Predicting Group F at UEFA EURO 2024: Giants and Minnows

This is the final of a six-article series predicting the group stage at UEFA EURO 2024.

We have reached Group F, the last of the six EURO 2024 groups. Will Portugal follow in the footsteps of fellow favorites Germany, Spain, England and France and top their group? Or can Türkiye, Czechia and debutants Georgia flip the script? Here is what we anticipate will happen.

Portugal Looks to Continue Happy History at Euros

Since 1996, the Portuguese national team has fared extremely well at the European Championships. In fact, they advanced to at least the quarterfinals at six straight tournaments, finally getting their hands on the trophy in 2016. The 2020 edition was something of a shock to the system for the Portuguese, as they were knocked out in the last 16.

Nonetheless, the former champions are hopeful they can rise to the European throne once more this summer. They were the outright best team in the qualifying, with ten wins from ten matches. The Seleção scored 36 goals and conceded only two. While they faced admittedly lower ranked opponents, such a perfect record is quite the feat.

A very deep Portuguese squad has traveled to Germany. Diogo Costa will be the first choice in goal, while Rúben Dias and a timeless Pepe will lead the defence. Portugal truly excel in the fullback department, with Nélson Semedo, Diogo Dalot, João Cancelo and Nuno Mendes all at the disposal of manager Roberto Martinez.

The midfield is loaded with talent, as long-time national team players Bruno Fernandes, Rúben Neves and Bernardo Silva are joined by João Palhinha and rising star João Neves in the team. The quality of the attack cannot be understated either, with Gonçalo Ramos, Rafael Leão, Diogo Jota and João Felix all in the frame. Of course, the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo captains and leads the squad both on and off the pitch.

Türkiye and Czechia Fight for Second Place

Türkiye’s national team comes to Germany with one of international football’s most passionate fanbases behind them. The Turks have put Euro 2020 behind them, looking excellent in qualifying. They earned 17 points from eight games and topped a group that featured both Croatia and Wales.

The Turkish squad is heavy on players from the domestic Süper Lig, which supplies 12 players. Amongst the 26 total names are a number of young talents, with Türkiye having one of the youngest teams at the EUROs. 21-year-old Ahmetcan Kaplan, 19-year-olds Arda Güler and Kenan Yıldız and 18-year-old Semih Kılıçsoy will all make their major tournament debuts.

The Czech squad is also loaded with domestic league players, boasting 16. Another young squad, Czechia has just two players older than 30. The team’s star power comes from midfielder Tomáš Souček and striker Patrik Schick. The Czechs did not have the smoothest qualifying campaign, but managed to punch their Euros ticket on the final day. It simply would not be the European Championships without Czechia, who have now qualified for an eighth straight time. They have advanced to the knockout stage four times in that span, including last time out in 2021.

Georgia has been the feel-good story of international football in recent times. They went unbeaten in the 2022-2023 Nations League, defeating Bulgaria and North Macedonia along the way. This success earned the Georgians a second chance at EURO qualification, even after they placed fourth in their qualifying group.

First defeating Luxembourg 2-0 in the playoff semifinals, Georgia toppled Euro 2004 champions Greece on penalties in the final to advance to a major tournament for the first time in their history. Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia leads a squad of unknown, but ambitious players in Germany.

Final Prediction

This feels like it’s Portugal’s group to lose. The Seleção have one of the best squads at the Euros. Combined with what is objectively an easy draw, the Portuguese should have no problem advancing to the last 16. The major concern for Martinez’s men is not getting too far ahead of themselves and focusing on each game individually.

It is difficult to bet against Türkiye this year, but experience will trump youth and Czechia will secure the all-important second position. The Czechs have an excellent track record in the EUROs and their tournament magic will carry them through the group stage once again. The Turks will be a close third.

Every football fan will have a soft spot for Georgia this summer and the team has an opportunity to do something truly special. Nonetheless, they are projected to finish last in Group F. No Georgian can be disappointed with this outcome, as their national team hopes to return to football’s big stages many more times in the future.

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