NB1 – round 24 preview

Two clashes that include four of the top five teams will provide the color for another exciting Saturday of NB1 football. Round 24 serves up some tantalizing matchups as Videoton travel to Paks in search of breaking the Nuclear-team’s impenetrable form at home. Another ‘all-capital’ affair pits Honvéd against Ferencváros in a top four battle. Grab a cup of coffee and read along as we take a look ahead of each game this weekend.

Diósgyor (11th) vs Újpest (7th)

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

New Diósgyor manager Tamás Bódog’s has been put to work to save the club from relegation. In his first match in charge they played Ferencváros in the Magyar Kupa on Wednesday getting an important away goal in a 2-1 defeat. Bódog also managed to secure former Mezőkövesd defensive midfielder Patrick Mevoungou before the Fradi game and he should be ready for Saturday’s game as well. They’ve been abysmal away from home this season but have been surprisingly competitive at home, winning five and scoring 16 goals in 11 games – not bad for a team that’s sitting in the relegation zone.
Újpest are coming off a disappointing Magyar Kupa quarterfinal 2-1 first leg defeat against Vasas and manager Nebojsa Vignjevic is not pleased. After the game he questioned his team’s commitment coming back from the international break and that only “6 or 7 players could rise to the challenge” of the pressure of a cup quarterfinal. Sounding gracious as ever, the irritation was there behind the manager’s eyes and he’ll expect a response in the match on Saturday.
Midfielder Enis Bardhi continues to miss out due to injury, but the return of Kylian Hazard has been encouraging though he has yet to start.
It also looks as if forward János Lazok and left back Dávid Mohl will both require late fitness tests to play. Mohl has played every minute of every game for Lilák so far this season.

Prediction: Diósgyor 2-2 Újpest
DVTK’s recent home form and the arrival of a new manager will be enough to push them to get a result here. Újpest will be gunning for points and have been consistent in their travels. Look for an open game with a few goals.

Key facts:
– Újpest are the only team in the league to have picked up more points away (16) than at home (15) this season.
– Diósgyor have won 3 of their last four league home games and have 11 goals in their last 6 league home games as well.
– DVTK have won their last seven home matches against Újpest. Liláks last win away was in 2009.

Gyirmót (12th) vs MTK Budapest (9th)

at Alcufer Stadion

Bottom side Gyirmót have had a bit of a revival in recent weeks picking up points in three of their last four matches. They’ve also scored a goal in their last 3 games which is impressive considering they had only scored twice in their previous 9. Their hottest goal scorer is defender Mijusko Bojovic who has netted twice in his last five games making him the only player in the squad with more than one goal.
MTK have won two of their last 3 matches moving them 5 points clear of the relegation zone. A notable point is that Sándor Torghelle hasn’t scored in their last three games. He was suspended for two matches and then was mostly conspicuous in their win against Vasas in the last round. Despite their turnaround, manager Vaszilisz Teodoru will have to deal without strong central midfielder Dániel Gera who underwent shoulder surgery this past week and is likely out for the season as he recovers.

Prediction: Gyirmót 1-1 MTK Budapest
MTK have been absent away from home this season and the loss of Gera will hurt them as the season goes on. Gyirmót have scored only 5 goals at home all season, but the last time MTK kept a clean sheet away from home was goalless draw against Paks in September.

Key facts:
– Gyirmót are without a victory in their last 12 league matches
– MTK have won just once away from home all season
– Gyirmót have scored a league lowest 11 goals in 23 games; MTK are second worse with 18 scored.

Paks (5th) vs Videoton (1st)

at Fehérvári úti Stadion

This is match of the round for me. Paks are on fire and they have somehow found their scoring boots which is a scary combination. They’ve jumped from 8th to 5th in the table since the winter break. Aurél Csertoi’s side have won 3 on the trot and two of those have been away from home. László Bartha, Dávid Kulcsár, and János Szabó have all scored two goals in their last three games.
Videoton have seized the pole position in NB1 and have poured it on in recent weeks. With three clean sheets in a row and the brilliant creativity of their front line they are always the favorites. Defender Vinícius got his first cap for Hungary after starting in their 3-0 defeat against Portugal on Saturday.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Videoton
Paks are still the only team that haven’t suffered defeat at home and they’re no longer hanging on for dear life when playing away. They defeated Mezo 5-0 recently at “fortress Paks” and they continue to use their home turf as an advantage. Vidi are cruising and even with a rougher pitch they should still get something out of this one.

