Toby Alderweireld opened the scoring and Jan Vertonghen helped the left side open up the game in an easy Euro 2016 win, Belgium 4-0 Hungary.
Open and entertaining, both Belgium and Hungary played their part. Each side gave the other opportunities through the weak points of their defensive shape. However, exploitation of the left flank and ruthless counter attacks saw the final score finish up Belgium 4-0 Hungary in Toulouse.
Central midfield balance
Both sides have problems in central midfield and it opened the game up for the other team. Belgium, as we have looked at in previous matches, have an issue with Radja Nainggolan and Axel Witsel. Their spacing is not good and neither is Nainggolan’s tendency to get unnecessarily drawn towards the ball.
On the other side, Hungary are far too open, often leaving way too much space around Adam Nagy. The defensive midfielder cannot make up for Zoltan Gera’s lack of mobility. He is also undersized to compete with bigger and more physical players in front of the back four.
This meant that there was often space between the lines. Dropping Yannick Carrasco to the bench for Dries Mertens saw Marc Wilmots recognise this pre-game too. Belgium had three players that can float between the lines and they gave Hungary hell all game.
Hungary split centre backs
Open in midfield, Hungary’s split centre backs also gave them problems. Moving out wide when Gabor Kiraly had the ball saw them often out of position if play broke down. Belgium often recovered as Hungary tried to play out and were able to get straight at the back line before they could get back to their positions.
This saw the Belgians create several good chances from balls through the middle of the recovering centre backs. Fouls, free-kicks and offsides were the result as Hungary panic defended. Good chances for Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard also went begging.
Belgium attack down the left
Belgium’s attack was focussed in two places. The first was to get the ball up to and off Romelu Lukaku. They were looking to get the big man the ball in space and then fire runners off him or shots from his lay offs.
The second method was down the left. Adam Lang has looked the weak link in Hungary’s previous matches and Eden Hazard ruthlessly exposed his defensive positioning.
Lang was often caught too high, too deep or too narrow, allowing Hazard space. This saw the Chelsea man receive the ball and be able to face up to goal to execute his array of dribbles. Attempting 14 and completing 12 according to WhoScored highlighted just how unsuccessful Hungary was at stopping it.
Kevin de Bruyne also frequented this side. Starting from a number ten position, he drifted over and looked to create triangles with Hazard and Jan Vertonghen.
The trio combined on Belgium’s opener. Hazard laid the ball back to Vertonghen. He then slid a pass in to de Bruyne who was again free between the lines.
This pulled Adam Lang out from his right back position to commit a foul. De Bruyne curled in the free kick for a classic Toby Alderweireld header that we’ve seen on many an occasion at the Lane. Kiraly stood no chance as Belgium exposed an awful zonal marking setup with a number of Hungarian players standing and watching.
Belgium press, drop and counter
Belgium are an interesting watch. In several matches so far at this Euro 2016 tournament they have pressed out of the gate for 10-15 minutes and then dropped to lure the opponent out and counter attacked them. They did this again at the start of both halves.
With Hungary splitting their centre backs, they would have Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard mark them. Kevin de Bruyne would then pick up defensive midfielder Adam Nagy.
Hungary often tried to play out and this caused the turnovers that allowed Belgium to go straight back down the middle.
Giving Hungary trouble with this for 10-15 minutes, they would then drop back in to a medium block. This saw Belgium then recover the ball in the middle third and look to hit with fast counter attacks. These surges forward focussed on the left through Eden Hazard’s dribbling and passing.
Belgium had a plethora of chances throughout the match from creating off Lukaku and through Hazard attacking Lang down the left. They should’ve been several goals up, but with 77 minutes on the clock, the game was still in the balance at 1-0. Three counter attacks then lead to three goals, all created down the left.
A quick counter attack led to a corner for the second goal. The ball was swung in and it ended up with Eden Hazard on the left. He then recovered his own miss-hit pass as he blazed past Adam Lang to cross for Michy Batshuayi to tap-in.
Three passes from back to front saw Belgium race forward to counter attack for a third. Kevin de Bruyne received the ball between the lines to release Hazard down the left once more. His jinking run inside off the touchline opened the goal up for a searing shot in to the corner.
The match was over, but another Hungary turnover in the middle third saw Belgium spring on the counter attack once more. Radja Nainggolan was in space between the lines to send in Yannick Carrasco down the left this time to slot home.
The score was suddenly Belgium 4-0 Hungary highlighting just how ruthless this side is on the counter attack.
Belgium 4-0 Hungary overall
Marc Wilmots has had to deal with a number of critics in this tournament, but his move to bring in Dries Mertens was a good one. Belgium had three players in their advanced midfield trio that could float in the space between the lines that Hungary gave them.
Mertens inclusion was nice, but Eden Hazard was the star of the show. Belgium wanted to isolate him against Adam Lang and the space afforded to him was too great. Hazard’s dribbling and jinking runs were a feature and his link play with Jan Vertonghen and especially Kevin de Bruyne was exceptional.
This game, as in their 3-0 win against Ireland, once again highlights Belgium’s fearsome counter attack. These can blow close games open, but there is also a concerning lack of cutting edge in their normal build-up play.
Final score: Belgium 4-0 Hungary.