One of today's Euro 2016 matches will be played between neighbours Austria and Hungary in Group F. Austria had a disastrous Euro campaign in 2008 on their home soil but since then have progressed by leaps and bounds. They now sit at 10th position in FIFA rankings and are touted by many to be the dark horse for Euro 2016.
They were in fact, one of the unbeaten teams from the qualifying round and won their group by a comfortable margin of eight points ahead of second-placed Russia.
Hungary, once a powerhouse in world football, are no longer the same team they once were. In fact, this is the first time they have qualified for the European Championship finals.
They are the underdogs in Group F and unlike Austria, they just got in on the virtue of a victory against Norway in playoffs. Let us see 5 most important players who could decide the game
#1 David Alaba (Austria)
This Bayern Munich man needs no introduction. He is a versatile player capable of playing almost anywhere on the pitch but primarily plays as a left back at his club. But today when he dons his national colours we will see him playing as the midfield general who runs the show for his teams.
The southpaw can play anywhere across the midfield, in a number of roles. Be it in defensive midfield, as a box to box midfielder or as number 10, he can wreck havoc on opposition teams with his passing and overall ability.
Alaba has done it in the qualifiers and can do it again. And do not be surprised if he manages to dip one over the wall into the goal from a set-piece. But most importantly, he is the tactical lynchpin of the manager and whatever tactics Austria chose to employ, David Alaba will have a big role in all of them.
#2 Nemanja Nikolic (Hungary)
The 28 years old striker plays for Legia Warsaw in the Polish league and recently won the Polish league and cup double finishing the season as the league’s top scorer with 28 goals and was voted the league’s best player. His international record, however, is not spectacular, to say the least, with 3 goals in 18 appearances, but still he will be one of the most important players of the team if they need to qualify for pre - quarters.
A 6 feet tall striker, Nikolic is known for his prowess in the air and precise finishing. He has constantly banged goals left and right at the club level. His only shortcoming in his game is that he is physically suspect i.e he lacks strength when compared to other options in the team and this can be a problem if they are to play a physical side.
#3 Christian Fuchs (Austria)
Fresh off an amazing league campaign with Leicester City, who won the Premier League this season, Christian Fuchs would be ready to captain this Austrian side to European glory. The left-back made his debut for his country in 2005 as a teenager and since has been a fixture in this side.
A seasoned campaigner, he has been playing at the top level for more than over a decade. A fierce competitor, Fuchs likes a high pressing game and never shies away from a tackle. He, in fact, also a threat on the other side of the pitch while overlapping.
A defensive leader, the Austrians would be looking up to him to lead them to glory with his experience having won 75 caps for his country till date. If Hungary are to take anything from this match, he will be the first to stand in their way.
#4 Adam Nagy (Hungary)
This 20-year-old midfielder who plies his trade at Ferencvárosi TC, is a talent to look out for. Adam Nagy did well against Northern Ireland on debut last September and seems to be improving steadily. The youngster has a great work rate and is good at intercepting passes and starting attacks.
Nagy, who comes from a futsal background, is two-footed, nimble and tactically intelligent footballer who covers the spaces in front of his defence perfectly, making vital interceptions and uses the ball smartly when in possession. His presence will thus be crucial in the midfield battle with Austria's David Alaba.
If his man of the match winning performance against Norway in the playoffs are anything to go by, it is safe to say that he will be one of the most important players for the Hungarian football team tonight. His versatility means that he can also play at the heart of the defence as a centre back. Wherever he plays, he is the one to look forward to.
#5 Marko Arnautovic (Austria)
Marko Arnautovic currently plays for Stoke City. He is also a Champions league winner with Inter Milan and is a seasoned campaigner. He can play anywhere across the front line and uses his well-built body very effectively. Having already represented his country on 52 occasions, he has scored 12 goals for them. It is not only his goals that Austria need, but they also require his creative and dribbling ability which is one of the best they have at their disposal.
He had a successful campaign with Stoke City where he chipped in with a club-high 11 goals and 6 assists in the Premier League. Not only is Arnautovic renowned for his skills with the feet, but he also uses his 192 cms tall frame to good effect when it comes to battles in the air.
The Hungarian defenders should be ready to deal with this battering ram of a player if they somehow want to salvage something from this game. His versatility is what makes him an even more potent a threat. He can hold up the play, can involve in good ground passing games as well as long balls. It is his concentration and attitude, though, which are his weaknesses. But on his day, he can simply destroy a defence.