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Hungary and Slovakia both up for final Euro 2020 spot

Budapest, Hungary – While Poland and the Czech Republic have already secured their qualification for next year’s Euro 2020, everything is still open in Group E with Hungary, Wales and even Slovakia all in reach of the second qualifying place behind Croatia. Tonight’s pivotal fixtures will be decisive.

High stakes for Hungary and Slovakia

While Croatia, who top the group, have already qualified and Hungary are currently second, Wales and Slovakia are respectively one and two points adrift. Basically, the winner of tonight’s winner-takes-all showdown between Wales and Hungary will clinch the last spot, while a draw will mean Slovakia can qualify, as long as they themselves beat Azerbaijan. The stakes could scarcely be higher, writes BBC Sport.

If it is still unsure whether or not key duo Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey will start for Wales tonight, Hungary will be without influential centre-back Willi Orban, out injured, while defender Mihaly Korhut and midfielder Laszlo Kleinheisler are both suspended.

While Ryan Giggs’ side lost 1-0 in Hungary in June, they are unbeaten since then and Hungary have lost four of their past five matches in all competitions. Wales are indeed 2/3 home favorites in this must-win match with Hungary (9/2). You can always find great value when betting on international football, and it is equally as important to have vast sports betting options such as a large welcome deposit from the sites you gamble with.

A draw, meanwhile, would open the door for Slovakia, who could snatch the second and last automatic qualifying spot if they beat Azerbaijan at home, and Marek Hamšík’s side will be quite confident, having won 5-1 in Baku in June.

Should they fail to qualify automatically tonight, Hungary and Slovakia are nevertheless both guaranteed a play-off spot next March.

Having already secured their qualification for next summer’s tournament last month, Poland confirmed their first place of Group G over the weekend by defeating Israel 2-1 in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic booked their ticket to the finals on Thursday after beating Kosovo and securing the second place of Group A, behind England, thereby assuring that there will be at least two Central European nations in the tournament next year.

Budapest’s new 68,000-seat Puskás Aréna was inaugurated earlier this month. Credit: Péter Lakatos/MTI

Budapest to host Euro 2020 games

While their place is still in the balance, Hungary will nonetheless host a couple of Euro 2020 games next summer. The Euro 2020 is scheduled to be held in 12 cities in 12 European countries from 12 June to 12 July 2020; namely London, Rome, Munich, Baku, Dublin, Saint Petersburg, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Bilbao… and Budapest! The Hungarian capital’s new 68,000-seat Puskás Aréna, which was inaugurated earlier this month, will host three group games and one round of 16 game.

For the first time ever, all four Central European teams had qualified for the 2016 edition in France with Poland going the furthest in the competition and losing on penalties in the quarter-finals to future winners Portugal.

Despite surprisingly finishing top of their group above Iceland, Portugal and Austria, underdog Hungary, whose tracksuit-wearing 40-year-old goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly was the oldest player ever to appear in a European Championship, lost 4-0 to Belgium in the round of 16. Slovakia lost to 3-0 to Germany while the Czech Republic didn’t even make it out of the group stage.

Coordinated by Ábel Bede, Kafkadesk's Budapest office is made up of a growing team of freelance journalists, editors and fact-checkers passionate about Hungarian affairs and dedicated to bringing you all the latest news, events and insights from Hungary.