Hungary vs Romania – Preview

 

Hungary host Romania on the 22nd March in what has been dubbed by Magyar fans as the game of the Millenium.

The bitter rivalry that exists between both nations dates back centuries which just adds to the excitement of the game between two sides who are locked together in second place in Group D – both on 9 points.

Unfortunately for the spectacle, and Hungary, the game will be played behind closed doors due to anti-semetic chanting from the Magyar fans back in August when Israel came to Budapest.

The empty stadium will obviously hinder the Hungarians massively, and that intense, bitter atmosphere that could have intimidated the Tricolorii – who have won the last 5 matches between the sides – is now gone.

Both sides will be looking for a win, with the victor feeling like they have made a significant step towards World Cup qualification. A draw for either team will be seen as a missed chance to leave their old enemy floundering behind.

Here’s the group table after four games:

#   Team MP W D L F A D P Last 5 matches
1 Netherlands 4 4 0 0 13 2 +11 12 WWWW
2 Hungary 4 3 0 1 10 5 +5 9 WWLW
3 Romania 4 3 0 1 8 4 +4 9 LWWW
4 Turkey 4 1 0 3 4 6 -2 3 LLWL
5 Estonia 4 1 0 3 1 6 -5 3 WLLL
6 Andorra 4 0 0 4 0 13 -13 0 LLLL

 

Hungary Preview

Hungary go into the game without their captain, Zoltan Gera, who is injured and vice-captain, Roland Juhasz, who’s only played seven competitive games for club and country since August.

Couple that with the lack of match fitness of key men; Balazs Dzsudzsak, Vladimir Koman, Zsolt Korcsmar and Tamas Hajnal, then it doesn’t sound like good reading for Magyar fans.

Fortunately though, Hungary have learnt to play well in the face of adversary under Sandor Egervari, and the memorable 2-1 victory over Sweden, where several key players missed out, can only bring confidence that a similar performance can be repeated.

Hungary’s last two game’s have been poor by their recent standards – a 1-1 draw at home to Belarus and a 2-0 loss away to Norway – but they have often underpeformed in friendlies which has seldom affected their competitive form. Their last two competitve games make for better reading – a 1-0 victory away in Estonia and a dominant 3-1 victory over Turkey at home.

The defeat of Turkey in Budapest was seen as a major scalp by the Hungarian press, and the second half performance from Hungary gave the fans real optimism for the rest of the campaign.

Sandor Egervari could plump for the same side that beat Turkey back in October with the same lineup all available for Hungary’s head coach.

Hungary’s Player of 2012, Adam Bogdan will continue in goal after affirming himself as Number One for what looks like many years to come.

The back four will most likely see Vilmos Vanczak, who’s the most experienced defender by far in the Hungarian squad, start at left back with Brann defender, Zsolt Korcsmar partnering Norbert Meszaros of Debrecen in the centre. Ball-winning midfielder Jozsef Varga looks to have recovered sufficiently after missing last week’s game with Werder Bremen through injury, and he’ll continue at his unfavoured right back.

In midfield, Egervari is likely to start with two midfielders sitting in front of the defence and three ahead of them supporting the striker. The two likely ‘sitters’ are Zaragoza’s Adam Pinter who played in that position last week against Sevilla and Akos Elek who has now finally started to find some form since his move to DVTK. In front of them we’ll see Balazs Dzsudzsak on the left, Tamas Hajnal or Gergely Rudolf in the middle and Vladimir Koman or Tamas Hajnal on the right. Up front will be Adam Szalai who has 12 Bundesliga goals this term.

Young prodigy, Istvan Kovacs will be on the bench, and the introduction of the 20 year old will be greeted with huge excitement. The Videoton attacking midfielder has been tipped as the next big thing in Hungarian football, and the chance to see him play on the international stage will be met with big intrigue.

Romania Preview

The Romanian preview was written by the excellent, Radu Baicu, founder of the superb, www.ScoutingRomania.com. Radu has worked for a number of organisations within football including Bayer Leverkusen and Hannover 96. He can be found on Twitter @RBaicu

No fans, bad weather, pitch in a poor condition – it seems that all of Victor Piturca’s wishes are coming through ahead of this hot encounter. Romania’s not so popular head coach also has the luxury of choice when it comes to his first eleven. Schalke’s Ciprian Marica failed to get well in time, but that’s the only important casualty, with Adrian Mutu fully fit and ready to lead the line. Behind, Lazio’s Stefan Radu is an interesting alternative for the veteran Razvan Rat, who would also have to pass the armband if he loses his place, while the left winger role is contended by no less than four players: used quite regularly lately, Steaua’s Ciprian Tanase and Petrolul’s Gheorghe Grozav are not in a good moment of form, so there can be room for a surprise appearance from either Alexandru Maxim (VfB Stuttgart) or Alex Chipciu (Steaua).

