England will aim to get off the mark in the UEFA Nations League at the fourth attempt when they welcome Hungary to Molineux in matchday four of League A Group 3.
Gareth Southgate’s side played out a drab goalless draw with Italy on Saturday night, while the Magyars impressively held Germany to a 1-1 stalemate.
Gareth Southgate had no qualms about describing a behind-closed-doors match at Molineux as an “embarrassment” for England following the Euro 2020 crowd chaos, but the display on the pitch from both teams was not far off a similar description in front of a young and restricted crowd.
Aaron Ramsdale was called into action in a couple of occasions while Mason Mount hit the bar for England, but the lucky fans in attendance may not have been feeling so fortunate to attend a largely flat affair – one which leaves the Three Lions winless in the section.
Southgate’s side have taken just two points available from a possible nine to remain bottom of the group, which would lead to an unthinkable relegation to League B without an immediate change in fortunes, and scrutiny has inevitable come Southgate’s way.
Not since the 2014 World Cup have England gone four games without a win in all competitions, during which they drew a friendly with Honduras before failing to win at all in Rio, while a tally of one goal in three games will surely concern Southgate given the talent at his disposal in attack.
Of course, Southgate’s crop entered the hectic schedule of fixtures after their gruelling domestic and continental seasons, leading to a much wider debate regarding player welfare, and Hungary’s resilient streak against the big boys is not letting up anytime soon.
Whatever mentality lessons Marco Rossi has been teaching this Hungary side have been paying dividends week in week out, as after slipping to a narrow defeat against Italy, the Magyars stole a point off a Germany side who they also held during the Euro 2020 group of death.
There were no more goals to be had after the ninth minute following Zsolt Nagy’s early opener and Jonas Hofmann’s instant response for Die Mannschaft, and Rossi ought to be satisfied with the start his side have made to life in League A after beginning the inaugural Nations League in the third tier.
Hungary enter matchday four above Germany and England in second place – just one below Italy and a potential route into the Nations League finals – but their gritty attitude was still not enough to see them earn a spot in Qatar for the World Cup.
Another disappointingly flat England performance helped Hungary secure a 1-0 win over the Three Lions in Budapest less than two weeks ago, and the Magyars’ most recent trip to England – which was overshadowed by a portion of their fans causing trouble in the stands – saw them travel home from Wembley with a 1-1 draw to boast about.
England Nations League form:
England form (all competitions):
Hungary Nations League form:
Hungary form (all competitions):
We say: England 1-0 Hungary
The fact that England’s only goal in the Nations League so far has come from the penalty spot simply demonstrates how much Southgate’s players could do with a well-earned break, but Three Lions fans are growing increasingly concerned about their side’s Qatar hopes with each passing game.
The potential introductions of Jude Bellingham and Conor Gallagher to the midfield could yet prove pivotal in England breaking the Hungary lines, and while a high-scoring encounter is surely off the menu, Southgate’s side can finally post a long-awaited win before the summer holidays commence.