NB1 round 14 preview

With 13 games gone we are truly into the meat of the season. Videoton are setting the pace on 28 points but are closely followed by Ferencváros who, although just two points adrift in the league, suffered an embarrassing defeat against NBII side Kisvárda in the Magyar Kupa this week. Fradi weren’t the only team to fall in the second round of the cup this week either – read on for a full preview of this week’s fixtures and all that’s happening in NB1.

Saturday, 28 October

Balmazújváros vs Honvéd

at Városi Sportpálya, Balmazújváros

Balmazújváros: It was a day to remember as Balmazújváros won their first ever away game last week against Vasas. It was a also a much needed three points for the relegation battlers who had only picked up 2 points in their preview eight matches. Of course manager Ferenc Horváth was proud of his players and how they closed down Vasas’ attack, but they’ll need to bring the same kind of effort at home on Saturday against champions Honvéd.
The last time they won at home was their only other victory in the league and that was a 4-0 demolition of Diósgyor back in early August. Since then they’ve lost three (including a second half collapse against Ferencváros) and drawn one in front of their home fans. Captain Dávid Sigér has scored twice in their last three games – his first two goals of the campaign, while Georgian forward Bachana Arabuli leads the team with five goals thus far.
Also, the club has confirmed the capture of former Debrecen forward Adamo Coulibaly who could be inserted into the squad for this week’s match.

Honvéd: Things aren’t looking great for the champions at the moment. With just one victory in their last seven league matches they looked to a mid-week Magyar Kupa match to stir their confidence and were lucky to escape elimination against tiny Budaörs on penalties. Honvéd have been consistent on offense, scoring in every game thus far and banging in 21 goals. At this stage of the season last year, Kispest were in the same position (5th), seven points off the pace, and had scored three fewer goals as a team. They are currently nine points off the top spot and have been unable to count on their main attacking threats (Martón Eppel and Davide Lanzafame) of late with only 3 goals between them in their last five games. Lanzafame hasn’t found the back of the net since their 3-1 defeat to Fradi in mid-September.
Their biggest concern has to be at the back. They have conceded three times as many goals at home than they did at this point last season and have already conceded 22 – a number they didn’t reach until mid-March in the last campaign.

Prediction: Balmazújváros 2-2 Honvéd
Ferenc Horváth’s boys have now won two on the trot as they saw off Bátaszék in the Magyar Kupa on Wednesday and should have their tails up at home. Also, the addition of Coulibaly would be a boost for the home side if he can play. Honvéd’s woes look to continue unless there’s a massive change in confidence and concentration. This poor patch of form should test manager Erik van der Meer’s mettle and, more importantly, see what kind of mindset he’s been able to instill in the squad.

Debrecen vs Paks

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Debrecen: For a team that narrowly escaped relegation last season, Loki are taking every chance they can this term and are firmly in third place as week 14 rolls around. It’s hard not to mention the influence Andras Herczeg has had as he’s molded this group of players into a team that expects results now. Debrecen enter this round on an eight-match unbeaten run and have won six of those eight to put their poor start in their rearview mirror. Captain Dániel Tozsér has really stepped up so far, scoring 4 goals in half the games it took him to accomplish the same feat last season. The departure of Dávid Holman has seemed to be the catalyst as things really took off for the club after the brooding attacking midfielder transferred to Slovan Bratislava in August.
They have averaged two goals scored per game since their unbeaten run started, and they have yet to concede more than one goal since their opening day defeat to Mezokövesd. In fact they have the league’s most miserly defense with just 10 goals conceded. A number of players have added to their offensive resurgence with Ádám Bódi and Kevin Varga chipping in on a regular basis.

Paks: Paks find themselves in familiar territory as they approach round 14. They are sitting mid-table and have put together a fairly impressive run of six games without defeat scoring 20 goals thus far. Last season they were rock bottom after 13 games, only finding the net on 11 occasions. László Bartha leads the scoring charts for Paks with four goals on the season, but attacking midfielder Lajos Bertus is the creator scoring 3 and setting up another five for the team.

Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Paks
This is going to be an exciting clash between two teams in-form and the safe bet would be to pick a draw, but Loki have only lost at home once and have scored the vast majority of goals in front of their home fans. Paks won’t roll over here but I have to give the edge to Herczeg’s boys in this one.

Haladás vs Diósgyor

at Káposztás utcai Stadion, Sopron

Haladás: He may have won back the dressing room, but one thing manager Bálint Pacsi has yet to do is find a way for his team to pick up points consistently. Since his appoinment at the end of August, Pacsi has picked up 5 out of a possible 18 points with just one victory. Currently on a four-game winless run, Haladás are in danger of falling into the relegation zone this week. Forward David Williams continues to headline a feeble attack that has scored a league-low 11 goals so far. At the other end, only one other team has conceded more goals than Hali’s 24 and that is basement side Mezokövesd who have shipped 27. Goalkeeper, captain, and icon Gábor Király exited last week’s game with five minutes remaining with an injury and his return to action is unknown.
Haladás were the other NB1 team to be eliminated from the Magyar Kupa this week as they fell to Tiszuajváros on penalties Tuesday.

Diósgyor: DVTK picked their second victory in a row last week as they dispatched champions Honvéd 2-1 thanks to a late, late Nikolaos Ioannidis penalty. Miskolc seemed to have missed their chance to win when Roland Ugrai had his 78th minutes penalty saved by Dávid Gróf but Ioannidis made no mistake in the dying embers of the game.
The win has them on 18 points and within touching distance of a top three spot. Tamás Bódog has been the beneficiary of a confident Ugrai who has scored four goals in his last three league appearances and has also featured in the Hungarian national team of late – recently being called up once more to the squad by new NT boss Zoltán Szélesi.

