By Francisco Cardoso Pinto (Iceland), Ben Delaney (Austria), Scott Brotherton (Portugal) & Matt Cowdock (Hungary)

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Iceland (Francisco Cardoso Pinto)

Last time out

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37 year old Eidur Gudjohnsen made a surprise appearance against Hungary

A late own goal by the unfortunate Birkir Saevarsson prevented Iceland from winning its first game in a major competition. In a group that may well be considered the group of death (by boredom) Iceland seems to be underachieving attackingly after a brilliant campaign in the qualifying stages. It is probably not fair to say something like that of a team that’s participating in a big tournament for the first time, but it is not hard to imagine all of those Dutch football fans asking themselves as they watch the Iceland games sitting on their sofas: “were these the guys that took our place?”.

Against Hungary we finally had some glimpses of Gylfi’s brilliance (one goal short of my prediction) and, if not for anything else, at least we had the chance watch Eidur Gudjohnsen in a football field again, even if it was for only 5 minutes.

How I will watch it

To be perfectly honest…I won’t. Sorry everyone, but Portugal – my native team – play at the same time and I am sure that only one goal as a result of 50 (!) attempts in the last two games (and a missed penalty) is an abnormality and I am pretty confident (not) Hungary will be the victim of the expected return to normality.

After watching the first game in the company of friends and beers and the second one alone at home, I will have to find a different way of watching today’s game, since the first two are clearly not working to the advantage of the team. Maybe I shouldn’t watch it at all, and watch Iceland’s game instead.

Prediction: Iceland 2 – 0 Austria

This will be the game that will make Dutch football fans sigh in relief and say: “I remember these guys! The beat us twice not long ago…”. Gylfi will once more lead the way and will score both goals that will book a place in the knockout stage. I already have a title for tomorrows Iceland’s newspapers: “The Return of the Prodigal Sons”. You’re welcome Daily Reykjavik!

Final group standings:

  1. Portugal
  2. Iceland
  3. Hungary
  4. Austria

Austria (Ben Delaney)

Last time out

David Alaba has had a poor tournament

David Alaba has had a poor tournament

Aside from Ukraine has there been a more underwhelming entity than Austria at these European Championships? Washed in on a wave of optimism David Alaba and his chums have registered just a single point and failed to dirty any of the opposition’s sheets, yet the brilliance (or boredom depending on where you stand) of the new format means that there is still the chance for qualification. Now, all the permutations and possibilities would give even the planet’s biggest brain a headache, but in its simplest terms a win for Austria will see them at least attain one of the coveted best third placed side slots.

How I will watch it

Again, as with all of these concluding fixtures, I will be forced to wait for the extended highlights thanks to my old nemesis; the dreaded back-shift. Another long, mundane night spent waiting for score updates is on the cards.

Prediction: Iceland 0 – 1 Austria

Marko Arnautovic will need to step up if Austria are to progress

Marko Arnautovic will need to step up if Austria are to progress

I have been reluctant to dismiss this Austrian side, in spite of all the evidence pointing to the fact that they so clearly appear to be a side massively overhyped. Again I will be backing them to attain all three points and make the navigation into knock-out football. Perhaps that is centred around my enjoyment in covering that tournament and I am allowing my heart to rule my head. David Alaba attracted a few detractors for his performance against Portugal, however, I thought he was no poorer than anyone in his sides strip and remained a threat from set pieces, hopefully he is not too demoralised from his early withdrawal.  Marc Janko and Marco Arnautovic really need to start making the decisive contributions they made in qualifying. Marcel Koller will be faced with a dilemma; stick with Sebastian Prödl, the man who helped contain Cristiano Ronaldo and co, or recall Aleksander Dragović fresh from his suspension after suffering a red card in the opening day defeat to Hungary. I would select Dragović if only because he is in my fantasy team.

