Hungary vs Bulgaria – Preview

 

HUNGARY VS BULGARIA

29th FEBRUARY 2012

ETO PARK

Kick Off – 17:00 (GMT)

 

This game may just be a friendly, but for both managers, it’s stepping stone to World Cup qualification. Hungary and Bulgaria both failed to qualify for Euro 2012, but their respective campaigns had a different feel about them all together. Hungary put up a brave fight in their group, but came up just short in a group containing Sweden, Finland and world cup finalists, Holland. Whereas Bulgaria finished bottom of the group with 5 points from 8 games.

Hungary are definitely a side on the up. They still haven’t qualified for a major competition since 1986, but they have a bunch of talented youngsters who are all keen to impress and the Hungarian public are optimistic that the 26 year wait could come to an end in two years time.

As for Bulgaria, they see the next upcoming qualifying campaign as a development process for their younger players. The team of Euro 2004 has long evaporated and they are half the side that beat Hungary 2-0 in Sofia 7 years ago.

Both sides are likely to experiment, but even though it’s just a friendly, both managers are eager to see what stage their team are at come Wednesday night.

Hungary Preview

Hungary go into tomorrow’s game not just disappointed that they lost last time out to Poland, but also that they won’t be appearing at European’s showpiece tournament in June later this year.

Qualification to Euro 2012 was not something the Hungarian Football Federation expected, but a place at Brazil 2014 was and Wednesday’s friendly in Gyor is a great place to start their push to the World Cup.

Nevertheless, morale and team spirit is high within the Hungarian camp and the players really do seem to be enjoying their football under the reign of Sandor Egervári. Hungary have only lost five times since Egervári was appointed in August 2010, drawn just once and won nine. The former MTK boss really has turned around the fortunes of the Magyars and confidence is brimming.

Hungary are almost back to full strength ahead of Wednesday’s game with Gergely Rudolf, Balázs Dzsudzsák and Ákos Buzsáky all likely to feature at some stage. Buzsáky hasn’t featured under Egervári so far, but after a recall to first team affairs at Queens Park Rangers, the Hungary boss had no choice but to call him up.

Vladimir Koman and Krisztian Nemeth are also both back playing first-team football, and they’ll be looking to bring back memories of Egypt 2009, if they happen to be fielded at the same time tomorrow night.

Hungary are likely to line up with Adam Bogdán in goal who has been in decent form for Bolton Wanderers after locking down the number one spot from experienced stopper, Jussi Jääskeläinen.

József Varga is expected to continue in his unaccustomed right back position after some impressive performances there in previous international games. Stand-in captain Roland Juhász will be partnered by the ever-fledging Zsolt Korcsmár who really seems to have secured a starting spot after his previous accomplished performances. Vilmos Vanczák will probably get the nod ahead of Zsolt Laczkó who has only been limited to a handful of substitute appearances at Sampdoria.

The midfield is a lot tougher to call. 4-4-2 will seemingly be the choice of formation for Egervári, so that will probably mean a right midfield birth for Vladimir Koman who has become a regular at Monaco since his move in January. Ákos Elek seems to be suffering from the flu, and may not be fit enough to start which could mean a start for young Adam Pinter who has been performing well at La Liga side, Real Zaragoza. He is likely to be partnered by Tamás Hajnal who hasn’t been in great form for Stuttgart this season, but still comes up with his fair share of assists. Balázs Dzsudzsák will almost certainly start on the left.

Up front we were likely to see the return of the deadly partnership of Adam Szalai and Gergely Rudolf – but for a late injury to Gergely Rudolf. Adam Szalai has been out injured since February last year, and has only recently recovered enough to feature for his club side, Mainz. He scored his first goal since 2011 on Saturday and he’s desperate to get back to international football. Rudolf, who has had his fair share of injuries since his move to Panathanaikos, and was Hungary’s best player of 2011 has been ruled out so Krisztian Nemeth is likely to deputise. The former-Liverpool man has been in decent form since joining Eredivisie side, RKC Waalwijk, and he’d like to take that club form to the biggest stage.

Bulgaria Preview

The Bulgarian Preview is brought to you by Ivan Nikolov who is a Football Reporter for “7 Days Sports” in Bulgaria. You can follow him on Twitter here – @Vanyoe

“The Bulgarian national team is like a stone at the bottom of the sea”, said head coach Luboslav Penev in his last press conference. But since his appointment, he has promised to lift that the stone will be lifted. Bulgaria have faced a lot of trouble in the last couple of years and now sit in 88th position in the FIFA’s ranking behind the likes of Uganda and Haiti. It’s a new beginning for the Bulgarian team tomorrow in Győr.

