World champions Germany take on Hungary this weekend as the two sides complete their preparations for the European Championship starting next week (5pm Saturday on BT Sport Europe). So read on for our full match preview.
Germany are among the favourites to triumph in France this summer, although a number of doubts surrounding the side have crept in over the two years since their World Cup win in Brazil. Defeats by Republic of Ireland and Poland in qualifying were not costly but nevertheless attracted scrutiny. So did a friendly loss against the United States, while Slovakia pulled off a major shock by overcoming Joachim Low’s charges 3-1 last weekend. That performance and result sent shockwaves right across Europe, but Germany will still be confident of going all the way once the Euro 2016 tournament itself kicks off in a week’s time.
Hungary are set to take part in their first European Championship since the 1972 edition, when they made it through to the semi-finals. Bernd Storck’s men reached the competition by edging out Norway in the play-offs after finishing behind Northern Ireland and Romania in the weakest qualifying group, which would suggest that they are unlikely to pull up many trees in France.
There are no real star names in the Hungary squad. The 37-year-old Zoltan Gera and captain Balazs Dzsudzsak are probably the two key men going forward. The Hungarian supporters will be hoping that their country’s team spirit, defensive organisation and tough-to-break-down structure can enable them to cause an upset or two, starting with this friendly against World Champions Germany.
Joshua Kimmich, Bernd Leno, Julian Brandt and Julian Weigl were all handed their international debuts by Low in an experimental line-up against Slovakia. Germany is likely to switch to their first-choice starting XI for the encounter with Hungary, which is taking place just eight days before their opening group stage clash against Ukraine.
Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller, Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil (pictured) and Liverpool’s Emre Can, who is used in midfield for his club but at right-back for his country, are among those who will be hoping to come into the side, with Low likely to switch to a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 formation having unsuccessfully trialled a 3-5-1-1 configuration against Slovakia. Manuel Neuer is also expected to replace Leno between the sticks and Bastian Schweinsteiger is fit enough to feature, but Mats Hummels remains sidelined with a calf injury he sustained while playing his final game for Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final.
Tamas Priskin and Krisztian Nemeth will be aiming to play some part after returning from injury lay-offs in time to be included in Hungary’s 23-man squad, while Dzsudzsak has also shaken off a fitness issue and will be involved against Germany. Former Crystal Palace goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly will play between the sticks, with central midfielder Adam Nagy one to watch in the engine room.
Despite the aforementioned setback against Slovakia, Germany are worth backing to come out on top against Hungary on Saturday evening. The world champions have a vast array of talent at their disposal and are likely to name a full-strength XI this time around, with the shock defeat last time out at least partly down to the heavy rotation of the Germans’ line-up. With world-class stars such as Ozil and Muller set to take part, it is very difficult to look past a comfortable win for Low’s men, which would provide a much-needed and timely boost ahead of Euro 2016.