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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 July 2024

European Championship: A test for Germany in grudge match against Hungary after disappointing opener

Coach Nagelsmann is wary of 'unpleasant opponents' Hungary who can 'sometimes be wild'

Reuters, AP/PTI Stuttgart Published 19.06.24, 10:36 AM
Germany players during a training session in Herzogenaurach, Germany, on Tuesday, the eve of their Euro 2024 match against Hungary

Germany players during a training session in Herzogenaurach, Germany, on Tuesday, the eve of their Euro 2024 match against Hungary Getty Images

Euro 2024 hosts Germany will get a better idea of whether their blend of youth and experience can sustain a title challenge when they take on a Hungary side on Wednesday eager to bounce back from a disappointing result in their Group A opener.

Germany ran riot in a 5-1 win over 10-man Scotland in the tournament’s first match while Hungary slipped to a 3-1 defeat against Switzerland.

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Young forwards Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz gave Germany fans hope that a new era beckons for the national team but they will carry the memory of Hungary winning 1-0 in Leipzig in the Nations League in September 2022.

“We beat them (Germany) in 2022, so it will be an extra motivation for them. They’ll be thinking: ‘Not again.’ But it’s clear from the first game that this Germany side is a completely different proposition to what they were back then,” said Hungary forward Martin Adam. Germany are winless in their last three meetings against a Hungary side led by young captain Dominik Szoboszlai who was visibly frustrated in their opening defeat in Cologne as the tournament’s dark horses failed to get up to speed.

The 23-year-old did set up a goal for teammate Barnabas Varga and the duo will be key to their team’s chances of getting their first points on the board having both grabbed four goals in Hungary’s excellent qualifying campaign.

However, coach Marco Rossi knows that any of the same sloppiness that was on display from his side against the Swiss will be ruthlessly exploited by the Germans who play with a fluid intensity under manager Julian Nagelsmann.

The German coach employed Kai Havertz as a front man to draw space for Wirtz and Musiala to drive at defenders either side, a system likely to be used again as the team seek to wrap up a spot in the knockout stage.

However, Nagelsmann is wary of Hungary’s relationist system — where players are free to dictate the play between each other using their individual talents, rather than sticking to a positional doctrine and rigid formation.

“Hungary are an unpleasant opponent, they can sometimes be wild. There are a lot of free spirits out there,” the coach said.

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said: “On the pitch you felt how every single one of our players was annoyed that we conceded. Scoring goals is nice, but we are thinking defensively and want to have stability at the back.”

Even a draw for the Magyars would be a positive result knowing that they face Scotland in their final group game, while Germany would aim for top spot against the Swiss.

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