Monday, July 15, 2024

Hungary 1-3 Switzerland: Talking points as Magyars crumble under Swiss dominance

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Switzerland started their Euro 2024 involvement in a very good way, by beating Group A rivals Hungary 3-1 on Saturday afternoon at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne in the opening round. Their victory follows that of Germany over Scotland by 5-1 in the tournament opener the previous evening.

Switzerland were ahead in the 22nd minute through Kwadwo Duah, and having assisted that goal with a brilliant pass, Michel Aebischer doubled their lead in the 45th. A deft header from Barnabas Varga assisted by Dominik Szoboslai in the 66th offered hope for Hungary, but Breel Embolo put the game beyond their reach by scoring Switzerland’s third goal in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.

The teams

Both coaches set their teams up in a 3-4-2-1 formation.

Hungary boss Marco Rossi chose Adam Lang, Willi Orban and Attila Szalai as the back three ahead of goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, with Adam Nagy and Andras Schafer tasked with doing the hard work in the middle of the park, flanked by Milos Kerkez and Attila Fiola as the wing-backs. Szoboszlai and Roland Sallai played in advanced roles, behind Varga as the striker.

Meanwhile, Murat Yakin in the Swiss dugout had Yann Sommer in goal, with Ricardo Rodriguez and Fabian Schar either side of Manuel Akanji in defence. Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler paired up in midfield, with Aebischer and Silvan Widmer covering the flanks. Ruben Vargas and Dan Ndoye supported Duah upfront.

The game

Switzerland took control of the proceedings straight away. They kept the ball deep in the Hungary half for most of the first 45 minutes, applying strong pressure on their opponents and winning the ball relentlessly back time and again. Rossi’s men found it very difficult to get organized and move forward, and only the quality of Gulacsi stood between them and the certainty of defeat before halftime already.

The RB Leipzig shot-stopper did a fantastic job of preventing Vargas from doubling Switzerland’s lead soon after Duah’s opener and made several other important saves to stop his team from getting properly thrashed. He was arguably the only man representing Hungary who earned a passing grade from start to finish, which says a lot about the way his teammates played.

On the other hand, every Swiss player played in a way that made it clear they fully understood the significance of this match. Xhaka and Freuler were the central pieces of their game, but the rest of the team contributed much as well as Yakin’s team directed the contest as they wished.

After the break, the Magyars appeared more motivated for a while, with Szoboszlai getting more involved after a quiet first half, and when Varga scored it seemed they would yet make the contest interesting for the remaining 25 minutes or so. However, their revival was brief as Switzerland soon re-established control, and towards the end, the Swiss used all their cunning to slow the game down and frustrate their opponents.

And as Hungary tried to make one final effort to salvage a point late on, they were opened up at the back and Embolo, who had replaced Vargas in the 74th minute, eventually took advantage to settle the outcome beyond doubt.

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The group

Germany, who top the group through their comprehensive triumph over Scotland, are understandably considered strong favourites to finish top, a feeling strengthened by the fact that the tournament is being played in their own country. That only goes to make Switzerland’s win over Hungary all the more important, potentially crucial in the race for the remaining spot (or two) leading into the knockout stages.

Hungary finished their qualifications campaign top of their group, four points ahead of second-place Serbia, without suffering a single defeat, but the first game of the actual tournament will have brought their expectations back to a very harsh reality. They will now find it very difficult to move past the group stage and their fate will likely depend on results of games between their rivals as much as their own. To make things worse at this particular moment, they face Germany next on Wednesday.

Switzerland, on the other hand, have taken a great step towards the knockout stage. They face Scotland on Wednesday, and a victory there would likely ensure the goal being already achieved before facing Germany themselves in the final round.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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