Joy at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium
As luck would have it, I was able to attend two football matches while in Budapest. I already shared my experience at Groupama arena when Fradi lost to Glasgow Celtic in a must win Europa League match. Today, I will share my experience attending the Hungary – San Marino match at the glorious new Ferenc Puskas Stadium. And, boy is it beautiful.
How to Buy Tickets
Purchasing tickets was easy, as I was able to do it online. The only challenge for a visitor is you have to print them out. Luckily, my cousin has a printer, so it was no problem for me. Ok, tickets in hand, I head to the stadium.
Travel to Ferenc Puskas Stadium
Getting to the stadium in the city is easy, as it has its own stop on the M2 Subway. Surprisingly, the crowd in the subway was light with a handful of us wearing our red, white, and green. When the sun drops here in November, the evenings are cold, so I wished I had packed my Hungary scarf. Even with 4 layers, it was a little chilly.
From the subway stop is a walk to the gates. But, unlike the Fradi match, getting into the Stadium was much easier. I did have to empty my pockets, show my passport and vaccine card. Getting through the turnstile was also easy as you only have to scan the bar code on your ticket. The stadium steward was even helpful and polite, if you can believe it. Already, this was a 180 degree difference form my Groupama experience.
Once in the stadium, I have to say it is amazing cathedral to football and a fine memorial to the great Ferenc Puskas. I bought a midfield seat not far from the field itself. The atmosphere was pleasant and joyful in anticipation of those beautiful uniforms coming out onto the field. Proud of my Hungarian National team jersey I wore, I took it all in.
The largest sections filled were behind the goals with the Ultras clad in all black and chanting. They would play an entertaining part all match from start to finish.
The Game Highlights
The only question in my mind was which team will show up tonight? The one with exciting youth, or the one that does not care to be there?
At kickoff, I sensed that the exciting youth had shown up. It was pretty obvious that Dominik Soboszlai was going to stamp his mark on the game. He was all over the midfield looking for the ball. To see him in person was more impressive than the small box screen I normally watch him play. And, soon he showed us why he will become the greatest player of his generation. In like the 5th minute, his interplay with Adam Szalai at the top of the box demonstrated his talent. Touch…nutmeg, and a pass into the corner of the goal that could only leave the San Marino goalie to watch it hit the back of the net. Beautiful!
Despite the early setback, San Marino were a pain in the butt. They were well organized in defense and the midfield clogging up all the channels and making it hard to penetrate. There were a few chances being made with an Nego cross finding Adam Szalai’s head only to go over the goal. The young forward Szabolcs Schon had an excellent chance off a rebound in the box, but he could not find a corner to beat the goalie, but hit to him instead.
Szabolcs Schon’s competitor in Major League Soccer, Daniel Gazdag would find the second for Hungary with a good run in the channel on the right side of the box to slot it into the far post for 2-0. Now everyone is happy. Following the lead of the Ultra section, the stands are chanting too. I even join in chanting Ria Ria Hungaria. So, there is a lot of joy.
San Marino still did not make easy as they stayed disciplined throughout and the half ended at 2-0 to Hungary.
By half time, it felt like the temperature had dropped 10 degrees celsius to 0. BRRRR.
The 2nd half starts and we see more of the same from the end of the first half with San Marino bunkering down closing channels clearing any ball they could that came into their box. As the cold starts creeping in, we need something to make us jump up from our seats and warm our hearts.
As the half went on, you could see San Marino tiring from all their defending. The quality of the Hungarian side was one hole away from scoring again. Eventually, we would have to wait until the 83’ minute for it to come, as Dominik Szoboszlai reemerges to put his stamp on the game with his 2nd goal. What I liked about both of his goals is they were just precise placement of the ball into the net. Brilliant! We are all jumping up and feeling the blood flow in our bodies again.
It is clear that San Marino is tiring and more chances are coming for Hungary. In the 88’, Vecsei adds another. My personal hero Adam Szalai though effective in the game, could not find the finish on the evening. He had a great chance in front goal late in the game having beaten the back line, but could not lob the goalie and sent it over. Did I mention that he is really tall in person too? He is a big boy.
After 90 minutes, the game would end 4-0 in favor of Hungary as it should. They clearly had the better quality.
As for the Ultras, they continued chanting after the final whistle in pure joy. The team approached them and were serenaded for their effort.
Beautiful stadium, great atmosphere, good game, and joy as I walked out into the fog back towards the subway station. Hajra Magyarok!
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