Hungary vs Italy – Nations League Preview & Potential Line-ups

Seeking progression into the UEFA Nations League semi-finals for the second season on the bounce, Italy take a trip to the Puskas Arena to meet Hungary on Monday. It all comes down to this top-table Group A3 six-pointer as the only two teams in this group able to reach the playoffs lock horns in Budapest.

In his penultimate game for his country, Adam Szalai ended an eight-game international scoring drought to guide Hungary to a mammoth 1-0 win in Germany on Friday. Firmly in the driving seat to make it to the Nations League semi-finals against the odds, the Magyars need to stay unbeaten on Monday to secure a historic success. 

However, Italy will have their say in this ‘winner takes all’ showdown as they head to Budapest in pursuit of all three points. Giacomo Raspadori’s moment of brilliance inspired Gli Azzurri to an all-important 1-0 home victory over England on Friday, bringing them back in contention for a top-place finish in Group A3. 

Hungary’s bid to qualify for the Nations League semi-finals for the first time would offer Szalai a fitting farewell as the national team icon announced he’ll retire from international football at the end of the ongoing tournament. But Italy will be out to spoil the Hungarians’ party on their own turf, with Roberto Mancini’s lads searching for redemption following a busted attempt to return to the World Cup finals. 

Without further ado, let’s skip to the preview.

Match Preview


Avoiding defeat in this high-profile clash would see Hungary reach the last four of an international competition for the first time in 50 years. So motivation should not be in short supply in the home camp. There are plenty of positives in the Magyars’ corner, including their overwhelming 4-0 win over England at Wembley Stadium on matchday four. 

Head coach Marco Rossi has based Hungary’s outstanding Nations League success on a rock-solid defense. Despite entering the tournament as section minnows, the Hungarians boast the best defensive record in Group A3, having conceded just three times across the opening five outings. But it’s worth noting that two of those three goals came in a 2-1 defeat to Italy in the reverse fixture.

The Italy-born manager Rossi will be out to upset his countrymen by helping Hungary defy an underwhelming seven-game winless streak against Gli Azzurri in competitive action (D2, L5). A victory would be a historic achievement for the Hungarians, as they’ve never defeated Italy in a competitive meeting. 


Despite blowing hot and cold across their five Nations League matches this season (W2, D2, L1), the Italians are on the cusp of reaching the playoffs for the second year running. But after ousting England in a battle for salvation in the previous round, Italy can ill-afford to get complacent, as the job is not done yet. 

Keen to redeem themselves to the devastated nation, Mancini’s lads will take the field knowing nothing but a win would settle the nerves back home after a World Cup qualifying fiasco. Indeed, only one year since lifting the Euro 2020 trophy, the Italians failed to qualify for the most prestigious international tournament. 

With their last World Cup appearance dating back to 2014, the extent of the suffering in the country is beyond measure. There’s no doubt that Mancini hopes that setting up this grandstand finish won’t go in vain after his tactical masterclass in the absence of several key first-team members navigated Italy past England a few days ago.

But since nothing less than a triumph will do, Italy must deliver the goods from the get-go, something they’ve found hard to come by during this Nations League campaign.

Hungary vs Italy Potential Line-ups

Hungary (3-4-2-1): Peter Gulacsi; Adan Lang, Willi Orban, Atilla Szalai; Atilla Fiola, Andras Schafer, Daniel Gazdag, Milos Kerkez; Adam Nagy, Dominik Szoboszlai; Adam Szalai. 

Italy (3-5-2): Gianluigi Donnarumma; Rafael Toloi, Leonardo Bonucci, Alessandro Bastoni; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Nicolo Barella, Jorginho, Davide Frattesi, Federico Dimarco; Giacomo Raspadori, Ciro Immobile.