Hungary’s poetic performance stuns France as they manage a stand-off

June 20, 2021

Oh mon dieu!”, which roughly translates to “Oh my God!” is the phrase that must have been repeating in the minds of the French supporters since yesterday after witnessing Hungarys’ staggering performance against the Le Bleus. The Puskas Arena in its full attendance with the environmental temperature rising up to 36 degree Celsius in the city of Budapest, reverberated with such intensity for their home team that even after Michael Oliver ended his proceedings of the day the crowd stayed and sang their voices raw.

The feisty little footballing nation, Hungary stunned Didier Deschamps’ World Cup winning side with their attitude and mentality that needs a whole lot of recognition than it actually gets. Hungary started the mission against Portugal and completed it against Hugo Lloris’ star studded national team with determination beyond anything. Being the only weaker side as compared to Germany, Portugal and France in the Group F or as we call it the “Group of Death” Hungary proved to the world yet again that football is not just about the heavyweights bathing into the glory, it’s the smaller footballing nations that steps into the occasion and writes a fairytale of performance.

Puskas Arena in all its glory

Hungary played their European Championship final yesterday afternoon and played it with all the frenzy and love they have for the beautiful game and ended the result in a stalemate. “The temperatures had more of an impact on us than the opponent,” Didier Deschamps said. “I’m not trying to make excuses but it’s a reality. We are talking temperatures of 35-36 degrees and the players were asking for water breaks every five minutes. Yesterday we trained at 2.15pm and they were out of breath it was so hot. But Hungary were wonderful in front of their home crowd. They gave it their all.”

67,000 supporters cheering for their players 

The fact that individual brilliance cannot always outwit the collective endeavor of the whole team as Mbappe who made his brilliant crosses and run-ins inside the six yard box but was denied by Gulacsi is  the actual point where the French suffered. With the likes of Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante being charged on and blocked every single time they got hold of the possession in the first half is what described most of the French Connection that occurred in their win against Germany. Everyone had expected Hungary to suffer a huge blow after their Captain, Adam Szalai suffered a blow to his head and felt dizzy as per reported by the Hungarian Football Association and had to be substituted with only 26 minutes gone by Nemanja Nikolic did not alter their plan to any extent whatsoever.

Mbappe being denied by Gulacsi

They had came against France and they conquered. Hungary initiated the attack from the first whistle in with a 3-5-2 formation with Nego and Fiola who were running down the right and left flank respectively to accessorize the attack formed by Adam Szalai, later on Nikoloc and Sallai had stepped to upfront being cushioned by Klienheisler and forcing the French to fall back to 4-4-2 defensive formation with as Griezmann dropped left to help Benjamin Pavard to stop the attacks which had been formed from there. The Hungarians had been looking decisive with every free-kick which the French conceded in dangerous positions but failed to score from them and all thanks to Kimpembe and Kante jumping to put the balls out of danger zone. 

Didier Deschamps’ men comfortably got hold of the ball only after the first quarter of the game only to slow down the pace and force majeure Hunagary to reorganize to fall back to their 5-3-2 defensive formation. The glimpses of Digne and Benzema combining from the left of the Hungarian defense to make the final pass for Mbappe was what summed up most of the chances the visitors had created in the first half of their performance with Griezmann contributed to the attack with some assistance from Pogba who had himself missed a chance and hit it in the side netting.

Benzema in action

The breakthrough came at the added minutes of the first half when Attila Fiola had collected a Nagy cross-field ball and exchanged passes with Sallai on the left and outpaced Pavard and shrugged off a challenge on Varane and coolly put a side-footing shot way past Lloris and at the back of the net. The Puskas erupted with joy and frenzy from the home supporters as the players went on to celebrate with the fans and even upheavaled a little corner office that the announcer lady was enjoying pitch-side as the celebrations continued with all types of jeering and cheering.

The Hungarian Goal Story

The second half commenced with Le Blues’ finding some extra time in the ball for them and with Pogba’s shot at the goal with Peter Gulacsi who made a brilliant save out of it the Hungarians started outnumbering the French attackers inside the box which let to overcrowding and shots fired with the aim towards the goal being lost in the player melee. The 57th minute substitution of putting an extra attacker Ousmane Dembele in place of Adrien Rabiot by Didier Deschamps had been an absolute game changer for the French as he put some spark into the attacking force by hitting the woodwork minutes after coming into the pitch.

Although, the equalizer had come at the end of 66th minute when the French Captain snaffled a Hungary set piece had kicked the ball downfield for Mbappe to chase as he beat two defenders before putting in a low cross from the right of the box intended for Benzema from where Orban’s touch diverted and found Griezmann who thumped the ball home from a close range and aggregated the score line at 1-1 mark.

Griezmann’s equalizer

Antoine Griezmann had scored his 38th international goal for his country and looked to turn provider for Mbappe whose acrobatic volley went wide and the wastage of these exquisite efforts from the Paris man is what we the football fans sorely felt cutting right through to our hearts but as they say it was not his night nor Benzema’s and nor Olivier Giroud’s. It had been the night for Marco Rossi’s team who can be proud of their performance as their fight lasted till the added minutes of the play when Raphael Varane missed the header from the inviting cross at the left.

An afternoon of jitters for the French and an afternoon to remember for the Hungarians as they had deservedly took a single point home with the exhibition of passion and romanticism for this beautiful sport. Didier Deschamps should feel lucky to have had a narrow escape from being defeated in the hands of this footballing nation whose protest again UEFA’s decision of not letting the quarter-final or semi-final or even the final to happen in their country and shifting it to half-filled Wembley Stadium with all of UK’s travel restrictions. I am sure the Puskas Arena will not be as frenzied as it was yesterday if Hungary does not reach the knock-out stage which is a slim luck for them as they are at the bottom of the group rankings in the Group of Death.

The managers came on at the end of the game to provide their final remarks of the fixture-

“I’m satisfied – I’m not overjoyed with the result, but I’m satisfied. We didn’t lose, we do have a point to add to the three we have in the bag already. I think this still leaves the door open for us to have a little bit of leeway for the third game. It’s a point. It’s obviously not what we hoped for but, given the context, we will take it anyway.”

Didier Deschamps

“My team played an exceedingly good tactical match, and carried out their business with the correct amount of bravery and heart. I can only thank them. Nowadays, many coaches are convinced that the team wins because of the coach’s tactics. They’re wrong. The players are always the lead characters. Today they performed. It was unimaginable. When I first met the squad, I told the guys that whoever is in the national team should bust a gut. Heart is the most important thing in football. If someone plays for the national team, it’s even more true.”

Marco Rossi

Team News:

Hungary (3-5-2) Gulacsi; Botka, Orban, Attila Szalai; Nego, Nagy, Fiola; Kleinheisler, Schafer; Adam Szalai, Sallai.
Substitutes: Dibusz, Bogdan, Lang, Kecskes, Cseri, Holender, Lovrencsics, R Varga, Siger, K Varga, Nikolic, Schon.

France  (4-3-3) Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Digne; Pogba, Kante, Rabiot; Griezmann, Benzema, Mbappe.
Substitutes: Mandanda, Maignan, Lenglet, Lemar, Giroud, Dembele, Tolisso, Sissoko, Hernandez, Dubois, Kounde, Thuram.

Referee Michael Oliver (England)

Star of the Match: Laszlo Kleinheisler

Laszlo Kleinheisler with the Star of the Match award