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French fantasy attack seeks lift off against Hungary

4 minute read

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Group F - France v Germany - Football Arena Munich, Munich, Germany - June 15, 2021 France's players celebrate after Germany's Mats Hummels scores an own goal and the first for France Pool via REUTERS/Matthias Hangst

June 17 (Reuters) - There was huge excitement when France coach Didier Deschamps unleashed his fantasy football attack against Germany on Monday but following a 1-0 win in their Euro 2020 opener it was the midfield that earned rave reviews.

Deschamps started with an attacking trident of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema for the first time in a competitive game but it was an own goal by Germany defender Mats Hummels that decided the Group F clash.

Afterwards Marseille newspaper la Provence described the midfield axis of Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante and Adrien Rabiot as the Golden Triangle such was the control they gave the world champions against the Germans.

But Saturday's clash against group makeweights Hungary in Budapest should offer France's attack a chance to grab back the limelight after Benzema and Mbappe endured a frustrating night with goals ruled out for offside.

Roared on by a near-capacity crowd at the Puskas Arena, Hungary defended in spirited fashion in their opening match against Portugal, but eventually collapsed to a 3-0 defeat after conceding late goals, including a double from Cristiano Ronaldo.

Marco Rossi's Hungary have had little time to dust themselves down from that loss, their first in 11, and things are about to get harder with his opposite number Deschamps likely to start with Mbappe, Griezmann and Benzema again.

That trio scored 102 goals for Paris St Germain, Barcelona and Real Madrid last season and if that is not a big enough headache for Hungary, temperatures for Saturday's afternoon kickoff are set to soar into the mid 30s Celcius.

"I think when it is as hot as that it's difficult for everyone to play. It will be tricky for France as well," Rossi said. "We all know what a good side they are, so the important thing is to rest up physically and mentally so we can go into the France game in the best possible way."

France will be through to the last 16 if they win the first meeting of the two nations in 16 years, while another drubbing for Hungary will virtually end their chances of progressing, not that many people expected anything else.

France defender Lucas Hernandez, whose cross was turned into his own net by Hummels in Munich, said there will be no drop in intensity even if, on paper, Saturday's match is the easiest of their three fixtures.

"Against Hungary and then Portugal, we will have to put this aggression in again," Hernandez said on Wednesday.

"We set the tone against Germany. But we must continue against Hungary. The stadium will be full and hostile. We are no longer used to that. It will be another battle.

"Hungary held up well against Portugal for eighty minutes. They are strong defensively. They don't leave a lot of space. We will have to be vigilant."

Hungary's hopes took another hit this week when midfielder Daniel Gazdag withdrew from the squad through injury, robbing them of another creative option after Dominik Szoboszlai and Zsolt Kalmar also missed out on the tournament.

Szabolcs Schon, who had a goal disallowed against Portugal when the score was 0-0 after coming on as a substitute, is unlikely to force his way into the starting lineup with Rossi set to keep faith with Roland Sallai and Adam Szalai up top.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris

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