Wry smiles and audible gasps were aplenty at the Euro 2020 draw in Bucharest this afternoon as Portugal were landed in Group F alongside France, Germany and one other team, as yet unknown.
The final opponent awaiting the defending champions will only be known in March and will be one of Iceland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania*, the winner of that quartet in the playoffs. Portugal will contest their group stage matches in Budapest and Munich.
It was a convoluted and complicated draw given the one-off pan-European nature of next summer’s tournament and the fact four of the participants are not yet known. However, one conclusion is abundantly clear. Group F is without doubt the “Group of Death” and the Seleção will have to hit the ground running to avoid an early exit at Euro 2020.
Portugal’s Euro 2020 schedule
16 June: Portugal vs. playoff opponent, Budapest
20 June: Portugal vs. Germany, Munich
24 June: Portugal vs. France, Budapest
As at Euro 2016, it may not be necessary to finish in the top two places in the section to progress to the knockout phase of the competition. The four best 3rd-placed teams from the six groups will also qualify for the next round.
“It’s a group with the three winners of the last three major tournaments,” commented Portugal coach Fernando Santos. “It will be a strong group with two favourites and one contender.”
“We could have a repeat of our first game of 2016, if Iceland win through the playoffs. But we believe in our possibilities and we believe we can win.”
As for the logistics, Santos noted that the Seleção were close to being drawn in Group E, which would have made travel and training camp arrangements more straightforward.
“It would have been easier if we had been drawn in Spain’s group because we could have stayed in Portugal at Cidade do Futebol. As it is, it’s likely we’ll make Budapest our headquarters… but it’s better than if it was Baku.
“Now the important thing is to analyse our opponents well so that we can start well.”
by Tom Kundert
Full Euro 2020 group stage draw
Portugal’s first opponent at Euro 2020 may not be one of the four nations of Iceland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, as stated above.
If Romania win that play-off section, they will switch to Group C in the tournament proper, in which case Group F will welcome the winners of the play-offs between Georgia, Belarus, North Macedonia and Kosovo.