Usually tending for a 4-2-3-1 that turns to a 4-1-4-1 when in possession, Piturca has no reason to change and will only focus on making the right choices in a first eleven that hopes to be as successful as in the last outing, the win in Istanbul boosting morale and increasing the chances to finish second in a tough group that still has four contenders for only two spots.

Knowing Piturca’s philosophy, draw will very much be on the cards in Budapest, as Romania will only try to speculate errors and opportunities in order to score, keeping possession with the main purpose of offering less time on the ball to the opponents, rather than trying to create scoring opportunities. The team will try to stay compact and safe and a heavy pitch will probably matter more than the lack of pressure from what could have been packed and very loud stands.

Predicted Lineups

Hungary (4-2-3-1): Bogdan; Varga, Korcsmar, Meszaros, Vanczak; Pinter, Elek; Koman, Hajnal, Dzsudzsak; Szalai

Romania (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Tamas, Goian, Chiriches, Radu; Bourceanu, Pintilii; Torje, Stancu, Maxim; Mutu.

Key Duels

Gabriel Torje vs Vilmos Vanczak – The Granada winger’s form has been in and out this season, but on his day, he can destroy a lot of full backs, especially slow one’s. Vilmos Vanczak falls into the slow category, and with the pace that the on-loan Udinese winger possesses, it will scare any Hungarian defender assigned with the task of marking him. It could be a long day for Hungary’s full backs.

Balazs Dzsudzsak vs Gabriel Tamas – The other key duel is a carbon copy of the first. One winger having a lot of pace against a slow full back. This could be Hungary’s best route of attack. Dzsudzsak is Hungary’s best, and most creative player and he’ll relish the chance of being up against a slow, out of position right back. The Magyars should get a lot of joy from the Dinamo Moscow winger.

Predictions

Tomasz Mortimer – I personally think Romania are a very underrrated team, and could wipe the floor with this Hungarian side. Hungary’s defence is so shaky once it’s been rattled, and if Romania can rattle it early on it could be a long night. The game being played behind closed doors also worries me. If Hungary can start well, they could easily win, but I’m going to say: Hungary 1-2 Romania

Radu Baicu – For Piturca, not losing in Budapest will count as a win, so I do expect him to prepare a strategy that will see the team focused on defending, not willing to take risks, hoping that Mutu still has the power to decide a game, that Torje’s pace can catch off guard Hungary’s defence, which will have to be also very careful on set plays. Ugly, but often effective in long qualifying campaigns: 1-1

Gaby Kovács – More than a game, this one has national pride at stake too. Romania look a strong side but lets not forget that we are the ones sitting in second place in the group. With one of Europe’s most sought after strikers at the moment up front for us, I am going for: Hungary 2 Romania 1


Previous Meetings

Played: 23 – Hungary won 12, Romania won 6, Drawn 5

2009.08.12 Hungary – Románia 0 : 1 Friendly
2004.02.21 Hungary – Románia 0 : 3 Friendly
2001.09.05 Hungary – Románia 0 : 2 WC 2002 qual.
2001.06.02 Románia – Hungary 2 : 0 WC 2002 qual.
1999.06.05 Románia – Hungary 2 : 0 EC 2000 qual.
1998.10.14 Hungary – Románia 1 : 1 EC 2000 qual.
1981.09.23 Románia – Hungary 0 : 0 WC 1982 qual.
1981.05.13 Hungary – Románia 1 : 0 WC 1982 qual.
1972.05.17 Hungary – Románia 2 : 1 EC 1972 qual.
1972.05.14 Románia – Hungary 2 : 2 EC 1972 qual.
1972.04.29 Hungary – Románia 1 : 1 EC 1972 qual.
1958.10.26 Románia – Hungary 1 : 2 Friendly
1954.09.19 Hungary – Románia 5 : 1 Friendly
1952.07.15 Románia – Hungary 1 : 2 Olympic qual.
1948.10.24 Románia – Hungary 1 : 5 Friendly
1948.06.06 Hungary – Románia 9 : 0 Friendly
1947.10.12 Románia – Hungary 0 : 3 Friendly
1945.09.30 Hungary – Románia 7 : 2 Friendly
1940.05.19 Hungary – Románia 2 : 0 Friendly
1939.10.22 Románia – Hungary 1 : 1 Friendly
1936.10.04 Románia – Hungary 1 : 2 Friendly
1933.09.24 Románia – Hungary Amatuer Team 5 : 1 Unofficial
1931.10.04 Hungary Amatuer Team – Románia 4 : 0 Unofficial