3 things we learned from Hungary v. France
Hungary has achieved one of its more famous results since the days of Ference Puskas, Sandor Kocsis, and the Magical Magyars, drawing World Cup champions France 1-1 in Budapest on Saturday as EURO 2020 told another fine story.
Attila Fiola gave Hungary a lead before halftime and Roland Sallai and Peter Gulacsi stood tall but Antoine Griezmann deprived Hungary a tremendous upset win with a finish off a Kylian Mbappe feed.
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Given little chance to advance from a monstrous group, Hungary moves into third for the moment before Portugal and Germany meet at Noon.
And regardless of what happens there, Hungary will know it can make the knockout rounds by beating Germany. And belief of that will have grown after two matches. Plus a draw could be enough if Germany loses to Portugal and the other groups produce inferior third-place point totals.
France, meanwhile, won’t be terribly worried given their performance and prior defeat of Germany. Their four points is atop the group for now.
3 things we learned from Hungary - France
1. France reminded why the best teams don’t always win tournaments: Yes, France has won a World Cup and has an embarrassment of riches in its talent pool that leaves players like Dayot Upamecano and Houssem Aouar out of the squad altogether (with barely an argument made against the decisions). But all it takes is one mistake, some substandard finishing (or an excellent goalkeeper), and some committed defending to see a team go out with a rough 90 or 120 minutes. France still very much was the better money to get all three points and it would’ve been stunning had the third goal gone to anyone but Les Bleus, but Didier Deschamps got the memory fuel he would’ve wanted for his players moving forward on a day they were not at their best.
2. Hungary covering itself in pride: In a group with France, Portugal, and Germany, Hungary has been considered an automatic group-stage exit but has promised itself one thing and just may deliver on it. The idea seemingly is to impose its size and strength on the giants in its group and hope to manufacture 2-3 dynamite chances per game and steal three points at least once. It was 0-0 deep into the 3-0 loss to Portugal and the Hungarians managed five shots and three on target. Versus France? Five shots, three on target, and a 1-0 halftime lead.
The fact that Attila Fiola, a 31 year-old whose never transferred outside of his home country, delivered the goal that put the hosts ahead in Budapest is phenomenal. And there will be plenty of people, Hungarian bloodlines or not, who will be hoping to see this side rewarded with a place in the knockout rounds.
3. Griezmann, Mbappe, Benzema deserve your (on-field) respect: The thing about the statuses of the three men atop France’s trident is that they are electric talents whose height of stardom has been usurped by their club or club teammates. Greizmann was at Atletico Madrid before arriving to Barcelona where he’s always going to be No. 2. Mbappe is incredible but PSG and Ligue 1 football (unfairly) get consistently poo-pooed for their quality. And Benzema has never been the man at Real Madrid even if all he does is score and score and score (again, on the field. It’s remarkable that he’s back on this team after allegedly blackmailing a teammate but you do you, Didier). This front three can kill any team and if it doesn’t, it brings in even more quality.
Man of the Match: Roland Sallai, Hungary
The Freiburg man was Hungary’s best player against Portugal and he was again that man today, getting an assist and putting in a committed effort on the wing. France’s Griezmann and Kante were also good, but we’re choosing to highlight the underdog.