As we reported, not counting the fixtures against the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary played its last competitive game against Germany in the 1954 World Cup final. The last living player of that game expects a German victory. According to his daughter’s interpretation, the game bears special importance for Horst Eckel, since it would bring back many memories, and since he thinks the Germans play well.
Sallai targets victory and qualification
The game bears some additional piquancy as several Hungarian players earn their living in German championships. One of them is attacking midfielder Roland Sallai who normally plays for SC Freiburg in the Bundesliga. The young forward was full of optimism and confidence after the final whistle against France. “We want to win in Munich, now we want to qualify from the group. We have to go out on the field against the Germans in the same spirit, and then hopefully there will be a victory.”
Defender Willi Orbán certainly awaits the last group match with special feelings as he was born and raised in Germany, and still plays for RB Leipzig. In his opinion, the Nationalelf is the most competitive team in the group. “I mean that mentally, in terms of its organization or in the quality of its players. They’re pressing a lot, although that wasn’t the case against France. The Portuguese had a harder time getting the ball. They defend together, they defend forward, which our attackers will have to pay attention to,” he explained.
Retired Hungarian Bundesliga players: Germany is better, but anything can happen
CL winning Chelsea’s assistant coach Zsolt Lőw, who is also linked to Germany in several ways, highlights that “We can already be proud of what the team has achieved.” On the other hand, “I’m a little afraid that fifty thousand Hungarian fans will be missed in Munich. I expect a less emotional, much more tactical battle that may unfortunately benefit the Germans. However, the Hungarian national team has repeatedly proved that it can surprise anyone at any time, so let’s hope that Wednesday night will be beautiful.” Lőw is a former defender of German teams Cottbus, Rostock, Hoffenheim, and Mainz.
Hungary not only lends players to Germany, since former national team coach Pál Dárdai manages Bundesliga’s Hertha BSC at the moment. In his view, “it all must be placed on one card, knowing, of course, that the Germans will endlessly dissect and analyze Marco Rossi’s team (…) employing an effort similar to what could be seen against the French in the second part of the first half may give the Hungarians a chance, they cannot defend too deep. Nevertheless we can count on a heroic fighting spirit.”
Former German trainers in Hungary bet on Germany
German World Champion defender Lothar Matthäus, who also coached the Hungarian national team and has lived in Budapest for 17 years now, expects that Hungary will be defending a lot. “At the same time I expect a lot of German chances, but the fantastic Hungarian team can make up for the quality difference this time as well.” In his view, Germans are better in each and every position, therefore Germany’s chances are towering. “But anything can happen in football, think only of 2004, when my Hungarian team won 2-0 in Kaiserslautern against Germany in the match organized on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1954 World Cup final.”
“The Hungarians’ match against the French was impressive, the national team has already done its part. But it should also be seen that it will have a harder time against the Germans: Joachim Löw’s team can pass the ball around the penalty area and find gaps. The Germans will win, but – in my opinion – the Hungarian national team has nothing to lose anymore, they can play in a disciplined and unfettered style,” Thomas Doll argued, who coached Ferencváros, and has some 18 caps in the German national team.
featured image: Hungarian Ádám Szalai and German Antonio Rüdiger in 2016; via Tibor Illyés/MTI