Euro-2016-group-f

UEFA Euro 2016 Preview – Group F

Portugal are expected to ease through to the knockout stages, but which of the sides in Group F will join them in the last 16? Here in our group-by-group preview, we take a closer look at the four teams in the group and analyse their chances of success.

Swipe through the sides to read about the four teams in Group F.

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PORTUGAL

Overview

After a poor World Cup and an opening Euro qualifying loss to Albania which prompted the sacking of coach Paulo Bento, Portugal reached France 2016 at a canter, with a number of exciting new players introduced. Under new boss Fernando Santos, they reeled off a record seven consecutive competitive victories and they also claimed the notable friendly scalps of Argentina and Italy, neither of whom they had managed to beat in the previous 40 years. The Seleccao, however, were the lowest scoring group winners by a distance, notching just 11 goals with all seven of their victories coming by a single goal margin. As a result, it was far from comfortable viewing for the fans, and while Portugal will have been pleased with their draw at the finals, they are unlikely to steamroll any side this summer. The performances may not have been as impressive as the results, but a sense of optimism is noticeably sweeping through Portuguese supporters and the domestic press, fuelled above all by the emergence of a group of players who are drawing comparisons with the golden generation of Luis Figo, Paulo Sousa and Rui Costa that lifted the World Youth Cup in 1989 and 1991. Portugal kick-off against Iceland before facing what is likely to be their toughest challenge in the group against an improving Austria side. A draw from that second game may not be a bad result ahead of their final match with Hungary, who are likely to be the weakest side in the group. If they reach the knockout stages, having done so in each of the last five editions of the tournament, a quarter-final exit looks most likely.

Strengths

Cristiano Ronaldo stands out – of course, he does – but this team are now a good blend of young and old, with players such as Renato Sanches, Andre Gomes and Rafa Silva an option from the bench.

Weaknesses

Goals, as always with Portugal, and the key midfielder, Joao Moutinho, has struggled with injuries this spring.

Home and Away kits

Portugal-kits

Group Matches

14 June v Iceland (Saint-Etienne)
18 June v Austria (Paris)
22 June v Hungary (Lyon)

Squad

Goalkeepers – Rui Patricio (Sporting), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Eduardo (Dinamo Zagreb) Defenders – Cedric Soares (Southampton), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Ricardo Carvalho (Monaco), Jose Fonte (Southampton), Pepe (Real Madrid), Eliseu (Benfica), Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient) Midfielders – Danilo Pereira (Porto), William Carvalho (Sporting), Adrien Silva (Sporting), Joao Mario (Sporting), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Andre Gomes (Valencia), Renato Sanches (Benfica) Forwards – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Nani (Fenerbahce), Eder (Lille – on loan from Swansea City), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Rafa Silva (Braga)

Probable lineup (4-4-2) – Rui Patricio; Vieirinha, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro; Joao Mario, Danilo Pereira, Joao Moutinho, Adrien Silva; Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Portugal-XI

Star man – Cristiano Ronaldo

The finest Portuguese player since Eusebio, and possibly greater than his predecessor, Cristiano Ronaldo can only be fairly described by his personal achievements, the Seleccao captain being a three-time Ballon d’Or winner, in Manchester United best all-time XI and the record goalscorer in the histories of Real Madrid, Portugal and the European Championship

One to watch – Danilo Pereira

Portugal are not without ample options in the middle of the park, with Danilo Pereira set to anchor the midfield. He impressed in a turbulent Porto side this season. A strong showing in France could see the 24-year-old’s stock soar this summer having already attracted interest from across Europe.

Coach – Fernando Santos

Boasting the distinction of managing all of Portugal’s big three although he only won silverware with Porto in 1999, it’s his work in modernising Greek football which he is best known for, having picked up four Manager of the Year awards with AEK Athens and PAOK, before taking the baton from Otto Rehhagel and leading the Ethniki to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 and the Last 16 in Brazil two years later.

Euro 2016 fantasy picks – Cristiano Ronaldo (12.0), Nani (7.5), Pepe (5.5)

Prediction – Quarter-final

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Manchester United fan and Premier League lover. Founder of IntoTheTopCorner.