With Group F containing four nations that do not realistically harbour ambitions for reaching the latter stages of the tournament, Cristiano Ronaldo could canter ahead in the race for the Golden Boot, but we are unlikely to find any of this summer’s semi-finalists reside in Group F.
After several years without many stars in the Portugal line-up there are a few promising youngsters looking to make their mark alongside Ronaldo this summer. Renato Sanches is a superb box-to-box central midfielder who, having just signed for Bayern Munich, will be hopeful of starting matches in France.
Elsewhere 23-year-old Joao Mario has been linked with a big money move to Man United and Bernardo Silva has been making headlines at Monaco. There is certainly no shortage of pace or energy in the Portugal squad.
However, this emerging generation may clash awkwardly with the older heads in the camp; a lost decade of Portuguese footballers means that this squad largely consists of untried youngsters and players in their thirties no longer suited to international level. Pepe and William Carvalho give them a strong spine that should see them dispatch of Austria and top the group.
Portugal to win Group F: 1.877*
Ronaldo to be the Euro 2016 Top Goal scorer: 8.50*
There is some excitement building around this Austria squad after they won nine consecutive games in qualifying, but their defensive tactics may not be strong enough to topple any of the big nations at the tournament. David Alaba will dominate central midfield against Iceland and Hungary although most of their creative threat comes from Marko Arnautovic – who has not had a particularly impressive season for mid-table Stoke.
Ranked 11th in the world according to FIFA but only 21st according to Elo ratings, Austria had an impressive series of 9 consecutive wins in qualifying.
Recent friendly defeats to Switzerland and Turkey are indicative of their real level, but flashes of quality – from Alaba, Arnautovic, and the young winger Marcel Sabitzer – should be enough to see them rise into second spot and secure a second round game against Wales or Russia. Sabitzer is a quick, agile dribbler who caught the attention of Man United as a teenager and remains a good prospect for the future.
Austria to advance from Group F: 1.303*
Iceland qualified for their first ever major tournament by finishing second in their qualifying group in a campaign that saw them twice beat a hapless Netherlands side. They are one of the most defensive teams in the entire tournament and will play with their backs to the wall in all three of these group matches. They could pull off a shock result against Portugal, although they are unlikely to be as lacklustre as the Netherlands were in both of their defeats to Iceland.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is undoubtedly the stand out player. He should be easily kept quiet by Portugal’s strong young midfield and Austria’s David Alaba, leaving Iceland’s match-up with Hungary on June 18 their most important day.
Iceland to advance from Group F: 1.645*
Hungary squeezed into the competition via the play-offs, finishing third in arguably the weakest qualifying group of all. Defeats to Northern Ireland and Greece in that campaign indicate that they will struggle in Group F.
There are no noteworthy players in this team, and thus it is not surprising that they only scored 11 goals in 10 qualifying games. The 1-1 draw with Croatia in a recent friendly exemplified their excellent team spirit, but it would be a major surprise if they did not finish bottom of this group.
Hungary NOT to advance from Group F: 1.625*
Group F: What to look out for
Portugal have enough young, hungry players coming through to ensure that they don’t slip up against the smaller teams in this group, and thus it is worth backing them to finish first (1.877*). Austria are the favourites to finish second and, given their own cautiousness at this level, they are unlikely to be caught out by either Iceland or Hungary. A draw between the other two teams would see neither qualify via a third placed finish.
Euro 2016 Group betting previews by Alex Keble
Odds to win the Euro 2016*
See the latest Euro 2016 odds, including Top Goal scorer, who will reach the semi-finals, over/under points and much more under the left-hand side menu Bet Options/Specials!
See the latest Euro 2016 odds, including Top Goal scorer, who will reach the semi-finals, over/under points and much more under the left-hand side menu Specials!
*Odds subject to change