Better late than never!
Today’s games offer some intriguing matchups and should provide some gripping drama as champions Honvéd face off against new-look Újpest, and embarrassed Diósgyor look to bounce back from a thrashing at the hands of NB1 new boys Balmazújváros last week when they take on struggling Puskás.
Read on for a full preview of each game this week.
Saturday, 15 July
Honvéd vs Újpest
at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest
Honvéd: Kispest have started the season undefeated but don’t fault new manager Erik van der Meer for wanting more. Sitting at the top of the table and level on points with a familiar foe, van der Meer is hoping to keep the top spot his own as they host Újpest. Last season they were undefeated against Lilák, winning their opening game and then playing to two 1-1 draws.
David Lanzafame is in exceptional form and he added his fourth goal of the season last week with a free kick stunner right before half time in their 2-0 win over Puskás. It’s hard to say if the Italian danger man will be at the club after the transfer deadline, but for now he’s been the catalyst for their attack and is at the heart of everything they do.
Újpest: There is a different feel to Újpest this season as the side are slowly coming into their own. They too are undefeated after four games but only won their first game last week 1-0 against Vasas in an empty Szusza Ferenc Stadion. Despite letting up late goals and only getting 3 points out of their first three games their defense looks far more organized this season and the leadership of Róbert Litauszki has been evident in their back line. The fact that Honvéd boss as mentioned Lilák’s strong defense in the build up to this one shows that others have noticed the change as well. Nebojsa Vignjevic’s main task is to keep their concentration up for 90 minutes and last week’s narrow win showed their improvement in that category.
After losing Enis Bardhi this summer, Újpest have found their attacking edge in prodigal Dániel Nagy who has scored four goals in his first four games – equaling his tally in his last two seasons in Germany.
Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Újpest
Aside from Diósgyor, Újpest will provide Kispest their first real test in the league this season and, despite behind on top of the table they haven’t looked dominant. Lilák will be buoyed by last week’s win but another victory might be too much to ask.
Diósgyor vs Puskás Akadémia
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen
Diósgyor: In what had to be one of the most surprising results of the season so far, Diósgyor were ripped clean apart at the back and fell to league new boys Balmazújváros 4-0. This was after such a promising start to the season where they had won two and played the champions to a dramatic 2-2 draw. In what will be their first “home” match of the season, manager Tamás Bódog will be looking for his charges to respond to their embarrassing performance. After going down 1-0 late in the first half, Bódog made two changes at the half and it seems as if his patience with new signing Nikolaos Ioannidis has run out – the Greek striker having failed to find the net in four games and looking rather ordinary in attack. However, it was their defense that failed them last week, especially late, as Balmazújváros scored twice late on to pad their lead and flatter the host’s achievement a bit.
Puskás Akadémia: Puskás weren’t handed the easiest fixture list at the start of the season but after a 1-1 draw at Ferencváros they have looked bloated and choppy in three straight defeats. It’s hard to see where the goals are going to come from despite the team’s abundance in talent. However, forward András Rado is out for a while after his horror injury in last week’s game against Honvéd and his replacement Ulysse Diallo has yet to find his form in recent months.
Their defense has been easily solved as well with 8 goals conceded in four games.
Prediction: Diósgyor 2-0 Puskás Akadémia
Tamás Bódog will be looking for a response from his side and lowly Puskás are just the ticket to bring them back into form.
Ferencváros vs Paks
at Groupama Aréna, Budapest
Ferencváros: Thomas Doll’s Ferencváros are up to their old shaky form this season. With just one win out of four, Fradi have every right to be frustrated despite the embarrassment of riches in their squad. Doll was rightfully disappointed with last week’s goalless draw at Debrecen as halftime substitutions of Tamás Priskin and Roland Varga looked like statement moves. Varga has arguably been their best player – at least in terms of production – and to be replaced by the waning talents of Daniel Böde must be seen as a challenge to the young winger.
Fradi didn’t have the best of luck against Paks last season with one draw and two defeats against the nuclear team.
Paks: Aurél Csertoi’s team look formidable at home once again this season, but away from home they fell 3-2 to lowly Mezokövesd and now travel to the capital to take on Ferencváros. Their defense conceded twice as many goals away last season than they did at home and it looks as if that same trend will continue as Paks seem truly more confident at home than any other team in the league. Lajos Bertus has looked impressive this season as he will be the impetus behind anything going forward.
Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Paks
The wave of form at Ferencváros will roll into their liking here as Paks’ good feeling after last week’s win over Haladás is left in the rear view mirror.
Haladás vs Balmazújváros
at Kápossztás utcai Stadion, Soprón
Haladás: Géza Mészöly must be scratching his head after his team has only managed one goal in four games. The addition of Myke Ramos, Miroslav Grumic and Patrick Pinte were supposed to add depth to their firepower, but last season’s leading scorer David Williams is their lone provider thus far. This, with the current unrest in the dressing that came out with Péter Halmosi’s statements this week, has Haladás reeling and hugging the relegation line early in the season.
Balmazújváros: Ferenc Rácz was the hero last week. Not because he scored the game-winning goal but because he turned a brave, hard working Balmaz victory into a comprehensive rout of DVTK with a late brace off the substitute bench. It was a memorable win for Ferenc Horváth’s side who are in their first season in the top flight. With draws away to Videoton and Honvéd as well this season, Balmazújváros have every right to feel confident ahead of their match against Haladás. Former Újpest winger Nemanja Andric has found new life at Balmaz with two goals already. He scored 5 in 31 appearances for Lilák last season.
Prediction: Haladás 1-2 Balmazújváros
Until Hali get control of their dressing room and find a goal scorer they will continue to struggle. That could change this week but … then again, it might not.
Vasas vs Mezokövesd
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest
Vasas: Michael Oenning has missed several players to injury or sickness at the start of the campaign and they really missed central midfielder Zsombor Berecz’s creativity in last week’s 1-0 defeat at Újpest. With Márk Kleisz, Jan Simunek and Vit Benes all out of contention for a spot due to injury, Oenning will be delighted to welcome Berecz back to his lineup this week.
Vasas have won two of their opening four contests and will be looking to take advantage of goal-friendly Mezokövesd who have shipped ten so far.
They were efficient in their wins against Balmazújváros and Puskás but have yet to score a goal against a non-promoted side thus far. Scoring has been an issue and Berecz’s return should help but they have yet to see any of their forwards put the ball in the back of the net yet.
Mezokövesd: After a promising start, Miklós Radványi’s side has slipped into troubling form as they’ve lost consecutive games by a combined 7-0 score. Their big defeat came two weeks ago at Fradi where they looked abysmal. Last week they played Videoton very well but were unable to break through and ended up conceding late to flatter their guests.
It will be interesting to see if Radványi can motivate his side and get a result here. This team has some talent but they can run hot and cold. They still have the core of a defense that only conceded 3 goals in a nine-game stretch last season. With all of their offense packed up and returned to Puskás (Stipe Bacelic-Grgic and Gábor Molnár) they are in search of someone to step up start banging them on a regular basis. Perhaps they’ll give summer signing Tamas Majtán a second consecutive start as he looks to replicate his 2014/15 campaign at FK Senica where he turned in four goals and four assists in 20 games.
Prediction: Vasas 1-1 Mezokövesd
Both sides are looking to bounce back from poor performances and it’s probably more likely that Vasas will get the win here at home, but something tells me Mezokövesd are for this one and could be this week’s surprise.
Videoton vs Debrecen
at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút
Videoton: Marko Nikolic’s side didn’t skip a beat last week after their progression in the Europa League against Ligue 1 side Bordeaux. They carried their determined form into a tricky match against Mezokövesd and emerged with a good win to keep pace with Honvéd at the top.
Now, with Nikolic lined up to face his former side Partizan Belgrade next week in the Europa League Playoff round it looks as if he’ll have to keep rotating his side to keep players fresh. Despite all of his antics, forward Danko Lazovic still finds a way to score and he’s humming along with 3 goals in NB1 and another 2 in Europa League qualifiers. It’s possible Lazovic will sit in this one as Marko Scepovic didn’t play last week. Skipper Roland Juhász also rested and should be back into the lineup this week.
Debrecen: Loki stemmed their nightmare start with two draws in the past two weeks. First they held Paks away from home and then matched Fradi in a goalless draw last week. With only two goals scored they are struggling and with the expected transfer of Dávid Holman to Slovan Bratislava they’ll need to keep counting on their wingers to do their work for them. Bence Sós has looked industrious in the last couple of weeks and I wouldn’t put it past him to get on the score sheet again soon.
Prediction: Videoton 2-1 Debrecen
After a busy summer of UEFA appointments, referee Viktor Kassai returns to NB1 in this one. Vidi are favored here and should win even with an eye to their midweek clash against Partizan.