Five years after their memorable extra-time triumph over hosts France, Portugal finally begin their European Championship title defence this evening.
Portugal insist that the extra burden of expectation as holders with a talented squad spearheaded by Cristiano Ronaldo will not weigh them down as they also compete with fellow European powerhouses France and Germany in the so-called ‘Group of Death’.
But they could still face a tricky test against a Hungary team that will have no pressure on them at all, with most not giving them even a slight hope of reaching the knockout stages.
The Hungarians are competing at the Euros for only the second time since 1972, though they did reach the last 16 last time around, drawing 3-3 with Portugal in a thrilling contest en route to a heavy defeat by Belgium.
Follow Hungary vs Portugal at Euro 2020 LIVE with Standard Sport’s blog below…
Ronaldo quizzed over transfer links
Cristiano Ronaldo inevitably faced questions over his club future at yesterday’s pre-match press conference.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is entering the final 12 months of his lucrative contract at Juventus and has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and even a potential return to Manchester United.
But Ronaldo is unfazed by the speculation as he prepares to spearhead Portugal’s bid for a second successive European title.
“I’ve been playing at the highest level for many years so this doesn’t faze me at all. If I were 18 or 19 maybe I’d have some sleepless nights but I’m 36 years old and whatever comes next will be for the best, whether that’s staying at Juve or getting a transfer,” he said.
“The crucial thing now is the Euros. It’s my fifth Euros but for me it’s like my first so I want to start on the right foot – we want to play a good match and have only good thoughts in our first match to our last.”
Jota: Portugal won’t be weighed down by expectation
There is no shortage of pressure on Portugal this summer.
Not only are they the defending European champions, but they approach this tournament with a far better squad than the one that triumphed at Euro 2016.
However, Liverpool’s Diogo Jota insists they will not be hampered by the weight of expectation.
“It’s not an extra weight, it’s a huge pride for what happened in 2016 — it made us all proud,” he said.
“The opponents look at us differently and they want to defeat us. Hungary will have even more motivation to play at home, with a packed stadium, which we are not used to in the last year. We know the difficulties that entails and it is very important to start with a victory.”
Here’s how Standard Sport sees the two teams shaping up in Budapest this evening…
Hungary predicted XI: Gulácsi; Fiola, Orbán, Attila Szalai; Lovrencsics, Kleinheisler, Ádám Nagy, Schäfer, Holender; Roland Sallai, Ádám Szalai
Portugal predicted XI: Rui Patrício; Semedo, Rúben Dias, Pepe, Guerreiro; Danilo, William, Bruno Fernandes; Bernardo Silva, Ronaldo, Diogo Jota
Portugal team news
Portugal were dealt a blow earlier this week after Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo was ruled out of the Euros after testing positive for Covid-19.
He was replaced in Fernando Santos’ tournament squad by Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot, who spent last season on loan at AC Milan.
Captain Cristiano Ronaldo says the Portuguese squad are not worried about potentially seeing further players contract the virus.
“I don’t think it’s a key factor. It’s a shame Joao tested positive but everyone in our team is at peace, we don’t talk about Covid-19 because we’re all tired of this,” he said on Monday.
“We know how to live with it and deal with it, it’s a sad situation but we’re all focused. For many players this is their first Euros and nothing will shake us.
“We respect all the rules but we’re just focused on playing, we’re not thinking about anything else at all.”
Standard Sport prediction
Hungary will be up against it versus a talented Portuguese squad, but have home advantage in Budapest.
Still, you’d expect the likes of Ronaldo, Jota or Fernandes to come good for three points.
How to watch Hungary vs Portugal
TV channel: Today’s match will be televised on ITV for free.
Live stream: UK viewers will be able to watch the action unfold live online via the ITV Hub.
Date, kick-off time and venue
Hungary v Portugal is scheduled for a 5pm BST kick-off today – Tuesday, June 15, 2021.
The match will be held at the Puskas Stadium in Budapest, Hungary.
Welcome to Hungary vs Portugal live coverage
Good afternoon and welcome to Standard Sport’s latest LIVE coverage at Euro 2020!
It’s time for the defending champions to enter the fray as Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal – five years after their memorable triumph in France – battle Hungary in the Group F (aka Group of Death) opener in Budapest.
Stay tuned for all the latest team news, build-up and live updates!