Of the 24 teams taking part at Euro 2016, Portugal must be the most frustrated of all. Countless attempts at goal, and overwhelming dominance in terms of possession and territory has only yielded two points from as many matches. They are now faced with the prospect of having to win against Hungary in order to make sure of qualification for the last 16.
Saturday evening was a rare one to forget for Cristiano Ronaldo, who struck the post with a second half penalty and shortly afterwards saw a goal ruled out for offside as they were held to a goalless stalemate by Austria.
He will be determined to put things right here and show just why he is the best player at the tournament, although some of his teammates perhaps should do more to ease the pressure on him. Andre Gomes has so far struggled at this tournament, while Ricardo Quaresma needs to be more accurate with his deliveries from wide areas.
It will not be altogether straightforward for them to get the better of a Hungary side that will be full of confidence after defying expectations in their opening two outings. A point here should be enough to ensure top spot, although they will probably go through even if they were to suffer defeat.
There were few reasons to back the Hungarians coming into this tournament, but two strong performances and some very neat football has led observers to rethink somewhat. For so long it seemed as though they would lose last time out against Iceland, but eventually their persistence paid off and they came away with a point, which was the very least they deserve.
This match is likely to follow a similar pattern to Portugal’s first two games, where they will be met by a numerous defensive unit. It will be another test of patience, but Hungary will be more than happy to continue to sit in, as they attempt to continue their solid campaign.
Indeed, Group F remains extremely open going into the final round of matches, and another team under pressure is Austria, who sit bottom of the table after so far failing to live up to the promise of nine successive qualifying victories. David Alaba is under pressure to lead from the front, and another key man in Marko Arnautovic has been too peripheral a figure.
There were few signs in the draw with Portugal that they can cause problems for the stronger sides in the competition; instead appearing content to hold on grimly against a barrage of attacks, which were in the main very well dealt with by centre-backs Sebastian Prodl and Martin Hinteregger, but it was goalkeeper Robert Almer who distinguished himself with a string of impressive saves.
Austria must win, and the same probably applies to their opponents – an Iceland side that looked deflated after being denied a first ever major tournament win by an 87th minute own goal against Hungary. The way they have competed in both games so far has been admirable, and three points here will be enough to go through into the last 16 and continue their fairytale.
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