Euro 2021 preview groups D – F

Group D

England

Nickname – The Three Lions

Manager – Gareth Southgate

Star man – Harry Kane

Young star – Phil Foden

Best finish – Third (twice)

England recaptured true national spirit and pride three years ago and will be hoping to go again with an extremely exciting crop of players. World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane will lead the line in front of several young talents including Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho. Villa man Jack Grealish has impressed everybody this season and could have a big impact. It is always typical to get over excited as an England fan, but it feels like as good a chance of any!

England have a fairly average record in the European Championships, coming third twice but also failing to qualify as recently as 2008. But as mentioned this looks an extremely exciting time for England and despite a tough side of the draw, they’ll be hoping to be there come the latter stages of the tournament.

Croatia

Nickname – The Chequered Ones

Manager – Zlatko Dalic

Star man – Luka Modric

Young star – Josip Brekalo

Best finish – Quarter final (twice)

Croatia could find this one the last chances of their own golden generation. The talented side have star players aging but will still be confident of a successful summer. Captain Luka Modric is supported in a solid midfield, including Chelsea man Mateo Kovacic. Experienced wide pair Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic are likely to be their main source of goals.

Croatia are fresh from becoming runners up in the World Cup and national spirit is very high, they don’t boast a particularly good record in these finals but it’s impossible to rule them out on the big stage.

Scotland

Nickname – The Tartan Army

Manager – Steve Clarke

Star man – Andy Robertson

Young star – Billy Gimour

Best finish – Quarter finals (1992)

Scotland will be relishing their first finals this century and will fancy their chances of progressing further than the group stage. Andy Robertson provides a constant threat from the left and a combative midfield includes Premier League pair, John McGinn and Stuart Armstrong, the latter of which having club mate Che Adams leading the line.

Scotland sealed their spot this summer in truly dramatic finishing, winning both play off rounds by the dreaded penalty shootout fate. If they can ride that momentum they’ll have every chance of providing a real threat to the more favoured teams in their group.

Czechia

Nickname – The Reds

Manager – Jaroslav Silhavy

Star man – Vladimir Darida

Young star – Adam Hlozek

Best finish – Runners up (1996)

Czechia or Czech Republic have a lot of talented players who have impressed all over the globe this season. West Ham fan favourites Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek will be ones looking to impress this summer and Bayer Leverkusen striker Patrik Schick will lead the line in the hunt for the goals they’ll need.

The Czech’s have qualified for every European Championship since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and often do very well in the tournaments they make. Can they make it out of a difficult group this time around?

Group E

Spain

Nickname – The Red Fury

Manager – Luis Enrique

Star man – Thiago

Young star – Ferran Torres

Best finish – Winners (3 times)

Spain are always one the favourites in every competition, despite having disappointments in recent years. Their man team news is the shock transfer of France born defender, Aymeric Laporte, who will make his competitive Spanish debut in the finals. Midfielder Thiago will be supported by Koke and young winger Ferran Torres will be looking to catch the eye.

Spain became the first back to back winners of the European Championships in 2012, having won it then and in 2008. Their dominant international times may be over but they are always contenders and will be eyeing a run deep in the knock out stages.

Sweden

Nickname – The Blue and Yellow

Manager – Janne Andersson

Star man – Emil Forsberg

Young star – Dejan Kulusevski

Best finish – Semi finals (1992)

Sweden have snuck in to the top 20 in the rankings pre tournament and are in the midst of a decent year. Experienced defensive partners Victor Lindelof and Andreas Granqvist marshall a dependable defence and exciting young forwards Dejan Kulusevski and Alexander Isak will be aiming to go far this summer.

Sweden almost always qualify for the finals and this year is no exception, they may be without talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic but the new kids on the block will no doubt have learned from him and the next Swedish starlet could make their mark this year.

Poland

Nickname – The Eagles

Manager – Paulo Sousa

Star man – Robert Lewadowski

Young star – Jakub Moder

Best finish – Quarter Finals (2016)

Poland have a very talented and experienced side. World class striker Robert Lewandowski has both most caps and most goals in Poland’s history and he’s back again, off the back of a record breaking Bundesliga season. Other attacking options including Napoli star Piotr Zielinski and midfield Premier League pair, Mateusz Klich and Jakub Moder.

