Lars’ Euro 24 Preview: Group F

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Our football expert Lars Sivertsen moves on to Group F in his big Euro preview. Portugal are the favourites here, with Turkey, Czechia and Georgia hoping to advance to the later stages. Read on for Lars’ thoughts on this group.

Read Lars’ preview of Group A here.
Read Lars’ preview of Group B here.
Read Lars’ preview of Group C here.
Read Lars’ preview of Group D here.
Read Lars’ preview of Group E here.


  • Odds to win the tournament: 9.00
  • Odds to reach the final: 4.50
  • Odds to win the group: 1.40
  • Odds to get knocked out in the group stage: 11.00

Former Portugal coach Fernando Santos may have guided the team to glory in Euro 2016, but in the tournaments that followed he would be continuously criticized for his cautious tactics and stubborn team selections. And it’s a curious thing in football, if a manager is criticised for having certain tendencies, his replacement is sure to be the absolute opposite. So when the defensive Fernando Santos was eventually dismissed, his replacement was none other than Roberto Martinez. Martinez has himself been blamed in some quarters for not making the most of Belgium’s golden generation, but he is, at the very least, a positive guy. A bright, eloquent and eternally optimistic coach, appointing Martinez to succeed Santos seemed at first glace to be something of an overcorrection. Not everyone was convinced. For sure, Roberto Martinez would bring a more attacking outlook than Fernando Santos, but he’s hardly renowned as a tactical mastermind. And then the qualifiers happened. Portugal won all 10 qualifying games, and ended up with a goal difference of 36 goals scored and just 2 conceded. With results like that, it’s hard not to get a little bit carried away.

Some caution is advised. Results were outstanding, but the group was on the softer side of things. Portugal’s opponents were Slovakia, Luxembourg, Iceland, Bosnia and Liechtenstein, and frankly you’d expect Portugal to win all of those games. That they won them while playing attractive football and averaging 3.6 goals per game certainly gives some cause for optimism, but the quality of their opponents – or rather the lack thereof – should still be born in mind. In the March friendlies they thumped Sweden 5-2, before a rotated Portugal side lost 2-0 to Slovenia. A friendly, a changed team, but a reality check nonetheless.

This team has no shortage of strengths, but the midfield is the thing that stands out the most. Martinez could go with a trio of Joao Palhinha, Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva. Palhinha, while not playing for a top club, is widely regarded as one of the best midfield ball-winners in the game. Fernandes has been toiling away for a deeply dysfunctional Manchester United team, but there is no doubt he’s one of the best creators around. And Bernardo Silva is, of course, one of the great midfield allrounders of his generation, combining technical and passing brilliance with aggression and determination. This is arguably the best, certainly the most balanced, midfield in the tournament. At the back, Ruben Dias is a world class defender, while 41-year-old Pepe is somehow still going strong. Should Portugal’s grand old man struggle, the 20 year old Benfica defender Antonio Silva is considered one of the best young defenders in the game. The central defenders will be flanked by lively attacking fullbacks in the shape of Joao Cancelo and Nuno Mendes. Further forward, Martinez can call on a number of intriguing options. The injury-prone Diogo Jota has a real instinct for goals when fit. Joao Felix has struggled to find his place in the world at club level, but his raw talent is undisputed. The enormously gifted Rafael Leao can be inconsistent, but can also win games on his own. And at 39 years of age, Cristiano Ronaldo is still around.

It’s hard to know just what to make of Cristiano Ronaldo right now. On the one hand, he did score ten goals in qualifying and has scored a lot of goals in Saudi Arabia. On the other, his shortcomings were brutally laid bare towards the end of his time at Manchester United. Few would doubt his ability to score goals against weaker opponents, both internationally and for his current club side. The question is more what happens when he and his team face stiffer tests. Ronaldo has seemed disinclined to do much work off the ball for a few years now, and at the age of 39 there will be limits to how much work he is able to do anyway. But the reality is that, for all his talent, at team with this version of Cristiano Ronaldo in it is a team that’s effectively playing with 10 men out of possession. This is fine against Iceland and Liechtenstein, but stronger opponents await when Portugal progress into this tournament. The busy Goncalo Ramos is a less famous option up front, but it seems unlikely that Roberto Martinez will bench the iconic Ronaldo in what is most likely his last major tournament.

