Euro 2016 2nd round fantasy preview: Hungary v Belgium
Hungary were the shock winners of Group F and Belgium coach Marc Wilmots has admitted he would rather his side have been drawn against Spain or England in the next round.
Wilmots is concerned about the impact of pressure created by the Belgian media, with the so-called Golden Generation expected to win this second-round match quite easily.
But Hungary were unbeaten throughout the group stage of Euro 2016 and will not stand aside and allow the top-ranked team in the tournament to take all of the glory, with German coach Bernd Storck a particularly canny operator.
Wilmots has been criticised for his lack of a tactical plan and this is one area where Hungary could have the edge, although the way they conceded three goals against Portugal in a thrilling 3-3 draw that sent both teams through suggests they have weaknesses at the back.
There is no doubting the attacking potential of Belgium and if they click going forward they should go through to the quarter-finals, but Hungary are evidently a dangerous team that should not be underestimated by Wilmots’ men.
Hungary v Belgium head-to-head
Little can be learned from the head-to-head for this fixture as there have only ever been two competitive meetings in history between Hungary and Belgium.
The first of those games came in the 1972 European Championship in a third-place play-off, with Belgium coming out on top to record a 2-1 win in Liege, in front of their own supporters.
Belgium and Hungary were also drawn in the same group at the World Cup 10 years after that Euros clash, with a 1-1 draw the result of that match, which took place in Elche.
The sides have met 12 times in competitive games and friendlies and overall there have been eight Belgium wins, as well as two victories for Hungary. The most recent of those matches took place in November 2009, in Ghent, with Marouane Fellaini, Thomas Vermaelen and Kevin Mirallas on target in a 3-0 win for the Belgians.
Hungary fantasy players to watch
Hungary are playing at their first major tournament since 1986 and the desire and determination of the squad is summed up by the 37-year-old midfielder Zoltán Gera, who Storck admitted he wanted to rest for the Portugal match. But Gera played and fired Hungary into the lead with a brilliant half-volley, contributing to an excellent WhoScored rating of 7.45 for the tournament.
The only Hungary player to score higher is Balázs Dzsudzsák, who scored the other two goals against Portugal, although for each strike he benefited from a rather large deflection. The Hungary captain loves to shoot from distance and his risky shots were rewarded against Portugal, while he is also one of the top set-piece takers in the Hungary team.
Hungary’s most noticeable player is the charismatic 40-year-old goalkeeper Gábor Király, an eccentric who is famous around the world for the grey jogging bottoms he wears during games.
But Király appeared to be slow and ponderous against Portugal and he could be a weakness Belgium look to exploit in this match, although he does have the unpredictable potential to put in a world-class display and secure a massive Euro 2016 fantasy football points score as a result.
Belgium fantasy players to watch
Fantasy football players are spoiled for choice when checking out Belgium, with their vast attacking potential meaning a case could be made for selecting five or six Belgians in a team.
Romelu Lukaku is a strong contender to lead the line for any Euro 2016 daily fantasy football team, but the striker has arguably only played well in one game at the finals so far, scoring a brace in the easy victory over Republic of Ireland.
By contrast, Kevin De Bruyne is widely perceived to have had a solid championship, but his quality has not yet translated into big fantasy football points, with only one assist recorded, while Eden Hazard has made two goals for his side already. De Bruyne, however, tops the WhoScored ratings for Belgium with a score of 8.12 for the tournament so far.
The only goal of the 1-0 win over Sweden last time out was scored by Radja Nainggolan and he could be a wise selection, with the Roma midfielder possessing a keen eye for goal, while Thibaut Courtois is arguably the best young goalkeeper at Euro 2016.
Belgium’s defence is also very talented, with the Tottenham pair of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen complemented by Barcelona’s forgotten man, Thomas Vermaelen.