With the European Championships only two days away, here’s Jack Jackman with his Group F preview and the best bets for four teams involved.
PORTUGAL – ICELAND – AUSTRIA – HUNGARY
14th June: Austria v Hungary (17:00 BST)
14th June: Portugal v Iceland (20:00 BST)
18th June: Iceland v Hungary (17:00 BST)
18th June: Portugal v Austria (20:00 BST)
22nd June: Iceland v Austria (17:00 BST)
22nd June: Hungary v Portugal (17:00 BST)
AUSTRIA (3.00 at Bet365): Although Portugal are favourites for the group, Austria are coming into the tournament in great form. They were unbeaten in qualification, winning nine of the ten matches, including the double over Russia and an impressive 4-1 win over Sweden. They have an experienced defence, which only conceded five times during the qualification period, while David Alaba is an all action playmaker for his nation.
Alaba is one of the most talented technical players in the world and really flourishes in the midfield for his nation. Austria are far from a one man team, with the attacking talent of Marko Arnautovic and Martin Harnik supplying the clinical Marc Janko. They are a well-balanced side and could offer value to win Group F, especially given Portugal are consistently inconsistent.
TEAM TOP GOALSCORERS
PORTUGAL – CRISTIANO RONALDO (1.62 at Paddy Power): Although it is an obvious choice, this could be the attacker’s last chance to make a real impact at an international tournament. Portugal have been drawn in a relatively easy group, and will be expected to turn the style on in the group stages. The side yet again lack a proven striker, which could lead on an over-reliance on Ronaldo.
Ronaldo scored five goals in qualifying, which was just under half of Portugal’s total. After a disappointing performance in the Champions League final, he will be eager to enhance his claims for the Balon D’Or this year and a good performance for Portugal is crucial.
AUSTRIA – MARC JANKO (3.25 at Coral): The Austrian forward has scored goals everywhere he has gone and he excels on the international stage. He has 26 goals in 51 international caps, with seven coming in qualifying, a goal every 97 minutes.
Janko finds the target frequently as shown by his shot accuracy of 63% during the qualification period. He is in great form for FC Basel and will be confident heading into the summer. Although he isn’t a well-known name across Europe, he could be an outside bet for the tournament’s leading scorer, especially given the relatively easy group Austria have been drawn in.
ICELAND – GYLFI SIGURDSSON (5.50 at Coral): I don’t expect Iceland to score many against either Portugal or Austria, but they will be trying to finish as one of the best third places. They are the smallest country at the finals and have very little pressure on them.
Sigurdsson is their best player and was a major influence during the qualification campaign. He is dangerous from free kicks and has an effective long shot, which could be important for Iceland as they are unlikely to dominate matches. He scored six goals in qualifying and is going to be Iceland’s major goal threat this summer.
HUNGARY – BALAZS DZSUDZSAK (10.00 at Bet365): Hungary are the least fancied side in the group and have done an amazing job to get to their first European Championships. They will look to be solid at the back and attempt to nick a goal on the counter attack, similar to Greece in 2004, although it will difficult for them to get positive results. Dzsudzsak is a dangerous winger, capable of scoring out of nothing and a lot of the Hungarian attacks will be reliant on him.
HUNGARY TO FINISH BOTTOM OF THE GROUP (2.10 at Betway): They are the worst squad at the tournament and they are likely to come up short in the finals. The other three sides are more balanced and pack a lot more attacking quality, which will show in the group stage matches. Austria and Portugal will be aiming for at least the quarter finals, while Iceland are an effective side, who will have too much for Hungary.
RONALDO TO SCORE TWO OR MORE VS. HUNGARY (No price yet): Ronaldo will be trying to score as many goals as possible this summer to try and confirm his position as the world’s best player. Neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo have won a major international tournament and it will be the one thing the attacker wants to do before retirement. Hungary have a poor defence, conceding more than a goal per game in qualifying and Ronaldo has the ability to score multiple goals in the match. In this group, goal difference could be factor to top the group, and they will need to cash in against the weakest side in the group.