Euro 2024: Germany beat Hungary to qualify for last 16 Hecko Flores Stuttgart

Sports Thursday 20/June/2024 07:32 AM
By: DW
Euro 2024: Germany beat Hungary to qualify for last 16 Hecko Flores Stuttgart

England have Wembley, France have Stade de France, but the German national team does not have a stadium that can be considered their true home, even when hosting Euro 2024.

Ask any fan of the team which stadium they prefer, and the responses will vary widely. But this evening, Stuttgart made a strong case for itself in Germany’s 2-0 victory against Hungary. The win, which followed an opening day thrashing of Scotland, assures German passage to the knockouts, with a match against Switzerland on Sunday to spare.

Starting with the national anthem, the German fans provided a deafening noise from the get-go on Wednesday, rivaling the Hungarians, who were as loud as ever.

Jamal Musiala, a player born in Stuttgart and considered one of Germany’s most exciting talents, opened the scoring to finally settle German nerves and put them ahead after 22 minutes.

"It’s pretty tough for opponents to defend him," said Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann about Musiala after the match.

Atmosphere provides liftoff

"But I tell him not to let the pressure get to him, he should play the same way he did as a kid together with his friends," the coach added. 

The goal from Germany’s number 10 came after captain Ilkay Gündogan scrambled after what seemed to be a lost ball. But his efforts paid off and brought the stadium to life.

"The atmosphere was amazing today. It gives us a good feeling. The stadium was very loud and full of emotion. I like that and it really helps us a lot," said Nagelsmann.

The crowd provided a much-needed emotional and psychological boost for the Germany squad as Hungary got closer and closer to equalizing.

Just minutes after the opening goal, Hungary’s captain Dominik Szoboszlai forced goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to make a spectacular double-save with a dangerous freekick.

Ahead of the game, Neuer described Hungary as "an uncomfortable team that tries to tackle aggressively." 

The last time Germany had beaten Hungary was back in 2016. In their previous three encounters against the Magyars, Germany drew twice and suffered a loss at home in their most recent match before this one.

But coach Nagelsmann did not bother with the past and kept a cool head, revealing that his team talk at halftime "was not emotional" and dealt more with the team maintaining their tactical structure.

In Stuttgart, for Stuttgart

In the 67th minute, a series of passes saw Musiala open up the play towards Maximilian Mittelstädt down the wing. The stadium roared as Mittelstädt, who plays his club football in Stuttgart, delivered a cross for Gündogan to finish a clinical team move.

Gündogan had nothing but praise towards Musiala at the end of the match

"He is maybe the most important one for us at the moment and at such a young age as well," said the Germany captain. 

"Especially when it comes to creating, putting in the final pass and scoring goals which is something he’s added to his game as well," said Gündogan.

The second goal had Germany fans in the stadium euphorically chanting " Berlin, Berlin, we’re going to Berlin!" In reference to the final being played in the German capital.

The goal also brought some calmness to the, at times, tense atmosphere felt at the ground and some even started a Mexican wave to calm their nerves.

The locals stood and clapped as Musiala was taken off the pitch in the 72nd minute. They also loudly cheered to welcome his replacement, Chris Führich. A similar roar was heard shortly after in the 84th minute when Deniz Undav was subbed in, both Stuttgart players.

At the final whistle, the Stuttgart crowd sang Peter Schilling’s Major Tom in unison to celebrate their team’s qualification to the knockouts of Euro 2024. If, as expected, Germany get at least a point against Switzerland and win their round of 16 match, they wil return to Stuttgart in the quarterfinals. It may yet strengthen its case as a home for more than just Musiala.