Germany’s path to the knockout rounds was anything but a walk in the park as Hungary led twice in a 2-2 draw on Wednesday.
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Adam Szalai had as goal and an assist to Andras Schafer, but Germany found equalizers from Kai Havertz and Leon Goretzka to grab the point that put it in the the final 16.
Hungary’s status as also-ran in a group with France, Portugal, and Germany turned out to be true in a sense, but they also took pieces of the big boys in a way that will not be forgotten.
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3 things we learned from Germany – Hungary
1. Hungary’s players earned better. First and foremost, this writer has to acknowledge that his maternal grandmother is Hungarian and he’d been waiting quite a while for the chance to root for the Magical Magyars in any sort of meaningful match. This is an underdog team without its top attacked in Dominik Szoboszlai.
It would’ve been understandable if, having held Portugal off for so long in the opener before losing, they played it safe against France and Germany in the hopes of shining up zero points as bright as possible. Instead, the Hungarians kept up with their game planning of being miserable to play against and earned a point against France to set up glory versus Germany.
Adam Szalai snapped home a beautiful header early, but those worrying that Kai Havertz’s equalizer would lower Hungarian heads only had to wait a few moments to see Andras Schafer win one of a few 50:50 battles to retake the lead. Yet even with Goretzka joined Havertz is the fortunate bounce club, there was no quit.
2. Bayern’s unsung heroes save Loew. Hansi Flick will give a knowing wink to Loew when both acknowledge that Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich — the architects of so much Bayern Munich success but often overshadowed by names like Muller, Lewandowski, and Neuer — pushed Germany into the next round. Kimmich was great as usual but it was Goretzka’s double-deflected winner that obviously stands out.
3. Almost a Loew point for a legend. That Joachim Loew’s final match in a tremendous tenure as Germany manager nearly came in a group-stage loss to an underdog is just jampacked with narrative, but ignores that this group was punishing and that he never sorted out the team’s back line. Germany will end its time with Loew having gone six matches without a clean sheet, including 2-1 losses to North Macedonia (World Cup qualifying) and Hungary. Questions about Jonathan Tah. Florian Wirtz, and Julian Brandt being left off the EURO squad are left for at least few more days. And, of course it’ll be England next for Germany (or should we saw Germany next for the Three Lions?).
Man of the Match: Adam Szalai
A goal and an assist for a player who came of age in a time of such promise for the Hungarian men. The 33-year-old with 74 caps who’s gone from Real Madrid hopeful to Mainz, Schalke, Hoffenheim, Hannover, and Mainz again has no reason to hang his head.