Three weeks into the new season and we already have a surprise at the top of the table. Tamás Bódog’s Diósgyor have started the season in fine fashion to set the early pace in the league. Also, last season’s second half whipping boys Mezokövesd started brightly before falling hard to Ferencváros at the weekend. Roland Varga is on a roll with four goals for Fradi and Újpest have had déjà vu three weeks in a row as their newly-assembled squad are strangely suffering from last season’s defensive maladies.
With so much happening already this season, read on and get a full preview to this weeks’ matches as the NB1 is fully underway.
Gaby Kovács is back this week as we predict each NB1 match this week.
Saturday, 5 August
Balmazújváros vs Diósgyor
at Városi Stadion, Balmazújváros
Balmazújváros: For a team that is playing in their first season in the Hungarian top flight it would have been expected that they’d struggle to find their form against tougher opponents – especially with the early schedule they were handed. Yet, Balmaz have proven to be tough opposition themselves, drawing Videoton and Honvéd away from home and losing by a slim margin to Vasas. It won’t get any easier against table-toppers DVTK but they can bank on a decent defense that is anchored by ex-Vasas man László Tamás. Manager Ferenc Horváth will be without right back Yuri Gabovda who was sent off in the second half of their 2-2 draw against Honvéd for a second yellow card. Former Újpest winger Nemanja Andric gives them some quality on the left side of their attack. They will also be excited to see how new-signing Iraki Maisuradze will get on. The Georgian defensive midfielder signed this week from Cypriot side Ermis.
Diósgyor: If you think Diósgyor’s escape at the end of last season and their strong start this season are just a fluke, think again. Tamás Bódog has truly turned the team around and they are playing with confidence. They are three games into a four match run of away games to start the season and they are undefeated and atop the league win 7 points. After scoring just four goals all of last season, winger Diego Vela already has 3 so far and he’s been part of an effective wide attack that includes newcomer Zsólt Óvári on the left. Miskolc had a fairly strong start to last season but fell way off the pace before the winter break. Bódog’s side looks far more organized and assured of getting a result with Vela’s late, late equalizer against champions Honvéd stealing the show in round 2.
Prediction: Balmazújváros 1-2 Diósgyor
Diósgyor have more quality and are already used to being on the road. They have plenty of firepower up front and haven’t even seen much Roland Ugrai who is sure to score some goals.
Gaby’s prediction: Balmazújváros 0-3 Diósgyor
Paks vs Haladás
at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks
Paks: Three matches into the season and Paks have picked up where they left off last term. Paks are a conservative team that can be assured of at least a point at home and will attempt to pick up what they can on the road. Last season they conceded three times as many goals away from home than they did at Fehérvári úti. They have been showing a stronger attacking presence so far this season with 5 goals in three games. Last season they didn’t have five goals until their sixth game. Dénes Szakály and László Bartha continue to be their go-to players with János Hahn stumbling out of the gate thus far.
Haladás: One goal after three games must be worrisome for manager Géza Mészöly. Hali have looked good early in games thus far but they have looked shaky in the second half, especially against Diósgyor last week. Veteran forward Miroslav Grumic has only made one appearance for the club with Mészöly opting for a lone front man in David Williams. A 1-0 win over lowly Debrecen has been their only bright spot thus far and it’s evident they’ll need to make some changes to turn their fortunes around.
Prediction: Paks 1-0 Haladás
The ‘Fortress of Fehérvári úti’ lives on and Paks should be able to take full advantage of their fans support at home against Hali’s lethargic attack.
Gaby’s prediction: Paks 1-1 Haladás
Puskás Akadémia vs Budapest Honvéd
at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút
Puskás: Many predicted Puskás would have a good season based upon their resources and especially the talent they have at their disposal. So far we haven’t seen that pan out. It’s not to say that it can’t or won’t happen yet but so far, in this case, money can’t buy success. After a brave 1-1 draw at Groupama against Ferencváros they have succumbed to consecutive two-goal defeats to Videoton and Vasas in the last two weeks. Despite their plethora of attacking options they’ve only chalked up two goals thus far. With all the changes to personnel it might take some time for them to get everyone on board but they seem right for the picking right now.
Honvéd: The champs started the season brightly with a 2-0 win over Haladás, but after being dumped out of the Champions League they have given up second half leads to finish with draws in their last two. For a team that only conceded 9 goals at home last season they have already let in almost half of that after their first three. This will be their first game away from Bozsik Stadion but that might be a good thing for them. Playing without the pressure of being at home might help. Davide Lanzafame is in strong form and is looking more dangerous each week.
Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Honvéd
Puskás have the talent and it’s only a matter of time that they come together (if it’s managed well), but that won’t be this week. Champions should get maximum points here.
Gaby’s prediction: Puskás 1-2 Honvéd
Sunday, 6 August
Debrecen vs Ferencváros
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen
Debrecen: Loki are off to a horrible start this season. After flirting with relegation last season there were hopes that Andras Herczeg would bring some stability and get Debrecen going in the right direction again but that doesn’t seem likely as this point. It’s still early days, but defeats against Mezőkövesd and Haladás to start the season doesn’t bode well for when they play the bigger clubs. Their 1-1 draw at Paks last week was encouraging as they played well enough to win but were clipped by a second half penalty that gave the hosts a share of the points. It’s still hard to see where goals are going to come for this team.
Ferencváros: Thomas Doll’s side has yet to be consistently dominant since last season. Starting the season with two draws couldn’t have inspired confidence in the supporters but last weeks’ 5-0 hammering of Mezőkövesd certainly showed everyone what they’re capable of. Fradi only scored more than 3 goals in a league game once last season (coincidentally that was in round 3 as well – a 6-2 win over DVTK). Roland Varga looks inspired. He finished strong last season and has started just as strong to start this campaign with four league goals in three games. His wing mate Moutari Amadou has really settled into the side after his addition back in January, providing two goals and an assist as well. It’s hard to say what this team will look like from week to week but the potential for an offensive explosion is always there.
Prediction: Debrecen 1-3 Ferencváros
I have to go with this scoreline based upon what I’ve seen but it can easily be 1-0 either way depending on which Fradi team shows up.
Gaby’s prediction: Debrecen 1-4 Ferencváros
Mezőkövesd vs Videoton
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd
Mezőkövesd: After the first two weeks of the season we were seeing the form of last season’s Mezo side under Attila Pintér as they rocketed to the top with victories over Debrecen and Paks, but they came crashing back to earth last week. Fresh off a 5-0 annihilation at the hands of Ferencváros they will have to pick themselves up and look to respond against champions Honvéd. They’re a team that will see a lot of high scoring games as they have a fairly young and inexperienced back line.
Videoton: What a week for Vidi! After an amazing winning effort against Ligue 1 side Bordeaux to advance to the playoff round of the Europa League, lasts season’s runners-up will be on a high as they return to league action on Sunday. The big question will be whether new boss Marko Nikolic can keep his players feet on the ground or will they suffer from fatigue after a physically and mentally draining match and let down a bit. Nikolic rotated his front men during the Bordeaux match which should be enough to keep their attack fresh and ready.
Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-2 Videoton
I think Vidi have enough in the tank for this one but it won’t be easy. Mezőkövesd aren’t as bad as last week’s 5-0 thrashing suggests and they’re playing at home.
Gaby’s prediction: Mezőkövesd 0-2 Videoton
Újpest vs Vasas
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest
Újpest: What can Nebojsa Vignjevic do to turn things around? He cuts a frustrated figure on the sidelines during games and there’s no wonder why. In three successive matches they’ve ended 2-2 and very well could have won each of those games. This past week it was set plays – Lilák conceded two late goals against Videoton off of corners. The first was poorly defended and the second was a short corner that wasn’t picked up by a tired defense which led to a dangerous ball in the area. Those are the types of things that need to be cut out if Újpest are going to challenge for a top three spot this season. Újpest have looked good going forward with Dániel Nagy in top form thus far. Forward Soma Novothny also looks to be a good capture for Vignjevic.
Vasas: After a 2-0 defeat to Diósgyor to start the season, Vasas have bounced back to record two clean sheet victories against the newly-promoted teams. With Mahir Saglik gone this season, Michael Oenning has turned to Evgen Pavlov to lead the line but, like last season, goals are coming from mainly non-forwards. They look to have solved their defensive weaknesses from their opening game but Újpest will provide a much sterner test this week. Felix Burmeister and Kire Ristevski will be under pressure as Lilák look to win their first game of the season.
Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Vasas
I have to think that Lilák’s defense will get it together. They looked good for 85 minutes against a strong Videoton side and then lost all concentration. Vasas are good but lack any convincing threat up front. Bálint Gaál is a shadow of what he was at Haladás and Pavlov has only scored 3 goals in 25 appearances for Vasas.
Gaby’s prediction: Újpest 2-1 Vasas