Austria's Schopf demands supreme effort against Hungary

Marcel Koller's side, co-host of the 2008 tournament, progressed to the finals through a qualifying campaign for the first time in laudable fashion, winning nine and drawing one of its 10 matches.

david alaba - cropped

Bayern Munich and Austria star David Alaba controls the ball during a training session ahead of his team's match against Hungary.

Austria midfielder Alessandro Schopf says nothing but a top-level display from his side will be enough to beat neighbour Hungary in its Euro 2016 opener.

Marcel Koller's side, co-host of the 2008 tournament, progressed to the finals through a qualifying campaign for the first time in laudable fashion, winning nine and drawing one of its 10 matches.

>READ: EURO 2016 Group F Preview

With an 11-game unbeaten run in competitive fixtures and a squad boasting the talents of David Alaba, Marko Arnautovic and Aleksandar Dragovic, Austria is a firm favourite to open its campaign in France with victory over a Hungary side which is appearing in its first major finals since 1986.





But with the Hungarians boasting the better head-to-head record — it has won 66 and lost 40 of 137 meetings — Schalke midfielder Schopf expects a stern test in Bordeaux.

"It will certainly be a difficult game for us," the 22-year-old, who only made his senior debut in March, told the Austrian Football Association website.

"They're a compact opponent, defensively very well organised. In attack, they always create chances. We have to give 120 per cent or we won't win this game.

"There's currently a huge euphoria in Austria. We want to give something back."

Hungary qualified for its first European Championship finals since 1972 by beating Norway 3-1 in the play-off round, after it finished third in Group F behind Romania and Northern Ireland.

Its chances of progressing from a group which also contains Portugal and Iceland appear slim, but a result against much-fancied Austria would give it a fighting chance of progressing to the knockout rounds.

For Richard Guzmics, hopes of beating its neighbour will depend on how well the team nullifies the influence of centre-back Dragovic and strike duo Arnautovic and Mark Janko.

"Dragovic and Janko effectively determine how the Austria team plays. But they've got Arnautovic, as well," he said this week.

"They're very strong on the wings and we have to make sure we're prepared for this. We've shown that we're organised. The team defends and attacks together."

Regardless of the result, Hungary can make history on Tuesday: at 40 years and 75 days, goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly will become the oldest player to play at the tournament, beating the record of 39 years and 91 days held by Lotthar Matthaus.


Key Opta Stats:

- Hungary is unbeaten in its last three games against Austria (W2 D1). Its only previous encounter in a major tournament was in the 1934 World Cup: Austria won 2-1 in the quarter finals.
- Austria has been knocked out in the group stages in each of its last three major tournaments (World Cup 1990, World Cup 1998, Euro 2008).
- Austria only converted one of its 46 shots at EURO 2008, its only previous appearance in the finals.
- Hungary's only win to date at the European Championship came in June 1964 against Denmark (3-1 in the third place final). It has lost the other three games.
- Marcel Koller is participating in his first major tournament as coach. He played two games for Switzerland at Euro 1996 (draw against England followed by a defeat against Scotland).

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.