Soccer-Germany and Hungary fans bask in Stuttgart sunshine ahead of crunch clash


Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Fans gather for Germany v Hungary - Stuttgart, Germany - June 19, 2024 Hungary fans are seen before the match REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters) -Overnight storms cleared and the sun was shining on Stuttgart on Wednesday as thousands of fans arrived in the city centre ahead of one of the most anticipated matches of Euro 2024's group stage between Germany and Hungary.

Hosts Germany will be looking to reach the knockout stage with a second successive win in Group A while Hungary need at least a point to have any real hope of extending their stay at the tournament.

The game, a rematch of the 1954 World Cup final when Germany won their first international title, was designated high risk by security services and Stuttgart police had prepared a large presence to deal with any possible disturbances.

However, there were no signs of animosity at the city's main fan park in Schlossplatz with supporters from both nations drinking in the sun, waving huge flags and exchanging chants in a friendly fashion hours ahead of kickoff.

Many Hungarian fans sported national team shirts with the name of their young captain Dominik Szoboszlai on the back, with the 23-year-old already have drawn comparisons as a team leader to the great Ferenc Puskas.

Thousands of Hungary fans gathered at the Mittlerer Schlossgarten near the Stuttgart Arena for a specially choreographed display, organised by supporter group Carpathian Brigade '09. Fans chanted while holding banners, lit flares and smoke bombs as they slowly marched in unison to the stadium.

As kickoff approached, the focus quickly turned to who would come out on top.

"There is no other option. We believe in this. We travelled 1,000 kilometres. We're here. We have to win," Hungary fan Istvan, from near the northern city of Eger, told Reuters.

Hungary coach Marco Rossi said on Tuesday his side needed to play a perfect game to get at least a point against the three-time European champions and supporter Lajos agreed.

"We wish that we will win, (but) the Germans are a lot better," he said. "The Hungarians started badly against Switzerland (but) there is a chance here, if they want to go further, only victory or a draw is acceptable."

Germany fans who saw their side smash Scotland 5-1 in the opener could afford to settle back, perhaps with a few steins of beer, and be a little more relaxed about the match.

"We all have a very good feeling. I hope Germany is the winner," supporter Juergen said.

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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