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Euro 2016, Group F: Ronaldo's Portugal and Austria favourites

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F

Predicted finish:

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

Portugal (SPI odds to win group: 44.2 percent)

As it was in 2014, so it will be in 2016: So much depends on the condition of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid star looked well short of fitness in the Champions League final and manager Fernando Santos will be praying that he recovers in time. Without him, Portugal are worryingly light on goals, though a 3-0 victory over Norway will settle a few nerves on that front. But this will probably be the 30-year-old Ronaldo's last tournament at the peak of his powers, so don't expect him to offer any less than everything he has. And that should be enough to see off this group.

Austria (29.5 percent)

If Portugal slip up, expect Austria to fill the gap. In fact, they could be the dark horses of the tournament, provided they avoid any embarrassing moments like David Alaba's own goal against Malta. They're a hard-working, quick-countering side and can be absolutely ruthless on the break. After drawing their first qualifying game against Sweden, they won every other game and stormed Group G. Look out for well-travelled striker Marc Janko. At 6-foot-5, he looks awkward, but he usually gets the job done.

Iceland (18.2 percent)

One of the many Cinderella stories of this tournament, Iceland are the smallest nation ever to qualify for the European Championship, but they're by no means the weakest. They beat Netherlands home and away in qualifying, for whatever that's worth these days, and they kept six clean sheets in their 10 games. Joint-managers Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson have forged a settled, cohesive squad with enough quality in every department to make the second phase. Defeat to Denmark and a scare against Greece in the March friendlies will cause concerns, but Iceland should take a strong third place.

Hungary (8.1 percent)

Hungary's qualification wasn't exactly straight-forward and sadly, there's little to suggest that their stay in France will be a long one. Once the greatest team in the world, these have been hard times for the once magical Magyars of the '50s. Indeed, this is their first tournament since the 1986 World Cup. They worked their way through three managers in qualifying, scored more than one goal in only two of 10 matches and somehow managed to lose to free-falling Greece. They will need to bring their very best to this tournament if they're to avoid finishing last.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored six goals in the European Championship finals.

Must-see game: Portugal vs. Austria

Austria were one of the most surprisingly effective teams of the qualification process. They stormed their group and they have the ability to storm this one too. When they meet Portugal in the second game on June 18, both teams should have three points on the board from their opening fixtures. But if one of them has slipped up, this could be absolutely crucial.

Best individual battle: Ronaldo vs. Arnautovic

A tall, powerful, preening attacking midfielder with great individual skill, but a volatile mood. We can't wait to see Stoke's Marko Arnautovic on the big stage, especially when he comes up against Cristiano Ronaldo. A player who flattered to deceive on arrival in England, Arnautovic improved dramatically last season, though still played in fits and starts after Christmas. Both he, and obviously Ronaldo, have the ability to turn the group in their nation's favour. But which one will prevail when it matters?

Group X Factor: Ronaldo's form and fitness

What kind of Cristiano Ronaldo will arrive in France? A fit and fresh superstar, desperate to lift a title before age finally wearies him? Or a tired and bruised talisman, heaving his battered body around the pitch on a doomed one-man mission to save the day? We saw the latter in Brazil, but if Portugal are to have a chance of success this summer, they need the former.

Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.


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