The North To Conquer HungaryStats
Hungary v Northern Ireland
Jaymes Monte takes a look at the Euro 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Hungary.
Hungary come into this Euro 2016 campaign on the back of a three-match unbeaten run, but haven’t beaten an international team of note for some time now. Most recently they beat Kazakhstan and Albania and drew with Denmark in friendlies, while the only wins in attempting to qualify for the 2014 World Cup came against Andorra, Estonia and Turkey. The last victory that could be described as even mildly significant came against Czech Republic in a friendly way back in 2012.
Northern Ireland, by contrast, beat Russia and drew with Portugal, in Portugal, in their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. However, it was results and dropped points against teams like Azerbaijan, Luxembourg and Israel that ultimately condemned their campaign to failure.
If Michael O’Neill is going to lead Northern Ireland to their first ever European Championship tournament then these are the sort of games that they will need to start winning. This is a wide open group and one that the Irish will quietly fancy their chances in.
English football followers will be familiar with Hungarian names such as Adam Bogdan, Daniel Tozser and, of course, Zoltan Gera. Former Watford, Ispwich and QPR striker Tamas Priskin leads the attack while Dynamo Moscow’s Balazs Dzsudzsak captains the side from midfield.
Ben Reeves (hamstring) and Alex Bruce (personal) have both recently pulled out of the Northern Ireland squad joining Stuart Dallas (leg) and Ryan McLaughlin in doing so. Preston’s Andy Little has been drafted in as a replacement.
The two most recent meetings between the sides have both gone the way of Hungary. In 2008 Sandhor Torghelle and Zoltan Gera scored in a 2-0 win, then back in 2000 Ferenc Horvath scored the only goal of the game. Both fixtures were goalless at the interval.
Michael O’Neill believes that his side are capable of qualifying from this unglamorous Group F where Greece are the number one seeded nation, and I agree with him. However, they’ll need to start winning games like this one.
At odds of 13/2 to kick off the campaign with three points I think it is worth taking a risk on Norn Iron causing an upset here, with Hungary way too short a price at the odds on 1/2.
Six of Northern Ireland’s last eight matches have been level at half time, as have the last two games between these two nations.
Another half time draw can be backed with some confidence at odds of 6/5, while a goalless opening 45 minutes is available to back at odds of 17/10.