Szalai. Again, the answer would have been Szoboszlai but Szalai is absolute deserving of mention here. “The Hungarian Wall” as he’s been called since making the move to Fenerbache, the giant Magyar has excelled in his first half season with the Istanbul giants after making the move from Apollon Limassol of Cyprus. Standing 6’4, and about the same width, Szalai is a dominant, aggressive defender who can both volley forwards into the stands and hold his own from a technical standpoint. He could do with settling in one place for a prolonged spell having already moved four times by the age of 23 but if he impresses during the competition he’s sure to attract interest from Serie A and the Bundesliga.
Squad Strengths: There’s a togetherness about the squad, a sense of “nobody believes in us, let’s go prove them wrong” that was evident through the qualifiers and especially in the playoffs were they were not fancied to beat Bulgaria or Iceland but managed to overcome both. They’d love nothing more than to upset the apple cart and cause one of the other three teams to have to take an early flight home after a disappointing exit.
Squad Weaknesses: The lack of goals in the squad is a concern. Only captain Adam Szalai, with 23, has managed double figures for the national team. The closest is Nemanja Nikolic who has eight, and nobody else has managed more than five. Hungary are going to have to keep things very tight at the back because they don’t appear to be a team with more than one goal per game in them against this level of competition.
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