Group F teams: Portugal, Iceland, Austria, and Hungary
The tournament in France may well turn out to be the last opportunity for Portugal’s talismanic captain Cristiano Ronaldo to add a significant international trophy to his burgeoning trophy cabinet. The Real Madrid forward has won honours galore both individually as well as for his clubs, but the lack of international silverware remains a source of consternation.
Portugal will be expected to top Group D and seal their passage to the knockout stage as group winners. And it will be down to manager Fernando Santos’ ability to get the best out of his charges that will determine the distance the Portuguese will go in France.
Iceland have became the smallest nation in the world to have qualified for the European Championship, proving that despite their small size they are no pushovers. They also came on the brink of qualification for the World Cup in Brazil before losing to Croatia in the playoffs. However, this time they finished second in their qualifying group to avoid the hassle of the playoffs. Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson is the biggest name in the team, while forward Kolbeinn Sigthorsson will be the attacking target. They are expected to be vying with Austria to finish runners-up in their group.
Austria will be led by the exceptionally talented David Alaba. The Bayern Munich star player started his career at left-back, but his adaptability and an unbelievable dexterity has enabled him to play at almost any position on the pitch. It’s telling that he plays as a central midfielder for his national team, and with great success. He will be running the show from the middle of the park, looking to thread passes for Stoke City’s in-form centre-forward Marko Arnautovic. Austria will be in a straight tussle with Iceland to finish second in the group.
Hungary will be playing their first European Championship since the 1972, and there is a very apparent lack of star players in the side. They will be playing on the counter, but not much is expected from Bernd Storck’s side.