by Tom Lees - 11th February 2016
Head Coach Bernd Storck has some big decisions to make
With the 2016 European Championships now just a few months away, here at FanFormation, we will be taking a close look at each Nation competing and how they fare once the big event in France kicks off. As part of our pre-tournament preview, we will be going through each Country and highlighting three of the youngsters, on the fringes of selection, who will be hoping to make their Nations final squad.
This time we look at Hungary, who are competing in their first major tournament since 1986. Head coach Bernd Storck will lead the squad into France with an eye on group qualification, a tough ask for an inexperienced side.
Hungarian football has witnessed a barren period with regards to tournament football, long gone are the successes of the 1950’s that saw the Magical Magyars reach a World Cup final. With the likes of Ferenc Puskás and Nándor Hidegkuti in the team, Hungary could claim to be one of the finest sides in football history. Sadly, those days are gone, but hope has returned to the Hungarian fans as their new heroes qualified for the European Championships, their first finals appearance of any kind in 30 years. Star player and captain Balázs Dzsudzsák will be heavily relied upon if the team is to progress from their group stage, there are some familiar veterans in the setup also who will be vital in high pressure situations. Gábor Király, Roland Juhász, Zoltán Gera and Tamás Priskin all have a vast amount of national appearances to their names, but there is an underlying group of youngsters breaking into the setup under Storck also. Midfield pair Ádám Nagy and István Kovács have both become a feature of the national squad and will look to be included in the final selection. Ferencváros midfielder Nagy in particular looks a real player of promise, and will no doubt feature for the national team for many years to come.
But who else will be looking to join the squad in France this year, here are three youngsters that we believe are possible selections with hope in their hearts.
Young centre back Ádám Lang has already featured in over one hundred games in the Hungarian Nemzeti Bajnokság I. Beginning his playing career at Veszprém, he would move to Győr in 2012 before joining Videoton in the summer of 2015 where he is currently impressing. A regular starter in the first team, the young defender has also recently added Champions League experience to his game and is expected to become the main centre back for the national team in the future.
At national level Lang has represented Hungary at Under 19 and Under 21 level, and his displays have seen him promoted to the senior national squad where he has been awarded 8 caps thus far. Hungary have an experienced selection of defenders at their disposal, but Lang will be confident his displays at Videoton will secure his selection for the tournament in the summer. He is at the beginning of what looks set to be a long international career and the European Championships will be the perfect exposure for his game.
Dubbed the ‘Hungarian Paul Scholes’ because of the colour of his hair, attacking midfielder László Kleinheisler made a huge impact on Hungarian football in November 2015. As Hungary prepared for their Euro 2016 playoff double header against Norway, Kleinheisler was a surprise inclusion in the squad. He took his opportunity with both hands as he fired in the only goal of the game on his debut, to hand Hungary a vital lead to take home for the second leg. His second appearance for the national team followed in the return match as Hungary edged their Norwegian opponents to secure their place in France.
Beginning his career at Videoton, Kleinheisler would make his professional debut away at the Puskás Akadémia FC before returning to Videoton as a regular in the 2013/14 season. However due to a contract dispute his time at Videoton would be cut short at the end of 2014, a loan move back to Puskás began his 2015 before an extended period on the side-lines followed at the start of the 2015/16 campaign. It was this time on the side-lines that caused such surprise with his inclusion in the Hungarian national team, but his ability was apparent despite the lack of playing time. Thankfully for Kleinheisler his contract issues with Videoton came to an end in January 2016, as he made a transfer to German Bundesliga side Werder Bremen for an undisclosed fee.
Short of frame, but with power and pace, Kleinheisler has a lot of the same abilities as Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri, although the Hungarian is more proficient with either foot than the Swiss. He can operate on either wing, but is mostly utilised as an attacking creative midfield force, making the most of his skills, passing and eye for a long range strike. A regular for Hungary at all youth levels, scoring for his nation at each age group, and now a goal scorer for the senior side, the youngster has shown no fear and plays with extreme confidence. He has made his mark on the Hungarian national team already in his two appearances, if he can secure some game time for Werder in Germany he will almost certainly guarantee his selection for the Championships. Kleinheisler could be a real star for Hungary, and a surprise to a lot of people in the tournament finals themselves if given the chance.
Young Zsolt Kalmár has set himself quite the role model in which to aspire to, as he looks to Spain’s Andrés Iniesta as an idol. Although obviously this will ultimately be a pipe dream to emulate, you can see certain aspects of the Spaniards game in Kalmár’s displays as he progresses his career. Originally a more attacking player, much like Kleinheisler featured above, Kalmár has dropped into a more central midfield role where he can maximise his creative passing gameplay.
Beginning his career at Győri, a club he joined at the age of 10, Kalmár progressed through the youth system before making his debut in 2013, a season in which the club won the Nemzeti Bajnokság I Championship. The following season would see the youngster become a regular in the match day squad for Győri before securing a move to big spending German outfit RasenBallsport Leipzig in the summer of 2014. Kalmár signed a five-year contract at Leipzig, but his appearances for the club have been restricted to substitute displays. This has resulted in the midfielder securing a loan move to fellow Bundesliga.2 side FSV Frankfurt in recent weeks, with the aim being regular first team football which will be vital if Kalmár wishes to achieve selection for the European Championship squad.
A calm composed box to box midfielder, Kalmár’s main strength is his high quality passing and ability to create chances for his team. He has represented his country at all youth levels and made 7 senior appearances for Hungary to date. His selection this summer is highly dependent on his game time at Frankfurt, the future is very bright for Kalmár and he will be desperate to make the flight to France. His creativity and energy could be a huge asset to Storck in the tournament, but he has to earn his place through minutes on the pitch at club level.
OTHER PLAYERS OF NOTE
Hungary have a number of promising young talents on the verge of international selection, many of which were introduced to the squad in the last get together but remain uncapped as of yet. As time now begins to run out before the tournament kicks off it will be tough for the uncapped youngsters to force their way into selection recognition. Young goalkeeper Gergely Nagy of Vasas Budapest is a regular at Under 21 level but competition in front of him at senior level is perhaps too tough to expect a summer call up. Right back Endre Botka may be more optimistic over his chances and continued good form for Honved may see him involved in the pre-tournament warm up fixtures, if he gets a chance he’ll need to take it.
Offensive midfielder András Radó is on the fringes of selection, with a bright future, although it is highly doubtful that the Ferencváros man will be included in the final squad listings. Likewise, László Pekár has been playing well for Puskás Akadémia, but without a senior national appearance to his name time is running out for his Hungary debut. A couple of teenage hopefuls with eyes on the summer are Roland Sallai and Norbert Balogh. Sallai has been a regular for Puskás at only 18 years of age, and the exciting attacking midfielder looks set to be a real breakthrough star for Hungary very soon, maybe not soon enough to go to France. The same can be said for towering teenage forward Balogh, who has recently secured a move to Italy’s Serie A with Palermo. Game time for the Rosanero could push the forward into real international recognition, but Balogh may have to focus on future challenges as the tournament draws closer.
This concludes our look at the Hungarian young hopefuls, do you think our three selected individuals can make it to the Championships? Who else could make the flight? Let us know in the comments section below.
Hungary have been drawn in Group F, alongside Portugal, Austria and Iceland. They kick off their tournament against the Austrians in Bordeaux on the 14th June. It could prove a tough challenge for Hungary, the opener against Austria is key with their opponent’s favourites to qualify alongside Portugal. It could be a case of playing for third, and the fixture against Iceland could dictate whether the Hungarians secure a place in the knock out stages or return home early.