NB1 – Round 31 preview

Welcome back Hungarian football enthusiasts! Read on for a quick preview of all of Saturday’s NB1 matches in round 31.

Honvéd (1st) vs MTK Budapest (11th)
at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

Marco Rossi’s men are winning the games they should be winning down the stretch and Bozsik József Stadion has certainly been their friend, winning their last 8 games there. Their five goal haul against struggling Mezőkövesd was a treat for the traveling support last week and it was their first game with more than 2 goals scored since December.
MTK were outclassed last week at Ferencváros as they were handed their first defeat in six games. They are currently in the last relegation spot so this game will mean just as much to them as it will be to Kispest’s title aspirations.

Prediction: Honvéd 2-0 MTK Budapest
Honvéd have been nothing short of sensational at home this season, conceding just 8 goals in 14 games at Bozsik. Davide Lanzafame seems to have returned to midseason form with 3 goals and 2 assists in his last two.

Current form:
Honvéd – WWLWLW

Diósgyor (9th) vs Mezőkövesd (10th)
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Diósgyor return “home” where they’ve been perfect since the appointment of Tamás Bódog. DVTK’s late season managerial switch has been a huge boost for the club as they were a team that seemed headed for the drop but have now only lost once in their last seven and have a real shot of safety. They have work to do still as they are level on points with MTK and this week’s opponents Mezőkövesd who have been unable to pull out of a horrible slide in form.
Mezőkövesd seemed to be the promoted team that had gotten things right as they were in form and climbing the table before the winter break thanks to the leadership of then-manager Attila Pintér. The appointment of Tomislav Sivic as his replacement was nothing more than disastrous and he was relieved of his duties last week before the team was thrashed by Honvéd. Mikulas Radvanyi has now been handed the task of bringing a team bereft of confidence over the finish line.

Prediction: Diósgyor 2-0 Mezőkövesd
These are two teams heading in different directions and the result seems pretty clear to me. Mezőkövesd players had a chance for a fresh start last week but they showed no fight or determination, especially in the second half of their comprehensive defeat. DVTK drew at home in their last meeting and lost away in the other against Mezőkövesd but these are two different teams at this point in the season.

Current form:
Diósgyor – DWWLWD
Mezőkövesd – LLLDWL

Ferencváros (3rd) vs Debrecen (8th)
at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

Recently, Ferencváros have looked like the team we all expected them to be this season – a dominant, goal scoring club with an attitude of superiority that most top class teams seem to exude. They are on their first three-match winning run since the beginning of the season (incredibly) and look to have finally found their sweet spot, albeit probably too late.
Leonel Pontes’ grave stone at Debrecen has been set aside for the time as his side’s revival continued last week with another stunning win over Újpest. A late own-goal from Jonathan Heris was cruel to Lilák but it dragged Loki two points out of the relegation mire.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Debrecen
As good as Debrecen have been at home they have lacked the same spirit away. They did defeat Vasas 3-2 on the road recently but that was their only victory on their travels since October. There’s no doubt that Fradi can slip into another rut as they’ve been prone to do this season, but it than can carry their recent form into this one they should have little trouble.

Current form:
Ferencváros – WWWLLD
Debrecen – WLWDLW

Paks (6th) vs Gyirmót (12th)
at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paks woke up from their three-week slumber in time to eliminate Vasas from the title chase last week. Aurél Csertoi’s men responded to three consecutive defeats with an impressive 3-0 win at Vasas to put them one step closer to safety. Now six points clear of the drop zone, Paks can look up and perhaps aim for fourth place with Vasas sinking.
Gyirmót have been officially relegated for a couple of weeks but their side has lacked the talent to effectively stay in this league all season. They did well to draw at home to Diòsgyor last week but their lack of a true goal scorer or any consistent attack has been their downfall this season.

Prediction: Paks 2-0 Gyirmót
If Paks have truly found their scoring boot again this could be an even larger scoreline. These two teams have played to two goalless draws this season, but Paks’ offense has improved in the second half of the season. With only one defeat at home all season, Paks is sure to get a result here.

Current form:
Gyirmót – DLLDLL

Haladás (5th) vs Vasas (4th)
at Káposztás utcai Stadion, Sopron

Haladás have done well to reach fifth place and a strong finish to the season might get them even higher. The re-emergence of striker David Williams has been a boost to their confidence after Bálint Gaál’s departure, and when Williams is on his game they are a whole different team.
Vasas were eliminated by Paks last week at home. It was a disappointing end to what the club and their supporters hoped would have ended in fairy-tale fashion. But it wasn’t to be and now they’ll be fighting for third place with Ferencváros who are in a groove. Vasas’ attack has decided to shut down at the wrong time of the season and if they can’t get things sorted out quickly they could end up out of the top four. Martin Ádám returned to the lineup last week albeit for only 46 minutes, but he should be back in full this game which will be a big help.
The aforementioned Gaál hasn’t had the best of luck since his move from Haladás to Vasas and I only wonder what will be going through his mind if his former team finishes above them.

Prediction: Haladás 2-2 Vasas
Vasas’ away form has been better than that at home. With a healthy Ádám on attack they are a better team and are an experienced-enough side to get things going again. Haladás won’t lay down, however, and this should be a very entertaining match. I don’t see a lot separating the two.

Current form:
Haladás – LWLWDL
Vasas – LLWWLW

Újpest (7th) vs Videoton (2nd)
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

With the long awaited statue of their stadium’s namesake revealed and in all its glory – the bronzed likeness of Ferenc Szusza will look on as his beloved Újpest look for their first victory in their remodeled home. Lilák have dropped off the pace quite dramatically, looking quite ordinary in their last two matches against MTK and Debrecen. With two defeats on the bounce Újpest have yet to secure themselves against relegation much less a top four spot.
Videoton are in the hunt to reclaim the NB1 title after falling off the pace last season. Their current run is encouraging as they head down the stretch neck and neck with Honvéd in what could turn into an epic final day clash against Kispest. Danko Lazovic’s return from suspension has been helpful but he hasn’t been in the goals in the last two games. Vidi were purring this season when they had Mark Scepovic and Lazovic scoring freely. They’ll need that kind of production again to keep up the pressure on Honvéd.

Prediction: Újpest 1-2 Videoton
Lilák aren’t playing poorly, they’re just not taking their chances. Home has yet to feel like home yet and I can’t see them winning against a team that has it all to play for.

Current Form:
Újpest – LLWDWD
Videoton – WWDDWL