NB1 round 32 – Preview

Here is the situation going into the final two weeks of the season: At the top Honvéd and Videoton are level on points but Kispest hold the advantage due to having one more victory than Henning Berg’s side. As long as Honvéd can match or exceed Videoton in points over the final two games they will win the title. What adds a bit more drama to this is the two will play against each other on the final match day. Nice, huh? Who could have written a better script? The only thing that would make the finale inconsequential would be Videoton losing to Ferencváros and Honvéd defeating Debrecen.
At the other end of the table there’s an entire queue of teams lining up to exit the league … or are they trying to stay up? That’s been difficult to determine in recent weeks as five teams are still battling against the final relegation spot. MTK’s defeat last week put them a point under the line, but Mezőkövesd, Diósgyor, Debrecen, or Újpest could take their place in the drop zone depending on results on Saturday.
Read on for a full preview of this week’s games.

Újpest (7th) vs Haladás (6th)
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Frustration has set in at Újpest and the season can’t be over fast enough for manager Nebojša Vignjevic who has seen his team drop three on the spin. They still have a bit of business to do, though, as they are still not mathematically safe from the drop. As unspeakable as that may seem to some Lilák supporters, that’s the situation they find themselves in as they welcome Haladás on Saturday. If there was ever a time for them to get their first win at Szusza Ferenc since the remodeling it would be here. Scoring is the issue as they’ve been held goalless in consecutive games for the first time all season, and if it were not for a late Enis Bardhi penalty against MTK it would have been three in a row.
Vignjevic will be without histrionic winger Souleymane Diarra who was dismissed for a professional foul last week against Videoton and has likely played his last for Újpest. Six other players, including Bardhi, József Windecker, and János Lázok are all on four yellow cards as well and will need to play with that in mind if next week becomes a must-win situation for them.
Haladás have quietly hovered around mid-table all season and have an outside shot of reaching the top four. An inspiring come-from-behind draw against Vasas last week saw them end the season undefeated against the top-four side. The old custodian Gábor Király was at his best, denying Zsombor Berecz from the spot early in that one. Striker David Williams seems to have gone into hibernation early as he has cooled off since hammering home 5 goals in March and April. Bence Iszlai has scored twice in their last 3 games, accumulating 6 goals and 5 assists on the season – a marked improvement for the defensive midfielder who last scored 5 goals during the 2012/13 season.

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Haladás
Nothing suggests that Újpest will get anything out of this one. Even playing at home doesn’t give them that “warm feeling” anymore. However, with the dreaded drop still a reality and the theatrical Diarra out of the lineup I think they’ll be able to drill down a result here. Haladás haven’t had much luck against Lilák all season and I think they’ll come up just short once again.

Current form:
Újpest – LLLWDW
Haladás – DLWLWD

Debrecen (8th) vs Honvéd (1st)
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

This is a crucial match and one that most eyes will be on as both teams are fighting for different reasons at opposite ends of the table. Honvéd control their destiny and win against Loki will give them a huge advantage over Videoton in the title race. Debrecen are three points clear of the relegation line but defeat here could plunge them back into uncertainty.
Leonel Pontes seems to have done just enough to keep Debrecen away from the unthinkable. They’ve been impressive at home lately, going unbeaten in five of their last six at Nagyerdei with four victories. They’re coming off an inspiring goalless draw at Groupama against Ferencváros and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see something similar against Honvéd.
Marco Rossi’s side have done what’s expected recently winning three on the trot against bottom clubs. They lost two away games in a row without scoring a goal until they hit Mezőkövesd for five a fortnight ago. With Davide Lanzafame finding his second wind, Honvéd have looked more potent in attack, but the Italian is on 4 yellow cards and a slip-up against Debrecen could see him suspended for next week’s showpiece.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-1 Honvéd
Debrecen still have something to play for and they won’t roll over here. Honvéd are undefeated against Loki since 2014 and haven’t conceded a goal in their last four meetings with them, but I think Honvéd’s curious conservative approach in away games against lesser sides will catch up with them.

Current form:
Debrecen – DWLWDL
Honvéd – WWWLWL

MTK Budapest (11th) vs Diósgyor (9th)
at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest

This is going to be messy. MTK are below the line and Diósgyor, who seemed done and dusted earlier this spring, have have just one defeat in their last 7 heroically getting to a point of being able to actually fight against the drop in the final weeks.
Vaszilisz Teodoru’s side have been victims of their recent schedule playing Ferencváros and red-hot Honvéd in the last two weeks with no points to show for their efforts. It was the first time they dropped two in a row since the beginning of the season. MTK must avoid defeat here, but a win would be far better as they head to the dreaded Paski stadion for their final game of the season. Myke has scored in consecutive games for MTK which is an encouragement despite both being only consolation goals. He joins Sándor Torghelle and József Kanta to achieve that feat at the club this season.
Diósgyor were rocked by two early goals at home against Mezőkövesd last week but managed to fight back with two second half goals to earn a share of the points. Tamás Bódog’s men are just a point clear and with another battle on their hands against Debrecen on the horizon so this is a massive game for them. Impressively, hundreds of fans showed up to create a “game-like” atmosphere (including flares) at a training session this week as they looked ahead for any and all situations in this one.
Gábor Makrai is on fire for DVTK with a goal in each of their last three games. After scoring his first NB1 goal back in early April he’s looking like the prolific scorer he was when he scored 15 goals in 24 games for Puskás Akademia last season.

