The Three Lions return to action in World Cup 2022 Group I qualifying against second placed Hungary
The emotional rollercoaster that was the Euro 2020 Final between England and Italy may feel like it was only yesterday but it was actually almost two months ago. Football has a habit of distorting time. One chaotic transfer window and several domestic league games later and England fans will need to steel themselves again for the return of their beloved Three Lions.
Thursday's opponents in World Cup 2022 Qualifying, Hungary, may not represent quite the same daunting task as Roberto Mancini's indomitable Italy, but to overlook them would be folly. Marco Rossi's team did themselves and their country proud at Euro 2020, holding the previous two World Champions France and Germany to draws after a humbling 3-0 defeat in their opener against Portugal. Hungary came so close to getting out of the "Group of Death" and won the hearts of many a neutral. While being defensively compact and well organised, they also created many chances and scored goals. England will be well aware of their threat and won't take them lightly.
No team in Group I has scored more than Hungary thus far, with their 10 goals helping them into second place behind England. They opened their campaign with a 3-3 draw with Poland, a game they could have won but for the late heroics of one Robert Lewandowski. They followed that up with dominant wins over minnows San Marino and Andorra. That loss in Euro 2020 to Portugal is the only defeat the Hungarians have suffered in all competitions in 14 games. They will come into this game confident and full of belief. This could be a potential banana skin for the English.
Polarising England manager Gareth Southgate has called on more or less the same squad he took to the Euros. There are a few absentees due to injury or illness, a couple of players left out, but for the most part he will have a full strength pot to chose from. The only newsworthy additions see the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who missed the summer tournament due to injury, and the selection of Leeds United's Patrick Bamford, who at 27-years-old finally receives his first senior England call up. We could see a very similar line up against Hungary to the one which faced Italy, as Southgate will likely leave experimentation for lesser opponents.
England are three for three in qualifying, having scored nine and conceded one in the process. Given the elevation of the team at recent tournaments, many will see winning this group as a foregone conclusion and that will of course be the clear objective, but the team must exercise caution to avoid any slip-ups. Hungary have proven that they are capable of upsetting the apple cart, and will be especially determined in a packed out Puskas Arena in front of thousands of their fans. Southgate is expected to show the requisite respect in his selection but if the Three Lions do establish a healthy lead he may introduce Bamford for his first cap or bring on some of the players on the periphery to give them some minutes.
All in all, expect a fairly competitive encounter but ultimately an England win.
Possible Hungary Lineup: Gulacsi, Botka, Orban, Szalai, Bolla, Schafer, Szoboszlai, Nagy, Fiola, Sallai, Szalai
Possible England Lineup: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Rice, Phillips, Sterling, Mount, Grealish, Kane
How to watch Hungary vs England on TV and live stream
Hungary vs England
Thursday 2 September 2021
Kick off: 19.45
Puskas Arena, Budapest
You can watch this match live on free-to-air TV in the UK on channel ITV1. Coverage of the big match starts at 19.15 with pre-match analysis from a panel of pundits. Alternatively, you can watch the game online via live stream with the ITV Hub, which is also completely free to use, and exists on most devices from desktop to mobile phone. You need to be present in the UK and hold a TV license to watch this match.
Stay up-to-date with all things football at Sporticos
We provide data, stats and analysis of games from across the world; a comprehensive TV guide which tells you exactly when and where you can watch your favourite teams in action; trusted, legal sources of live streaming, breaking news and so much more.
Check out our Live Football on TV page.
Here's our Football Live Streaming page.