World-class stars, transfer targets & reigning champions – Euro 2020 Group F

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Our final group preview for Euro 2020 focuses on the quartet which could well produce the eventual winner – assuming they don’t slip up at a very difficult start.

Here’s where the European Championship format becomes a little more forgiving: it’s hard to label it a ‘Group of Death’ when three of the four can still go through.

That said, it might feel fairly death-like to the squad of Hungary players after the draw was made.

World champions, reigning European champions and serial semi-finalists (at least) Germany – it’s a mouthwatering group that effectively has a huge clash every single round of games.

Here’s all you need to do with Liverpool and what to watch out for in Group F.


Group F Liverpool links

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 22, 2020: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp embraces goal-scorer Diogo Jota as he is substituted during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Well, we’re definitely signing France’s Kylian Mbappe this summer, right? Aside from him, Diogo Jota wears No. 21 in the Portugal squad – he’s our only current representative in the group.

There are former Reds on show, though: Emre Can with Germany and Peter Gulacsi and his goalkeeping understudy Adam Bogdan with Hungary.

We’ve been linked with half the France squad – Ousmane Dembele, Raphael Varane, Jules Kounde and Wissam Ben Yedder among them – and from Portugal, there’s Renato Sanches, Ruben Neves and Pedro Goncalves.

Fixtures

June 15 – Hungary vs. Portugal
June 15 – France vs. Germany
June 19 – Hungary vs. France
June 19 – Portugal vs. Germany
June 23 – Portugal vs. France
June 23 – Germany vs. Hungary


FRANCE

PARIS, FRANCE - Friday, November 10, 2017: France head coach Didier Deschamps before the international friendly match between France and Wales at the Stade de France. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Imagine your squad being so good, and so deep, that you’re really not arsed about Aymeric Laporte defecting to another nation and have absolutely no issue with leaving Nabil Fekir, Eduardo Camavinga and Dayot Upamecano at home.

Didier Deschamps basically has two roles to his job: keep people happy and find the best tactical system to fit in the top match-winners.

The actual talent is just on a slow production line rolling his way, and he picks and chooses as he wishes.

France often go with a diamond these days, pairing a couple of mobile forwards ahead of a rock-solid midfield that combines technique, creativity and a whole lot of power.

They are world champions for a reason and are the team to beat this summer.

Key personnel and ones to watch

  • Karim Benzema has made an eyebrow-raising return to the national team after six years away. If he clicks with Mbappe, there might be too much firepower for anyone to stop.
  • Presnel Kimpembe. If there is a doubt, a bit of a chink in the armour, about this France team then it might come down the left side of defence. Lucas Hernandez is solid but hasn’t had non-stop action this year, while central beside him Kimpembe does have an error or two in his game.
  • N’Golo Kante has basically finished up the season by not letting anybody else play with his ball at all. If he takes his end-of-season form into the Euros, France will monster every match.

Prediction: Navigate a tricky group, ease through tests in the next two rounds – then the real action starts at the semi-final stage on their path. It’s all about who performs on the day at that point but there’s so much quality here it’s unreal. France to win Euro 2020.


GERMANY

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Sunday, June 17, 2018: Germany's Timo Werner during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group F match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s extremely hard to look at Germany playing a game and assume any other outcome other than they win – that’s the aura they have built around themselves over the last 20 or 30 years.

But, in the final couple of years of Jogi Low’s reign, it has been far from this level of assuredness, results have not been easy to come by and the current squad certainly lacks an edge to it – hence bringing back Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller for the first time since the 2018 World Cup.

They’ve won just five of the last 12 games, including defeat to North Macedonia and a spanking by Spain.

Low leaves after Euro 2020 to be replaced by Hansi Flick and after going out at the group stage in Russia, he’ll be desperate for more of a high note this time.

