The second international tournament out of 3 this summer will begin in France, which is EURO 2016. This tournament generally is considered one of the best tournaments around the world, on par with the World Cup in the eyes of many, as it has most of the top teams in the world. UEFA wanted to have more countries develop their football, so they have extended this years competition to 24 teams as compared to 16 historically, which should make for some great viewing.
Portugal are another team in this tournament who over rely on their top man, the 2nd best player in the world in my opinion in Cristiano Ronaldo. He has been in decent form coming into this tournament, scoring in his last friendly against Estonia as well as winning the Champions League. They have had some decent performances beating Belgium and Norway while losing to Portugal coming into this encounter. Their defensive ability is the one that is to worry about. They are playing with players who are relatively older at the back including Ricardo Carvalho, Bruno Alves, Pepe and Fonte; which could lead to teams like Iceland and Austria hitting them on the counter attack. Portugal have some good young players coming through who are in good form including Renato Sanches, Andre Gomes, William Carvalho ; so it will be interesting to see how they are well integrated. Portugal look strong favourites to win this group, considering their attacking intent, as long as they maintain their defensive shape, I can expect them to qualify and possibly win.
They are the dark horses of the tournament in my opinion. They way they were able to qualify ahead of Turkey and Netherlands, and were just a narrow 2 points behind Czech Republic. They showed a lot of promise in qualifying the World Cup in 2014, following behind Switzerland, but finishing on top of Norway and Slovenia. Iceland now boast a lot of talent playing in some good leagues around Europe namely Siggurdson (Swansea), Gunnarson (Cardiff), Bjarnsson (Basel), Saevarsson (Hammarby), Kolbein (Nantes) and the evergreen Gudjohnsen (Molde). The team have a been a developing side and have produced decent players for a population of just over 330,000. Iceland will need to upset one of the big teams in Austria or Portugal in order to stand a chance of qualifying, even a draw might help them. They have a chance to qualify, and they have shown quality when they beat Netherlands.
Austria have been a team in development who rely on the collective talent of the nation rather than the performances of one individual person. They had the second highest points tally in qualification and managed to deliver an undefeated record through that time. A large part of the team has played together since their junior years and they have now a solid foundation of team work, trust and work ethic in order to deliver performances. The team has some good players who have had good seasons with their club teams and come into good form like Fuchs (Leicester City), David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Martin Harnik (Stuttgart), Marko Jako (Basel), Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City) and Sebastian Prodil (Watford). The team struggled in their 2 fixtures prior to the tournament, and all is not well for them especially with the scoring up front. Since they qualified they already lost to Switzerland, Turkey and Holland which won’t bring much confidence to this team coming into the tournament. It will be tough to qualify, and I think it will be between Austria and Iceland to decide the final spot.
The Hungarians qualified by coming through the playoffs against Norway and will be looking at this opportunity of playing their first major tournament since the 1986 FIFA World Cup. They will rely on some veterans who have played a lot of football across Europe to help them organise and try to put on a decent show. Players like Gabor Kiraly, Tamas Priskin, Zolten Gera, Adam Szalai and Balasz Dzsudzsak will be the main pillars for the team. In all honesty, their talent is quite short to perform at this stage, but might still put in a good show especially since they have qualified after 30 years to a major tournament. I do not expect them to qualify out of this group.
Portugal to Win Group @ 1.85 (Bet365) – 2.5 points
Portugal/Iceland to Qualify @ 4.50 (Bet365) – 1 point
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