The EURO 2020 kicked-off on Friday. The Hungarian national team is scheduled first to receive defending champion Portugal next Tuesday to later clash with France and Germany too. While chances are obviously not on Hungary’s side, most still expect tough games and agree that a host country can never be underestimated, especially not in front of 70,000 of their supporters.
No game will be an easy one in this group, French star Paul Pogba commented. According to Manchester United’s world champion midfielder, “Germany or Portugal won’t be our main rivals in the group, but ourselves.” But “if we play to the best of our ability, we can instruct everyone behind us. Everyone tends to forget about the Hungarians, but that match also promises to be a difficult one,” he explained.
Portugal super-star, Cristiano Ronaldo, similarly confirmed that he expected difficulties in all three group stage clashes. Without making any predictions, or mentioning Hungarians specifically, he only said that the most important thing for them is to have a good start and to beat the Hungarian team at their first appearance at the EURO.
Former Portugal star Nuno Gomes, who will work as a pundit during the tournament, hasn’t belittled the national team either. “It would be unfair to talk about the Hungarian national team derogatorily.” The former striker similarly foresees difficult games and although chances are not on Hungary’s side, it “is a good team (…) It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Hungarian national team will play on home turf in front of tens of thousands of spectators, and they have been unbeaten for eleven matches- such a feat is not something that you reach accidentally,” he argued. “If the three favorite teams take the meeting with the little one too lightly, there can be some unpleasant surprises waiting for them,” he also said.
In response to a question about any potential advantage on Hungary’s side, the EURO silver and bronze medalist highlighted mentality. “Fans and journalists probably don’t know Hungarian players as well as they do German, Portuguese, or French aces (…) I am sure they will fight for ninety minutes and also that they want to win. That is why none of the national teams can be sure against the host.”
MOL Vidi’s former defender, Marco Caneira, who will similarly work as a commentator during the EURO also praised both the Hungarian team and its coach, Marco Rossi. Caneira, who had been on the Portuguese squad at two World Cups and earned 25 caps in total, thinks that the fact that Hungary will have the chance to play in front of almost 70,000 of their fans could make a difference, while they, on the other hand, have been playing with no fans for one and a half years now. He, therefore, expects a tougher game against Hungary than against France, and mentioned the three goals Hungary managed to score against Portugal five years prior.
featured image: the national team before kickoff against Cyprus on June 4; via Tamás Kovács/MTI