The Portuguese team looks convincing on paper, but the fact that they’ve yet to face strong opposition under Roberto Martinez makes it hard to assess just how good they are. There are some question marks here. The fullbacks look good going forward, but Joao Cancelo in particular is an unreliable defender. 41-year-old Pepe is still likely to be a big part the defence, which seems a potential worry. And it remains to be seen if the 39-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo can still make a difference at this level. The manager, Roberto Martinez, is a man who has his fair share of critics as well. You would definitely expect Portugal to win their group. If they do, they will meet one of the third place finishers from the group and should progress, setting them up for a quarter-final against the runner up from group E or D. This could be one out of the Netherlands, Austria or possibly Ukraine, if the groups go the way I expect them to. Now there are obviously a lot of variables in the mix here, but this is a fairly kind route to the semis, all things considered. Portugal have the talent, they have a favourable draw, so I think this is a team that should go far.


  • Odds to win the tournament: 50.00
  • Odds to reach the final: 20.00
  • Odds to win the group: 5.00
  • Odds to get knocked out in the group stage: 3.00

Turkey were, famously, flagged up as a dark horse ahead of Euro 2020 – and then proceeded to be the biggest disappointment of the tournament. With that in mind, it seems unappealing to flag up this team for anything at all this time around. Especially as they failed to even qualify for the 2022 WC. But still, all that being said, this team looks pretty interesting to me, at least on paper.

The defence should be solid enough, with the highly regarded Galatasaray man Abdulkerim Bardacki likely pairing up with former Juventus and Atalanta defender Merih Demiral, and the likes of Caglar Soyuncu and Ozan Kabak waiting in the wings. Central midfield looks particularly strong, with Hakan Calhanoglu – arguably the best midfielder in Italy’s Serie A this season – and the Dortmund workhorse Salih Ozcan. The Turkish attack should have a youthful look about it, with 19-year-olds Arda Guler (Real Madrid) and Kenan Yildiz (Juventus) both set to get a lot of minutes. 18-year-old Can Uzun, who scored 16 goals for Nürnberg in the 2. Bundesliga this season, could be something of a wildcard here. Helping out these youngsters are the likes of Lille’s Yusuf Yazici, an attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, as well as mercurial winger Cengiz Under and the Benfica playmaker Orkun Kokcu. At least on paper, this is a squad worth taking seriously.

The downside is that Turkey are, well, Turkey. Reliably unreliable. It has always been the way with Turkish football, and you suspect it always will be. They fired national team coach Stefan Kuntz mid-way through their qualifying group and replaced him with Vincenzo Montella. The former Roma striker has enjoyed mixed fortunes as a manager, spending time at Catania, Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Milan, before having a particularly bad time at Sevilla and back at Fiorentina. With offers drying up in Italy, he tried his luck in Turkey with Adana Demirspor, where he did well enough to earn a chance to manage the Turkish national league. His time in charge so far has been mixed, with him securing a crucial 1-0 win away to Croatia in his first game and beating Germany 3-2 in a friendly in November. On the other hand, the March friendlies were something of a disaster, with team losing 1-0 to Hungary and 6-1 to Austria.

Expect Turkey to receive particularly vocal support from the stands, as the large Turkish diaspora in Germany look to make an impact on the tournament. The team has the talent to make an impact as well, but mixed results over the last few years makes it hard to fully trust them to give a good account of themselves. But with a solid, experienced defensive core and some genuinely exciting talent in attack, the least you’d expect from Turkey would be to progress from the group stage.


  • Odds to win the tournament: 150.00
  • Odds to reach the final: 40.00
  • Odds to win the group: 8.00
  • Odds to get knocked out in the group stage: 1.82

The Czech national team had a rather unusual end to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign: The team secured qualification for a major tournament, and the manager immediately resigned. Jaroslav Silhavy had led the team to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, but the team failed to qualify for the 2022 WC and their qualifying campaign for Euro 2024 was far from convincing. Amidst sustained criticism at home and reported unrest among the players, Silhavy decided to step down after finally claiming second place in their group. He was replaced by Ivan Hasek, a 60-year-old journeyman coach who won 54 caps for Czechoslovakia and has coached a diverse range of teams including Sparta Prague, Saint-Etienne, Strasbourg, Vissel Kobe and the Gabon national team. He’s also spent time coaching in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and was last seen in charge of the Lebanese national team.

