NB1 – Round 22 preview

The NB1 continues with a full slate of matches on Saturday after a busy day of Magyar Kupa games on Wednesday. Vasas, Újpest, Mezőkövesd, Ferencváros, and Diósgyor are all into the quarterfinals of the competition and it will be interesting to see if their progression affects their performances this week. This week have injury reports, another managerial change, and build up to one of the biggest derbies in European football.

Debrecen (10th) vs Diósgyor (11th)

at Nagyerdei Stadion

The news of the week came Thursday as DVTK boss Ferenc Horváth was sacked after just 8 months on the job. It should come as little surprise as Diósgyor have steadily declined over the past three years finishing 7th and 9th respectively over the last two seasons. Now, sitting in 11th and staring down the barrel of relegation, they made the move that will hopefully spark their team to survive the drop and move forward. Zoltan Vitelki will once again take over as interim at Diósgyor with the unveiling of the new manager to be announced in the next few days.
The situation is just as dire for their opponents this week as Debrecen manager Leonel Pontes’ days seem to be numbered. The Portuguese manager has taken a team that has finished in the top four the last three seasons and has them flirting with disaster and there have been reports that he needs all six points in his next two matches to save his job.
This type of tension should provide an interesting atmosphere on the pitch during this relegation six-pointer. Debrecen have shown some improvement defensively after the winter break, drawing Fradi and then coming just short of another point at Honvéd last week. DVTK have shown no such organization and have shipped 6 goals in their last two.
Loki have shown grit in their last two games despite the low return in points. I think the players are still playing for Pontes and are likely to get their first goals after 5 games of futility.

Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Diósgyor

Key facts:
– Debrecen have defeated Diósgyor in each of their last 5 meetings.
– Diósgyor haven’t defeated Debrecen away from home in over 11 years
– Debrecen haven’t scored a goal in the league in over 450 minutes of play
– Diósgyor have conceded an average of 2.6 goals per game on their travels this season

Gyirmót (12th) vs Haladás (8th)

at Alcufer Stadion

Are these two teams going in opposite directions? Gyirmót were written off after the autumn season sitting bottom of the table with only 13 points. But István Urbányi’s side have made a decent start to the second half drawing Paks away and then holding mighty Vasas to a 1-1 draw at home. With relegation an almost surety perhaps they’re playing with a bit of élan knowing there’s no where else to go but up. This could mean trouble for teams in the lower half that have a bit more to play for.
Haladás were roughed up by Újpest last week. Lilák were looking for redemption after being spanked by Videoton the week before, and Hali just happened to be in the way last week. With just one victory in their last eight and riding a run of four away defeats, this will be an important three points to pick up if they can. They lost to Gyirmót at home back in September 1-0 on a Dániel Sallói goal. Géza Mészöly needs more production from his front line. The only players who have scored in the past 9 rounds have both left the club over the break. David Williams returned to action last week and, although he put in a credible shift, looked a bit rusty in front of the goal.

Prediction: Gyirmót 1-1 Haladás

Key facts:
– Gyirmót have the worst goals scored avg (0.42) per game in the competition
— Haladás have lost their last five in all competitions
– Gyirmót’s last league victory was against Haladás back on 24 September
– Gyirmót have only scored 3 goals in their last ten league games.

Mezőkövesd (6th) vs Vasas (3rd)

at Városi Stadion

Tomislav Sivic’s honeymoon period came to a crashing halt as his Mezőkövesd side were humiliated 5-0 at Paks last week. Perhaps the absence of his new-signing Béla Balogh made the difference. Sivic inserted Alexandra Damcevski in his place on the back line and Mezo’s defense seemed unrecognizable from the week before. They have been very strong at home, however, winning their last five matches at Városi Stadion.
Vasas came back from the winter break with a whimper instead of a roar. Their gift from the league was to start the Spring season with match against Gyirmót but they could only manage a 1-1 draw. New-signing Balint Gaál got his feet wet in his first action with the club and should be sharper for this one. With the likes of Mahir Saglik and Mohamed Remeli up front, Gaál should have a bit more service that he had when he was with Haladás.
Vasas have struggled in their travels recently (not including their recent cup win over NBII side Dorogi) and Mezőkövesd are smarting from their disastrous defeat at Paks. This will be a tough one for Vasas and, even though they won the reverse fixture 4-0 at home, I’m afraid they’ll be faced with their second defeat in as many weeks at Városi.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 3-2 Vasas

