Tonight, Hungary are playing Lithuania in a European Championship qualifier game. If they win, which they are favoured to do, then they will certainly qualify for next year’s European Championship in Germany, regardless of any other results in the group. That would mean that Hungary will play in the Euros for an unprecedented third time in a row.
Hungary making it to Euro 2024 is all but guaranteed at this point.
Even if they were to lose the match against Lithuania, which is highly unlikely in its own right, we would still only need to win one of the remaining games against either Bulgaria or Montenegro to clutch the qualification. Out of those two sides, Bulgaria is in terrible form—they have yet to win a game in the group, sitting dead last with two ties and four losses. Additionally, Hungary scored a comfortable, 3–0 victory against them at home back in March.
The Hungarian National Team, led by head coach Marco Rossi, remains unbeaten in the group. They even beat group favourite Serbia back-to-back, 2–1 both at home and away. They only dropped points in a 0–0 draw in a road game against Montenegro—Hungary have truly outperformed all expectations.
What a Turnaround for the Reputation of Hungarian Football
Almost exactly ten years ago, in October 2013, Hungary suffered one of its most devastating losses, taking an 8–1 bashing against the Netherlands in Amsterdam. With that loss, they also had to bid farewell to any chances of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. At that point, Hungary had not been at a World Cup competition in 27 years (having last qualified in 1986), and had not been at a European Championship in 41 years (having last played in one in 1972).
Four days after the complete demolition by the Dutch, Hungary played its last qualifying game against Andorra (with nothing on the line, as there was no way of qualifying) in front of just 1,800 people (!) at the Ferenc Puskás Stadium in Budapest.
last Saturday, 14 October, Hungary played Serbia in front of a packed crowd of 60,000, in the beautifully renovated Puskás Arena.
They also managed to stay on top of their qualifying group with their victory. What a difference a decade can make!
Especially given the fact in the meantime Hungary had also played in two Euro competitions, in 2016 and 2021. In 2016, they even managed to advance from the group stage into the Round of 16. They were also close to doing so in 2021, but fell short after Germany equalized in the 84th minute against them.
Hungarian football now even has an undisputed international star player in Dominik Szoboszlai. The 22-year-old National Team captain was signed by the top English Premier League side Liverpool for €70 million this summer. He instantly became a solid starter in his new team.
The only thing left on the National Team’s ‘bucket list’ is a place at a World Cup competition, which has not been achieved by them since 1986. In 2026, the number of participating teams will be raised from 32 to 48 in the tournament hosted by the United States, Mexico (the host nation last time Hungary managed to qualify), and Canada.
However, it’s still not going to be easy to make it there. European teams got the least extra places, only three, thus still only 16 countries can qualify from Europe out of the 55 UEFA member states (54 if you discount the currently banned Russia). Anyhow, Hungary still has the best chance of going to a World Cup in the 40 years it went without ever qualifying.