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The Road to UEFA Euro 2016: Group F (The Last Group)

Updated on June 9, 2016

Here we are folks; the end of the road, the thing Jim Morrison sang about in “The End”. This right here is the final Group preview from me and the boys regarding the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament. No it’s not the end of us talking Euro 16; you’ll see us again once the Knockout Stage begins. But for now, savior these moments and oh my goodness why I am saying this? We’ve got football/soccer to talk about. Moses, play us into Group F.


Group A


Group B


Group C


Group D


Group E

Portugal


Oliver: Cristiano Ronaldo…jorts…son…blah blah blah. They should walk this group, even with 38 year old Ricardo Carvalho in defence. Pepe can do one, though, the dirty little git. There’s…not much to add, I don’t think? I feel like Portugal regularly underperform at tournaments, and they might feel a little complacent when looking at this group on paper which could become their undoing. But I’m sure they will be relatively untroubled, unless Austria really get at them.


Ryan: So you’ve got a team that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, and you also have Iceland and Hungary. Austria are in there too, though they were unbeaten during qualifying. Okay, I’ll be brutally honest, Ronaldo is scoring dozens here. That’s all you need to know.


Matt: And we get to the final group of Euro 2016. And true to most of the others this too is a tricky group to predict. Portugal, again another team with disruptions and changing coaches. They lost 1-0 against Albania and they gave Paulo Bento the boot and replaced him with Fernando Santos. It seemed to work as they won their last seven games. You would think with the best player in this tournament that their strength would be in Ronaldo. Well you'd be wrong. I've been very very impressed with their defence. Pepe and Bruno Alves as their centre backs make a formidable duo. Add in Jose Fonte to compliment them and that's quite a good backline. I'm very high on Fonte. He is actually one of the first players I pick in fantasy football. They have however lost Fabio Coentrao at left back which could be the weakness if teams want to exploit that. I think their weakness is the support that Ronaldo will have. Sure, he can do it on his own in qualifying but can he do it all by himself when it comes to the knockout stages? I'm not sure. It's time for Luis Nani to stand up to that potential that was promised when he came onto the world stage. He's had a few quiet seasons for my liking. It's time for him to stand up. If not they'll be making a quarter final exit.


Cult: Remember how Ollie used a poster of Zlatan pictures to describe Sweden’s squad in the Group E preview? Well, here’s the best way to describe Portugal.

No, I don't want to know what Ronaldo is doing here either
No, I don't want to know what Ronaldo is doing here either

I mean sure there’s plenty of other guys on the squad that are solid, but at the end of the day the rise and fall of Portugal all weights on the shoulders of Cristiano Ronaldo, a man who is so good and yet so hated at the same time (it’s the face I tell you). As it turns out that generally doesn’t work out for Portugal; every time I’ve seen them compete since the 2010 World Cup they generally disappoint. In fact my last memory of Portugal is the US squad dominating them l in a 2014 World Cup game (how that result was only a tie is the greatest mystery Randall considering himself a Northern Irishman). Clearly Ronaldo can only carry them so far, which means Portugal should be thanking their lucky stars that this group isn’t exactly King K Rool at the end of Donkey Kong Country. That should guarantee them a first or second place slot; anything beyond that means Ronaldo reached his final form, which I don’t see happening without Gareth Bale and the rest of Real Madrid.

Iceland


Cult: Good to see Iceland finally reach a tournament for the first time since Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson nearly led them to hockey gold at the 94 Junior Goodwill Games. I’m not sure what’s more depressing; the fact that I just referenced D2: The Mighty Ducks or that a fictional moment in time legit was the last time Iceland did something good in sports.

Wolf "The Dentist" Stansson. Creepy coach extraordinaire
Wolf "The Dentist" Stansson. Creepy coach extraordinaire

Don’t buy into the whole “Iceland will just be happy to be here” storyline just yet though. I mean yeah, the squad isn’t exactly crawling with household names and they likely are just really thrilled to finally be playing against top level competition on a big stage. But they also have three really capable goal scorers in former Chelsea star Eiður Guðjohnsen (who at 37 likely will be coming off the pine more than starting), Swansea City midfielder Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson and Nantes Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, who has put up and astounding 20 goals in 39 caps for his country. I’m not gonna go as far as wild man Ollie probably will in regards to Iceland, but they have the fire power and in a weak group with a weak top club I can see them making noise. Third place is most likely but everything is on the table.


