UEFA Euro 2020 Preview: Group F


(Sam Donsig/TIS)

By: Vincent Tran


Taking a look through all the groups at the Euros this year, you wouldn’t be mistaken if Group F stood out to you. This group boasts the winners of the last three major tournaments in world football in Germany, Portugal, and France, as well as Hungary who are a nation trending upwards in international football. It is no wonder that this group is dubbed the “Group of Death.”


There is no shortage of talent and big name players in this group and there should be many thrilling and entertaining matches for all to witness. With these juggernauts of world football going head-to-head, Group F is definitely a group that you want to pay attention to. Here is a preview of what you may see from each nation in Group F.



France

(SuperSport)

Matches:

June 15 vs Germany

June 19 vs Hungary

June 23 vs Portugal


World Ranking: 2

Last Euro Performance: Runners-up of Euro 2016, lost 1-0 against Portugal in the final

Last World Cup Performance: Champions of 2018 World Cup, won 4-2 against Croatia in the final


World Cup champions France come into Euro 2020 as one of the favorites to win the competition. France are currently in the midst of a golden generation and just recalled their best striker in Karim Benzema, who hasn’t made an appearance for France since October 8, 2015, due to a scandal with former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena and issues with manager Didier Deschamps.


But now that Karim Benzema and manager Didier Deschamps have seemingly buried the hatchet, France will try to follow up their World Cup triumph three years ago by winning Euro 2020 and capturing the trophy that eluded them on home soil back in 2016.


Much has been said about France’s depth of talent and that clearly shows when you look at the quality at hand in the squad selected for Euro 2020. Talented players like Eduardo Camavinga and Dayot Upamecano were left out of the squad and even someone like Aymeric Laporte switched nationalities to Spain in order to get a chance to play international football.


France for the most part return the squad that won the 2018 World Cup, but the addition of Karim Benzema could make their attack even better than it already is. This team is extremely solid defensively and has the flexibility to play many different styles of football. This versatility should help them greatly and should put France in a good position to go deep into the tournament.


Prediction: Finish 1st place in Group F


Players to Watch


Kylian Mbappé


The 2018 World Cup in Russia saw the meteoric rise of then 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé en route to winning France’s second ever World Cup, while being named the best young player at the tournament in the process.


Now, in 2021, Kylian Mbappé is looking to add the Euro Cup to the long list of accolades he has achieved thus far in his impressive young career.


Mbappé has built upon his impressive World Cup showing by winning the Ligue 1 Golden Boot for the past three seasons and has become one of the best players in world football. Since the 2018-19 season, Mbappé has scored 111 goals along with 46 assists across 127 appearances for PSG, an average of around 1.24 goal contributions per appearance.


Continuously linked with moves to top clubs like Real Madrid and Liverpool, Kylian Mbappé, still only 22-years-old, is undoubtedly one of the most coveted young talents in world football.


The crown jewel of French football will now head into Euro 2020 on a squad that is one of the favorites of the tournament and will look to light up the Euros the same way he did in the World Cup three years ago.


Karim Benzema


For many fans of Les Bleus, if you were to ask them if Karim Benzema was ever going to play for France again, they would most likely tell you «non, jamais.» Given the massive scandal with former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena and the tension between Benzema and the French national team manager Didier Deschamps, it was believed that as long as Deschamps remained the manager of France, then Benzema would never play for Les Bleus again.


But after more than five and a half years since his last appearance for France, Benzema and Deschamps settled their differences and he has been called up to represent France once again.


The inclusion of Benzema is a huge addition given the kind of form he has been in recently. The Real Madrid striker has led his team in goals for the past three seasons, scoring 87 goals since the 2018-19 season and has stepped up after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. He also chipped in 31 assists over that span of time and has firmly placed his name among the best strikers or centre-forwards in world football.


Now Benzema gets to play with the immense talent that France has. With world-class players like Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and N’Golo Kanté all alongside him, Benzema will surely flourish.


France were already among the favorites to win Euro 2020 without Karim Benzema, but with his inclusion in the squad, he will greatly improve their chances of winning the Euros.



Full Squad List


Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Mike Maignan, Steve Mandanda

Defenders: Raphaël Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, Kurt Zouma, Clément Lenglet, Jules Koundé, Lucas Hernandez, Lucas Digne, Benjamin Pavard, Léo Dubois

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté, Corentin Tolisso, Moussa Sissoko, Adrien Rabiot, Thomas Lemar

Forwards: Kylian Mbappé, Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembélé, Olivier Giroud, Wissam Ben Yedder, Marcus Thuram



Germany

(Bolavip)

Matches:

June 15 vs France

June 19 vs Portugal

June 23 vs Hungary


World Ranking: 12

Last Euro Performance: Semi-finals of Euro 2016, lost 2-0 against France

Last World Cup Performance: Out at group stage of 2018 World Cup, finished 4th in Group F


Germany enters Euro 2020 in a very peculiar position. They are on the heels of an embarrassing showing at the 2018 World Cup where they finished bottom of their group and only scored two goals. Their recent form also hasn’t been great as they were beaten 6-0 by Spain in November and also lost 2-1 to North Macedonia in March


National team manager Joachim Löw also has one foot out the door, as he is stepping down after Euro 2020. All of this does not bode well for a German team that is in the midst of a major transitional period.


