Hungary and Serbia will play their first international fixture of 2022 on Thursday evening with a friendly in Budapest.
While the visitors are using this game as preparation for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, Hungary will be looking to build on the improvements made during the back end of their failed qualification campaign.
When Serbia lost on penalties to Scotland in the playoffs for Euro 2020, it came as a significant disappointment to a squad which possesses widespread quality.
However, that failure has fuelled a response which many would not have predicted, an unbeaten World Cup qualification campaign which led to the Eagles finishing ahead of Portugal.
The pivotal result came on the final matchday, Serbia coming from behind to post a 2-1 victory in Lisbon courtesy of Aleksandar Mitrovic’s last-gasp winner.
That effort was the Fulham striker’s eighth of the campaign, taking him to 44 from 69 games for his country, but Dragan Stojkovic is far less reliant on the player than his individual record may suggest.
In total, Serbia have gone 14 matches without suffering a defeat in any competition, and they are no strangers to facing Hungary having last travelled to the country as recently as November 2020 where they earned a 1-1 draw.
On the face of it, Hungary’s return of three wins from 11 matches looks far less impressive than their upcoming opponents, but this is a Hungary side which has generally been on the up.
Marco Rossi watched his team claim draws with France and Germany during Euro 2020, while they concluded 2021 with a 2-1 success in Poland.
That result came after previously holding England to a 1-1 draw at Wembley, and regardless of the stakes being low for this contest, Rossi will eager to see more momentum built ahead of the next edition of the UEFA Nations League.
With this game not representing a competitive fixture, it will not be played behind closed doors, unlike the Nations League game with England which will follow in June.
Hungary form (all competitions):
Serbia form (all competitions):
We say: Hungary 0-2 Serbia
With both managers expected to name their strongest lineups for this game, we expect a competitive fixture to play out in Budapest. However, Serbia’s defence and attack are far superior, leading us to predict a victory and a clean sheet for the visitors.