Germany have the chance to move top of Group A3 of the UEFA Nations League when they host Hungary on Friday.
The visitors surprisingly lead the way heading into the encounter, having stunned England with a 4-0 victory last time out.
Given that Hansi Flick comfortably won all seven World Cup qualifiers which he presided over after taking the German national team job in August 2021, the Nations League has provided a sterner test for him and his players ahead of the winter World Cup.
Three successive 1-1 draws against Italy, England and Hungary suggested some teething problems, but Die Mannschaft finally ended their winless run with a 5-2 thumping of Italy at Borussia-Park in their last match in June.
Germany actually went 5-0 up in the match after Timo Werner bagged a quickfire brace, but Willy Gnonto and Alessandro Bastoni responded late on to make the scoreline a little more respectable for the visitors.
Still unbeaten in Flick’s 13 matches in charge, Germany can move top of Group A3 by beating Hungary at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig on Friday. Having only mustered one shot on target against Marco Rossi’s side in their last meeting, they will need to show much more invention against a well-disciplined defensive outfit.
Indeed, after securing back-to-back promotions to rise from League C to League A, Hungary have proven a revelation in the Nations League’s top tier so far.
Having performed above expectations in what was widely considered the ‘Group of Death’ at Euro 2020 – when they gained two points from three games against Portugal, France and Germany, although this tally could have been higher had they not conceded late goals against the former and the latter – perhaps it should not come as so much of a surprise to see them leading Group A3 after four matches.
However, there is little doubt that Rossi is helping Magyarok punch considerably above their weight, with forthcoming opponent Joshua Kimmich admitting to reporters earlier this week, “I’ve rarely played against a team that defends with such discipline.”
While defensive solidity has undoubtedly been the bedrock of Hungary’s success in recent times, their 4-0 demolition of England at Molineux in June showed their capabilities in possession, too, with Union Berlin’s Andras Schafer providing a technically accomplished hub in their midfield to build attacks from.
Having led 1-0 and 2-1 at the Allianz Arena before Leon Goretzka’s dramatic late equaliser helped his side progress to the knockout stages, Rossi and his players will take sizable belief from their meeting with Germany at Euro 2020 with them to Friday’s encounter in Leipzig.
Should Hungary do the unthinkable and cause another upset on the road, they will ensure that destiny remains in their own hands heading into Monday’s home match against Italy, although the importance of that match also depends on how the Azzurri fare against the Three Lions this week.
Germany Nations League form:
Germany form (all competitions):
Hungary Nations League form:
Hungary form (all competitions):
We say: Germany 2-0 Hungary
While Hungary have shown that they can compete with any nation in the world, they are generally harder to beat when playing in front of their vociferous home support.
The absence of Sallai could deny them a useful out-ball in transition, and we expect Germany to have too much control and ability in possession for them in the end.