The rescheduled Euro 2020 (UEFA insists on keeping 2020 for the official name) is now less than eight weeks away.
And for the neutrals, there is no more intriguing group at the tournament than Group F, which has earned the moniker of “Group of Death”. Defending champions Portugal are joined by world champions France, perennial winners Germany, and Hungary.
Clearly, there is an odd one out in that quartet – Hungary. If this were 60 or 70 years ago, we would be talking about the Magical Magyars as a footballing superpower.
Alas, it is 2021, and Hungary are not the force of old. They have not qualified for a World Cup since 1986. And while they made it to the last 16 in Euro 2016, this is only their second appearance at the Euros in almost 40 years.
And yet, Hungary are a decent side and will not roll over. And there is reason to believe that they might surprise everyone by qualifying from the group. The format of the tournament means there are potentially three teams that can qualify from each group.
The formula for the third-placed teams qualifying is explained fully in MansionBet’s Euro 2020 Group F previews. But, while complicated, it’s enough to say that finishing third would give Hungary a chance at the knockout stage.
Germany reflecting on embarrassing loss to North Macedonia
As for finishing first or second, they will certainly be buoyed by Germany’s travails of late. Die Mannschaft famously lost 2-1 to North Macedonia in the World Cup Qualifiers recently, and there is a lot of unrest in the Germany camp.
This will be the final tournament of the Joachim Low era, and some are wondering whether the World Cup-winning coach should have handed over the reins to someone else a bit earlier.
Portugal, meanwhile, are dealing with their own sense of an end of an era. Cristiano Ronaldo is 36-years-old, and he is still scoring regularly. In fact, with his 103 goals, he is in sight of the all-time scoring record in international football (Ali Daei, 109), a record which he will surely break.
But some critics are wondering whether Portugal play better without Ronaldo in the side. It’s not that Ronaldo plays poorly – of course, he doesn’t – it’s more a fact that everything flows through him. Portugal have a lot of young talent coming through, and there is a growing chorus of dissent that Ronaldo’s centrality is holding them back.
As for France, the world champions will be confident – they are the 5/1 co-favourites with Belgium and England – but there has been something missing from Didier Deschamps team of late. One huge issue is the role of central striker, with neither Anthony Martial nor Olivier Giroud filling that role to Deschamps’– or the fans’ – liking.
Hungary will have some home comforts
The point we are making is that the heavyweights have flaws that can be exploited by a well-drilled and competent team like Hungary.
Italian Marco Rossi has been in charge of Hungary for almost three years now, and he has managed to continue the good work started by his predecessors. Hungary have lost just once in the last 11 games, a run that has allowed the team to move up to UEFA Nations League Group A.
Hungary also have home advantage for two of the three games in Group F. Neither France nor Portugal will relish going to Budapest to face the home team, particularly if there are fans packed into the Puskas Arena.
It is rightly called the Group of Death, but Hungary should not be discounted as the also-rans: one of France, Portugal and Germany could learn that the hard way at the Euros.
The 2020 Euros kick-off on June 11, 2021, and you will be able to watch all Euro 2020 games via live streaming. The final is on July 11, 2021, and will be hosted at Wembley Stadium in England.