Still, Germany can never be counted out as they have one of the best records in international football history and have won the Euros three times beforehand. Their squad also doesn’t lack talent as they still have some players left over from their 2014 World Cup triumph, as well as talented young players and new faces of Die Mannschaft making their way through the ranks.


Germany are a very good side, but being in a group with Portugal and France, who are coming into this tournament in good form, will likely see Die Mannschaft underwhelm. If Germany were drawn into any other group, then they’d likely finish in the top two spots, but their recent results as well as their outside distractions could potentially see them have yet another disappointing international tournament.


Prediction: Finish 3rd place in Group F


Players to Watch


Timo Werner


Timo Werner’s first season with Chelsea was poor to say the least, but he will look to rectify himself at Euro 2020 and show the quality that made Chelsea spend $64 million to acquire him.


In the 2019-20 season for RB Leipzig, Werner scored 34 goals and contributed 13 assists in 45 appearances for Leipzig, but in his first season with Chelsea, Werner only managed 12 goals and 15 assists in 52 appearances, which is not bad to the average player, but it is very underwhelming given the promise and quality he showed while at Leipzig.


The Euros pose a unique opportunity for Werner to showcase his talents once again and prove to everyone that he is one of the best forwards in the world. If Timo Werner is able to rediscover his RB Leipzig form, then he could potentially turn Germany into one of the favorites to win the tournament.


Thomas Müller


In 2019, when manager Joachim Löw seemingly ended Thomas Müller’s international career by saying he would no longer consider him for the national team, it was thought that Müller would never wear the shirt of Die Mannschaft again. But in a shocking turn of events, Löw has decided to recall Müller to join up with the rest of the German squad for Euro 2020.


The complete 180 from Löw to recall Müller just over two years from when he made his decision surprised everybody, but given Müller’s recent form, it is very unsurprising.


Müller has made it practically impossible for Löw to not recall him due to the great form that he has been in ever since Löw made those comments. Müller was instrumental in Bayern Munich’s treble winning season, contributing 14 goals and 26 assists in 50 appearances. This past season, Müller contributed 15 goals and 24 assists. Had Löw continued to not select Müller given these performances, there would’ve been heavy backlash from everybody.


Now, Thomas Müller is looking to put all of this controversy behind him and carry his scintillating form into Euro 2020 to help serial winners Germany to yet another international trophy.



Full Squad List


Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Bernd Leno, Kevin Trapp

Defenders: Matthias Ginter, Antonio Rüdiger, Robin Gosens, Christian Günter, Marcel Halstenberg, Mats Hummels, Lukas Klostermann, Robin Koch, Niklas Süle

Midfielders: İlkay Gündoğan, Toni Kroos, Emre Can, Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller, Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka, Kai Havertz, Jonas Hofmann, Leroy Sané, Florian Neuhaus

Forwards: Timo Werner, Kevin Volland


Hungary


(Hungary Today)

Matches:

June 15 vs Portugal

June 19 vs France

June 23 vs Germany


World Ranking: 37

Last Euro Performance: Round of 16 at Euro 2016, lost 4-0 against Belgium

Last World Cup Performance: Did not qualify for 2018 World Cup, last appearance at 1986 World Cup, out at group stage, finished 3rd in Group C


Being in a group with the likes of France, Portugal, and Germany, it is easy to overlook Hungary while focusing on the others, but as with any international football competition, no nation should be underestimated. Having qualified for Euro 2020 by scoring two late goals to defeat Iceland 2-1 in a qualifying playoff final, Hungary are now looking to build upon their appearance in the round of 16 in Euro 2016.


Hungary have won seven of their last 11 matches played since international football restarted in September 2020, having drawn three times and losing once in those other matches. Some of their notable matches include a 3-3 draw against Poland and two wins over Turkey. They look to carry this form with them into Euro 2020, but it is a lot easier said than done.


As is well-known, Hungary is going up against Portugal, France, and Germany, which are a big step up from the teams they played against in their group in the Nations League and World Cup Qualifiers. For a nation that is ranked 37th in the football world rankings, it is going to be a tough task to beat three nations ranked inside the top 12 in the world rankings.


Adding to this hardship, wonderkid Dominik Szoboszlai is set to miss Euro 2020 due to lingering adductor issues. Hungary are a nation that has been in good form recently and have promising young talents coming through the ranks, but they pale in comparison to the other well-established football nations in this group.