Oliver: Can I just say I am SO happy that Iceland are here and that Eiður Guðjohnsen, at the age of 37, gets to attend a major tournament? SO HAPPY. Not least because they are very, very good. Unlike some minnows, they play nice expansive football (or try to) whilst having a little bite of ruggedness at the back. I like them. A lot. A lot a lot. I really, really want them to upset Austria here and come second to Portugal, and I hope they can do it. For Eiður’s sake. I could see it happening, for what it’s worth.


Ryan: Well, they’ll beat Hungary.


Matt: You know what? I really like this Iceland team. Well their chances to progress anyway. I thought they were very impressive in qualifying. They defeated Turkey 3-0 which shocked the heck out of me. They then proceeded to defeat the Netherlands 2-0 and 1-0 with their superstar Gylfi Sigurdsson scoring all three of the goals. Even though they have Gylfi Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson upfront it is their defence that impresses me. They only conceded 6 goals in qualifying and that's with having less possession in 8 of their 10 qualifying games. It would come to no ones surprise that Iceland struggle when it comes to depth. If Sigurdsson, Sigthorsson or their captain Aron Gunnarsson go down with an injury I think that's the end of their run. They need those three if they want to have a successful run. But heck it's already successful if you ask me with them qualifying. They will struggle against Portugal and Austria, who on a side not are who I think will be the dark horse of this tournament, but I think they have enough firepower to beat Hungary. I'd love to see them make it out of the group stage in 3rd. Iken knows I'm all about those feel good sport stories.

Austria


Matt: And here we go. Austria. My dark horse for the tournament. My Ukraine I guess you could say if you were Oli. This is the first time they've "qualified" for the Euro's. They were in it in 2008 but because they were co hosts. They haven't made it out of the group stage before. But that's all about to change this year. They'll bring their form in from qualifying which they got through without losing and they honestly have nothing to lose in this group. All eyes will be on Portugal and they can swim under the radar. This is the strongest team Austria have had in quite a few years. The strongest squad they've ever had I'm seeing some people say. They have household names which I'm sure we've all heard of in Christian Fuchs, he is their captain. David Alaba, Marko Arnautovic and a man who actually played over here in Australia in the A-League Marc Janko. I believe he played for Sydney FC by memory. This is a side who likes to play attacking football and much like Atletico Madrid they are very good and quick on the counter attack. They implemented that to great use with their quick ball movement into the attacking half with wins against Russia and Sweden on the road in qualifying. Marc Janko is batting at a .500 when he suits up for Austria. They'll be hoping he keeps that scoring going. Austria at $41 I think are huge overs here. They are definitely better than Italy who are paying $17. Might be worth a cheeky gamble that.


Cult: You may have noticed that I haven’t brought up friendly or qualifying matches up much in these previews, mainly because I think a lot of the time they tend to be fool’s gold (see Ireland beating Germany for example; you think that’s happening all the time?). Austria is going to prove to be the biggest test of that theory considering they went unbeaten in their qualifying group on the way to getting this slot. They certainly have talent; Christian Fuchs is as underrated a left back in football today and David Alaba might be the most dynamic player in this group besides Ronaldo, even if he is playing out position. I haven’t seen enough of the squad to say whether or not they’re for real, but the evidence points to them being such and at worst second place seems to be their landing spot.


Oliver: Austrians have funny names. Hinteregger, Baumgartlinger, Hinterseer…the list is long. I don’t know much about their football, but they romped to victory in their group which included Russia and Zlatan without losing a game, so perhaps they’re very strong indeed? One thing that is great about them is that there’s a little nucleus of excellent players in that squad who should provide a strong base – Aleksandar Dragović and Christian Fuchs – and a little flair up top – Marko Arnautović and Martin Harnik. I think they might make it out of the group here, and potential give a slightly over confident Portugal a scare on the way to doing so.


Ryan: Do you really think a team who were unbeaten in their qualifying group are going to fall to Iceland or Hungary? Easy second.

Hungary


Ryan: LOL!


