Euro 2016 surprise package Hungary will look to continue their dream run when they take on Belgium in the round of 16. This encounter will take place at the Stadium Municipal on Sunday, June 26.
This year championships has already thrown many surprise teams but none better than Hungary! Before the tournament started, all the talk was centered on how they can avoid the bottom place in Group F drawn alongside powerhouses Portugal, Austria and Iceland. But all that talk was trashed right from their opening game against dark horses Austria. Hungary did not fold back in the wake of continuous pressure and went on to surprise them 2-0. As if to prove that their win was no flash in the pan, Hungary came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 against Iceland. With the knockout qualification confirmed, they went all out against Portugal in the final game. In an exciting match that swung back and forth, Hungary picked a point after sharing the spoils 3-3. The point was enough for them to grab top spot in what otherwise was an unpredictable group. What stood out across all teams in Group F was the determination and organization of Hungary that propelled them from outliers to frontrunners.
Belgium is an interesting case study in international football. Hailed for some time as one of the most exciting teams in global arena, the Red Devils were predicted to be potential champions for Euros by many analysts. But they were brought crashing down to earth by Italy in the very first match. Italy outclassed Belgium in every department in a 2-0 victory which was larger in magnitude than what the score line suggests. Although their next game was a comprehensive 3-0 win over Republic of Ireland, Belgium never looked like getting into top gear. The next game against Sweden saw their problems of finishing rear up ugly head again although Belgium displayed entertaining football. In the end, a spectacular strike by Radja Nainggolan was enough to get full points and pick the second place behind Italy. Except for a brief time against Ireland, this talented side couldn’t show that they can play together as a team. For now, the squad seems to be struggling to find ways of maximizing their talent utilization.
Hungary lost only one of their previous five encounters but have won only one in that period. They are a difficult team to defeat and two defeats in ten matches is a testimony of that fact.
Belgium lost only once – to Italy – in their last six matches. Having won their last two matches, albeit contrastingly, should get them going for this encounter.
Key players and team news
Hungary were enterprising against Portugal and could use the same 4-2-3-1 set up. Balasz Dzsudzsak and Adam Szalai will be crucial for them in leading the attacks. Watch out for the veteran Zoltan Gera. Right back Attila Fiola and midfielder Daniel Bode could miss the match due to injuries.
Moussa Dembele may not be available for Belgium who could stick to the same 4-2-3-1 that served them well in group matches. Axel Witsel and Nainggolan could be crucial for control in the midfield while Romelu Lukaku will once again be the focal point of their attacks.
Hungary lost just two of their last ten matches and during this period they failed to score in just two matches. They normally are not involved in high scoring matches with six of their previous ten matches ending with under 2.5 goals.
Belgium are at the other end of the spectrum with seven of their previous ten matches ending in over 2.5 goals. They are high scorers too with just one failure to find the net in this period. So, backing both the teams to score goals is a prudent bet.
In spite of their performances, Hungary has never received its due in the tournament with analysts still rooting for their exit. Purely based on this tournament form, Hungary should ease past Belgium who have struggled to show any semblance of co-ordination. This could be Hungary’s biggest chance to leave their legacy on the Euros. Back both teams to draw in normal time.
Draw at odds of 3.6 with Betfred.