Key personnel and ones to watch

  • Joshua Kimmich might be Europe’s best midfielder at present, all things considered. Factoring in quality, mentality, reliability and basically everything you want at the elite level, he lacks precisely nothing. One of the leaders and born winners.
  • Serge Gnabry might have to make himself the answer to Germany’s inconsistency in front of goal – they’ve scored more than once in a game only once in the last five, and not against great sides. He and Timo Werner remain the big attacking hopes.
  • Manuel Neuer is one cap away from a century for the national team and, as captain, he’ll want to mark the passing of that milestone by lifting another trophy. He’s still exceptional, but not infallible. Needs a near-perfect tournament.

Prediction: They’ll get through the group, but the tough games continue in the knockouts. We’ve got them up against the Netherlands in the last 16 and it could go either way, given these sides’ form. Defeat in the last 16.


PORTUGAL

Bruno Fernandes (POR), JUN 5, 2019 - Football / Soccer : UEFA Nations League Semi-finals match between Portugal 3-1 Switzerland at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Mutsu Kawamori/AFLO)

Liverpool fans are pretty well-acquainted with the danger men and star names for Portugal, given that we seem to face them on a regular basis domestically.

Where the Portugal squad used to lack a focal point in attack, they now have huge volumes of options depending on whether they want pace, aerial threats, wide players or just a revolving support cast around Cristiano Ronaldo.

There is perhaps a slight argument of over-reliance on a handful of much older players, but there’s so much talent and energy in the rest of the squad that manager Fernando Santos feels he can keep them in for what they bring to raise professionalism, standards and expectation as much as what they do on the pitch.

Can the Euro 2016 winners go all the way again?

Key personnel and ones to watch

  • Bruno Fernandes is, let’s face it, the main dangerman these days – even more regularly than Ronaldo. He plays on the front foot, he’ll shoot from anywhere and berates the ref all day. In fact…is he Ronaldo?
  • Pedro Goncalves will intrigue Reds fans who haven’t seen him yet – we’re relentlessly linked in the Portuguese media with the player more often known there as Pote. He can play anywhere you want across the attacking line.
  • Andre Silva might not be a starter, but they’ll turn to him off the bench when they need a goal. Hit 28 in 32 games in the Bundesliga for Eintracht Frankfurt this year, yet will attract less defensive (and media) attention than some of the other attacking names.

Prediction: Through the groups and then it stays very tough until the last-four stage. But Portugal have more options and more consistency than those they’ll come against – including England and Spain in our simulation – and can go close, very close, to retaining their title. Beaten finalists.


HUNGARY

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Tuesday, June 11, 2019: Hungary's goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying Group E match between Hungary and Wales at the Ferencváros Stadion. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hungary finished fourth in their five-team qualifying group, yet made it to the Euros courtesy of the Nations League playoff path.

Imagine going through all that and the incredible high of reaching only your second international tournament since 1986, only to then be drawn with these three rivals?!

Let’s be honest, they don’t have a hope.

Even if they manage to shock one with a win, it would take a mammoth effort to not lose twice, which is what they’ll effectively have to do to be in with a chance as one of the best third-place teams.

Hungary’s best hope will be to try and take it to the final day against Germany, who have really stuttered in the buildup, while the Magyars themselves have been on a morale-boosting run of nine without defeat before the warmup friendlies.

The biggest blow of all came just as they were naming their 26-man squad: Leipzig’s winter signing Dominik Szoboszlai was unable to recover from injury to take his place at the finals.

Key personnel and ones to watch

  • Peter Gulacsi. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the fourth-strongest side in the group will need their goalkeeper to be on form. Luckily, he’s one of their few playing right at the highest level.
  • Adam Szalai. With no Szoboszlai to trouble opposing keepers from range, it falls to the veteran captain and Bundesliga striker Szalai to remain the goal threat. Feed him aerially on set-plays and crosses and there’s a chance. Decent with holdup play and a shot on the turn, too.
  • Attila Szalai is a 23-year-old centre-back who joined Fenerbahce midway through the season and went straight into the side, impressing with consistency and positional awareness. He’ll need both at the heart of the Hungary back line.

Prediction: Anything other than three defeats is probably exceeding expectations. Out at the group stage.

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