Penev will make his debut after replacing former Hungary manager, Lothar Matthaus at the helm of the team and with all eyes are firmly on the former Atletico Madrid striker, fans have some high expectations for his tenure. They know he is true professional, extremely ambitious and knowledgeable for his age (45) . “I want the team playing total football”, said Penev last week. It sounds nonsense considering the squad’s abilities, but yet Penev’s view for the game is influenced by Spanish football where he made his career and as a result, has brought in two Spanish coaches as staff. It’s still hard to say how the team would look on the pitch, but Penev likes aggression and a lot of movement and to keep the ball on the floor.

Bulgarian national football team. Photo taken ...

Bulgaria go to Hungary without two of their leaders. Captain Stiliyan Petrov – who scored in the 1-1 draw in Budapest in 2005 – was injured and is not ready for the game. Experienced winger Martin Petrov is also out, due to his in and out club form at Bolton Wanderers. And of course Dimitar Berbatov retired from the national team. A couple of weeks ago, the seven time Bulgarian player of the year hinted at a return, but Penev said he’s not ready to come back. Berbatov is on the bench at Manchester United most of the time this season and is lacking first-team football. There are no big surprises in the squad for this friendly.

Key Players

Nikolay Mihaylov –  Goalkeeper Mihaylov is having a good season in Holland with Twente who are still going strong in Europe. Growing day to day, he has a commanding role in the defense. He still makes the odd mistake here and there but if he has a good evening, he could frustrate the strong Hungarian attack.

Georgi Milanov – One of the hottest prospects in Bulgarian team. Milanov has good ball control, passes well and often helps in attack and defense as well. He is young and the lack of experience may be his downfall on Wednesday.

Ivelin Popov – Popov has to be the leader in this match and he is the man Bulgaria are going to rely on for goals. He has an abundance of flair in the box and is a very accomplished finisher. He also works hard for the team and can easily turn his opposition’s mistakes into goals.

Predicted Lineups

Hungary XI (4-4-2): Bogdán – Varga, Korcsmár, Juhász, Vanczák – Koman, Pinter, Hajnal, Dzsudzsák – Nemeth, Szalai

Hungary Subs:                                               

Bulgaria XI (4-1-2-2-1): Mihaylov – Manolev, Ivanov, Bodurov, Zanev – Dyakov –  Milanov, Gadzhev –  Aleksandrov, Tonev – Popov

Bulgaria Subs: Kolev, Bandalovski, Y. Minev, V. Minev, Iliev, Galchev, Zlatinski, Sarmov, Gargorov, Bozhinov, Stoyanov

Predictions

Ivan Nikolov (@Vanyoe) – Tough call. I’m not really aware of Hungary’s team, but if you calculate the cost of Dzsudzsák’s move to Dinamo Moscow, it equals up to about half of the Bulgarian squad. Yet, I expect an even game with not many goals. 1-1.

Tomasz Mortimer (@HungariaFootbal) – I honestly think it will be a stroll for Hungary. Bulgaria are without their two key men – Martin Petrov and Stylian Petrov – and with Hungary’s top players coming into a bit of form I can’t see anything but an easy Magyar win. 3-0.

Previous Meetings

 

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2012.02.29 Hungary – Bulgária :
2005.10.08 Bulgária – Hungary 2 : 0
2005.03.30 Hungary – Bulgária 1 : 1
2003.02.12 Bulgária – Hungary 1 : 0
1975.06.07 Bulgária – Hungary 4 : 0
1975.05.07 Hungary – Bulgária 2 : 0
1974.11.11 Bulgária – Hungary 0 : 0
1974.03.31 Hungary – Bulgária 3 : 1
1971.09.25 Hungary – Bulgaria 2 : 0
1971.05.19 Bulgaria – Hungary 3 : 0
1966.07.20 Hungary – Bulgária 3 : 1
1962.06.03 Hungary – Bulgária 6 : 1
1957.09.15 Bulgária – Hungary 1 : 2
1957.06.23 Hungary – Bulgária 4 : 1
1953.10.04 Bulgária – Hungary 1 : 1
1950.11.12 Bulgária – Hungary 1 : 1
1949.10.30 Hungary – Bulgária 5 : 0
1948.11.07 Bulgária – Hungary 1 : 0
1947.08.17 Hungary – Bulgária 9 : 0
1943.06.06 Bulgária – Hungary 2 : 4
1934.04.29 Hungary – Bulgária 4 : 1
1934.03.25 Bulgária – Hungary 1 : 4

 

 

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