Before the action kicks off in Euro 2016, TBR looks ahead to try and identify some of the players to watch in each group. The final one to be covered is Group F, which consists of Austria, Hungary, Iceland and Portugal, and promises to be a compelling watch.
Austria; often tagged as ‘also-rans’, finally have a squad that is showing some promise. Hungary; whilst probably the weakest side in the group and a far cry from the famous sides of yesteryear, have the potential to cause problems for their opponents and should not be written off. Iceland, a country of just 200,000 people, qualified for their first Euros automatically, and will be riding a wave of momentum, excitement and good-will from neutrals. Portugal are the big boys of the group and will definitely be expecting to progress, and for once, they seem to have quality all over the pitch.
So without further ado, over the next few pages are the five players that you should be watching out for in Group F of Euro 2016. If there are others who you feel deserve a mention, let us know in the comments section below.
David Alaba (Austria)
David Alaba, at just 23 years of age, has had a remarkable career and is a regular in the Bayern Munich squad that has dominated the Bundesliga to a great extent for the past few years. He is very much the wonder-kid of Austria’s new generation, having made his debut for the national team in 2009 at the age of just 17. Since then he has gone on to gain 41 caps, scoring 11 goals – not bad for a midfielder/defender in a side that hasn’t been packed with quality.
Alaba can play at left-back (where he started his career and incidentally where he operates primarily in club football), centre-back or in central midfield, and his versatility will bode well for Austria if any injuries or suspensions take out players in those positions.
His ability to both attack and defend will also come in handy should Austria find themselves playing against sides of superior quality, allowing him to play a defensive role and then joining counter attacks.
That being said, he is still young and prone to the occasional gaffe, as he proved against Malta recently where he passed the ball into his own empty net when under little pressure. Alaba will need to keep his focus when the Euros kick off, as Austria will not be able to afford such lapses.