NB1 – round 29 preview

The NB1 is turning into a proper three-horse race as Videoton and Honvéd dropped points last week, allowing Vasas to creep back into contention for the title. Ferencváros continue to be a mystery as they are hanging around the pack, but an 8-0 whitewashing of the their opponent in the Magyar Kupa might mean their efforts to obtain a European spot lie outside the league.
The drama is cranking up as the season winds down. Read on for a full preview of all of this weekend’s games in the Hungarian top flight.

Ferencváros (4th) vs Mezőkövesd (8th)
at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

Ferencváros ended a string of four matches without a victory last week as they muddled past lowly Gyirmót thanks to a Zoltán Gera hat trick and a late penalty save by young goalkeeper Ádám Holczer. They followed up that performance by completely annihilating Budafok in their Magyar Kupa semifinal first leg 8-0 at Groupama Aréna. Thomas Doll used a full-strength side against their NBIII opponents on Wednesday to ensure the tie was won in the first leg. He can now probably field his U16 side against them in the second leg and still advance. I understand they’re a team that is searching for confidence but that seemed like overkill to me. However, it did allow István Bognár to get a full 90 minutes – something the former Diósgyor attacking midfielder has yet to do in the league.
Mezőkövesd are another team that lacks confidence currently. Tomislav Sivic’s side fell 3-1 at home to Újpest last week and then, despite a heroic effort, fell 2-0 in their cup semifinal first leg at Vasas. They actually had the ball in the back of the net as full time approached against Vasas but it was ruled out for offsides, prompting Sivic to find a hole in the ground to crawl into. Mezo are in tatters with only one victory in their last 8 matches. Their defense has conceded 19 goals in their last 8 league matches which has to be a concern for a team that was one point off the top four at the start of the Spring season and now are just four from the drop.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Mezőkövesd
Doll’s charges are revved up after their midweek stroll and will hope to carry that momentum into this match. Mezőkövesd are in need of offense and, like other teams have this season, should find their scoring boots but will fall just short in the capital.

Key facts:
– Mezőkövesd are unbeaten in two prior meetings with Ferencváros this season.
– Ferencváros have just one victory in their last five league matches.
– Mezőkövesd’s goals-against average has doubled (1.2 to 2.4 goals per game) since Tomislav Sivic was appointed manager.

Újpest (5th) vs MTK Budapest (10th)
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Lilák have put together a run of four games without defeat and they are starting to score goals as well which has returned the smile to Nebojsa Vignjevic’s face. Újpest have been inconsistent since the start of the spring season but have found their compass recently. Surprisingly the insertion of young goalkeeper Dávid Banai has provided a bit more stability in the back and the return of midfielder Enis Bardhi has given them a boost in attack – especially without an out-and-out striker at their disposal.
MTK continue to be an anomaly this season. Are they a good team, a poor team, an unlucky team? They are unbeaten in their last four, but 3 consecutive draws have kept them close to the relegation muck and mire. They slowed the Videoton machine last week, drawing 1-1 at home against the league leaders. But what’s worried Vaszilisz Teodoru is that they have been misfiring on attack with just 3 goals in their last five matches. They’ve only scored 8 goals away from home this season but have ramped up things defensively conceding just twice in their last six games. Defensive midfielder Bálint Borbély will miss out on this one as he’s suspended for collecting his fifth yellow card last week against Videoton.

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 MTK Budapest
Újpest have struggled at home and haven’t won a game at Szusza Ferenc Stadion since returning to the newly renovated venue this spring. MTK tend to get results when you least expect it and Sándor Torghelle has been kept of the score sheet for the past 3 game which means he’s due.

Key facts:
– Four of these team’s last five matches against each other have ended in a draw.
– Újpest have the second worst home record this season with just 17 points from 14 games.
– MTK have conceded just 2 goals in their last 6 league matches.

Diósgyor (11th) vs Vasas (3rd)
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Tamás Bódog’s side can be proud of last week’s win over Paks as they were the first team to defeat them at home. Bódog’s appointment at DVTK has brought a whole new feel to this team that seemed destined for the drop a month ago. Now Diósgyor are unbeaten in four of their last five and have claimed scalps from Újpest, Honvéd, and Paks as well as draw against Ferencváros at Groupama. That’s quite impressive considering they had lost four of five before Bódog’s arrival.
Vasas staked themselves to a 2-0 lead over Mezőkövesd in the first leg of their Magyar Kupa semifinals on Wednesday. That was their third consecutive victory in all competitions and manager Michael Oenning has to be encouraged seeing his side return to the kind of form they had before the break. Both Mohamed Remeli and Kire Ritevski are available for this one as they both served their one-match ban last week for amassing 5 yellow cards.

