June 14 – The UEFA Nations League is producing some pretty unexpected results , and all this a few months before the kick-off to the Qatar World Cup. Teams are testing and some cannot be too happy.
The Hungarian team, led by their generally adored Italian manager Marco Rossi, at the weekend showed that one sure way to discombobulate the Germans was with an aggressive and persistent high press. A risky proposition if the opponents manage to launch a quick counter-attack.
But the Germans didn’t – except once – from which they managed to score moments after the Hungarians had celebrated their own brilliant 1:0 lead, hammered high into German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s net from a few yards out.
The German equaliser was an unnecessary and preventable goal, and while it brought a little more caution to the Hungarians game it didn’t slow their willingness to attack. The Hungarians, who had beaten England just a few days before, had seven shots on goal – and a man called Neuer to contend with.
And had their own goal keeper, Peter Gulacsi of RB Leipzig, come anything close to Neuer, the result of 1:0, maybe even 2:0, would have stood firm. But it didn’t. Germany delivered little, were confused by the high wall of pressure and had just one shot on goal. And that went in, just.
England have their rematch with the Hungarian side next week at Wembley, and there is no doubt that they will go for blood – although, their performance against Italy (who did not qualify for the World Cup, like Hungary) delivered an uninspiring draw and no goals.
While England floundered trying to figure out how to win against Italy, the Hungarians gave Germany a rather warm time, and it was only two exceptional saves by Neuer towards the very end that saved their skin and delivered the draw.
England, in the same group A3, will have to do better if they want to proceed to the Nations League finals. After three matches played, they are last in the group with 2 points from 2 draws…Italy with 5 and Hungary with 4 points lead the group.
Of course everything can change, and fast, but the Three Lions will have to do more than just roar at Wembley to devour this thus far surprising young Hungarian squad.
After three rounds of Nations League games, it is clear UEFA has a winning proposition: good quality football, surprisingly good team efforts and a generally positive atmosphere throughout, even if the players are a little fatigued at the end of long seasons.
The blight – at least in this group – was the handful of idiots who booed England players who take a knee last week.
And talk about boos: there were none, in the literally sold out and quite
In the sold out and quite amazing Puskás Arena at the weekend there were no boos for Hungary’s own young black player, Nego, nor were there boos for the numbers of black players in the German team. It was a very civilised affair altogether, full of excitement and good fun.
England games of course bring a different level of tension and aggression both from the crowd and often on the pitch. The game at Wembley tonight will see a return to a full English crowd after the shameful scenes of the Euro2022 and the sanction of a behind-closed-doors match against Italy.
It will be a test of England both in terms of public order and how their fans behave in terms of showing respect towards their own team – they failed on both last summer. Football will be different when the fans are different.
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