France knew it wouldn't be easy. Winning a Euros or a World Cup, regardless of how strong your team is and how big a favourite you are, is never simple or straight forward.
The French knew this before facing Hungary on Saturday in front of 55,000 fans, and they know it even more after emerging from the Puskas Arena with only a 1-1 draw in their second group game of Euro 2020. Nothing will be given to them in this tournament. They will have to go and earn it. They can't afford to take anything for granted and on Saturday, they were issued a good warning by the Hungarians, who, while not as talented as the French, and without a Kylian Mbappe, played with a lot of belief and heart.
We expected a lot from France's front three in this match. Against Germany on Tuesday night, Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Mbappe were part of a very solid collective unit that was so well-organized, defended well and was set up to play on the counter. On Saturday, it was supposed to be their game. And the fact that it was not is their failure, too.
Against Hungary, with 66% of the ball and against a low block, they were asked to find different answers. They needed to find some magic in tight spaces, to link up well, to combine, to be sharp. In short, they didn't. Only once did they really click. It was on the half-hour mark, as Griezmann's perfect ball over the top found Mbappe, who controlled it marvellously before flicking the ball toward Benzema, who should have scored but missed wide. Apart from that, they struggled to find momentum or rhythm and maybe more worryingly, struggled to find each other.
"I am shattered. It was super hot, the pitch was dry and we struggled to find some rhythm. We could not hear each other because of the noise in the stadium and we are not used to it anymore after playing for so long in empty stadiums and silence," Griezmann said after the game on French TV.
Finding excuses is one thing but overall, the front three were simply not good enough.
"We should have scored in the first half, and we concede on their only chance. One point is not what we expected but we will take it and move on" Didier Deschamps said afterward.
There is clearly still a lot of work to be done in order for this fantastic front three on paper to be as fantastic in real life on the pitch. They certainly have the talent, the intelligence and complement each other so well to be the trio that everybody expects them to be. They are not there just yet, though, and it could be a big worry for Deschamps. There isn't much time to work on things before the Portugal game on Wednesday, but we will expect more once again from them.
Deschamps was not angry after the game and told his players to stay positive, too. There are no reasons to panic.
"We have to stay positive. The result today is not enough but we knew it would be tough. At home, their fans gave them a lot of strength and energy. They defend very well, we saw it as well until the 83rd minute against Portugal," he said after the game.
The France head coach was right to give credit to his opponents. The Hungarians made their fans, their country and this European Championships very proud. They played with so much discipline, so much determination, so much energy and desire that they totally deserved the draw they got, one of the best results of their recent history.
And no player epitomised this wonderful spirit more than right-back Attila Fiola. His goal just before the break was the first one conceded by Les Bleus in 527 minutes! At 31 years of age, he has entered the legend of the Euros. For generations now, people in Hungary will tell the story of Fiola, the man who never played outside of his own country, who was not the most talented, but never gave up. A man, who had netted only one international goal, against minnows Andorra, in his whole international career prior to facing France, but who beat four-time Champions League winner Raphael Varane to score past Hugo Lloris and give Hungary a 1-0 lead on the World Champions.
Attila and the Huns did it against France. Now they have Germany as they look for an improbable qualification from the Group of Death. For the French, and their so-far-somewhat-underwhelming front three, it will be a replay of the Euro 2016 Final against Portugal with designs for revenge on the cards.