NB1 – round 25 preview

It’s make or break time in the NB1 as teams are entering a busy period where they will play 3 games in 8 days. The title is still up for grabs with four teams close enough to be seriously considered. Vasas (3rd) and Ferencvaros (4th) have drifted, creating a six point gap between them and the top two. Honvéd crawled a bit closer to Videoton at the top while relegation battlers Gyirmót and Diósgyor both signaled their intent to climb out of danger with unlikely victories last week. Read on for an in-depth preview of Saturday’s games.

Debrecen (9th) vs Gyirmót (12th)
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Debrecen continues to surprise as they defeated Vasas 3-2 last week despite the latter coming back from a two-goal deficit. It was a timely win for manager Leonel Pontes who continues to have the seemingly impossible task of keeping his job with so much pressure on results as end of the season draws closer. Loki did jump up to 9th place and are 3 points clear of danger. They face bottom side Gyirmót who have had a bit of a turnaround themselves in recent weeks.
István Urbányi’s side defeated MTK last week to register their first victory in 13 league games. It was a hard-fought result against an obstinate MTK side but Gyirmót were able to get maximum points for the first time since September and increase their impressive recent stretch of getting points in four of their last five matches. Gyirmót still lack an designated striker who is a proven goal-scorer. Both winters signings, Bebeto and Oleksiy Antonov, haven’t paid dividends on Gyirmót’s investment in terms of goals of late.

Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Gyirmót
Two goals are the target for Loki as they have won every game they’ve scored multiples times so far. Gyirmót are scoring both home and away these days but they haven’t scored more than one goals since round 1 against Mezőkövesd in July.

Key facts:
– Debrecen have won both meetings against Gyirmot this season (4-0 home, 2-1 away).
– David Holman leads Debrecen in scoring with 5 goals but hasn’t scored since late November.
– Gyirmót are on their longest scoring run of the season, finding the net in each of their last four league matches.

MTK Budapest (10th) vs Mezőkövesd (8th)
at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest

Two teams with disappointing defeats last week will meet in Budapest on Saturday. MTK crashed to a 1-0 loss at basement dwellers Gyirmót; the first time they’d been held goalless in 7 games. For Vaszilisz Teodoru’s side they will need to find their scoring boots as Diósgyor are making up ground and could climb over them and out of the relegation zone with the right combination of results. Patrik Poór left the game against Gyirmót with a head injury with 15 minutes remaining and it’s not clear if he’ll be in the lineup. József Kanta will be back after serving his one match ban last week and that will be a massive boost as the skipper has been the creative force behind MTK’s attack.
Mezőkövesd have been a disaster since Tomislav Sivic has taken over. The departure of Attila Pintér has put the club in a downward spiral. With just one victory in their last five they have dropped from 5th place (1 point off the top four) to 8th place. They are now equidistant from the top four and from the drop and their current form suggests the latter if something doesn’t change. They have to sort out a defense that is shipping goals like crazy. One bright spot is that they’ve reached the semi finals of the Magyar Kupa but they conceded 5 goals over two legs against NBII side Szolnok in doing so. They also conceded four against a Haladás side that hadn’t reached that number all season. They were most efficient when they were playing a 4-2-3-1 with Vági, Hudak, Szeles, and Gohér on the back line. With Tomas Tujvel in goal this formation conceded just two goals over 7 games and defeated the like of Videoton and Ferencváros toward the end of the autumn season.

Prediction: MTK Budapest 2-1 Mezőkövesd
Mezőkövesd haven’t won in their last 5 away days and MTK are getting players back at the right time. I don’t see any other result happening here but a home win.

Key facts:
– Mezőkövesd have won both meetings against MTK this season by a 1-0 score line.
– József Kanta has been involved in more of MTK’s goals (3G, 6A) than any other player.
– Mezőkövesd have conceded as many goals in their last 4 games than they had in their previous 13.

Haladás (5th) vs Honvéd (2nd)
at Káposztás utcai Stadion, Sopron

This should be a fun one for the staff here at hungarianfootball.com as Tom’s Haladás takes on Gayle’s Honvéd in Sopron. Haladás are really in the mood for scoring of late with 7 goals over their last two matches. They’ve also won 3 of their last four to move up from 7th to 5th place since the spring season started. It’s hard getting past what David Williams has meant to the club over the past few weeks. The Australian striker has been able to fill the void left by Bálint Gaál and become the catalyst for his club’s attack. He’s been instrumental in six of the seven goals scored in the last two games as they are enjoying an upturn in form in the attacking third.
Honvéd got sweet revenge against Ferencváros last week, putting away the painful memory of being eliminated from the Magyar Kupa by Fradi in front of their own fans in early March. Last week’s win also allowed them to creep even closer to the top spot as Videoton got held at Paks. Donát Zsótér might be one to watch for Kispest here as he’s scored in each of their last two games.

