Monday, June 17, 2024

Ireland vs Hungary: International friendly preview, 2024

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The Republic of Ireland will be searching for their first win under interim boss John O’Shea when they take on Hungary on Tuesday evening in Dublin.

The former Ireland international was appointed in February following the dismissal of Steven Kenny, after he failed to qualify Ireland for this summer’s Euros, placing fourth in their group with a mere six points.

A respectable draw against FIFA-ranked No. 5 side Belgium and a narrow 1-0 defeat to Switzerland earned the 43-year-old a contract extension to remain in the dugout for Tuesday and the proceeding match versus Portugal.

Winless in four, Ireland last tasted victory when they beat Gibraltar 4-0 in the UEFA Euro Qualifiers in October.

On the other hand, Hungary enjoyed back-to-back wins against Turkey and Kosovo during the March international break and will be looking to build on these results ahead of the Euros.

Marco Rossi’s side topped their qualifying group and did so in style, finishing on 18 points from eight fixtures and being one of only six teams to go undefeated, joining the likes of Portugal, England, France, and Belgium.

What’s more, Hungary are on a 14-match unbeaten streak across all competitions that stretches back to September 2022, when they lost 2-0 against Italy in the Nations League.

The Boys in Green have failed to score in three of their last four matches and registered just one victory, while Hungary visit Dublin off the back of scoring 16 goals in eight undefeated qualifying matches.

Ireland

Centre-back Nathan Collins is ruled out following a knee injury sustained on the final day of the Premier League season for Brentford.

This gives exciting prospect and Olympique Lyonnais star Jake O’Brien the opportunity to make his first senior appearance for Ireland as part of the back three.

Luton Town winger Chiedozie Ogbene will also be missing owing to family reasons.

Goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, striker and main man Evan Ferguson, and centre-back John Egan will all be unavailable due to injury.

Leicester City striker Tom Cannon received his first senior international call-up on Tuesday when he was named as part of O’Shea’s 26-man squad for the two upcoming friendlies. 

The 21-year-old could be in line for his debut as Ireland looks to switch things up with Ferguson unavailable owing to injury.

Celtic centre-back Liam Scales returns to the squad after missing the March fixtures through injury and is expected to feature alongside O’Brien and Dara O’Shea at the heart of the defence.

Hungary

Hungary head into these two pre-Euro 2024 warm-up matches with a fully fit squad, and Rossi is likely to rotate heavily across these two games as he prepares for the upcoming tournament.

The only doubt for the visitors on Tuesday is Fiola Attila.

He suffered a serious shoulder injury for Fehérvár FC after falling in training, the club confirmed it required surgery, and he would likely miss the Euros. However, Rossi named him in the final squad.

Ireland

Kelleher; Coleman, Scales, O’Shea, O’Brien, Stevens; Szmodics, Knight, Cullen, Johnston; Idah.

Hungary

Gulacsi; Balogh, Lang, Szalai; Nego, Nagy, Schafer, Kerkez; Sallai, Szoboszlai; Varga.

Ireland – Sammie Szmodics

With the absence of striker starlet Evan Ferguson, Sammie Szmodics is poised to take the mantle and provide the attacking threat for O’Shea’s new-look Irish side.

Since the 43-year-old’s arrival, Blackburn’s attacking midfielder has been deployed out wide on both flanks in a 5-4-1 and 3-4-3 formation, positions less suited to the 28-year-old.

Szmodics’ versatility is one of his best attributes; therefore, the interim boss may look to use him through the middle in a bid to trouble the Hungary backline. 

The roaming playmaker finished as the Championship’s top goalscorer with a whopping 27 goals in England’s second tier. 

His intelligent runs into the box and his ability to link play in the final third will be pivotal for Ireland against an extremely good Hungary side. 

What’s more, chances will be few and far between, so possessing an asset like Szmodics, who is clinical in front of goal, could be the difference-maker.

Hungary – Dominik Szoboszlai 

Whenever the Hungary national team are discussed, Dominik Szoboszlai’s name enters the conversation.

Captain and Golden Boy, since his debut in March 2019, the 23-year-old has netted 12 times for the Magyars

Last time out, the Liverpool midfielder found himself on the scoresheet in both victories against Turkey and Kosovo. 

For the visitors, he is utilised in a more attacking No.10 role than in Merseyside, where he is given license to roam free anywhere he wants on the pitch by Rossi. 

Despite the heavy responsibility of being both provider and scorer for his national team at such a tender age, he grasps the opportunity with both hands and leads by example. 

And we cannot forget his magnificent performance against Montenegro in November, when he single-handedly inspired Hungary to come from behind and win. 

His two goals in three minutes that evening encapsulated his importance to the Magyars and his ability to influence a game. 

Where is the game being played? 

The game is being played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

What time is kick-off? 

The match kicks off at 19:45 (BST), on Tuesday 4th June.

How can I watch? 

For those in the UK, the game is being shown on Premier Sports 1, and is also on Irish channel RTE2. Commentary will also be accessible via the BBC and Sky.

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