Key facts:
– Mezőkövesd have won their last 5 home matches
– Vasas have won their last 3 meetings against Mezőkövesd
– Mezőkövesd have only conceded 2 goals in their last five home matches
– Vasas haven’t won in their last 3 away matches

MTK Budapest (9th) vs Paks (7th)

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion

Last week MTK showed they can score goals with 3 of them against Diósgyor – their highest offensive output of the season. They also showed they can win away from home (another first this season), and they did it without their talisman Sándor Torghelle who has usually been at the heart of the best performances. New-signing Yuri Kolomoets looked good in his first start and opened his account as well. Vaszilisz Teodoru will be looking to his Ukrainian import to keep the momentum going up front.
Paks are on cloud nine after a comprehensive dismantling of Mezőkövesd last week. There’s no doubt that home is more an advantage than a comfort for Paks but that went to a whole new level in their best performance of the season. The problem with that is they may have emptied their clip too soon. They’re not a “five-goal” kind of team and I can’t see that happening again – especially away from home. The Nuclearteam will likely be buoyed by their recent four-match unbeaten run but I think that will end in the capital this week. These two ended goalless in September and I think MTK will have the advantage at home.

Prediction: MTK Budapest 2-0 Paks

Key facts:
– MTK have won their last five home matches against Paks.
– MTK haven’t won a home match since defeating Gyirmót in October
– Paks have not scored in their last two away trips

Videoton (2nd) vs Budapest Honvéd (1st)

at Pancho Aréna

This is the first of two massive games on the day. Videoton are coming off a goalless draw at Ferencváros and are still looking good to make a serious title challenge. Honvéd also played Fradi but tumbled out of the cup in a 2-0 defeat on Wednesday. It was a tough loss for Honvéd who hadn’t failed to win at home since a 1-1 draw against Újpest back in mid-October.
Honvéd boss Marco Rossi also started his first team side he’ll be hoping his boys can recover in time to take on Videoton who will be waiting to take over top spot in the league.
Videoton are a dangerous attacking team and they’ve already defeated Kispest at Boszik Stadion earlier this season. They’ll return home where they’ve won their last four.
It will be interesting to see how Honvéd recover from the disappointment of falling to Ferencváros in such a physically and emotionally draining match this week. I think Videoton are in a good position to take advantage.

Prediction: Videoton 3-1 Budapest Honvéd

Key facts:
– Videoton are undefeated in their last 7 home games (6W, 1D)
– Honvéd have not been kept off the score sheet for 14 consecutive league matches.
– Vidi’s Danko Lazovic and Marko Scepovic have combined for 3 goals and 4 assists in their last three games.

Újpest (5th) vs Ferencváros (4th)

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion

Top cap off another great week of fixtures we have the Budapest derby between Újpest and Ferencváros. This is a match that’s already volatile, but with the two teams so close to each other on the table it will bring it to another level of tension among players and supporters alike.
Both clubs had cup matches this week and both were victorious. Fradi’s match might have taken a bit more out of them as they visited Honvéd and battled to a 2-0 victory (4-1 on aggregate). Újpest had already taken a commanding 4-1 lead against Zalaegerszegi but didn’t take it easy on the NBII side finishing them off with another 2-0 win on Wednesday.
Újpest took a blow this week as they reported their star man Enis Bardhi will be out with a back injury. However, there were promising signs as they kept up their momentum from a 2-0 win over Haladás at the weekend. Also, after spending the season like nomads, Újpest return “home” to Szusza Ferenc Stadium to contest this all-important derby. Lilák know what’s riding on this and they have had success against Fradi recently – drawing the last two contests at Groupama. This should be a cracking match and both teams will be up for it.  The match was handed to 35-year old referee Ádám Farkas who has only officiated 6 games this season, but he’s not one to keep his cards in his pocket as he’s averaged 5 yellows per game. The big question will be, “can he keep control of the game?”
Against Honvéd, Fradi looked like the team we thought they’d be after assembling all their new talent during the winter break. If they can keep their composure and remain focused they might be able to edge this one.

Prediction: Újpest 2-2 Ferencváros

Key facts:
– Ferencváros have won 98 of 218 games against Újpest in NB1
– Mihailo Perovic has scored in each of his last two starts for Lilák
– Újpest have lost just once in their last 12 league matches
– Fradi have scored on goal in their last four league matches