Portugal will be looking to win their second European Championship in succession this summer, and Fernando Santos’s side open their Euro 2020 campaign with a clash against Hungary in Budapest.
A Selecao will be determined to make a strong start on Tuesday considering the strength of Group F, but Hungary are now a team to be taken extremely seriously at this level of football.
Hungary finished third at the 1964 European Championship before claiming fourth in 1972, but they then did not qualify for the finals of the competition until Euro 2016.
Nemzeti Tizenegy impressively topped Group F in the last European Championship – finishing ahead of Portugal in the process – before losing heavily to Belgium in the round of 16.
Hungary managed to book their spot in the finals of this year’s tournament through the playoffs, overcoming Bulgaria and then Iceland, with Dominik Szoboszlai scoring a last-minute winner in the final, but an injury has ruled the talented 20-year-old out of the competition, which is a huge blow for the team.
Marco Rossi’s side are unbeaten in their last 11 matches in all competitions, including strong wins over San Marino and Andorra in their 2022 World Cup qualification section.
Hungary’s preparations for Euro 2020 were also solid, as they recorded a 1-0 win over Cyprus earlier this month before playing out a goalless draw with the Republic of Ireland. The strength of this section means that it is going to be a very tough task to finish in the top three positions, but a positive result against Portugal in their opener would certainly leave the fans dreaming of what could happen.
Portugal, meanwhile, are the holders of the trophy, having triumphed at Euro 2016, beating hosts France 1-0 in the final courtesy of an extra-time effort from Eder.
There is simply no downplaying the importance of this clash, as a victory would place them in an excellent position ahead of their two toughest fixtures in the section; Germany will be their opponents in Munich on June 19, before taking on tournament favourites France in Budapest on June 23.
The Iberian nation did not win a single game in the group stages of Euro 2016, drawing all three of their matches, but they managed to qualify in third, which is an option again this summer.
Portugal overcame Croatia in extra-time before beating Poland on penalties to advance to the semi-finals, where they recorded a 2-0 victory over Wales to advance to the final.
A Selecao have a strong overall record in this competition, reaching the semi-finals in 1984, 2000 and 2012, while they were present in the quarter-finals of Euro 1996 and Euro 2008. Portugal were also runners-up on home soil at Euro 2004 and are fancied to advance deep into this year’s tournament.
Santos’s side will bring a six-game unbeaten run into this match, meanwhile, and they drew 0-0 with Spain before thumping Israel 4-0 in their two friendlies earlier this month.
Hungary form (all competitions):
Portugal form (all competitions):
As mentioned, Hungary will be without the services of talented RB Leipzig attacker Szoboszlai this summer, while an injury has also ruled out Zsolt Kalmar.
Willi Orban and Attila Szalai are certainties to start at the back, but the other position in the back three is open for debate, while the right-sided wing-back spot is also seemingly open at this stage.
Roland Sallai has recently been absent due to a slight issue, but the 24-year-old is expected to be fit for the section opener, joining the captain Adam Szalai in the final third of the field.
Attila Fiola could ultimately get the nod at the back, while Laszlo Kleinheisler may feature on the right in a 3-5-2 formation, with Bristol City’s Adam Nagy lining up in the middle of the park.
As for Portugal, Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota are expected to join Cristiano Ronaldo in the front three, while Bruno Fernandes is a certainty to start in a deeper position.
Portugal’s midfield is incredibly strong in terms of depth, meaning that it is difficult to predict the two players that will feature alongside Fernandes, but Santos could ultimately select Danilo and William Carvalho to provide support to the back four.
Ruben Dias – off the back of an excellent season at Manchester City – will start in the middle of the defence and should be joined by Pepe, while Raphael Guerreiro’s experience should see the 27-year-old given the nod over the talented teenager Nuno Mendes at left-back.
Joao Cancelo has tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the clash, though, meaning that there could be a start at right-back for Nelson Semedo.
Hungary possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Fiola, Orban, Attila Szalai; Lovrencsics, Kleinheisler, Nagy, Schafer, Holender; Sallai, Adam Szalai
Portugal possible starting lineup:
PatrIcio; Semedo, Dias, Pepe, Guerreiro; Danilo, W Carvalho, Fernandes; Bernardo, Ronaldo, Jota
Prediction: 0 – 1
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