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Euro 2024: Hungary could be the dark horses in Germany

Euro 2024: Hungary could be the dark horses in Germany
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Led by versatile Liverpool midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, Hungary has high expectations entering Euro 2024 in Germany.

Hungary may not yet have reached the same heights as their team’s golden era in the middle of last century but they could be dark horses at Euro 2024 having stormed through qualifying and narrowly missed out on reaching the Nations League finals.

Led by Italian manager Marco Rossi, Hungary are set for their third successive Euros, having previously missed out since 1972. They were unbeaten in Euro 2024 qualifying Group G, recording impressive home and away victories over Serbia in the process.

Ferencvaros forward Barnabas Varga and midfield dynamo Dominik Szoboszlai were the team’s four-goal joint leading scorers in qualifying and will be crucial to Hungary’s hopes of reaching the last 16, as they did in France in 2016.

Szoboszlai, already Hungary’s captain at 23 years old, has impressed for his new side Liverpool this season since moving from RB Leipzig and looks to have recovered from injury in good time to face Switzerland, Germany and Scotland in Group A.

Two footballers embrace after match.
Hungary’s Dominik Szoboszlai (L) and Barnabas Varga will carry the bulk of the scoring load for their team at Euro 2024 [Bernadett Szabo/Reuters]

Denes Dibusz will likely keep the No 1 jersey ahead of Peter Gulacsi, while they have experience in abundance at the back as Attila Szalai, Willi Orban, Adam Lang, Loic Nego and Endre Botka have more than 250 caps between them.

Hungary take on Germany in Stuttgart in their second group match on June 19. However, rather than being daunted by facing the tournament hosts, they will be buoyed up by their recent record against the three-time European champions.

Hungary were expected to finish bottom of Nations League Group A3 in 2022 but instead shocked their more illustrious opponents, beating England home and away and drawing 1-1 with Germany at home. They then defeated the Germans 1-0 in Leipzig with an early goal from veteran former forward Adam Szalai.

They finished second to Italy by one point, narrowly missing out on last year’s finals but went through 2023 unbeaten.

Hungary have a storied history in football with the golden era of the Magical Magyars, led by one of the greatest players of all time Ferenc Puskas, winning Olympic gold in 1952 and finishing runners-up at the 1954 World Cup.

Their influence led to more Olympic success in 1964 and 1968 but since reaching the semifinals of Euro 1972 Hungary have struggled to live up to the past.

Now, Rossi, who has been coaching for more than 10 years in Hungary and joined the national team in 2018, feels the side are ready to write their own history in Germany.

“I no longer feel a burden, especially lately. And not because we feel we are at that level of glory, but simply because we have managed to get the football fans back on our side,” the 59-year-old said in January.

“We managed to bring enthusiasm back to Hungary and that is a great legacy that we will leave to those who come in the future.”

Hungary begin their Euro 2024 campaign against the Swiss on June 15, before facing Germany. Their final group game is against Scotland on June 23.

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