Every time a major international soccer tournament comes around, there seems to be a “group of death”, so-called because of how tough it will be to qualify from.
The World Cup was held here in the United States in 1994, and Group E was the so-called group of death. Ireland, Italy, Mexico, and Norway had all done well in 1990 and through qualifying. Four years later, at Euro 96, Group C contained Germany, Russia, Italy, and the Czech Republic, all four teams being in the top 10 of the FIFA World Rankings at the time. The fact the final was later contested between Germany and the Czech Republic attests to that.
This summer, Euro 2020 takes place across the Atlantic, and once again there is a group of death waiting to chew up one of the favorites. France (second in the world rankings), Portugal (sixth), and Germany (12) are joined by Hungary (37), with reigning World Champions, reigning European Champions, and the team with the most finals historically all vying for the group stages.
Which teams will emerge from the group of death this summer? Could all three make it? Possibly, yes. Due to the nature of the tournament, the top two will automatically progress, whilst four of the best third-placed teams will join them. So, just how will the group shake up?
France was the beaten finalist in their home tournament five years ago but followed that up with a win in the 2018 World Cup in Russia and they are clear favorites in the group. Their squad is packed with talent, from speedy striker Kylian Mbappe to Champions League-winning midfielder N’Golo Kante. Indeed, Planet Football values their squad in excess of €1.03bn ($1.25bn) and that alone should see them through the group. They have beaten Germany and Portugal since winning the World Cup and will expect to do the same again this summer.
This will be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last European Championships, but in the Bwin overview of Euro 2020 Group Winner Odds, they claim it will be one in which he has a strong supporting cast than ever before. Bruno Fernandes has impressed at Manchester United this season, whilst another Premier League player, Ruben Neves, could have a breakout tournament. The key is getting a decent result against Germany, and holding their nerve against Hungary to go through in second place, where a potential tie with England awaits, a side they have twice eliminated from major tournaments since 2006
Germany goes into the tournament as third favorites for the group, having won just five of their 12 matches since September. That includes a 6-0 hammering by Spain and a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of minnows North Macedonia. They will want to avoid the embarrassment of an early exit, as they suffered in Euro 2004, and a good result against Hungary should put them in a strong position to at least qualify as a best-placed runner-up. You should never write Germany off though, and with players such as Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, Champions League winners with Chelsea last month, they have the quality to shake off the shackles of group underdogs.
Germany might be underdogs in terms of the big three, but Hungary is the lamb to the slaughter – the team few expect to get a point, let alone qualify. They have only lost one game this season, 3-2 at home against Russia, and have beaten Turkey and Iceland, as well as drawing with a decent Poland side. They are one of the few sides to boast MLS players too, namely Szabolcs Schon of FC Dallas and Daniel Gazdag of Philadelphia Union. In a truly daunting group, they have nothing to lose and with some US interest, they really should be your favorite underdog this summer.
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