Soccer-Hungary need unity, luck against defending champions Portugal


Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Hungary Training - Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary - June 14, 2021 Hungary's coach Marco Rossi REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary need cohesion, discipline and a fair bit of luck against defending champions Portugal if they are to make a good start to their Euro 2020 Group F campaign, coach Marco Rossi said on Monday.

Hungary are playing in their second consecutive Euros after failing to qualify for any major tournament for three decades, and they are clear underdogs in a group that also includes world champions France and perennial powerhouse Germany.

Asked which Portuguese player Hungary will be most concerned about on Tuesday, Rossi laughed.

"I could almost list the entire squad," he told reporters. "I could just be the kit man or one of the ground staff for them... Naming one player would be a disservice to the others. They have huge potential in all areas of the pitch."

He said the Portuguese frontline was perhaps the most formidable, with world-class players in the starting lineup and on the bench.

"We need to help one another out, we need to make sure we're very compact, and close down the space between the lines. And I hope that we can also have that rub-of-the-green bit of fortune that is very important if you were to have a positive result," he said.

Hungary rely on a robust defence and counter-attacks. Fewer big names in their squad means the team may be fresher than opponents who have played full seasons in big domestic and international tournaments.

Bundesliga stalwarts like Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi do play for Hungary, tough opponents even without their most valuable player, Dominik Szoboszlai.

"We are well aware of the group we are in," added forward Adam Szalai, Hungary's captain and their most-capped current player with 70 international appearances.

"We need to execute our strategy, especially on defence, because this Portuguese team is stronger even than the 2016 one," he said.

Hungary and Portugal played one of the most exciting group matches at Euro 2016, with Hungary leading three times and Portugal equalising on each occasion including two goals by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Hungary finished top of the group before losing 4-0 to Belgium in the round of 16 while Portugal won the title.

One factor in Hungary's favour may be a jam-packed Puskas Arena, the only Euro 2020 venue which allows full capacity.

(Reporting by Marton Dunai, editing by Ed Osmond)

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