Although it’s a year late due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UEFA’s Euro 2020 competition gets underway this weekend as 24 teams compete to see who is the ultimate champion of Europe. The tourney will start with the group stage as six groups of four will compete to make it to the knockout round, with the top two teams from each group qualifying while the four best third-place teams in each group will also advance.
What is a “group of death”?
A group of death is simply a group in a tournament that contains more powerhouses than available slots to advance. In traditional soccer tournaments such as the UEFA Euros and the FIFA World Cup, groups are made up of four teams with only the top two finishing sides able to advance to the knockout stage. Most groups will have a clear one or two favorites that are all but guaranteed to advance, but there seems to be a “group of death” in every tournament, and this year’s Euro competition is no different.
Which Euro 2021 group is the group of death?
The overwhelming consensus this year is that Group F is this iteration’s group of death. Portugal, the reigning champions, have been drawn into Group F alongside the 2018 World Cup champions France, and four-time World Cup winners Germany. Hungary, the underdog by far, rounds out the group and stands little to no chance of advancing beyond the group stage unless they can pull off a giant upset or two. Of course there’s a chance that all three giants could be moving on if the third-place team finishes with enough points compared to all the rest of the third-place teams in the group stage, but with the competition at such a high level especially in this group, it’s very plausible that one of them will be heading home when the group stage comes to an end.
Each team has their own set of superstars with an incredibly stacked squad. Portugal, the reigning champions, bring Cristiano Ronaldo to the mix while he’ll be supported by the likes of Bernardo Silva, Diogo Jota, and Bruno Fernandes. France will feature Kylian Mbappe alongside Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema, and N’golo Kante. Lastly, Germany brings household names like Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich, Tony Kroos, and Leroy Sane. Some of the world’s biggest stars will be on display in Group F, which should make for some incredibly exciting and entertaining soccer.
What other groups will be difficult?
While no other groups really compare to the competitive level of the group of death, Group E also looks to be relatively tough as it features Spain, Sweden, Poland, and Slovakia all battling for a top two finish. Spain are the clear favorites to finish on top there, but Sweden and Poland should both have a clear shot at finishing in second. The Polish squad boasts one of the best strikers in the world in Robert Lewandowski, and since Sweden will be missing superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic with an injury, their match against Poland will be all-too-critical in their hopes of advancing to the Round of 16.
Group B should also be an interesting one with Belgium coming in as the favorites to win the group outright, but Russia, Denmark, and Finland will likely be battling for a second-place finish. Russia would usually be the favorites to finish second, but they’re heading into the competition in poor form, while Denmark with Christian Eriksen backed by a solid squad should give them a real run for their money.