The visitors surprisingly lead the way heading into the encounter, having stunned England with a 4-0 victory last time out.
Given that Hansi Flick comfortably won all seven World Cup qualifiers which he presided over after taking the German national team job in August 2021, the Nations League has provided a sterner test for him and his players ahead of the winter World Cup.
Three successive 1-1 draws against Italy, England and Hungary suggested some teething problems, but Die Mannschaft finally ended their winless run with a 5-2 thumping of Italy at Borussia-Park in their last match in June.
Germany actually went 5-0 up in the match after Timo Werner bagged a quickfire brace, but Willy Gnonto and Alessandro Bastoni responded late on to make the scoreline a little more respectable for the visitors.
Still unbeaten in Flick’s 13 matches in charge, Germany can move top of Group A3 by beating Hungary at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig on Friday. Having only mustered one shot on target against Marco Rossi‘s side in their last meeting, they will need to show much more invention against a well-disciplined defensive outfit.
Indeed, after securing back-to-back promotions to rise from League C to League A, Hungary have proven a revelation in the Nations League’s top tier so far.
Having performed above expectations in what was widely considered the ‘Group of Death’ at Euro 2020 – when they gained two points from three games against Portugal, France and Germany, although this tally could have been higher had they not conceded late goals against the former and the latter – perhaps it should not come as so much of a surprise to see them leading Group A3 after four matches.
However, there is little doubt that Rossi is helping Magyarok punch considerably above their weight, with forthcoming opponent Joshua Kimmich admitting to reporters earlier this week, “I’ve rarely played against a team that defends with such discipline.”
While defensive solidity has undoubtedly been the bedrock of Hungary’s success in recent times, their 4-0 demolition of England at Molineux in June showed their capabilities in possession, too, with Union Berlin’s Andras Schafer providing a technically accomplished hub in their midfield to build attacks from.
Having led 1-0 and 2-1 at the Allianz Arena before Leon Goretzka‘s dramatic late equaliser helped his side progress to the knockout stages, Rossi and his players will take sizable belief from their meeting with Germany at Euro 2020 with them to Friday’s encounter in Leipzig.
Should Hungary do the unthinkable and cause another upset on the road, they will ensure that destiny remains in their own hands heading into Monday’s home match against Italy, although the importance of that match also depends on how the Azzurri fare against the Three Lions this week.
Flick has handed Armel Bella-Kotchap a maiden call-up to the senior squad following the Southampton defender’s impressive start to his Premier League career, but the 20-year-old may have to wait before making his international debut given the amount riding on Friday’s fixture.
Timo Werner is the top goalscorer of the Flick era so far with eight goals, so he should receive the nod on his home ground. Likewise, Jonas Hofmann has scored or assisted in each of Germany’s last three Nations League outings, and the Borussia Monchengladbach winger heads into Friday’s match full of confidence after bagging a brace against Leipzig at the weekend.
Marco Reus was forced to withdraw from the national team squad after damaging his ankle in the Revierderby against Schalke 04 last weekend, but Goretzka has made a timely return from injury and should join his club teammates Kimmich, Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane and Manuel Neuer in the starting XI.
Roland Sallai‘s absence due to an eye injury provides Rossi with a problem to solve in attack after the Freiburg forward’s brace against England displayed his combination of pace and finishing abilities. As such, the creative burden on Dominick Szoboszlai is set to increase on his home turf, with Peter Gulasci and Willi Orban hoping to keep a clean sheet in familiar surroundings.
Germany possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Kehrer, Sule, Rudiger, Raum; Kimmich, Goretzka; Hofmann, Muller, Sane; Werner
Hungary possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Lang, Orban, At Szalai; Nego, Schafer, Styles, Fiola; Adam, Szoboszlai; Ad Szalai