Prediction: Haladás 0-2 Diósgyor
I have a feeling that Haladás will pull out a good result here as they play in what might be their final “home” match in Sopron. However, my head usually rules the heart in these matters and this is a game Diósgyor should be winning. I’ll bank on the in-form team here with Diego Vela having a a strong game for the visitors.

Újpest vs Videoton

at Szusza Ferenc Stadium, Budapest

Újpest: To say it’s been a turbulent season for Újpest is an understatement. After a tough season last term and their first active transfer window in some time there was hope that they could improve and set their sights on a European spot this campaign. But with internal leadership struggles and mounting frustration coming from the club’s supporters due to poor communication it’s a wonder things aren’t worse. Manager Nebojsa Vignjevic has remained solid despite the off-field distractions and is still trying to bring together a squad that has seen a lot of turnover since last season. With arguably more talent at their disposal, Lilák have not produced offensively and they are still lacking goals at key moments this term. All but two of their games have been decided by a goal or less and they’re still leaking late goals all too often to even dream of top three finish. This leads me to believe that it’s concentration and confidence that they’re lacking. If they can connect those things to their undoubted potential we could see a surge in form but scoring more than one goal just once in their last ten league matches doesn’t breed much hope at this point.

Videoton: Marko Nikolic’s side left it late last week, scoring twice in the waning moments to secure a 2-0 victory over Puskás at the new Hidegkuti Nándor Stadium. The win keeps them atop the table with a two-point cushion over Ferencváros. Forward Danko Lazovic seems to be getting crazier in his old age but he’s still producing the goods with six league goals in 10 appearances. Asmir Suljic has been an assassin on the wing with seven assists as well as a goal for good measure so far this season. Back to front this team is stacked with talent and experience. With Vinícius returning to the back line, his partnership with Roland Juhász is as solid as they come in this league.

Prediction: Újpest 1-3 Videoton
Vidi have lost just once this season and it was away to Vasas who have been a real force at home. I don’t think Lilák have the momentum nor confidence to hold off any sustained pressure from Videoton’s wide array of attacking options and they’ll suffer here.

Mezokövesd vs Ferencváros

at Városi Stadion, Mezokövesd

Mezokövesd: Goal-friendly Mezokövesd are averaging two goals conceded per game in their last eight league matches and it shows in the table as they sit firmly at the bottom. Their dream start to the season is now just a faded memory as reality has kicked in full force and they are staring squarely in the face of relegation. Not only do they lead the league in goals conceded but only Haladás have scored fewer so far this season. Mikulas Radvanyi has a huge task ahead of him if he’s to secure NB1 football for another season. They have lost four of their last five home games.

Ferencváros: Thomas Doll’s job is being called into question one more as Fradi were outclassed and outsmarted by NBII side Kisvárda in the Magyar Kupa on Tuesday. Ferencváros are currently in second in NB1, just two points off the pace, but the current Magyar Kupa holders’ elimination in the competition at this stage was unthinkable and is only fueling the rumors that Doll is headed back to Germany.
On the pitch Fradi have lost just once in the league this season and have won 5 of their last 6 contests. Roland Varga has plowed his way to the top of the goal scoring charts with 12 goals in 12 appearances. Late addition Joseph Paintsil has also caught the attention of fans and pundits alike as the Ghanaian attacking midfielder has been involved in six goals (4G 2A) in his six league appearances for Fradi.
Once again, Doll has assembled a team with a fair share of individual talent and the question will be whether he can bring them together to challenge for silverware. He’s fallen at the first hurdle so all that’s left now is the championship; and with no European nights to fill in the gaps this could ultimately be another disappointing season for the Giants.

Prediction: Mezokövesd 1-4 Ferencváros
With the bad taste of dropping out of the cup still fresh in their mouths, this will be a golden opportunity for Doll’s men to respond to their critics. Mezo are in poor form home and away so I’m banking on an open game that could see a few goals here. Varga is sure to add to his goal total as he did the last time these two played, scoring twice in a 5-0 win at Groupama in late July.

Puskás Akadémia vs Vasas

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Puskás Akadémia: After a stretch of four consecutive wins, Attila Pintér’s Puskás are without a victory in their last four (3 defeats) and have dropped well off the pace. They are now closer to the relegation zone than they are to the top three and will be looking to get back on the right track.
Their problem has been a severe decrease in production in the final third. Puskás have scored just twice in their last four league matches – a far cry from their almost 3 goal average per game during their winning streak. Attacking midfielder Josip Knezevic is having a career season with seven goal in 12 appearances, but four of those are from the penalty spot. Dániel Prosser scored a hat trick in their midweek Maygar Kupa 6-0 victory over Eger SE, but finding their scoring boots against the likes of Eger may not translate into goals against a much more formidable Vasas side.

Vasas: Michael Oenning’s side haven’t wowed the league this time around but they’re still playing some good football and staying near the top of the table. Now in fourth place Vasas will be looking bounce back from consecutive disappointing defeats against Dunaújváros in the cup on Wednesday and Balmazújváros in the league last weekend. It’s really hard to tell which team will show up from week to week as they defeated champions Honvéd 4-1 in late September and then shipped 5 goals against Diósgyor following the international break. Opening will also be without captain Mohamed Remeli who is suffering from a knee injury. Remeli’s production (5G 5A) will be missed, but Bálint Gaál’s recent resurgence has been a positive. The former Haladás hit man has now scored four goals in his last seven appearances.

Prediction: Puskás Akadémia 1-1 Vasas
Puskás will be buoyed by their midweek win and will battle hard to stem their current poor run of form at home. Vasas have to get back into gear or else they will see themselves sliding down the table into the mid-table morass. A draw looks on the cards here.