Poland have a mixed recent history in the European Championships. They finished bottom of their group as joint hosts of 2012 then came back to their best ever finish last time out, reaching the last eight. This could potentially be Lewandowski’s last European finals and he will be keen on bowing out in style.

Slovakia

Nickname – The Falcons

Manager – Stefan Tarkovic

Star man – Marek Hamsik

Young star – Robert Bozenik

Best finish – Round of 16 (2016)

Slovakia have had an extremely positive few years. They have a mix aged squad with plenty of quality at both ends of the pitch. Talismanic Marek Hamsik will be adding to his well over 100 appearances and will be supported in a creative midfield by the likes of Juraj Kucka and Ondrej Duda. Experienced Inter defender Milan Skriniar protects Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka

Slovakia qualified for their very first European Championship finals in 2016 and impressively qualified from their group, after holding England to a stalemate. They have perhaps a tougher group this year but you wouldn’t like to rule them out.

Group F

Hungary

Nickname – Magyars

Manager – Marco Rossi

Star player – Adam Szalai

Young star – Andras Schafer

Best finish – Third place (1964)

Hungary may have their best years a few decades behind them but they have had a solid few years and are a squad full of quaility. The loss due to injury for Dominik Szoboszlai is a blow but other emerging talents such as Andras Schafer and Roland Sallai. Ex Liverpool stopper Peter Gulasci will need a very strong tournament for any Hungarian success.

Hungary had an immense first half of the 20th century but far gone of the days of Puskas and Hidegkuti. They qualified for the finals in 2016 for the first time in almost 50 years and are finally in back to back European Championships, they have an extremely tough group and will need to give it their all to pick up any points.

Portugal

Nickname – The Selection

Manager – Fernando Santos

Star player – Cristiano Ronaldo

Young star – Joao Felix

Best finish – Winners (2016)

The holders from 2016 are back and firmly deserve to be amongst the favourites. A wealth of world class talents, led by talismanic captain Cristiano Ronaldo, their squad include record teenage transfer Joao Felix, Liverpool’s Diogo Jota and Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes. Premier League player of the year Ruben Dias patrols from the back.

Portugal finally got their hands on this famous trophy last time out and will be all our to retain. They followed it up by winning the inaugural Nations League and despite a tough group, national expectation is at an all time high.

France

Nickname – The Blues

Manager – Hugo Lloris

Star Player – N’Golo Kante

Young star – Kylian Mbappe

Best finish – Winners (twice)

World cup holders France will be looking for back to back major trophies and it isn’t hard to see why they are the favourites. Superstar forwars including Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and the returning Karim Benzema. N’Golo Kante stole the show in the recent Champions League campaign and his midfield partnership with Paul Pogba will be hoping to strike gold again.

France are always serious contenders for glory and recent World Cup success has them purring, they haven’t won this competition since the year 2000. They have a much sterner group stage test but it seems impossible to think they won’t be right at the business end of this tournament.

Germany

Nickname – DFB

Manager – Joachim Low

Star player – Toni Kroos

Young star – Jamal Musiala

Best finish – Winners (three times)

Germany manager Joachim Low is bowing out post tournament after 15 years in charge and he will want to do it in style. Experienced defenders Mats Hummels and Antonio Rudiger protect long standing Manuel Neuer, who will reach 100 caps during the tournament. A stacked midfield of talent includes Bayern pair Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich and Chelsea pair Timo Werner and Kai Havertz lead a formidable attack.

Germany are three time winners of the European Championship but haven’t won it since 1996. They are in somewhat of a slump, losing out in the group stage of the World Cup last time out. Low will not want to go out in the same vein in his final tournament and Germany will be determined to get back to past glory.

Key Dates

OPENING MATCH

Turkey v Italy – Friday 11th June 8pm

THE FINAL

Sunday 11th July 8pm

ENGLAND GROUP GAMES

England v Croatia – Sunday 13th June 2pm

England v Scotland – Friday 18th June 8pm

England V Czechia – Tuesday 22nd June 8pm