Prediction: Finish 4th place in Group F


Players to Watch


Péter Gulácsi


Hungary’s chances were already bleak when they qualified to be in Group F, but it took a massive hit when it was announced that Dominik Szoboszlai would not be going to the Euros due to an injury. In order for Hungary to put in a good showing they are going to have to rely on their defense and most importantly their goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi.


Gulácsi is RB Leipzig’s first choice goalkeeper and was part of a Leipzig team that conceded only 32 goals in the Bundesliga, the lowest tally of the league. Gulácsi made 33 appearances for Leipzig, conceding 30 goals and kept a Bundesliga high 15 clean sheets.


If Hungary are going to have any chance of hanging with the heavyweights of Group F, then Gulácsi is going to have to be at his best in order to keep his country afloat.


Full Squad List


Goalkeepers: Péter Gulácsi, Dénes Dibusz, Ádám Bogdán

Defenders: Gergő Lovrencsics, Endre Botka, Ádám Lang, Ákos Kecskés, Attila Fiola, Willi Orbán, Attila Szalai, Bendegúz Bolla

Midfielders: Loïc Négo, Ádám Nagy, László Kleinheisler, Dávid Sigér, Dániel Gazdag, András Schäfer, Tamás Cseri, Filip Holender

Forwards: Ádám Szalai, Roland Sallai, Nemanja Nikolić, Kevin Varga, Roland Varga, Szabolcs Schön, János Hahn

Portugal

(The Independent)

Matches:

June 15 vs Hungary

June 19 vs Germany

June 23 vs France


World Ranking: 5

Last Euro Performance: Champions of Euro 2016, won 1-0 against France

Last World Cup Performance: Round of 16 at 2018 World Cup, lost 2-1 against Uruguay


Current Euro Cup champions Portugal go into Euro 2020 as one of the favorites of the tournament and arguably have a much better squad than the one that won the tournament in 2016.


Portugal have a talented squad from top to bottom and are well-positioned to defend their European crown. They have many new faces that weren’t at Euro 2016 who are looking to prove themselves on the international stage. Players like Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, and Rúben Dias are very good footballers playing at top clubs in England and could have a huge impact on Portugal’s Euro title defense.


They also still have the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo, who you can always count on to provide moments of magic that leaves everyone in awe.


Group F is going to be a battle between every country and anyone can come out on top. First and second place can go either way and the match between Portugal and France will likely decide who comes out on top of this group. In recent matches between the two countries, they drew 0-0 and France beat Portugal 1-0. Those recent results might give France a slight edge over Portugal, but they are still one of the best nations at this year’s Euros and look poised to make a deep run in the competition.


Prediction: Finish 2nd place in Group F


Players to Watch


Rúben Dias


The recent winner of the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, 24-year-old centre-back Rúben Dias has fully established himself as one of the best young defenders in the world.


Having joined Manchester City from Benfica in September 2020, Rúben Dias was a major part of City’s success this season. He helped City win the Premier League and League Cup and also reached the FA Cup semi-finals and Champions League Final, losing 1-0 to Chelsea in both competitions. He accomplished all of this in only his first season with the team.


Dias formed a great centre-back pairing with John Stones and the two anchored a City defense that conceded 32 goals in the Premier League, the lowest tally in the Premier League. Now he joins the Portuguese national team looking to establish a stout defensive partnership with experienced veterans Pepe and José Fonte.


Rúben Dias heads into the Euros trying to build on a strong first season with Manchester City and looking to win some silverware with his country. If Portugal wants to go far in this tournament, then Rúben Dias is going to have a major role to play in the success of this team.


João Félix


After having two inconsistent and underwhelming seasons since joining Atlético Madrid in 2019, João Félix will be looking at this tournament as an opportunity to justify his $142 million price tag and why he became the second most expensive teenager after Kylian Mbappé.


The 21-year-old forward is still one of the most promising wonderkids out there, but he has failed to fit in under Diego Simeone at Atlético Madrid, which is not entirely his fault as Simeone has opted for other players in place of Félix.


Félix scored 10 goals and got six assists in 40 appearances for Atlético Madrid this past season, which is far from the 20 goals and 11 assists he got in his final season with Benfica as a 19-year-old.


Félix could possibly recapture that form while playing for Portugal at the Euros this year. Playing with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, and Diogo Jota could potentially help Félix a lot and elevate his game. With the attacking quality that those players have, it could simplify Félix’s role in the team and take some pressure off of him, allowing him to do what he does best and thrive.


Full Squad List


Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes, Rui Patrício, Rui Silva

Defenders: João Cancelo, Nélson Semedo, José Fonte, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Nuno Mendes, Raphael Guerreiro

Midfielders: Danilo Pereira, João Palhinha, Rúben Neves, Bruno Fernandes, João Moutinho, Renato Sanches, Sérgio Oliveira, William Carvalho

Forwards: Pedro Gonçalves, André Silva, Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota, Gonçalo Guedes, João Félix, Rafa Silva

*All player stats from Transfermarkt.us