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Five things we learnt from Portugal’s victory over Hungary

Five things we learnt from Portugal’s victory over Hungary

For a long time, it looked as though Hungary were going to hold on for a historic draw in Budapest. However, three goals in the last ten minutes gave the scoreline a comfortable gloss for Portugal, courtesy of a deflected opening goal and two Ronaldo finishes.

Here are five things we at 101 took away from the game.

1. A full stadium cannot be underestimated

Wow. What an impact a full stadium has. Having had to make do with fake crowd noise and, more recently, limited crowds, a full stadium was a delight.

It must have had an effect on the game too. While it is impossible to say for sure, the 67000 people crammed into the stadium in Budapest seemed to lift their nation, allowing them to hold on despite the immense Portuguese pressure until well into the second half.

There is more of this to come too, as Hungary host France at the same full-capacity venue for their next group F fixture. Although it appears unlikely that Hungary make it out of the group given the calibre of Portugal, France and Germany, they could still cause a shock in front of a buoyant home crowd.

2. Portugal missed Joao Cancelo

Joao Cancelo was part of the Portugal squad until two days ago, when he was forced to withdraw after testing positive for Covid-19. Whilst his replacement in the squad was Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot, his replacement on the teamsheet was Wolves full-back Nelson Semedo.

And boy did Portugal miss the Manchester City defender. It was not so much anything that Semedo did glaringly wrong, he simply lacks the tendency to drift inside that has made Cancelo one of the most dangerous full-backs in the Premier League.

In the opening 80 minutes, facing a stubborn Hungarian defence, the movement of Cancelo would have caused far more problems than Semedo was able to do, not least due to its unpredictability.

However, Portugal will have to find ways to break down sides without him, as they eventually did in Budapest.

3. Hungary will be no pushover

As mentioned above, it seems unlikely that Hungary will make it out of their star-studded group. However, they could have a massive say on who does. The eastern European side proved against the Portuguese that they will be no pushovers, and could surprise the other sides in their group.

Lining up ostensibly in a 3-5-2, they are a hardworking side that sit in a low block and are unlikely to score a lot of goals, especially since their talismanic midfielder Dominik Szobozslai was ruled out of the tournament through injury.

With RB Liepzig duo Willi Orban and Peter Gulasci in central defence and between the posts respectively, there is significant pedigree in their backline. Gulasci, in particular, produced a fantastic performance against the Portuguese, who consistently found themselves thwarted by the 31-year-old.

While they may not score many, Hungary seem unlikely to concede too many either, with a hardworking midfield shielding their defence. Because of this, they could cause an upset or two.

4. Ronaldo is human

Cristiano Ronaldo is a man that seemingly defies humanity at times. At 36 years old, he is the first player to appear at five European Championships, and his latest goal made him the highest scorer in European Championship history.

However, he suffered a somewhat flat afternoon, despite scoring a late penalty to secure Portugal’s victory and providing a final flourish four minutes later. This was most clearly shown in the first half, when he missed from two yards out with the goal glaring.

Although he is not the first, or the last, to miss from such a position, the seemingly extra-terrestrial nature of Ronaldo at times means that any mistake will be scrutinised.

5. Portugal may be better against harder teams.

For 80 minutes, Portugal looked like they were going to fall flat in their opening game. Despite the host of talent on both the pitch and the bench, they struggled to create chances, and failed to convert the few that they did. Unlike 2016, they were not able to play on the break, which seems to suit the likes of Diogo Jota and Cristiano Ronaldo much more.

Five things we learnt from Portugal’s victory over Hungary

Portugal’s forward Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification Group A football match between Serbia and Portugal at the Rajko Mitic Stadium, in Belgrade, on March 27, 2021. (Photo by Pedja MILOSAVLJEVIC / AFP) (Photo by PEDJA MILOSAVLJEVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

However, they face games against much more difficult sides in the coming days. Both France and Germany enjoy holding onto possession and Portugal may be able to revert to hitting sides on the counterattack, which they seem far more suited to.

Read more:

Guardiola explains Joao Cancelo’s role in Man City team

Joao Cancelo says Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic is the toughest winger he’s faced in the Premier League

This article was edited by Josh Barker.