ON Saturday, the Hungarian cup final takes place in Budapest, an all-capital clash between Ferencvaros and Ujpest.
Fradi, who won the league title in style, 20 points clear of second-placed Videoton, will host their rivals as the Puskas Stadium is being rebuilt. It was their first championship for 12 years. Ujpest were 30 point adrifts of Fradi, but they did inflict upon their long-time enemies their only home defeat of the campaign. In December, Ujpest won 1-0 at the Groupama Arena in December. And just recently, Fradi were held to a 2-2 draw at home by the Lilak.
Ferencvaros have the chance of completing the double, something they last achieved in 2003-04. The last club to do that was Debrecen in 2011-12. Fradi deprived Videoton of that last season when they won the Cup. Ujpest were the cup winners in 2014.
The club’s return to the pinnacle comes at a time when Hungarian football is smiling once more. The national team will play in the summer’s European Championship (Game of the People will see them play Austria in Bordeaux on June 14), the first time in 30 years that the Magyars have taken part in a major tournament.
Five Ferencvaros players will take part in Euro 2016: Goalkeeper Denes Dibusz, veteran midfielder Zoltan Gera, the promising schemer Adam Nagy, Adam Pinter and fans’ favourite striker Daniel Bode.
Ujpest have a young side and seven of the likely side for the final are under 25 years of age. They will probably include Kylian Hazard, brother of Chelsea’s Eden.
The final represents the end of a long road in the competition, starting September. Ujpest started with a 14-1 win against Vertessomloi and a 9-0 thrashing of Celldomolki. Fradi started a little later, netting 10 past Nagyecsed.
The two sides last met in the Hungarian Cup in 2013-14 when Ujpest won 1-0 after a goalless draw. They have met in three previous finals: 1932-33 (11-1 to Fradi); 1926-27 (3-0 Fradi); and 1921-22 (1-0 Fradi). Overall, Ferencvaros and Ujpest have played each over 200 times.
Although Fradi celebrated their return to the top, coming after a period of decline that saw them relegated from the top flight, coach Thomas Doll has admitted that, “at European level this is still not enough, so we need to strengthen in the summer.”