Lothar Matthäus: The Hungarians need to win...
German world star Lothar Matthäus, the former head coach of the Hungarian national football team, would be happy with a draw at other times, but that wouldn't be good for either team now.
|Former head coach Lothar Matthäus is rooting both for Hungary and Germany (Photo: Imagi Images/Sven Simon)|
– Have you seen Hungary's game against France?
– Yes, the first half and the Hungarian goal. Then, I went to the German-Portuguese game at the stadium where I saw the last minutes of the Hungarians' match from when the score was 1-1. It was good to see the happy Hungarian fans in the sold-out stadium, and how much Hungarian football has changed in the last 15 years since I was the head coach. The conditions have improved a lot from the footballers' and the fans' point of view. Hungarian football is on the right track and is finally getting all the support from the MLSZ President Sándor Csányi, the government, and the Prime Minister. It wasn't always like this... It's a great opportunity for Hungarian football to play with the best teams in the world in the European Championship.
– The best teams also include Germany on Wednesday... What do you expect from the meet?
– I'm in a difficult situation because these two teams that are dear to me are clashing against each other. I could say that a draw would be the right result, but it is equal to relegation for Hungary, so it's worthless. They need to win... I usually root for them because I've been living in Budapest for 17 years; I follow, and I know Hungarian football, I've been their head coach, and I have many Hungarian friends. But in this case, you can't expect me not to cheer for Germany's success, the team with which I became a world champion.
– And which, on paper, could win easily.
– Of course, Germany is the potential winner, and this time the fans cannot create a favorable home atmosphere for the Hungarians, as they did against the Portuguese and the French. I think Marco Rossi's national team will be mainly in defense again; I expect a lot of German goal situations, but the fantastic Hungarian team unity can make up for the difference in quality. Because, in truth, the Germans are better in every position, even in the excellent Péter Gulácsi's position, because we have the best goalkeeper in the world in the person of Manuel Neuer. So, Germany has a lot higher chance of winning, but anything can happen in football. Think of 2004. My team won 2-0 in Kaiserslautern against Germany on the 50th anniversary of the 1954 World Cup final.
– Did you ever think that Hungary's advancement to the knockout phase would depend on the last group stage match against Germany?
– And Germany depends on it, too! This match is just as important for the home team because if they lose, they will relegate as they did three years ago at the World Cup... On the other hand, the Hungarians have nothing to lose. If they win, they can advance to the knockout phase that can only happen if they have a perfect day, and everything works out for them while the Germans make mistakes.
– Are you going to the game?
– Of course! I'm not working or doing sports commentary now. I'm just relaxing and enjoying football...
Translated by Vanda Orosz