Hungary's Euro 2024 Hopes Rest on Szoboszlai's Shoulders

Dominik Szoboszlai's return to form is crucial for Hungary's hopes in the Euro 2024 knockout stages. Instrumental in their qualifiers, Szoboszlai's recent injuries have cast doubts, but his impact and leadership remain significant. Comparisons to greats like Steven Gerrard and Ferenc Puskas highlight his importance for both club and country.

Reuters | Updated: 03-06-2024 07:30 IST | Created: 03-06-2024 07:30 IST
Hungary's Euro 2024 Hopes Rest on Szoboszlai's Shoulders
Dominik Szoboszlai

Hungary's hopes of reaching the Euro 2024 knockout stages will largely hinge on whether midfield maestro Dominik Szoboszlai can return to his best after struggling with injuries this year.

The 23-year-old was instrumental in helping Marco Rossi's side to sail through qualifying, scoring a joint leading four goals with forward Barnabas Varga as they topped their group after recording impressive home and away victories over Serbia. They went through all of 2023 unbeaten and Szoboszlai was one of the most sought-after players in the close season, earning a move to Premier League Liverpool from RB Leipzig.

He quickly won over the Anfield faithful, drawing comparisons for his box-to-box energy with Liverpool great Steven Gerrard. Szoboszlai's creativity from midfield was something Hungary sorely missed at Euro 2020, which he sat out through injury.

Rossi's side performed well, drawing with European heavyweights Germany and France after losing 3-0 against Portugal to exit in the group stage. Hungary can hold teams at bay with their veteran defenders but hurting opponents by building attacks or on the break is much easier with Szoboszlai dominating the centre of the pitch.

His influence is shown by Rossi entrusting him with the captaincy when he was 22. Szoboszlai has even drawn comparisons with the great Ferenc Puskas, the leading figure of the incredible Hungary team of the 1950s. Although still early in his career, Szoboszlai has made 40 appearances for his country, scoring 12 goals.

INCREDIBLE LEVEL One of Szoboszlai's team mates compared him to a modern-day great after Hungary qualified for the Euros at the end of last year with a 3-1 win over Montenegro.

Szoboszlai scored twice and celebrated the win with a shot of palinka (fruit brandy) with fans inside the Puskas Arena. "You have the same feeling about him as when Lionel Messi was at his best in Barcelona a few years ago," Hungary goalkeeper Denes Dibusz said.

"He is a player of an incredible level and a great leader, who is able to lead the team on the field and add something extra to his game that draws the others along, and is also effective." After reaching the semi-finals in 1972 Hungary missed out on the Euros until France 2016 where they reached the last 16.

Szoboszlai injured his hamstring playing for Liverpool in the Premier League on Jan. 1 but returned a few weeks later. However, it was too soon and he suffered a setback in his recovery, not making an appearance again until March. Since then he has struggled to replicate his early season form as Liverpool's Premier League and Europa League campaigns petered out.

However, Szoboszlai still turned it on for his country, scoring the winner against Turkey in a friendly in late March before netting again in a 2-0 victory over Kosovo. Hungary fans will hope he is fully over any niggles by their opening Group A match against Switzerland on June 15, after which they face hosts Germany and Scotland in Group A.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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