Czechia’s first game of this tournament will be Hasek’s first competitive game in charge, but in the March friendlies Czechia won both their matches 2-1. In those two games they played one in a 4-2-3-1 formation and one with a back three, making it difficult to predict how they’re going to line up in this tournament. Hasek will be looking to attacking stars Patrick Schick and Adam Hlozek, who both play their club football with Leverkusen. Schick in particular is a lethal forward when fit and on form. Further back, the West Ham duo of Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal will add physical heft, while the elegant Fiorentina man Antonin Barak – now recalled following a spat with the previous manager – provides some creativity in midfield. But in truth this Czech squad is a far cry from the golden generation that led them to the final of Euro 1996.

Czechia finished second in their qualifying group, behind Albania but ahead of Poland, Moldova and the Faroe Islands. Their squad has few star names and they’ve rarely impressed over the last few years. A number of players in the squad come from Sparta and Slavia Prague, clubs that have put in some respectable performances in European competitions the last couple years. Still, compared to the other mid-ranking European nations this looks like an uninspiring Czech team and it would be a surprise to see them achieve much in this tournament.  


  • Odds to win the tournament: 500.00
  • Odds to reach the final: 150.00
  • Odds to win the group: 15.00
  • Odds to get knocked out in the group stage: 1.40

When Nika Kvekveskiri scored the winning penalty in the play-off against Greece, he set off wild scenes of celebration in the small but proud nation of Georgia. The country does have a footballing history, producing players such as Ajax and Rangers striker Shota Arveladze, Newcastle midfielder Temur Ketsbaia, Manchester City midfielder Georgi Kinkladze and Milan defender Kakha Kaladze, but the national team had never before reached a major tournament.

Situated in the Caucasus, squeezed in between Russia, Turkey and Iran, Georgia is a nation that has always had to contend with external threats. But this tournament will be played to a backdrop of domestic unrest, as the country’s unpopular government appears to pivot Georgia away from Europe and towards Russia’s sphere of influence. The capital Tbilisi has seen mass protests against the government on a daily basis in the weeks leading up to the tournament. This sort of thing should ordinarily have nothing to do with football, but in a country like Georgia everything is connected. Star players such as wing wizard Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and goalkeeper Giorgia Mamardashvili have taken to social media to voice their support for the protesters, while the government will be hoping football mania may at least temporarily take some sting out of the protests this summer.

When it comes to the football, Georgia are in a slightly curious position. They have the magnificently talented Napoli winger Kvaratskhelia leading the attack, and on a good day he is capable of winning games on his own. The 23 year old goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili, of Valencia, is a great shot-stopper who has the potential to mature into one of the dominant goalkeepers of the next decade of European football. Football can be a simple game: A brilliant creator and a brilliant goalkeeper is at least a very good start. The team also has other strengths. The French-born forward Georges Mikautadze has been outstanding for Metz in the second half of this season with 13 goals in 20 starts in Ligue 1.

The team is managed by the former France and Bayern Munich defender Willy Sagnol, who was often criticised during the qualifying phase. Georgia finished fourth in their group, but they were given a second chance to qualify for the Euros because of their performances in the Nations League. The playoff gave them home games against Luxembourg and Greece, and they beat Luxembourg 2-0 before needing penalties to get past Greece.

In the qualifiers Sagnol set the team up in a conservative manner, with the team starting three central defenders and making little effort to keep possession. Georgian football culture is much more about attacking flair than defensive solidity, but Sagnol insists on keeping the hand break on. The prodigiously gifted Kvaratskhelia can be a one-man army in attack, and he often has to be for Georgia as the team offers little else going forward. Expect the team to set up in a similarly defensive manner during the tournament proper, with the idea being that a packed defence can keep their opponents out while Kvaratskhelia can create magic on his own. Is this enough to progress from the group? Well, much will depend on their game against Czechia. The concern is that Sagnol’s defensive instincts will stifle a potentially exciting Georgian team, but on the other hand, perhaps a defensively minded team can give Kvaratskhelia a platform from which to provide his magic. Either way, Georgia’s prospects this summer are inevitably tied to the performances of their superstar winger. If Kvaratskhelia plays well, Georgia could surprise people.

The odds might have changed since the writing and publication of this post.

Last updated: 03.06.24