Wales will take on Hungary on Tuesday in a high stake encounter as both the teams look to seal a direct entry to the main stage of the 2020 European Championship.
It’s going to be the 10th and last round of fixtures in the 2020 European Championship qualifiers this week. So essentially, there are going to be a lot of important matches being hosted, one of which is Wales taking on Hungary at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday.
The visitors will have the upper hand heading into this fixture due to their one-point advantage. That means only a draw would be enough for Hungary to seal second place in Group E. They are, however, coming on the back of a disappointing defeat to Uruguay in the last game, though it was only a friendly.
Wales, on the other hand, were lucky to get away with a 2-0 victory against Azerbaijan on the weekend, with referee Deniz Aytekin notably denying their opponents a clear penalty on handball. But, Wales were the better team throughout the game and with the home advantage, they will be confident of their chances of handling Hungary, who have won just one of their last five international matches.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at both the teams ahead of their incredibly important match-up at the Cardiff City Stadium this week.
Tactics & Team News
Wales coach Ryan Giggs will be boosted by the return of Joe Allen from suspension this week. He is guaranteed to replace Joe Morrell in midfield. The ex-Stoke City star’s presence in the middle of the park will be important in Wales’ second line of press.
Allen will likely be partnered by Ethan Ampadu, who will operate in a relatively deeper role and provide defensive cover for the backline.
Speaking of defence, Chris Mepham will once again get the nod ahead of Ashley Williams. He is likely to be partnered by Tom Lockyer at the heart of Wales’ four-man backline. Connor Robert and Ben Davies, meanwhile, are set to retain their role as fullbacks.
Moving forward, Giggs could opt for Aaron Ramsey in the starting lineup, at the expense of Harry Wilson in this high stake encounter. The Juventus star appeared as a substitute in the win over Azerbaijan but is expected to operate as the number ten this week.
Ramsey will look to provide the creative essence in the final third while the pace of wingers Gareth Bale and Daniel James can also cause problems for the Hungary defence. The Welsh attack will be led by Kieffer Moore, who scored the all-important opener against Azerbaijan.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hennessey; Roberts, Mepham, Lockyer, Davies; Ampadu, Allen; Bale, Ramsey, James; Moore.
Hungary will be missing key players heading into this clash, including defender Willi Orban as well as Mihaly Korhut, who is suspended. The left-back is likely to be replaced by Zsolt Nagy, whose lack of experience at the highest level of football could be an issue, especially when dealing with someone like Bale.
Orban’s absence will serve as an even bigger blow for Hungary. They do have Botond Barath to fill in his place while the defender will be partnered by Adam Lang. Attila Szalai is also an option, however.
Laszlo Kleinheisler is not included in the squad while Zsolt Kalmar has withdrawn himself from the squad due to an injury. That means Marco Rossi will have no option but to field Adam Nagy in the double-pivot, alongside Mate Vida. Mate Patkai is also an option, should the Italian opt for more safety in midfield.
The double-pivot means star-man Dominik Szoboszlai could be forced to operate as the lone number nine. The RB Salzburg playmaker will be supported by Roland Sallai and captain Balazs Dzsudzsak in the creative trio.
And finally, the Hungary attack is likely to be spearheaded by the experienced figure of Adam Szalai. His aerial and physical prowess means the visitors can utilise him as a target man, which makes sense as Hungary will mostly have to play on the counter.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gulacsi; Lovrencsics, Lang, Barath, Nagy; Nagy, Vida; Dzsudzsak, Szoboszlai, Sallai; Szalai.
- Wales lost the reverse fixture 1-0, with Patkai’s late winner sealing all three points for Hungary back in June.
- Wales have collected 12 points by scoring only eight goals – no other side except Hungary have achieved that feat in the qualifiers so far.
- Wales have conceded only six goals in their seven matches, thus holding the best defensive record in the group.
- Hungary are the only side in the group not to have drawn a single game so far. Ironically, a draw would be on their agenda as they plan to secure direct entry to the main stage of the competition.
Player to Watch
While the limelight will surely be on the likes of footballing stars like Bale, Ramsey and Szoboszlai, it could turn out to be a fairytale evening for Wales’ Rabbi Matondo. The youngster is not expected to receive a starting berth in the team.
But, his energy and pace make him an ideal super-sub Giggs could utilise, especially if his team fails to break the shackles of the Hungary defence in this must-win encounter. Matondo has already made quite an impression in the Bundesliga, thanks to his impressive display against Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby.
And this week, the winger might just receive an opportunity to showcase his quality on the international stage. However, he must improve his finishing if he is to make use of his chances. But most importantly, it will be interesting to see whether Giggs actually utilises Matondo in this fixture.
Wales 1-0 Hungary
As mentioned earlier, Wales are likely to dominate this game right from the start, additionally aided by their home support. They have quite a strong team right now, especially with Ramsey, Allen and Mepham back in the fold. Hungary, in contrast, are decimated by injuries and are unlikely to keep hold of the clean sheet. Hence, we expect a narrow win for the hosts this week.