Matchday five at the EUROs will see the turn of the opening games in Group F, which has already been billed as the Group of Death at the competition this summer. The opening matchday could be pivotal to the chances of all teams of progression, but which nations are best placed to kick off with a victory?
Hungary vs Portugal
The opening game in the group will see the defending champions get their group stage underway, as Portugal take on Hungary.
Portugal are considered outsiders to win the EUROs this summer, but they will be hard to write off with some many quality players coming into the competition after impressive 2020-21 seasons with their club sides. A hot of players in the team will come into the tournament after winning domestic titles this past season, including Jose Fonte, Ruben Dias, Renato Sanches and Joao Felix. Portugal were less than convincing through qualification, as they finished second behind Ukraine. They suffered one defeat in the eight games that they played, with that defeat coming against the group winners. However, in tournament football, they are hard to oppose.
Hungary will be hoping that they can do more than make up the number in Group F this summer, as they qualified for the competition through a playoff. They will have home advantage on opening night. They defied expectations to reach this stage, as Dominik Szoboszlai’s winner in the 92nd minute was effectively their golden ticket to the EUROs in their final against Iceland. However, getting a point in this group looks to be a big ask.
Portugal are typically a tough watch in the early stages of international competitions, and that will likely be the case once again. However, they will do just about enough in their opening game to get the win.
France vs Germany
The biggest game of the early stages at the European Championships will come on the fifth night, as the past two World Cup winners clash in Munich. Both sides will be looking to get off to the perfect start.
France are many people’s picks to win the whole competition, as very few nations can boast the array of talent that they have in their squad. The French eased through qualification with eight wins from ten games. Their only defeat came away from home against Turkey. France warmed up for the tournament with a routine 3-0 win against Wales, with Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele scoring the goals.
It has been a period of self-reflection for Germany after crashing out of the World Cup at the group stage. Joachim Lowe will be leading his nation into a major tournament for the final time, as he will be stepping back from his role after the competition. Germany were ruthless in qualification, as they topped a tough looking group that also included Northern Ireland and the Netherlands. They won seven of the eight games that they played. Thomas Muller made his international return in their prep game against Denmark, but Germany were held to a 1-1 draw.
This should be a fascinating battle between two elite nations on the opening night in Group F. Neither side will want to taste defeat on the opening night, which means that Germany and France are most likely to play out an entertaining draw.