Prediction: MTK Budapest 1-1 Diósgyor
MTK suffered their first home defeat since early March two weeks ago and they are facing some tough times ahead if they don’t get maximum points here. They haven’t lost to DVTK in their last five clashes with them and I think they’ll do just enough to get a point here and stop the bleeding.
Diósgyor have just one defeat in their last nine. They’ve struggled to score away from home this season – just 13 goals in 16 matches, but they’ll be up for the task here if Makrai can continue his torrid offensive production.

Current form:
MTK Budapest – LLWDDD
Diósgyor – DDWWLW

Mezőkövesd (10th) vs Paks (5th)
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Mezőkövesd’s new manager Mikulas Radvanyi decided to rest all eleven starters in their Magyar Kupa semifinal second leg tie at home against Vasas on Wednesday. Perhaps it was the right decision to rest his players and not risk relegation, but a 5-0 defeat can’t be good for anyone at the club ahead of an all-important relegation fight on Saturday. They have one win in their last 11 matches, and they have lost three in a row at home in all competitions conceding 13 goals in those three.
Paks awoke from a 3-match funk two weeks ago and have won their last two games, scoring 6 goals without conceding. It’s hard to tell which team will show up with Paks, but on current form they look unstoppable. László Bartha has reached double digits in league goals this season with tallies in each of his last two games. Surprisingly they have a chance of claiming third place if they win their last two and other results go in their favor.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-3 Paks
Paks look very good again and have won three of their last six away from home. Mezőkövesd are looking more and more like they’ve conceded to the drop. Their inability to keep the ball out of their own net (20 goals in their last 6 in all competitions) has been their downfall.

Current form:
Mezőkövesd – DLLLDW
Paks – WWLLLW

Gyirmót (12th) vs Vasas (4th)
at Alcufer Stadion, Gyor

Gyirmót are have a half their minds on holiday as they have nothing to play for in their remaining fixtures. Without a victory in their last seven games, István Urbányi’s side have done about what was expected of them this season. They’ve scored just one goal in their last 3 games, but they did make things difficult for Honvéd and stole a point at DVTK recently so there is fight in them yet. Urbányi will get András Simon back this week after serving his suspension for yellow card accumulation last week and that should give them a bit more quality going forward.
Vasas are still in the hunt for third place and a win here on Saturday would put the pressure back on Ferencváros to match their result in the later match. Michael Oenning’s side looked dominant in their 5-0 Magyar Kupa semifinal second leg against Mezőkövesd with five different goal scorers, but it had to be expected playing against Mezo’s second team.

Prediction: Gyirmót 1-2 Vasas
Vasas haven’t defeated Gyirmót in two tries this season, but Vasas will want to win this one to keep up their hopes for a third place finish. It’s possible that Oenning might want to give some players a rest but they really didn’t break a sweat on Wednesday. It will be Gyirmót’s last NB1 home match this year but I don’t see them putting up much of a fight here.

Current form:
Gyirmót – LDLLDL
Vasas – DLLWWL

Videoton (2nd) vs Ferencváros (3rd)
at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

By the time this match kicks off on Saturday evening a lot may have changed on the table. Videoton could be looking up at Honvéd and need a result to keep their title hopes alive, or they may have the opportunity to take the advantage into next week’s showdown against Kispest. Whatever they do this week they must do it cautiously as both Danko Lazovic and Asmir Suljic are on four yellow cards each heading into this one. Henning Berg’s side are in good form with 3 consecutive victories and no goals conceded in their last two. They have drawn home and away against Ferencváros so far this season and a similar result wouldn’t be disastrous, but would make next week a must-win game against Honvéd if Kispest manage to beat Debrecen. Loïc Nego has found the net in his last two games – his first goals of the season as Berg has pushed him into more advanced positions in recent weeks.
Fradi expectedly finished off Budafok’s impressive Magyar Kupa run with a 4-2 win on Wednesday (12-2 on aggregate) to reach the 32nd cup final in their history. Thomas Doll will be hoping to pick up that silverware to make amends for what will be considered a poor defense of their NB1 title. This will be Ferencváros’ first real test since they lost at home to Vasas back in mid April. Recent wins over Gyrimót, Mezőkövesd, and MTK have helped to restore some confidence, and their easy semifinal win over lowly Budafok has seen the goals start to flow again. However, they were without an answer against Debrecen’s defense last week and that could be trouble as Videoton are both stingy on defense and have far and away the best goal scoring record at home this season.

Prediction: Videoton 1-0 Ferencváros
Five of their last six meetings have seen very low scoring games. With the importance of this one I don’t see Henning Berg “going for it” in the sense that he will throw the kitchen sink at Fradi. I have the feeling this will be another boring chess match as neither team will want to make a mistake. Videoton have far more to lose than Ferencváros and they’ll be cautious.

Current Form:
Videoton – WWWDDW
Ferencváros – DWWWLL

Author: Chris Barrett

Let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Chris Barrett and I have played and coached football for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been fascinated by this sport all over the world and follow more leagues than the number of years behind me. I am not Hungarian, nor I have I lived in Hungary. Honestly, I decided to follow NBI this season (2016-17) because I’ve always admired the rich history of this country and its contribution to the evolution of tactics and strategy within the game. I’ve enjoyed watching the current national squad become more competitive over the years and I, like many other football fans from around the world, loved watching their story unfold in the Euros this past summer. I was born and raised in the United States which tends to makes me less credible in some circles and I understand that bias, but I’m working hard to understand not just the sport but the people and culture of Hungary. Thanks to Tomasz for allowing me to cut my teeth on this site, and to Gayle who has enlightened me on the culture (and drama) of the officiating side of things. Also a shout out to Gáby who has always made me feel welcome and has answered a lot of my early questions. I’m very grateful for the whole community here.

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