June 22nd 2016. Portugal and Hungary faced off in a decisive match to determine who would qualify in Group F of the European Championship in France. Hungary was the less pressured side for the match, as with the previous results they knew qualification was in their bag and a draw would be enough to guarantee they would top the group, after being deemed the weak-link of the four.
For Portugal it was different. It was a do-or-die match, the draw would probably be enough but it would be a very underwhelming qualification in a group they were expected to win all 3 matches without needing to be in their best.
In one of the best matches of the tournament, Hungary pushed Portugal to their limit of desperation – see Ronaldo’s reaction to the Magyar’s third goal – making sure the Selecao das Quinas would need their main star CR7 to appear at his best, to which he responded with two goals and a lovely assist to Nani, to get the 3-3 draw. It was on this day that Portugal started winning their first big international competition, as their draw, combined with Iceland’s late winner against Austria, would push them to the 3rd position but, more importantly, to the clearly more favourable side of the bracket.
Portugal would end up to go to the final and win the whole thing, but their merits were as questioned as Italy’s 82 World Cup win, as both teams had shocking performances in the group stages, scrapped through, and only stopped with a trophy in their hands.
Less than a year after that great bout the two countries will have and another important match to achieve a qualification, this time for Russia 2018. With Switzerland having defeated both of them already, and starting with a perfect 4 out of 4 wins, both Portugal and Hungary know that the Estadio da Luz match on Saturday will have to result on a win, and who does not get it will probably have to say goodbye to a presence in Russia. And if no one really expects Hungary to do another miracle campaign like they had in France, imagine the mockery Cristiano Ronaldo would have to endure if, as European champion, him and his team would miss the World Cup. It’s another do-or-die match for Portugal, and that’s where Fernando Santos’ team feels at best. Without the pressure of winning it seems their focus levels drop down, but they already slipped in Switzerland, making sure every match now is a must-win.