Key facts:
– Paks have just one defeat in their last ten (6W, 3D)
– Paks have scored 10 goals in their past 3 games – over a third of their season’s total
— Since 2011 Videoton have won just one of their last 7 meetings at Paks

Haladás (6th) vs Mezőkövesd (8th)

at Soproni Városi Stadion, Sopron

Géza Mészöly’s Haladás are coming off an impressive 3-2 win over Vasas last week. It was their second win in three and it saw the return of forward David Williams in terms of scoring goals. Haladas had been desperate for an out-and-out goalscorer to replace the prolific Bálint Gaál during the winter break and William’s brace was encouraging for the club and had to be a confidence-booster for the Australian.
Mezőkövesd have struggled since the start of the spring season but they will be receiving some key players back in the squad this week. In fact, goalkeeper Tomas Tujvel and defender Béla Balogh returned in a 3-1 midweek cup win against Szolnok, and defensive midfielder Dániel Hegedus is close to a return as well. Mezo looked like a different team and Tujvel brings experience, confidence and good communication from the back.

Prediction: Haladás 0-2 Mezőkövesd
I think Mezo have turned the corner in terms of injuries and they should return to the form they had before the winter break. Hali rode the back of an inspired performance by David Williams in their last game but it will be interesting to see if it was just a ‘one-off’ or it was the start of a good run for him.

Key facts:
– Haladás have conceded in 10 of their last 11 games
– Mezőkövesd have scored just twice in their last 6 away games
– Haladás haven’t defeated Mezőkövesd in two attempts this season

Vasas (3rd) vs Debrecen (10th)

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion

Bálint Gaál’s return to his former club in a Vasas shirt was less that ideal last week as he came on with 20 minutes remaining and didn’t really make an impact in Vasas’ second defeat in five days. Michael Oenning’s side are slipping from the top of the table but they were able to take a 2-1 advantage from Újpest in the Magyar Kupa despite a poorly-played match by both sides on Wednesday. Vasas are a team that looked to have been ‘solved’ by teams in the NB1 recently and Oenning and his staff are going to need to shake things up.
Debrecen continue to be led by Portuguese manager Leonel Pontes despite the rumors that had him sacked after their defeat against Paks before the international break. There is talent in his squad that need to find their scoring boots again such as Dávid Holman and János Ferenczi who have scored just one goal between them in Loki’s last 7 matches. Frank Feltscher is another transfer window addition that should be able to add some firepower up front.

Prediction: Vasas 2-0 Debrecen
Despite their recent struggles, Vasas have only lost twice at home all season. They’ve also scored at a generous clip at home and I think they’ll have a bit of a boost from their midweek win over Újpest in the cup. Loki are still under massive pressure to get a win and this is a huge ask for them at Szusza Ferenc Stadion.

Key facts:
– Vasas have won just twice in their last ten
– Debrecen have one victory in their last nine league matches
– Vasas are scoring an average of 2 goals per game at home in the league this season

Budapest Honvéd (2nd) vs Ferencváros (4th)

at Bozsik József Stadion

Marco Rossi’s side have lost two on trot away from home and they’ll welcome a return to Bozsik Stadion, However, Kispest suffered a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Fradi in their last meeting six weeks ago in the cup. This should be another entertaining match as champions Ferencváros are slowly climbing back up into contention for the title. The return of Endre Botka to Bozsik Stadion may become a non-story as the right back looks set to sit this one out as well. In fact, Ferencváros manager Thomas Doll has gone public in his criticism of Hungarian national team manager Bernd Storck who apparently had injured players Botka and László Kleinheisler train with the team despite not being able to play for their national side. Kleinheisler featured in their midweek cup first leg win over DVTK in the quarterfinals, however.

Prediction: Honvéd 0-1 Ferencváros
Fradi are humming right along despite all of Thomas Doll’s ranting and raving. After a slow start they seem to be peaking at the right time with a lot of talent in reserve. Rossi was unable to outsmart Doll in their last match and Honvéd need to be in form to get anything out of this. I don’t think it will happen for them. Ferencváros have scored a paltry 10 goals in 11 league away games this season, but they’ve also limited damage in conceding just 11 in their travels.

Key facts:
– Honvéd have won their last 5 home matches
– Ferencváros have defeated Honvéd in their last 5 meetings home or away
– Honvéd have conceded just 7 goals in nine league home matches this season.