Euro 2024: Hungary faces Switzerland in first round of Group A

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — Hungary faces Switzerland on Saturday in Cologne in their first Group A match. Host nation Germany leads the group after beating Scotland 5-1 on Friday. Kickoff is at 3 p.m. local time (1300 GMT). Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts

— Switzerland is aiming for a winning start to its Euro 2024 campaign as it bids to reach the knockout stages for the third European Championship in a row.

— Hungary comes into the tournament with an impressive record in recent years and came through qualifying unbeaten. A loss to Ireland in a pre-tournament friendly last week was the team's first defeat since 2022.

— Hungary's fans will be under scrutiny after racist and homophobic abuse by its supporters during the last European Championship in 2021, and against England later the same year.

Team news

— Hungary's star midfielder, Dominik Szoboszlai of Liverpool, needed treatment on his left thigh in Saturday's 3-0 friendly win over Israel and was substituted as a precaution but seems likely to be fit.

— Hungary coach Marco Rossi says French-born midfielder Loic Nego will not be fit to face Switzerland but could recover for the second game on Wednesday against Germany.

— Swiss coach Murat Yakin says he has his whole squad available, though defensive midfielder Denis Zakaria and winger Steven Zuber did only light training on Friday. Zakaria has had a thigh injury and Zuber has a calf problem.

Gregor Kobel reached the Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund but is set to be only the second-choice Swiss goalkeeper at Euro 2024. The more experienced Yann Sommer is Switzerland's starter and won the Italian title at Inter Milan this season.

— Switzerland made a formal complaint to UEFA about the quality of its training field in Stuttgart but opted against relocating to another facility because the travel would take too long.

By the numbers

— It’s 70 years since Switzerland hosted the World Cup and Hungary lost to West Germany in the final. That loss marked the end of an era when Hungary’s “Magic Magyars” were one of the world’s best teams.

— It's 43 years since Hungary beat Switzerland in a competitive game. Their last meeting was a 5-2 win for Switzerland in World Cup qualifying in 2017.

— Opening games have been a problem for both teams at the Euros. Switzerland has one win from five, against Albania in 2016. Hungary has one win from four, though two of its opening games were also semifinals because only four teams qualified for the tournament in 1964 and 1972.

— Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka can play his 126th game for his country, extending the team record. Vice-captain Shaqiri is close behind on 123 games.

What they're saying

“We have clear aims and we want to achieve them, but tomorrow is the first game, the first aim. We want to give our best and hopefully get the three points.” — Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka.

“We qualified not by chance but because we deserved to qualify on the pitch. We are here and we would like to be the protagonists.” — Hungary coach Marco Rossi.

“I feel we’ve prepared perfectly for tomorrow’s game. We have no reasons to fear.” — Hungary midfielder Bendeguz Bolla.


AP soccer:

James Ellingworth, The Associated Press