Group F matchday 2 review

Group F: Matchday 2

By Sam Feierabend

Matchday 2 saw Hungary defy the odds to hold France to a draw, while Germany and Portugal played out what was surely the game of the tournament so far in Munich.

Hungary vs France, Budapest

Substitutes:

26′: Ad. Szalai out, Nikolic in.

75′: Schafer out, Cseri in.

84′: Kleinheisler out, Lovrencsics in.

Substitutes:

57′: Rabiot out, Dembele on.

76′: Pogba out, Tolisso on.

76′: Benzema out, Giroud on.

87′: Dembele out, Lemar on.

Stars:

★★ Fiola

★ Gulasci, Nagy, Mbappe.

Hungary held the tournament favourites France to a shock but well-earned draw in Budapest, denting France’s chances of winning the group.

France started the game far brighter, using their possession to carve out opportunities early on as they looked to silence the capacity crowd at the Puskas Arena. Benzema forced a good save from Gulasci, while Mbappe spurned a good chance to head in from 10 yards.

As the first half wore on, Hungary grew into the game and took a shock lead on the stroke of half time. A superbly worked counter attack allowed Fiola to burst into the box and slot the ball past Lloris, sparking nationwide celebrations.

Didier Deschamps changed formation early in the second half, bringing Ousmane Dembele on for Adrien Rabiot to allow France to play 4-2-3-1. This allowed them to exploit the areas of the pitch where Hungary’s wing backs push forward so they can run in behind the defensive lines. The equaliser came from a long ball from Lloris to Mbappe who weaved through the Hungarian defence before squaring the ball, eventually falling at the feet of Antoine Griezmann who made no mistake in finishing the chance.

From then on in, Hungary knuckled down and played for the point which was nearly stolen away from them when Mbappe once again burst clear only to find the gloves of Gulasci, who was rock solid all game.

In the wider picture, this result has blown Group F wide open. France have to face Portugal in their final game, with both teams knowing they have to get a result to secure qualification, whilst Hungary go into their match with Germany with the slim hope of grabbing a win and maybe qualifying themselves.

Portugal vs Germany, Munich

Substitutions:

46′: B. Silva out, Sanches in.

58′: Carvalho out, R. Silva in.

64′: Fernandes out, Moutinho in.

83′: Jota out, A. Silva in.

Substitutions:

62′: Gosens out, Halstenberg in.

62′: Hummels out, Can in.

73′: Havertz out, Goretzka in.

73′: Gundogan out, Sule in.

87′: Gnabry out, Sane in.

Stars:

★★ Gosens

★ Havertz, Gnabry, Jota

Portugal and Germany served up a 6-goal thriller in Munich in what was surely the game of the tournament so far. With France dropping points earlier in the day, both teams knew a win would put them in a strong position to win the group heading into matchday 3.

Germany started stronger, and were much improved from their loss to France. They could’ve taken an early lead if not for VAR ruling Serge Gnabry offside in the build up. Portugal then took the lead, breaking clear with Bernardo Silva before switching to Diogo Jota who squared for Cristiano Ronaldo to tap the ball into the empty net.

Germany rallied from this early setback and quickly hit back, with Joshua Kimmich playing the ball across to the influential Robin Gosens who fired the ball across, only to be turned into his own net by Ruben Dias. Gosens ran the show with his attacking prowess, holding Nelson Semedo on strings all game and his good work allowed Thomas Muller to cross in, eventually finding Kimmich who squared for the unfortunate Raphael Guerreiro, who found his attempted clearance nestling in his own net. 2-1 at half time.

The intensity of both teams made this game a delight to watch and the second half more than matched the first on quality. Germany had learnt from their defeat to France, and were far more creative in possession and more clinical when in front of goal. Their ability to stretch the Portuguese defence was shown in their third goal, starting with Kimmich on the right, an intricate one-two between Muller and Havertz, pulling the centre backs out of the game, allowing Gosens to run into acres of space before setting up Havertz for a tap in.

Portugal had no answer for the German efficiency, being limited to a number of pop-shots from distance. It was the German wing-backs who caused all sorts of problems, once again the two combining for Germany’s fourth goal, Kimmich whipping in a delicious ball for Gosens to head in to get the goal his performance warranted. Gosens has stood out in both games so far, and surely will have some big European clubs sniffing around him at the culmination of this tournament.

The fourth goal sparked an improvement in Portugal’s play, and they capitalised on a set piece to narrow Germany’s lead when a free kick found Ronaldo who looped the ball back towards goal for Jota to tap in. German hearts were in mouths when Renato Sanches unleashed a ferocious shot that cannoned off the post. With Portugal desperately piling forward to get a result, they nearly were caught on the counter with Leon Goretzka unlucky to fire over when options were available.

With Germany gaining three points, Group F now looks incredibly tight. Arguably, Germany are in the driving seat, knowing a win against Hungary would take them through to the last-16; but as Hungary proved against France, this might be more difficult than first imagined. For Portugal, they face a repeat of the 2016 final against France, knowing that the winner of the game will qualify.