Madrid: The last two World Cup champions – France in 2018 and Germany in 2014 – along with Portugal, the 2016 winner of the last big continental tournament, make up Group F, the so-called Group of Death, in the Euro 2020 football championship.
This year the luck of the draw created an alliance of three of the most powerful teams in recent years. Armed with some of the world’s leading players, the national teams in Playoff A – Hungary, Romania, Iceland and Bulgaria – will fight it out in Munich and Budapest for the final spot in Group F.
In fact, the winning team in this group of four will play against Portugal, the reigning champ, in Budapest on June 16, while in Munich on the same day, France and Germany will debut in the final phase. The last World Cup champions will meet head-on.
Without big stars but with a team of totally integrated players, Germany is out to win its fourth championship crown. After the disappointment of its last World Cup, where it failed to get past the group phase, the team of Joachim Low aims to recover a throne that it last captured in 1996 in England.
The semifinals in France 2016 and in Poland/Ukraine 2012 were as far as Germany got in its two most recent Euro Cups. Madrid player Toni Kroos and Bayern veterans like goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, competing with the excellence of Barcelona keeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen, and that of Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus, lead a squad in which players from fullbacks like Joshua Kimmich to forwards Timo Werner and Serge Gnabry have their place.
Clashes against France and Portugal will measure the maturity of Germany, which last shone in Brazil 2014.
The French squad, however, keeps going with a lineup of top level players and is definitely the one to beat. A finalist in the last Euro Cup, where it was the host and favourite, it was overcome in the final by Portugal – but the team of Didier Deschamps recovered its glow in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Portugal completes the shortlist of hopefuls to occupy one of the first two places in the Group of Death, even though the one that comes in third can have the option of advancing to the elimination round.
It would be defending the crown it won four years ago in Paris. Once again under the leadership of Cristiano Ronaldo, who could be experiencing his last big competition, and with the fresh approach added by Joao Felix, the Portuguese team of Fernando Santos is out to prolong the most successful streak in its history.
It wasn’t easy for Portugal to get through the classification round with Cristiano Ronaldo immersed in trying to reach 100 goals with Portugal’s national team.
This is Portugal’s eighth participation in a final round, its seventh in a row in a tourney where the team tends to shine. A final, a title, being the host in 2004 and three semifinals sum up Portugal’s role in Euro history.