Matt: Hungary, another team who had quite an interruptive qualifying period. Attila Pinter was given the boot after they lost to Northern Ireland in the first game. Pal Dardai then came in and got them three wins and two draws over the next five games. He then left and now we have Bernd Storck in charge. Not good to have disruptions like that. I really don't have much positive to say about this Hungary team. I don't like their chances at all. Set pieces seem to be where they'll score if they do at all. They scored 14 goals in qualifying and 8 of them came from set pieces. Their strength is going to have to be the defence. They are a disciplined side and will try to take as much possession of the ball as they can to stop the defence being attacked more than it was in qualifying. Because it is going to be attacked a lot here in this group. Nothing but a miracle will help them finish any higher than last.


Cult: You know how Iceland is just supposed to be happy to be here? Hungary should be that times infinity. I see nothing on this roster that jumps out to me; their best scorer is 37 year old Zoltan Gera (who unlike Iceland’s Guðjohnsen will probably be depended on instead of being allowed to pick his spots) and the rest of the squad seems to have no huge international experience. I don’t see them taking a point here and I’m really tempted to end this section by saying Hungary is going to be left…hungry by the results. And I just did. Dammit all.


Oliver: A fallen giant of the game that, realistically, have only one or two decent players amongst their number (Dzsudzsák and Gera). As with many teams in this thing, their entire presence is a slightly odd one and doubtless if this was the old 16 team format they wouldn’t have made it. Having failed to qualify automatically in a group pretty much entirely made up of also rans, they then brushed Norway aside in the play-off rounds, arguably getting lucky to have been seeded because they had a coefficient just two points more than that of Denmark that let them sneak into Pot 1 rather than Pot 2. The point I’m making is that Hungary have been lucky and that luck might continue. But it’s more than likely to run out here, as they come a cropper against significantly better teams.

Oliver: 1. Portugal 2. Austria 3. Iceland 4. Hungary


Ryan: Easiest to predict. I’ve typed less in this entire entry than I have in any other country paragraph throughout this series. Portugal are winning, Austria are second, Iceland third, Hungary last, and Iceland miss out on qualifying from third place. Sorry Eidur.


Matt: Hungary to finish in last place for me here. Iceland to finish in third and I'm feeling they will progress as one of the 3rd placed teams. And the upset of the tournament for me is Portugal to finish second here and Austria to finish on top.


Cult: Austria will win the Group because let’s face it, this is the sort of group where Portugal has the in and they’ll somehow muck it up anyway. Will they muck it up enough to be overtaken by Iceland for third place though? Not quite. It pains me to say it because a) Iceland seems like a good story and b) who doesn’t love rooting against Ronaldo, but Portugal will get second and Iceland will go back to Iceland to watch Wolf Stanton’s golden age of hockey. They beat the US 12-1 in the Goodwill Games folks; 12-1! Doesn’t even matter if they rallied to win the finals; the US and Gordon Bombay are still haunted by that.


And with that we’re done folks. Here’s our official predictions for the Round of 16/Knockout Stage.


Matt

France

Switzerland

England

Wales

Russia (3rd place qualifier)

Germany

Poland

Ukraine (3rd place qualifier)

Spain

Turkey

Croatia (3rd place qualifier)

Belgium

Sweden

Austria

Portugal

Iceland (3rd place qualifier)


Oliver

France

Switzerland

England

Wales

Russia (3rd place qualifier)

Ukraine

Germany

Spain

Croatia

Czech Republic (3rd place qualifier)

Belgium

Italy

Zlatlan (aka Sweden) (3rd place qualifier)

Portugal

Austria

Iceland (3rd place qualifier)


Ryan

France

Switzerland

England

Russia

Wales (3rd place qualifier)

Germany

Poland

Ukraine (3rd place qualifier)

Spain

Czech Republic

Turkey (3rd place qualifier)

Italy

Belgium

Republic of Ireland (3rd place qualifier)

Portugal

Austria


Cult

France

Switzerland

Romania (3rd place qualifier)

Wales

England

Russia (3rd place qualifier)

Germany

Ukraine

Poland (3rd place qualifier)

Spain

Croatia

Italy

Belgium

Republic of Ireland (3rd place qualifier)

Austria

Portugal


Which one of us will get the most right? You’ll just have to watch the UEFA Euro 2016 to find out. We’ll be back in a few weeks once the Knockout Stage has been set to break that down and give our official predictions of who will win the whole bleepin thing. Till then, sit back and enjoy the game. Go Ireland and Wales!

Want to know more/chat with the my guest writers?! Go find them on Twitter @LeafLOP, @MrOlliB and @HBK4EVER17!


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