Wales vs Hungary Preview

“If the Welsh are the Dragons then we must be the lions!”

-Marco Rossi – Hungary manager

The die has been cast and it’s all or nothing for Hungary in their final Group E qualification match on Tuesday evening in Cardiff.  Everything is coming together on a night that is starting with high stakes and should provide quite a bit of drama as the curtain falls on automatic qualification.  

What: Euro 2020 Qualification – Group E: Wales vs Hungary

When: Tuesday, 19 November – kickoff 18:45 (CET)

Where: Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, UK (33,000 capacity)

Weather forecast: Cloudy, 8ºC

Referee: Ovidiu Hategan (ROU), AR -Octavian Sovre (ROU), AR – Sebastian Gheorghe (ROU) 4O – Sebastian Coltescu (ROU)

What’s at stake? With Croatia securing top spot on Saturday, the final automatic qualification spot in Group E is still up for grabs among three countries.

Who is still in the hunt? Hungary have the inside track over Wales and Slovakia, but only just.  With Croatia’s win over Slovakia on Saturday, Hungary will qualify automatically with a win over Wales.  A victory for the Welsh will propel them into next summer’s Finals instead, forcing Hungary to battle for a spot in the March playoffs.  

With Hungary holding a point advantage over Wales they would finish over Ryan Giggs’ side with a draw, but Slovakia then becomes a threat.  Slovakia host Azerbaijan in Trnava in their final game on Tuesday and a home win is likely on the cards.  If Wales and Hungary draw and Slovakia win then Slovakia will go through based on their head-to-head record against Hungary in qualification.


Hungary update:

Marco Rossi will be without a few players going into this crucial match. Willi Orbán has been deemed unfit and will not play. The 27 year-old RB Leipzig midfielder, who has primarily been used as a center back by Rossi, picked up an injury in a German Cup match back on 30 October and hasn’t been cleared for a return to action.

Predicted lineup for Hungary

The key is to have the team believe that you can win this match. In my opinion, this is the key to success and direct qualification. The Welshmen have very dangerous attackers, but I discovered vulnerable points in their defense against Azerbaijan.

– Máté Pátkai

DAC’s Zsolt Kalmár was injured in Hungary’s 2-1 friendly defeat against Uruguay on Friday night. The attacking midfielder played 83 minutes before suffering a broken ankle and replaced by Dávid Holmán. Tamas Kadar is also unavailable for Rossi.

And despite Mihály Korhut’s wonder goal against Azerbaijan back in October, the Aris FC defender also picked his second yellow card in the second half of that match which means he’ll be serving a one-game ban against Wales. He got his first caution in the final minute of their win against Wales in Budapest.

One bright spot will be the return of Ádám Nagy in midfield. The Bristol City player came on as a second half substitute and has been cleared to start against Wales.

With Pátkai sure to be alongside him in a defensive midfield role, the duo will need to play strong and challenge the strength of Kieffer Moore, the speed of Daniel James, and the technical brilliance of Bale.

Wales update:

Coming off a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan on Saturday, Ryan Giggs’ squad have made the 2,600 mile (4,200km) flight back from Baku and rested on Sunday. Wales have a quality side with Gareth Bale leading the way alongside Aaron Ramsey (both of whom have fitness concerns).

Wales vs Hungary
Predicted lineup for Wales

Bale played for an hour in Baku and was replaced by Ramsey giving both a manageable workload in hopes of both starting on Tuesday. Midfielder Joe Allen is also set to return after serving a one-match suspension, sitting out against Azerbaijan.

But defender Joe Rodon and midfielder Jonathan Williams (both of whom started against Croatia in October) are out after each underwent surgery earlier this month. Even so, this is a team that has something to prove as they look to avenge a narrow defeat in Budapest this summer.

Ryan Giggs has made it clear that he doesn’t want to mess with what’s working. Since losing to Hungary this summer they’ve won three and drawn two – including against Croatia at home. With Bale and Ramsey lacking fitness it’s possible he won’t start them together. Joe Morrell’s impressive performance against Azerbaijan will make it tough for Joe Allen to get back into the side but this could be a match where added experience and grit could make the difference.

Prediction:

It’s difficult to say which team has the most pressure going into Tuesday night’s match. Wales are looking to return to the Euros for a second straight time without having to go through a playoff round. They share a disappointing 2018 World Cup qualification with Hungary and are itching to return to the big stage. Playing at home will be a huge boost for Wales but it’s unlikely Bale and Ramsey will last the full 90 minutes.

That being said, Hungary manager Marco Rossi is spot on as he’s mentioned the first 15-20 minutes will be key. If Bale and Co. can break through Hungary’s weakened defense early this could be a slog for Hungary. The addition of Nagy will be a huge boost and the opportunity for this side to gain automatic qualification will also be extra motivation. Rossi rested Lovrencsics, Gulácsi, and Pátkai against Uruguay. He was also able to pull most of his attacking starters after 60 minutes or so which means his starting XI will be fresh.

Lovrencsics will be a key player as he can be dangerous with Dzsudzsák on the right. If Rossi can launch his wide attacks from his full backs it will allow his wingers to flood the box and cause chaos, but it also leaves them exposed for counter attacks. But with Pátkai and Nagy possible playing deeper and winning back possession it might be worth the risk.

There is no reason to sit on a draw here so we should see a winner. It will be balanced on a knife’s edge. Hungary’s away record speaks for itself with just one win in twelve since 2016 but, if Hungary can hold off an opening onslaught, I think they’ll be able to ease by in the end.

Wales 1-2 Hungary