Hungarian Football Roundup – February in Focus

In this monthly column, Tomasz Mortimer will guide us through the events that have taken place in Hungarian football throughout the month. With the Hungarian league restarting this month, and Hungarians in action all over Europe, there’s plenty to discuss in this months feature.

Nikolics stays at Legia 

In what seemed like 2016’s most tedious transfer saga in world football, Nemanja Nikolics turned down the chance to make a tidy sum in China by remaining at Legia until the summer at least. Nikolics, who has 23 goals in 25 league games this season, has been in scintillating form in his first year in the Ekstraklasa and has been at the spearhead of Legia’s charge for the title in their centenary year.

On transfer deadline day an unnamed Chinese club reportedly offered €5m for the 28 year old Hungarian international but Nikolics chose to stay in Poland citing that “Money isn’t everything” which was splashed upon the front page of Hungary’s sports daily Nemzeti Sport on Saturday 27th.

Since the resumption of the Ekstraklasa, Nikolics has managed 2 goals in 4 games but has suffered somewhat of a mini-drought failing to score in 3 games in a row for the first time since joining Legia. His last goal came at the beginning of the month in a 4-0 win over Bialystok. The Serbian born striker did however manage to lay on two assists in the wins of Ruch and Zaglebie Lubin.

Three games in, not much change

In NBI not a lot has changed after the first three matchdays. At the bottom; Vasas, DVTK and Puskas Akademia have all managed one win from three, while Bekescsaba at the bottom sit 5 points adrift of safety after two draws and one loss.

At the top there was a surprise loss for Ferencvaros on matchday 22 when they were downed 2-1 by Honved but it’s not likely to matter as they still hold a substantial lead sitting 19 points clear of 2nd place. Debrecen have started the summer season in good form picking up two wins before drawing against Ujpest who themselves started pretty brightly with 2 draws and a win from their 3 games. It’s all pretty congested at the top with just 3 points separating 2nd place Ujpest and 6th place Paks.

Ujpest have confirmed that they won’t be entering UEFA competition next season which means there is a chance that 5th place may be in line for a Europa League slot come the end of the season. So despite the title race being as good as over, there’s still plenty to play for across the rest of the league.

leaguetable3

Mervo joins Slask on loan

Hungary’s U20 World Cup star, Bence Mervo joined Slask Wroclaw on loan from FC Sion at the end of February just one month after officially joining the Swiss side from Gyor. Mervo  scored 5 goals in 4 U20 World Cup games claiming the Silver Ball last June netting a hat trick against North Korea before strikes against Brazil and eventual winners Serbia in the Round of 16.

The soon to be 21 year old had never played as a striker before the tournament in New Zealand but unexpectedly adapted brilliantly to the role and immediately found himself with plenty of suitors across Europe after becoming a free agent following Gyor’s financial crisis at the beginning of 2015.

FC Sion moved for Mervo in September 2015 despite interest from a number of clubs including Deportivo La Coruna but though Mervo scored in a winter friendly, he was unable to force his way into the top heavy Swiss side who loaned the young striker to Slask Wroclaw in the Polish Ekstraklasa to play alongside new recruit and fellow compatriot Andras Gosztonyi. Mervo is set to make his debut on March 5th against Zaglebie Lubin and has already netted for Slask reserves.

Topsy turvy February for Dardai

Pal Dardai probably would’ve hoped for a more consistent return to Bundesliga action following the German winter break but his side still sit in a fantastic position with 11 games to go.

Hertha have surpassed all expectations so far this season and sit in third place in the league despite being tipped by many as potential relegation candidates. New signings Mitchell Weiser and Vladimir Darida have been essential to the Hungarian’s sides success, as has the reborn Salamon Kalou who has 12 league goals this term.

Dardai’s men went 5 games without a win following the winter break but have hit back with two wins on the bounce to put themselves 3 points ahead of their closest challengers Borussia Mochengladbach. Hertha also managed to set up a juicy cup semi final in Berlin against Dortmund after a 3-2 win over Heidenheim in the quarter finals. Dardai’s fairytale in football management continues.

Further Talking Points

  • Hungary moved up one position to number 19 in the FIFA World Rankings – their highest ever ranking.
  • The Hungarian panini stickers for Euro 2016 are out which you can see here
  • Click the links for individual highlights of Laszlo Kleinheisler’s performances vs Darmstadt and Hertha
  • Nemanja Nikolics, Gabor Kiraly, Daniel Bode and Balazs Dzsudzsak made it into World Soccer’s ‘500 Most Important Players on the Planet’
  • Adam Bogdan was on the bench for Liverpool’s Capital One Cup final defeat to Manchester City
  • Krisztian Nemeth has scored 5 goals in 4 games since moving to Qatar
  • Vilmos Vanczak with FC Sion became the last Hungarian to go out of European competition after losing to Braga in the Europa League
  • A Hungary squad consisting of 22 domestic based players met up for a training camp. You can view the squad here
  • Adam Gyurcso scored a winner on his debut for Pogon Szczecin
  • Szabolcs Huszti scored his first goal for Frankfurt
  • Peter Gulacsi made his league debut for RB Leipzig, Zsolt Kalmar made his debut for FSV Frankfurt, Zoltan Stieber made his debut Nurnberg,
  • Nemanja Nikolics won the 2015 Pilka Nozna trophy for the Best Ekstraklasa Player of 2015
  • The top scorer in NBI Mbaye Diagne left Ujpest for China for €1.5m, Hungarian international Zsolt Korcmsar signed for Vasas from Greuther Furth
  • Hungary went out in the group stages of the Fustal Euro 2016 after losses to Spain and Ukraine

 

Follow me on Twitter for daily updates – @TMortimerFtbl