Hungary v Portugal match preview, 5pm, 22/06/2016
It would have seemed crazy to imagine before the tournament but with the last round of group games to go Hungary sit top of the group and already through to the last 16. Portugal, in contrast, have spluttered their way through the tournament and have been typified by the misfiring Cristiano Ronaldo. A win for Portugal would likely see them top the group but anything less and they face the prospect of England in the first knock-out stage…
Hungary: Király, Lang, Guzmics, Pintér, Korhut, Nagy, Elek, Kleinheisler, Dzsudzsák, Németh, Gera
Portugal: Rui Patricio, Vieirinha, Pepe, Carvalho, Eliseu, Quaresma, Carvalho, Moutinho, Sanches, Nani, Ronaldo
Hungary are through already, but will be hoping to avoid defeat here and give themselves the best chance of finishing top of the group and avoiding a tough draw in the next round. Still without the injured Fiola, the starting XI is likely to remain unchanged. Hungary have been hard to beat so far and expect nothing different from this game. If Ronaldo was unhappy at Iceland’s style in their opening fixture, one would suspect that he will be equally if not even more annoyed this time round as Hungary will do their absolute best to derail the Portuguese bandwagon.
Luckily for Portugal, the presence of Király in the Hungarian net should give their forwards some hope of scoring. The record-breaking Hungarian goalkeeper has already proven to be slightly questionable; in Hungary’s opening game against Austria he was laboured in saving low to his left and he made a series of interesting decisions in their game against Iceland, including throwing the ball between his legs to one of his team-mates. If Ronaldo has struggled so far, chances are he will break his personal duck tonight.
The statistics are on Portugal’s side, with the Portuguese having never been beaten Hungary in the five competitive fixtures that the sides have contested. The most recent of these was during qualification for the 2010 World Cup, and there is not much to suggest that Hungary have improved enough to actually beat Portugal but given the respective fortunes of both teams at this tournament so far, you never can tell.
Portugal, ultimately, needs to find a way of clicking as a team, something that Ronaldo has so far seemed better at hindering than helping. Allowing other players in the team the chance to take some of the limelight might not be a bad thing, as it would also allow Ronaldo the chance to get on with his game rather than feeling like he needs to drag the team through matches. If the rest of the team step up a notch and Ronaldo plays with the coolness that he is associated whilst playing for Real Madrid, then Portugal should be looking for a comfortable win. Unfortunately, no evidence so far has suggested they have any interest in taking this approach, so here’s to another 1-1 result.
Prediction: Hungary 1-1 Portugal