Euro 2020 finalists England expect a heated game in Budapest on Thursday. The match against Hungary in the European Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup will be played in front of a packed Puskas Arena. More than 60,000 people are expected to attend.
Despite being ordered to play their next two UEFA competition home games behind closed doors following incidents related to racism and banners regarded as homophobic during their games in Budapest at Euro 2020, Hungary will allow a capacity crowd to attend the match against England. That’s because the England encounter falls under the jurisdiction of FIFA, the organizer of the World Cup.
Parts of the English media referred to the game played in October 2019 by Gareth Southgate’s team in Bulgaria for the build-up ahead of Budapest. Back then, elements of the public racially abused the English players during their Euro 2020 qualifier. England went on playing. Asked if his team would walk off this time, Southgate refused to give a straight answer.
“I don’t think we should speak hypothetically,” Southgate said. “We know the experience we had before but we’re going to Hungary preparing for a game against a crowd that will get behind their team. We’re looking forward to the challenge of the match, and everything else is speculation really,” the manager added.
— England (@England) September 1, 2021
England, ‘prepared for anything’
Journalists asked if the players were “prepared for racist abuse,” with Southgate replying “We always prepare the team for everything really. We’ve done that this week, but also we know we’ve had our own issues at home, so we’re not really focusing on other countries.”
England defender Harry Maguire referred to the matter as well, saying “we speak about different scenarios going into every game, not just Hungary away. To speak about something in the future and something that you’re predicting might happen is a bit unfair. As players, we’re fully focused on going to Hungary and playing in front of a full crowd and a great atmosphere,” Maguire added.
At Euro 2020, a banner with a homophobic message was seen in the stands in Hungary’s 3-0 defeat to Portugal in the group stage. Monkey chants were heard in Budapest during the 1-1 draw between Hungary and France.
England tops Group I of the European Qualifiers with nine points in three games, seconded by Hungary. The hosts of the big match on Thursday won seven points over their first three matches. Albania is third in the group, with Poland surprisingly fourth.
Jadon Sancho is doubtful after a knock in training. Apart from him, all of the players called by Southgate are available.
Hungary is at +700 to win the game in Budapest, with an England triumph at -250 and a draw at +330. Bookies have both teams scoring at +140. A Harry Kane goal at any time during the game is at +105.
Their outing in Budapest is going to be England’s first after dramatically losing the final of Euro 2020 to Italy on penalties at Wembley, on July 11.