Prediction: Diósgyor 2-2 Vasas
This is a difficult one to predict. Diósgyor have been impressive at home and are riding the wave of being the first team to down Paks at home. Vasas are enjoying some confident displays and good results, defeating Videoton, Ferencváros and Honvéd within the last month. This one has stalemate written all over it.

Key facts:
– Vasas have won just once in their last 8 matches against DVTK.
– Diósgyor are unbeaten in 4 of their last 5
— Vasas have the most away victories in the league (7).

Honvéd (1st) vs Gyirmót (12th)
at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

If there’s another team in the league that home advantage has really meant something to other than Paks it would be Honvéd. Kispest have lost only twice at Bozsik Stadion this season and have only conceded 8 goals in 13 games there. Fortunately, for them, they return home this week to face bottom side Gyirmót. Honvéd have been erratic on the road but they have won their last seven at home with four consecutive clean sheets thanks to goalkeeper Dávid Gróf and company.
Gyirmót did their best to overturn the apple cart against Fradi last week but just missed ruining their day when András Simon’s injury time penalty was saved to deny them a share of the points against the champions. István Urbányi’s side are twelve points adrift of safety with just five games remaining, but most have accepted the fact they weren’t staying up long ago. Their performance against Ferencváros was admirable and they’ve scored multiple goals in consecutive games for the first time all season but they’ll have a hard time breaking down Honvéd’s back line this week.

Prediction: Honvéd 2-0 Gyirmót
Honvéd should be winning games like this and their recent home form leads one to believe that this should be a fairly easy three points for the hosts. Gyirmót haven’t scored against Honvéd all season and there’s nothing evident that that will change on Saturday.

Key facts:
– Honvéd are unbeaten with 6 wins in their last 7 matches against Gyirmót.
– Gyirmót have one victory in their last 17 matches.
– Honvéd have conceded just 8 goals in 13 league matches at home this season.

Haladás (6th) vs Paks (7th)
at Soproni Városi Stadion, Sopron

Haladás fell apart last week at Debrecen, conceding a season-worst four goals against a team struggling for survival. That came off a run of consecutive clean sheets – the first time they had achieved that all season. Haladás has the threat of David Williams who is on fire with 5 goals in his last six matches. The Australian has scored 9 goals in the league so far this season which is his biggest haul since knocking in 12 for A-League side Melbourne City in the 2014-15 season.
Paks are smarting after Diósgyor’s smash and grab last week. It was their first home defeat of the season and they’ll have to pick themselves up for this one as they haven’t had much luck recently against Haladás away from home. Paks haven’t scored in their last two games either, which is cause for concern for manager Aurél Csertoi who had gotten used to his side’s brief offensive revival where they had scored 14 goals in their previous six. Csertoi will be without two key defenders in this one as both Zsolt Gévay (2G) and Dávid Kulcsár (2G, 2A) will be suspended after yellow card accumulation.

Prediction: Haladás 2-0 Paks
Haladás should take advantage of being at home and the absence of two of Paks’ set piece targets, Gévay and Kulcsár. If David Williams can keep up his current form, the hosts should be able to take all the points in this one.

Key facts:
– Paks haven’t lost more than two games consecutively all season.
– Haladás have won their last two home games against Paks.
– The 4 goals Haladás shipped against Debrecen last week was their highest conceded in a game all season.

Videoton (2nd) vs Debrecen (9th)
at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Henning Berg is hoping his side will continue their mastery over Debrecen on Saturday as the capital club has enjoyed a run of six consecutive victories over Loki dating back to May of 2015. Vidi have just one defeat in their last 12 matches but they have drawn their last two against mid-table teams and need a victory to keep in touch with a congested pack at the top. Danko Lazovic is set for a return to action after serving his three-match ban for being sent off against Vasas earlier this month.
Debrecen are coming off their biggest offensive production of the season and have begun to find the net with regularity in recent weeks. Dávid Homan’s two goal haul last week has to be encouraging for a player who had gone 10 appearances without hitting the target. The Debrecen attacking midfielder’s 7 goals is a career high for him but he’ll be running into a suffocating defense that has conceded just 11 goals in 14 games at home this season.

Prediction: Videoton 3-1 Debrecen
Debrecen caught a wave last week but my guess is they’ll come crashing back down to earth in this one. Berg knows these are the games his team should be winning and Lazovic’s return should only solidify his chances of getting maximum points.

Key facts:
– Videoton have won the last six meetings between the two clubs, surrendering just 3 goals in that span.
– Debrecen have scored 14 goals in their last 7 games – equalling the amount they scored in their previous 18.
– Videoton’s +25 goal differential at home is tops in the league, Honvéd’s +14 is next closest.