Great Britain England keep on sloping up their arrangements for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with their most memorable UEFA Nations League conflict of this cycle against Hungary at the Puskas Arena on Saturday night.
Interestingly, the hosts won’t be available on the large stage, and off-field debate keeps on upsetting the players in front of this League A Group 3 installation.
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Back in September’s World Cup qualifier, a brilliant evening for England on the pitch in Hungary was marred by a barrage of racist abuse from the spectators, and it was expected that Saturday’s match would be played behind closed doors.
The Puskas Arena, on the other hand, is expected to welcome as many as 30,000 fans for the weekend’s Nations League start, where Marco Rossi’s team will seek to excite the future generation, according to a UEFA regulation that allows children and guardians to attend.
Hungary held their own in the Euro 2020 Group , but ultimately fell out in the group stage, and the Nations League will likely follow like, with Italy and Germany awaiting them on each side of their England double-header.
The world’s 40th-ranked nation has yet to qualify for the World Cup finals since 1986, with Roland Sallai scoring the only goal in a 1-0 friendly victory over Northern Ireland – the Magyars’ third win in five games in all competitions.
Hungary welcomes England to Budapest having won just two of their last six home matches in all competitions, and those victories came against European minnows San Marino and Andorra, suggesting that their upcoming Nations League campaign, despite their two successive promotions from League C, may not be memorable.
England may have mixed feelings about competing in the Nations League before adding another Euros or World Cup title to their collection, but the Three Lions should not reject down a piece of silverware 12 months after their Euros tragedy.
Gareth Southgate signed a new contract in November, which came after England sailed into the 2022 World Cup unbeaten in ten qualifying matches, topping Group I in the process.
Back in March, England won a pair of friendly matches against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast, scoring five goals and conceding only one, with Southgate using the games to try out different lineups, and the Nations League is the last-chance saloon for those hoping to be part of the manager’s Qatar plans.
The less said about England’s Nations League ambition in 2020-21, the better, as the Three Lions finished third in League A Group 2, and will resume hostilities with Germany three days after their arduous voyage to Budapest.
Nonetheless, England will play for the 10th time in a row this weekend, having won each of their last four games in all tournaments, and their somewhat forgettable trip to the Puskas Arena in September ended in a straightforward 4-0 victory before they were held to a 1-1 draw at Wembley a month later.
Hungary have shown to be a tough test for various sides in recent months, and will be remembering a well-earned Wembley draw, even if their on-field efforts are tainted by some of their supporters.
Nonetheless, the England unbeaten continues, and the importance of gaining momentum ahead of Qatar cannot be overstated, thus we can only predict an easy Three Lions victory on Saturday.