Hungary vs Italy Budapest, 22/08/07
This hastily-arranged friendly sees UFWC champions Italy visit Hungary. For Italy this fixture represents a potential stumbling block before a much-anticipated clash with France in September. Will Italy still be the undisputed official and unofficial champions when they line up against the French, or will Hungary have taken the UFWC title?
Hungary’s Magical Magyars were the ‘golden team’ of the 1950s, although they never made a real impression on the UFWC in that decade. Hungary have won the title 14 times, but never since 1971. Hungary are ranked 65th in the world by FIFA, and were beaten 4-0 by Norway in the last game in June.
The Hungary squad contains eight UK-based players: Sunderland goalkeeper Marton Fulop, defenders Bela Balogh (Colchester United) and Tamas Vasko (Bristol City), Plymouth Argyle duo Peter Halmosi and Akos Buzsaky, and forwards Zoltan Gera (West Bromwich Albion) and Tamas Priskin (Watford).
None of the Italian squad play their league football in the UK. Coach Roberto Donadoni has recalled striker Luca Toni and defender Fabio Grosso. Toni missed the Azzurri’s last two games through injury, and last played and scored in Italy’s 2-0 UFWC win against Scotland. Daniele De Rossi, Simone Perrotta and Vincenzo Iaquinta all miss out, while Alessandro Nesta and Francesco Totti have both now retired from international football.