The Hungarian national football team finds itself in the best position it’s been in since the days of Ferenc Puskás almost 70 years ago. The former Real Madrid man famously led Hungary’s golden generation to the World Cup final in 1954, where they would lose out 3-2 to West Germany despite being overwhelming favourites. Admittedly, the current crop aren’t of the level of Puscas and co., but they have certainly given the country a team they can be proud of.
Back in 2016, The Magyars ended their 30-year wait to appear at a major tournament when they qualified for the European Championships in France. And the tournament was a huge success. A 2-0 victory over Austria and back-to-back draws against Iceland and eventual champions Portugal sealed the top spot in Group F and a date with Belgium in the second round. The Red Devils would eventually win out, but there could be no denying how far Hungary had come.
Five years later, The Hungarians qualified for back-to-back European Championships for the first time in their history. However, after once again being drawn alongside Portugal, as well as Germany and reigning world champions France, there was only ever an outside chance of progressing to the knockout rounds. They did give all three of them a scare, however, drawing with France and Germany, as well as keeping Cristiano Ronaldo and co. quiet for 80 minutes before slipping to a late defeat.
They will be hoping to make it a hat trick in 2024, and we wouldn’t bet against them.
An Incredible UEFA Nations League Campaign
Hungary’s recent Nations League campaign was the stuff of fairytales. The Magyars were once again handed a difficult group, just as they were last year in the European Championships. They were drawn against Italy and England – the teams who contested the final of Euro 2020 – as well as Germany once again. Online bookmakers such as FanDuel, which provide free bets on European football, didn’t expect trees to be pulled up, and relegation back to League B was considered a distinct possibility.
But no one told Marco Rossi that. Hungary’s Italian manager has revolutionised the national team since his arrival in 2018 and he ensured that his side was ready to take on the big boys.
Their campaign got underway with a deserved 1-0 victory over England in Budapest thanks to Dominik Szoboszlai’s second-half penalty. However, it was the return fixture at Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Molineux that took everyone’s breath away.
Rossi took his side to England quietly optimistic, but no one could have predicted what they were about to see. Rolland Salai gave the visitors a shock halftime lead and in the second half, Rossi’s men put on a counterattacking masterclass. Three goals in the final 20 minutes secured a 4-0 over the Three Lions in perhaps the finest performance of a Hungarian team for generations.
Another victory on the road, this time in Leipzig, was to follow. Ádám Szalai’s first-half goal was enough to seal a 1-0 victory over Germany and, despite losing their final game to Italy and missing out on a place in the finals, Hungary had still done themselves more than proud.
Group G – An All-Eastern European showdown
In qualifying for Euro 2024, Hungary have been drawn alongside four other Eastern European nations. Serbia look like they will provide the sternest test. They beat Portugal away from home to seal a place at the upcoming World Cup, and they will be the favourites to top the group.
The other nations alongside the Magyars competing for the right to represent their country in Germany are Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Lithuania, and Hungary will fancy their chances at defeating all three of them.
The top two will qualify automatically for the tournament and, with Marco Rossi at the helm, as well as the talented Szoboszlai being the creator-in-chief, it’s very possible that they will make it three from three in 18 months’ time.
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