Hungary qualified for the tournament the hard way, finishing third in Group F behind Romania and Northern Ireland after winning only four of their ten games, and then beating Norway in a play-off. They began the tournament with a shock victory over Austria before leaving it very late to salvage a point against Iceland, which gives them an excellent chance of reaching the second round.
Portugal was handed a fairly tough Euro 2016 qualifying group that included Denmark and Serbia but came through as group winners despite an embarrassing home defeat against Albania. But not for the first time, they have made a slow start to a major international tournament, being held to frustrating draws by Iceland and Austria; results which have put them in danger of going out at the Group stage unless they can beat Hungary in this vital game.
Hungary vs. Portugal – H2H Stats
The story of this fixture has been one of almost complete Portuguese dominance, with seven wins and three drawn games in their ten meetings.
Their first match came in December 1926, when Hungary earned a 3-3 draw in Porto. The other two draws came in 1956 when a Hungarian side featuring Puskas and Kocsis could only manage a 2-2 score-line in Lisbon and a goalless encounter in a friendly at Coimbra in 1983.
Otherwise, Portugal had the best of their meetings with Hungary, winning the last four, including their latest games, during the 2010 World Cup Qualifying tournament when Portugal won home and away, scoring four goals without reply.
In recent years, Portugal has earned a reputation for dour, cautious football and while their switch to a 4-4-2 system has made them more direct, it hasn’t led to an increase in goals, despite the presence of one of the world’s most prolific forwards in their team. Cristiano Ronaldo gets little support from midfield or from fellow striker Nani who often wanders to the flanks, and the famous Number 7 is tasked with creating as well as scoring all of Portugal’s goals.
Hungary seems to have purchased a tactical template from the same supplier as Romania. The team operates with a lone striker and five in midfield, sits deep and hopes to grab something on the break. It didn’t work so well against Iceland when the onus was on the Hungarians to take the initiative, but it could be the perfect tactic to foil Portugal, providing they keep an eye on Ronaldo.
Hungary vs. Portugal Odds & Betting Markets
This game has all the makings of another frustrating afternoon for Portugal. They might argue that they created plenty of chances against both Iceland and Austria, but there has been a lack of control and at times an air of desperation about their play. Playing Ronaldo as a striker limits his effectiveness and the complete lack of support makes them a one-man and largely one-dimensional team. The under-utilisation of Carvalho and the continued focus on slinging high crosses into the box look like glaring tactical errors designed to stifle rather than unleash the team’s creativity.
Iceland and Austria kept Portugal at bay, and there is no reason why Hungary can’t do the same. Whether the Hungarians will be motivated to try and create something at the other end remains to be seen. With four points already won they can be reasonably confident of getting through to the second round, so I don’t expect them to be too adventurous.
Equally, I don’t think backing Portugal at a very short price is a sensible strategy, so the best option is to opt for the draw at 7/2 with Ladbrokes.
Odds for Total Goals
It seems unlikely that Hungary will do anything other than sit back and go for the draw, while Portugal has shown an inability to remain patient and to unlock massed defences so that goals could be at a premium in this game.
A look at the two sides’ recent scoring records doesn’t offer much encouragement either. Portugal has managed one goal in 180 minutes of football at this tournament and Hungary has found the net eight times in their last six outings. Even if Portugal do score, the game is unlikely to open up as Hungary doesn’t need to chase a result.
So if you’re thinking of betting in the Total Goals market, it makes sense to opt for Under 2.5 Goals at 4/6 with Bet365.
Odds for Correct Score
We can also capitalise on what looks like being a low-scoring draw by playing in the Correct Score market.
It’s hard to see Hungary scoring more than one, so we can back the 0-0 draw at 9/1 with Skybet and the 1-1 score line, also at 9-1, with Bet Victor.