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Hungary revolutionised how the game was played during the 1950s with the ‘Mighty Magyars’ regarded as one of the most influential sides in the history of football. Runners-up at the 1954 World Cup, ‘The Miracle of Bern’ defeat to West Germany is one that got away from that magnificent group.
Since the late 1980s, Hungary have only managed to qualify for a single major competition – Euro 2016. They are very much a footballing minnow nowadays but will look for inspiration on home soil in Budapest in a stadium named after their greatest ever player – Ferenc Puskas.
Portugal – Budapest: Tuesday, June 15, 5pm
France – Budapest, Russia: Saturday, June 19, 2pm
Germany – Munich: Tuesday, June 23, 8pm
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Hungary could stake a claim for the most dramatic route to the tournament. Having earned a playoff spot via the Nations League, Hungary won their semi-final against Bulgaria with ease.
They trailed 1-0 to an experienced Iceland side in the final before equalising in the 88th minute, and then sealing victory in stoppage time as Dominic Szoboszlai scored a magnificent individual goal.
Marco Rossi. The 56-year-old has a modest CV from the Italian lower leagues, with his biggest success in domestic football guiding Budapest Honved to Hungarian NB1 (Premier League) glory in the 2016/17 season – the club’s first title in 24 years.
Since taking charge of the Hungary national side Rossi has achieved qualification for the Euros as well as topping their League B Nations League group. Big improvements have been made under his guidance.
Expect Hungary to line up in a 5-3-2 with wing-backs that can transition into a 3-5-2. With most of the squad playing outside of Europe’s top five leagues, you would be forgiven for not recognising many names here.
The spine of this squad, however, does have some genuine quality amongst it. Peter Gulacsi and Willi Orban ply their trade in Germany for RB Leipzig while Roland Sallai is another who has impressed in the Bundesliga this Season for Freiburg. While the squad depth is lacking, they will be well organised and highly motivated.
Peter Gulacsi. Hungary’s vice-captain is sure to be their busiest player this summer. A regular in the Bundesliga and Champions League, the ex-Liverpool man is comfortable playing at the highest level.
The Leipzig shot-stopper topped the Bundesliga clean sheets table with 15 this season, and clearly has a good relationship with club and country team-mate Orban.
ONE TO WATCH
This would have been Dominic Szoboszlai but for injury ruling him out of the tournament. Touted as being the biggest talent Hungary has produced since the great Puskas, Szoboszlai has done his best to live up to the billing, and he will be sorely missed.
Willi Orban, who joined RB Leipzig in 2015, steps in as Hungary’s chief talented youngster with Szoboszlai out. Orban helped the German club gain promotion to the Bundesliga in his first season and has featured regularly since.
Good on the ball, positionally and with a powerful physique – Orban is the first name on the team sheet for Hungary. He’s dominant in the air, winning approximately four aerial duels per 90 in the Bundesliga, and is a big threat in both boxes.
Here’s all the key data on Hungary’s squad.
- Squads and statistics correct at time of data sheet creation.
As cliché as it may sound qualifying for the tournament is already a great achievement for Hungary. Drawn alongside France, Germany and Portugal many expect them to roll over with three defeats, but although it’s a big ask, having home games in Budapest could help them cause an upset.
Given how difficult the group looks, it’s hard to find many angles to get behind here. Three tough games are expected and while I believe they will give a good showing, a lack of real quality could see them score very few goals.
With the absence of Szoboszlai, set-pieces could well be Hungary’s best chance to grab a goal. Willi Orban’s aerial prowess has been touched on previously and a single goal could be enough to top score for this Hungary side. Be sure to look out for him to Score a Header when specials become available for each game, too.
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