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Racing Post - Euro 2020 - 2021-06-03

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Magyars are up against it in unforgiving section

EURO 2020 GROUP F

LIAM FLIN

AFTER 30 years away from major competitions, Hungary defied all expectations to top their group and reach the knockout stages at Euro 2016 but the Magyars are not expected to emulate that performance this summer. Hungary had to rely on the playoffs to reach Euro 2020 after failing to achieve automatic qualification in a section which featured Croatia, Wales, Slovakia and Azerbaijan. They beat Bulgaria comfortably in Path A but looked as though they would be pipped to the post by Iceland, only to score in the 88th and 92nd minutes of that tie to win 2-1 and progress to the finals. In Group F, they will face the winners of the last two World Cups in Germany and France as well as reigning European champions Portugal and not finishing bottom of the section would be a huge achievement. Their hopes looked to rest on the shoulders of 20-yearold star Dominik Szoboszlai but the Leipzig man’s late withdrawal from the squad due to injury is a massive blow and hinders their creativity. Hungary will at least have the advantage of playing in front of their own fans for part of the group stage – their matches against Portugal and France take place at Budapest’s Puskas Arena, which is expected to operate at full capacity this summer. They also played well at the most recent Nations League tournament, topping a section which also featured Russia, Serbia and Turkey to earn promotion to League A. Ultimately, though, there is no getting away from the fact Hungary are 28th in Uefa’s national team rankings, while Germany, France and Portugal are fourth, fifth and sixth. The two-time World Cup runners-up are heading in the right direction under boss Marco Rossi and they are no strangers to punching above their weight but Hungary will have their work cut out in this year’s group of death.

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