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EURO 2016 preview, Group F: Ronaldo, Portugal favorites against relative new boys

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Portugal

Sixth-straight final, and seventh overall. Twice a semifinalist, including the 2012 tournament.

Game schedule

Star player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) — You know about this fella? Good at soccer.

[ EURO PREVIEWS: Group A | B | C | D | E ]

Ronaldo’s club championship mettle translates to the international stage, as Portugal wins its first two matches, rests its players for the third and then follows Ronaldo to the title.

But just like the World Cup, Ronaldo’s supporting cast lets him down. Pepe takes a red card, Nani misses a PK, and Iceland snares a knockout slot.


Iceland

First major tournament

Game schedule

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - OCTOBER 10: Kolbeinn Sightorsson (1st R) of Iceland celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Iceland and Latvia at Laugardalsvollur National Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images).
Kolbeinn Sightorsson (1st R) of Iceland (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images).

Star player: Kolbeinn Sigþórsson (Nantes) — The 26-year-old ex-Ajax man has been prolific for his country.

The Icelandic team is a bit of an unknown entity, and its creative play and tactical acumen could cause problems for the other teams in the group.

But like the others in the group outside of Portugal, advancing in tournament play will be tricky due to the newness of it all.


Austria

Second Euro, the first being a group stage-only endeavor in 2008.

Game schedule

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - MARCH 29: Ozan Tufan of Turkey (L) competes for the ball with David Alaba of Austria during the international friendly match between Austria and Turkey at Ernst-Happel-Stadium on March 29, 2016 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)
David Alaba of Austria Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)

Star player: David Alaba (Bayern Munich) — Quick, versatile and energetic, Alaba could finally get deserved accolades free from his Bayern ‘mates.

Dominant in qualifying, Austria is buoyed by confidence and a relatively soft group, moving onto the knockout rounds.

Aiming to be an upstart team, Austria falls flat and finishes third in the group thanks to a game Iceland squad.


Hungary

Third Euro, but first in 44 years.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 11: Krisztian Nemeth of Hungary in action during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifing match between Holland and Hungary at Amsterdam Arena on October 11, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Krisztian Nemeth of Hungary (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Game schedule

Star player: Balázs Dzsudzsák (Bursaspor) — Hungary’s 29-year-old captain dictates his team from the middle of the park.

If Group F decides to take the plucky Hungarians lightly, the disciplined unit can surprise and contend for the second slot.

Unfortunately, the lack of experience combined with an entertaining group of attacking teams should spell doom for the Nemzeti Tizenegy.


Who’s going through, who’s going home: Austria and Iceland go through, slipping past Portugal and Hungary.

Marquee match: Iceland vs. Portugal, June 14 in Saint-Etienne.

Top players to watch:

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
  2. David Alaba, Austria
  3. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Iceland
  4. Joao Moutinho, Portugal
  5. Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, Iceland

WATCH: Zlatan stunner answers Vela’s opener in El Trafico

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is walking it like he talks it, not that that’s anything new.

A few days after claiming superiority over LAFC superstar Carlos Vela, Ibrahimovic and his Galaxy trailed early in El Trafico via a Vela penalty.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Naturally, Zlatan took it upon himself to answer the bell with his 14th goal in 17 games.

Ibrahimovic chests a long ball onto his right foot, cooking Eduard Atuesta by pushing it into position for a tremendous lash into the LAFC goal.

And if you haven’t been following LAFC’s amazing season, Atuesta’s probably been the side’s best player after Vela, who now has 20 goals in 20 games.

Wizard stuff.

Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame

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A half-hour of the big guns wasn’t enough to get Jurgen Klopp a result against his former team.

Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster scored for Liverpool in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.

Paco Alcacer, Thomas Delaney, and Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the Black Yellow, who led 3-1 when mass changes began with Virgil Van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, and Andrew Robertson entering the match.

Liverpool faces Sevilla on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Alcacer with the ball in the box is a bad idea, and the Spaniard took advantage of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to smash home from a yard outside the six.

Wilson leveled the score before halftime, but Delaney made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute when a long diagonal ball beat the Reds line and a low pass across the box went undetected.

It was 3-1 via a clever Bruun Larsen touch to wrong foot James Milner, but Brewster brought the Reds back to within one when he converted a 75th minute penalty won by Ben Woodburn.

Liverpool was without Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, who are on break after deep summer tournament runs.

Eriksen offered big Spurs wages, but Atletico Madrid lurks

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Christian Eriksen may trade London for Madrid after all, but Marca claims it’ll be Real Madrid’s rivals who earn the services of Tottenham’s Danish playmaker.

Eriksen, 27, scored 10 goals with 17 assists for Spurs in all competitions last season, and was reportedly ready to spread his wings for Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Kean to Everton? ]

But pro-Real site Marca says Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Eriksen at the Bernabeu, and that Diego Simeone feels differently… should Atletico Madrid fail at landing his prime option.

That’s James Rodriguez, who remains property of Real and that’s a problem.

So Eriksen to Atleti, helping to replace Antoine Griezmann? It’s possible.

From Marca.com:

Just last November, the London club put a 250 million euro price tag on his head, but now appear keen to move him on. The next few days will likely reveal a lot about what’s to come.

So we may get an idea of whether this report has any guts to it by next week. There could be some sense to it, but Metro claims that Spurs are offering Eriksen an “enormous” contract to keep him in North London.

Enormous means a doubling of Eriksen’s wages, and the Dane is said to be happy in England. Might Spurs hold off the finest of La Liga and Serie A after all.

Report: Everton could land Juventus’ Kean after all

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Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.

Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club. He could join Michael Keane, if he’s keen.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).

The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.

Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.