Published 01 September 2021 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team
Big test in Budapest
England manager Gareth Southgate and defender Harry Maguire speak ahead of Three Lions' trip to Hungary
Gareth Southgate says England will have to be at their best for what he envisages being a real test against Hungary.
The Three Lions travel to Budapest to renew their European qualifiers for the FIFA 2022 Qatar World Cup, in what will be their first outing since the UEFA EURO 2020 Final defeat to Italy in July.
And while the outcome of the summer was a disappointment for Southgate and his squad, he wants his squad to learn from the experience as they prepare to go again on the road to next year’s tournament.
"Of course the team have gained confidence from what they've achieved and the progress they've made, not only this summer but over the last four years,” said Southgate, who revealed he has a fully fit squad aside from a knock to Jadon Sancho for Wednesday’s flight to the Hungarian capital.
"But equally, we have to start again. The journey to have another run like that in a tournament is underway and in these qualifiers, you've got to be at your very best.
"Mentally, it's a good test for us. We've got to go away from home now, in front of 60,000 fans and a very good team.
"You can't predict what your hardest games are going to be but Hungary are a very good side.
“They sit second in the group and took points off Poland in March and took a point off France and Germany in the summer so their recent results speak for themselves really
"If we allow them to play, they can play and if we dominate possession they're very resilient and lie deep and make it very difficult to create chances against them.
"They're very well organised and we know we'll have to be at our very best."
The manager’s thoughts were also echoed by defender Harry Maguire ahead of the game at the Puskas Arena, with the Manchester United man urging his squadmates to show their mental resilience in what is the first of three games for England this month.
"As players, we're fully focused on going to Hungary and trying to get the three points,” added Maguire.
"It's a big test more mentally than physically, but it's one us players need to look at and we've spoken about as players and we need to be ready.
"We know it's a tough test away to Hungary and if we're not ready mentally we won't perform to our best or get the result that we need so the mentality of the squad will be tested and we need to overcome that.
"It [EURO 2020] ended in disappointment, but the memories that we made and the smiles we put on people's faces were there for all to see.
"It was a great journey, and we were just a penalty shootout away from being European champions so we know we're nearly there but we’ve still got a lot of things to improve on.”
Thursday’s game with Hungary will kick-off at 7.45pm BST and shown live in the UK on ITV.
The Three Lions then return to Wembley Stadium connected by EE on Sunday, when they host Andorra (5pm BST) before the final game of the month away to Poland on Wednesday 8 September.