Nations League Preview: Hungary vs England
The Three Lions are back, it’s been a while since the last round of England fixtures. With a hectic end to the Premier League season and all of the European competitions, there hasn’t been a break in time for internationals since March.
Instead of the usual international friendlies we usually see, which mean nothing and have little passion attached, England will be playing in UEFA’s Nations League. This competition spices up the usual friendly format and offers a trophy to the winners. Not only is there something to play for, but it’s also recorded and formatted in a much more competitive way.
The first game of England’s 2022 Nations League campaign sees them face Hungary. A side that are nowhere near as good as England in truth, both on paper and on the pitch. But this does not mean they can’t pose a threat.
Heartbreak at Wembley
The English football culture is still somewhat in shock after the events of EURO 2020. There is always such a wonderful atmosphere in England when a major tournament is on, especially in recent years. Before the 2018 World Cup in Russia, England had been pretty measly in major tournaments for a long time. The last time they reached the last 4 of a competition before Russia, was in 1990.
After the pain of Russia, it was a three-year wait to see England play in a major tournament, but any England fan will agree that it was worth the wait. Gareth Southgate’s side were on fire in the tournament, topping their group before knocking out Germany, Ukraine, and Denmark to face Italy in the final. In London at Wembley. The nation was ready, every pub around became a watching area and 90,000 lucky England fans packed out the stadium.
The whole of England erupted when Luke Shaw opened the scoring early on. They couldn’t, could they? England continued to apply pressure, as did Italy. It was the latter who had a breakthrough with Bonucci scraping one in. The game stayed a stalemate all the way through extra time. Meaning it would be penalties to decide who the European Champions are.
England subbed on Rashford and Sancho for the purpose of penalties, but they both missed. As did Arsenal man Bukayo Saka. Despite the best efforts of Jordan Pickford in the net, England lost. The misses cost them, and the country was in shock. A summer of celebrating, drinking and singing was brought to a sudden halt. Football missed its exit and instead of heading home, took a scenic route to Rome.
English Redemption Time
The heartbreak in Rome has put a damper on all of England’s games since. But now, the feel-good factor may just be back as England have a chance to finally win a major trophy, with the Nations League up for grabs. The look of the squad has changed significantly since then with a few stars being left out of the squad and some younger new boys being given opportunities.
The first test for this England side is a visit to Hungary. Despite being favourites, they still need to turn up and give 100%. Hungary is a side that is always ready, they seem to always be working hard. England will need to work harder and be hungrier on the day. If they can do that, they will surely make quick work of this game.
Nations League Squad Selection
The England squad is one of the most heavily debated topics in English football. Everyone has their own reason why Southgate has got it wrong and why certain players should’ve or shouldn’t have made the squad. Let’s take a look at who Southgate has selected this time around, starting with the goalkeepers.
- Jordan Pickford
- Nick Pope
- Aaron Ramsdale
Not really any surprises here, Jordan Pickford has been Gareth Southgate’s man between the sticks through it all. His spot never really feels in jeopardy, despite the fine form of other goalkeepers. He will likely retain a starting place in any important England fixtures, as for the earlier group games, we may see Ramsdale and Pope given a chance.
- Trent Alexander-Arnold
- Conor Coady
- Marc Guehi
- Reece James
- James Justin
- Harry Maguire
- John Stones
- Fikayo Tomori
- Kieran Trippier
- Kyle Walker
- Ben White (withdrawn)
Defensively, England have a solid group of players. There’s youth, as well as heaps of experience. Kyle Walker, Kieran Tripper and John Stones all have plenty of winning experience and can guide the younger lads. A lot of which have won major trophies themselves at club level.
Harry Maguire has once again made the cut. He has made headlines across the country for the wrong reasons throughout this season. His form has suffered massively this season as his Manchester United team have been woeful. The centre-back was booed by both United and England supporters. This has sparked England teammates and manager Southgate to speak out in his defence, urging fans to get behind the defender and not alienate him.
It will be interesting to see how much he features in these Nations League fixtures and under Erik ten Hag at Manchester United. We are all hoping to see the United captain recapture the form he once had.
- Jude Bellingham
- Conor Gallagher
- Mason Mount
- Kalvin Phillips
- Declan Rice
- James Ward-Prowse
England’s midfield options are looking quite decent for this round of fixtures. The young Jude Bellingham being the stand out name. His performances at such a young age have been exceptional, he’s proved himself as a top player at the age of just 18. It feels like he’s been around for ages. He is attracting interest from a lot of the top clubs in Europe and will definitely have a huge transfer in the next few years.
Declan Rice has also been brilliant this season, captaining West Ham to a European semi and qualifying for the Europa Conference League. He will be a massive help to England in these fixtures. Mason Mount will be looking to give England and himself a boost after missing out on two trophies via penalties this season.
- Tammy Abraham
- Bukayo Saka
- Raheem Sterling
- Phil Foden
- Jack Grealish
- Jarrod Bowen
- Harry Kane
In the firing department, England have some real stars. Tammy Abraham has lit up the Italian Serie A with Roma and even went on to win the Conference League trophy. Saka inspired Arsenal to their best season in years, inches away from top four. Foden and Sterling were both instrumental in Man City’s Premier League success.
Jarrod Bowen had a brilliant season, making the step up from a good player to a top player. Harry Kane slowed down a bit goals wise, but his contributions to Spurs have been irreplaceable this season, as they made the top four, for the first time since 2018 under Pochettino.
With the amount of world class attackers England have, we will likely see loads of creativity and high scoring games. We are in a golden generation of English talent at the moment, the youth of yesterday are in their prime and the youth of today are playing like they’ve been around for decades. It’s an exciting time.
Who will win?
I think England will comfortably win against Hungary. The quality they have along with the overall squad harmony is simply going to be too much for Hungary. In September and October of 2021, England faced Hungary home and away in the World Cup qualifiers. They won away from home 0-4 but were held to a 1-1 draw at home.
I can see the hosts, Hungary, scoring on the day with Dominik Szoboszlai being the scorer. England will dominate the play though, and score at least four.
Where to watch the Nations League live on TV in the UK
The game will be broadcasted live on Channel 4 in the UK. Kick-off is at 17:00 BST.
England fans, put the Euros behind you. The Three Lions have another chance to get some silverware.
Author: Jude Sutcliffe