Preview: Hungary vs. Poland

Preview: Hungary vs. Poland

Poland will begin their road to Qatar on Thursday evening when they travel to Hungary for their opening World Cup 2022 qualifier.

The hosts are hoping to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches, while the visitors know that a defeat here would put unwanted pressure on their trip to Wembley next week when they face Group I favourites England.

November 2020 was a successful month for the Hungarian national team, who not only qualified for Euro 2020 but also topped their UEFA Nations League group, securing promotion to League A by winning three and drawing two of their six matches.

Manager Marco Rossi was unable to celebrate the success with his players at the time as he was forced to self-isolate after testing positive with coronavirus; the Italian can now get back to work with his squad and hopes to guide Hungary to their first major tournament since Euro 2016.

The two-time World Cup runners-up have not qualified for the competition since 1986 and have finished third in their last two qualification campaigns. With a group containing Thursday’s opponents Poland, as well as England, Albania, Andorra and San Marino, Hungary should feel that they have a good chance of claiming a top-two position.

Hungary’s last meeting with Poland was an international friendly in Poznan back in 2011, which the Poles won 2-1.

With England the favourites to top Group I, securing three points against Poland on Thursday night would give Hungary a huge boost in their quest to qualify for Qatar.

Like Hungary, Poland also qualified for Euro 2020, comfortably topping their group with eight victories from 10 matches and scoring 18 goals in the process.

However, their UEFA Nations League campaign proved to be more of a challenge as they could only finish third behind Italy and the Netherlands in League A Group 1.

Performances and results were not deemed good enough under Jerzy Brzeczek, which saw him sacked after three years at the helm with former Leicester City, Swansea City and Queens Park Rangers manager Paulo Sousa replacing him in charge.

The president of the Polish Football Association Zbigniew Boniek believes the appointment of Sousa will give the team a “new impulse” and believes that he has the credentials to get the best out the players in both Euro 2020 and the World Cup qualifiers, two competitions Poland are keen to excel in.

The 50-year-old, who had been out of work since he left Bordeaux in August, has named a 27-man squad – including seven first-time call ups – which has a good balance of youth and experience. With one of the world’s most prolific goalscorers in Robert Lewandowski leading the line, Poland have a strong squad capable of reaching successive World Cup tournaments for the first time since 2002 and 2006.

Victory against Hungary would be their fourth away from home in five matches and would get Sousa off to the perfect start in his first managerial role on the international stage.

Hungary form (all competitions):
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Poland form (all competitions):
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