It will be difficult to cheer on anyone playing against Iceland, the miniature island nation and their exuberant fans have been an example to all, yet sacrifices must be made, if my side are to progress. The Scandinavians have proved difficult to break down, whilst still having the wherewithal to ensure they have an attacking presence. The late, late equaliser suffered against Hungary may prove to be the blow to morale needed to allow Austria to record their first victory.

Final group standings:

  1. Portugal
  2. Hungary
  3. Austria
  4. Iceland

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Portugal (Scott Brotherton)

Last time out

Yet again Portugal disappointed as they couldn’t break down a resolute Austria in a drab 0-0 draw. It was a tough, tough night for Cristiano Ronaldo who is yet to catch fire in the tournament. The Real Madrid  superstar has had 20 shots so far in Euro 2016 – that’s not just twice as many as any other player, but more than eight teams

Ronaldo has struggled

Ronaldo has struggled so far

in the tournament. And with still no goals to show for it, he cut a particularly frustrated figure against the Austrians with two or three very good chances going begging. Ronaldo even missed a penalty in the second half, crashing it against the post.

Austria keeper Robert Almer was on top form and, while his side had chances, Portugal bossed the game. Joao Moutinho dictated things from midfield and his partner William Carvalho was equally impressive. The Sporting Lisbon man replaced Danilo for this game and took his opportunity with both hands, winning the ball back and spraying passes out to the flanks. He should now be a sure starter in this final group match.

How I will watch it

Well I shall be listening to the first half and if the traffic is kind (fingers crossed!) I’ll be back to watch Cristiano bang in a second half hat-trick.

Prediction: Hungary 0 – 1 Portugal

Austria need a win and a four goal swing to qualify as group F runners-up. With their style suited to defending, Hungary will sit back and try to grab a draw or preserve their goal difference. But an angry Ronaldo is a dangerous Ronaldo and I think he’ll finally get his scoring boots this evening. I expect Portugal to be able to break through in the end, and Austria just to be edged out into a best third-place spot.

Final group standings:

  1. Portugal
  2. Hungary
  3. Austria
  4. Iceland

Hungary (Matt Cowdock)

Last time out

Laszlo Kleinheisler has been a revelation

Laszlo Kleinheisler has been a revelation in midfield

The last game against Iceland as a bit of a humdinger, in my opinion. A Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty was cancelled out very late by an own goal, and the Hungarians remained unbeaten. If you managed to catch my Euro 2016 preview for Box to Box Magazine, you’ll know László Kleinheisler was my one to watch and boy has he proven me right. He’s a mesmeric dribbler and I thought he was Hungary’s main threat against Iceland, so I’m hoping his twinkletoed approach will serve Hungary well when up against more heavy-footed defenders.

In all honesty, they don’t get much more heavy footed than Pepe. A talented player though he is, I’ve still not decided whether he’s a brute, an oaf or a bit in between. Hopefully one of Adam Szalai, Tamas Priskin, Balázs Dzsudzsák or the aforementioned Kleinheisler will help me out on that front by slicing his defence to pieces. It’s a long shot but stranger things have certainly happened; Ronaldo, for instance, has had 20 shots at Euro 2016 without scoring. Not sure we, as a football community, should bother with analysing that. We’d be better served just watching it and enjoying his anguish while it lasts. Long may it continue, I say.

How I will watch it

How about this then? Just weeks after I had relentlessly slated Hungary for being by far the weakest team in the tournament, they now sit just one game away from topping their group. A kick in the teeth for my aspirations as a football guru, a Godsend for my hopes of an unlikely sweepstake win. The magic of the Euros, eh?

Yet again it’ll be a race against the clock to get out of work before the game starts; a race which I am yet to win against these pesky five o’clock kick-offs. Not only that but I shall have to stream my beloved Hungarian underdogs on the train as I commute back from Brighton. Added into that the fact that severe train delays and cancellations are expected in the southeast region and I’ve got myself in a real pickle — how the hell am I going to watch this game in peace?

Prediction: Hungary 0 – 1 Portugal

Final group standings:

  1. Portugal
  2. Hungary
  3. Austria
  4. Iceland