The Nations League semi-final berth is at stake as Hungary and Italy go head-to-head in a top-table Group A3 six-pointer at the Puskas Arena.
Monday’s encounter in Budapest could mark a historic achievement for the Hungarians, who are in the driving seat to advance to the last four of an international competition for the first time in 50 years.
Veteran striker Adam Szalai halted an eight-game international scoring drought to guide Hungary to a sensational 1-0 win in Germany on Friday, in his penultimate game for his country.
Despite entering this season’s tournament as outsiders in this highly competitive section, the Hungarians are on the cusp of making it into the play-offs against the odds.
All they need to do is avoid defeat in the group stage finale on home soil against an Italy side that claimed a crucial 1-0 home triumph over England last time out, courtesy of Giacomo Raspadori’s second-half winner.
Head coach Roberto Mancini had to make several tactical alterations in the absence of numerous first-team stars to oust the Three Lions in a battle for survival in League A.
Having secured their elite Nations League status, Italy may now do one better and reach the play-offs, something that looked inconceivable a couple of days ago.
Germany’s shocking home loss to Hungary has handed his side a lifeline in the competition, offering the Italians a path to redemption following a failed attempt to qualify for the Qatar World Cup.
Indeed, a potential win in Budapest would fire the Euro 2020 winners into the Nations League semi-finals for the second season on the spin.
Hungary’s first competitive triumph over Germany since 1985 wasn’t just a one-off, as witnessed by their stellar 4-0 humbling of England at Wembley Stadium on matchday four.
The Magyars deserve the benefit of the doubt after beating the odds time and time again during this Nations League season, going unbeaten in both doubleheaders against England and Germany (W3, D1).
Marco Rossi, the Italy-born manager who’s pulling the strings from the Hungarian dugout, will be out to upset his fellow countrymen and avenge his side’s 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture.
But Gli Azzurri will have their say in this ‘winner takes all’ showdown as they need to redeem themselves to their country after failing to qualify for the World Cup finals twice in a row for the first time in history.
Mancini’s men have blown hot and cold throughout the ongoing Nations League campaign (W2, D2, L1), but a victory in Budapest would undo all the negatives and settle the nerves back home at least for a while.
Italy can draw confidence from their imperious competitive H2H record against Hungary, having never lost a match against them in any competition (W5, D2).
Hungary vs Italy Potential Line-ups
Hungary (3-4-2-1): Peter Gulacsi; Adan Lang, Willi Orban, Atilla Szalai; Atilla Fiola, Andras Schafer, Daniel Gazdag, Milos Kerkez; Adam Nagy, Dominik Szoboszlai; Adam Szalai.
Italy (3-5-2): Gianluigi Donnarumma; Rafael Toloi, Leonardo Bonucci, Alessandro Bastoni; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Nicolo Barella, Jorginho, Davide Frattesi, Federico Dimarco; Giacomo Raspadori, Ciro Immobile.
How to Watch?
Hungary vs Italy, alongside all other Nations League fixtures in September, are available to watch online via football live streams.
Hungary vs Italy Prediction
Without the distraction of the winter’s World Cup, Italy can channel their effort into grabbing the Nations League play-off berth in their final outing in September’s international break.
But breaking down Hungary’s stubborn backline could be a challenging task for Mancini’s uneventful frontline, especially given that they are the ones that will need to go all-out from the get-go.
The Hungarians’ quicksilver counter-attacking football has been the backbone of the country’s phenomenal Nations League run, and we back them to sign off in style.
Hungary 1-0 Italy
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