Tonight, the Hungarian national team will clash with Wales to decide on the second team qualifying from the Group for the European Championships, which Hungary co-hosts (with other European countries). If Hungary wins, mathematics and predictions will lose importance – if not, then a playoff will offer a second chance (in two rounds).
Hungary today qualifies if…
If they beat Wales. Or the two teams draw and Slovakia fails to beat the group’s weakest team, Azerbaijan in Nagyszombat (Trnava).
This will be the 12th occasion the two teams will play against each other. In total, Hungary claimed four victories and lost five times; however, in their last meeting, which was the first leg of the tie in the group, Hungary managed to overcome Wales in Budapest with Máté Pátkai’s late goal (1-0).
Although experts agree that the Welsh team is not at all invincible and will equally play under immense pressure, Hungary will definitely need a perfect-like performance with few to no mistakes.
Ryan Giggs’ team has shown improving performance over the qualification process. What is more, in the different qualification games of the last five years, only Ireland and Denmark managed to outrun Wales in Cardiff. All this while Norway was the only team similar in strength to Wales, that Hungary managed to beat away in this period.
The second chance
Since Hungary finished 31st in the absolute ranking of UEFA’s brand new and complicated tournament (Nations League), even if it leaves the Welsh capital without a win, it will get a second chance through the play-offs involving 16 teams that compete for the last four slots.
That path, however, would probably be even tougher. In this case, the Hungarian team would have to play two more games and beat two different opponents for the qualification.
A Friday draw will basically decide on which teams will “remain” in the C division, to contest either of those teams, and which ones will be drawn with higher-ranked teams (Island from the Division A or Bosnia and Herzegovina from B).
Uruguay Wins against Hungary at Inauguration Match of Puskás Arena
Index compiled all the possible scenarios, and, in any case, Hungary would have to face a strong team. If Hungary is drawn to stay in the C division, it will play Scotland in the semifinal to potentially play with the victor of the Norway-Serbia tie.
If Israel remains in C, Hungary will meet Bulgaria, while this tie’s winner will meet the better one of the Island-Romania clash.
If the draw decides on Romania to remain in C, then Hungary will travel to Iceland, while the other semifinal will see a Bulgaria-Israel battle.
And finally, if the draw keeps Bulgaria in C, then Hungary will first clash with Israel, then potentially the winner of Iceland-Romania.
So a win in Wales still sounds much more easier that going through this extra two rounds.
featured image: the team training in Cardiff; via MTI/Tamás Kovács