Difficult, but not impossible. Hungary’s national footbal team could finally qualify for the finals after 30 years of championship drought and they have been drawn in Group F with Portugal, Iceland and Austria in next month’s UEFA European Championships in France. Although Portugal are widely seen as clear favourites of the quartett, all the other three teams have a realistic chance to reach the knock-out phase of the tournament. Let’s see what it takes for German head coach Bernd Storck’s (picture below) Hungarian players to make that dream come true.
Hungary v Austria in Bordeaux, 14th June, 18:00 CET
Hungary will play their first game against Western neighbour Austria at Stade de Bordeaux on 14th of July. The rivals played 137 games against each other so far, with the record of 66 six wins for Hungary, 40 for Austria and 31 draws. Hungary won the most recent encounter, 2-1 in Graz in 2006. However, former Switzerland international head coach Marcel Koller has put together a very strong Austrian team with key players in their squad such as Bayern München’s star David Alaba (picture below). Austria were unbeaten in their qualification group, winning nine of their 10 matches. If Hungary could defeat them, that would be a fabolous start indeed, but even a draw could be considered as a good result to build on.
Hungary v Iceland in Marseille, 18th June, 18:00 CET
Iceland have never been a footballing giant, however, in recent years they have been showing tremendous progress on the foundations of the talented under-21 squad that qualified for the youth European Championship held in Denmark in 2011. In order to make Euro 2016, Iceland sunk the Netherlands twice in their qualifactions group, cleary demonstrating that no-one should underestimated them. Apart from experienced Swedish head coach Lars Lagerback, the key figure for Iceland in France might be Swansea City’s profilic striker Gylfi Sigurdsson (picture below). However, Hungary must defeat them at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille on 18th of June in case they won’t have three points under their belt after the first game agianst Austria.
Hungary v Portugal in Lyon, 22nd June, 18:00 CET
Although Hungary might seen as clear underdogs against Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Portugal, they will play the last game against the strongest team in Group F, enjoying some tactical advantage over Austria and Iceland. If Hungary could gain at least 4 points from the first two clashes, they would see themselves in a pretty comfortable position ahead the Portugal game. Furthermore, Portugal is often criticzed for being a one-man team: if Bernd Storck can figure out a plan to take Ronaldo of the pitch, even the strongest opponent could be held up. Of course it won’t go easy at all, Portugal’s head coach Fernando Santos won his first seven competitive games in charge of team, leading his boys to winning their qualifications group. Be aware: Portugal have always reached at least the quarter-finals in the last five European tournaments.
Before Euro 2016, Hungary will play a friendly encounter against reigning world champions Germany in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday this week. Germany must be considered as a strong and useful practicing partner before the very difficult Euro 2016 games, even if the mighty “Nationaelf” have lost three of the last four friendly games, including a shameful 3-1 defeat against Slovakia in Augsburg last Sunday.
sources: uefa.com, mlsz.hu, bbc.co.uk