Prediction: Haladás 2-2 Honvéd
Hali are in form at the moment and they could do well against a defense that has kept just one clean sheet in their last six away games. Honvéd will take their confidence into a tough match and be happy with a point.

Key facts:
– Haladas have lost just once in their last five meetings with Honvéd.
– Haladás forward David Williams has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last two games.
— Honvéd’s Márton Eppel has scored 5 goals in his last 8 games.

Videoton (1st) vs Vasas (3rd)
at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

This is another opportunity for Videoton to distance themselves from the chasing pack. In February this was a mouth-watering tie that many were looking forward to, but now the hosts are heavily favored as Vasas’ form has dipped dramatically in recent weeks. Videoton did as well as any team has done a Paks last week. Their goalless draw there was an important point against the hottest team in the league right now. Danko Lazovic was visibly frustrated throughout the game and he will be looking to get back onto the scoresheet as quickly as possible. Videoton goalkeeper Ádám Kovácsik hasn’t conceded in 443 minutes. The record this season belongs to Gyirmót keeper Zsolt Sebok who strung together 611 minutes from late August through September, but Kovácsik will hope he can keep it up against Vasas.
Vasas managed to squeeze their way into the Magyar Kupa semi finals despite losing to Újpest at home on Wednesday. The defeat came off the back of three consecutive defeats in the league that have seen them drop to seven points off the pace for the title. It’s been a frustrating spring for Michael Oenning so far as he hasn’t been able to recreate the magic from the autumn. In their current form I can’t see them staying in the top four much longer.

Prediction: Videoton 3-1 Vasas
Videton are unstoppable at home and their lack of goals against Paks will only spur them on in this one. Vasas might in for a lesson here with Vidi’s Serbian attack as their teacher.

Key facts:
– Videoton are on a four-match home winning run (11 goals for, 1 conceded)
– Vasas have lost their last three league games.
– Vidi have kept four clean sheets in a row.

Újpest (7th) vs Paks (6th)
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion

The frustration at Újpest must be growing as their season is folding in on them. Despite winning 1-0 in the second leg of the Magyar Kupa on Wednesday they were eliminated by Vasas’ 2 away goals in the first leg. In the league Lilák have won just once since the winter break and their defense is the culprit. There was some hope that they were getting things in order as Enis Bardhi was injured and they were waiting for their talismanic midfielder to rejoin the squad but even his insertion couldn’t help them as they crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Diósgyor last week. If Bardhi can give a full 90 minutes it might be a boost but he only last 75 minutes on Wednesday.
I keep waiting for Paks to crash at any moment but they continue to defy the odds and have put together a fine run of form. Their home record has been legendary this season and they were able to use their home to its fullest advantage last week as they held league leaders Videoton to a goalless draw. Prior to that they’ve swept aside all opposition since early December to climb from 11th place to 6th. Aurél Csertoi has done a fantastic job with so little this season. With no stand out “star” he’s put together a strong “team” that have all contributed to a memorable run.

Prediction: Újpest 1-2 Paks
Paks won’t find playing at Szusza Ferenc Stadion easy but Újpest will do everything they can to make them feel at home.

Key facts:
– Újpest and Paks six of last seven meetings have seen 2 goals or less scored.
– Újpest have one only one of their last 8 home games.
– Paks are unbeaten in their last 7 with five victories.

Ferencváros (4th) vs Diósgyor (11th)
at Groupama Arena, Budapest

Ferencváros and Diósgyor are well acclimated to one another as they’ve played twice in the last two weeks. Fradi managed to squeeze past Tamás Bódog’s new charges to reach the semi finals of the Magyar Kupa with a goalless draw against them on Tuesday, winning 2-1 on aggregate. The champions didn’t blow them away by any stretch, however, and that can only continue building confidence for a club that’s come off a strong 3-1 against Újpest last week as well. Diósgyor looked headed for the drop until the arrival of Bódog who has stemmed a run of four straight defeats and made a good showing in the latter stages of the Cup.
Thomas Doll will be happy reaching the semi finals and drawn against NBII side Bodafok which will allow him to keep his stronger side in the league matches. They’ve had a difficult time scoring goals away this season but they’re second in scoring at home with 28 goals at Groupama. I think they took care of DVTK efficiently in the cup and they’ll hammer them in this one. They’ve already scored 9 goals against them this season in their two previous games and this one shouldn’t be much different.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Diósgyor
Fradi returns to normal service against a team that took advantage of a leaky defense last time out. Diósgyor’s win over Újpest was a blip on the radar and the champions should make quick work of them.

Key facts:
– Moutari Amadou and Zoltán Gera have each scored 2 goals in their past 3 games for Ferencváros.
– Diósgyor have lost their last five away games without scoring a goal.
– Fradi have conceded a league worst 17 goals at home so far this season.