NB1 – Round 18 Preview

We’re back again as hungarianfootball.com contributors Paul Treso and Chris Barrett give their non-professional prognostications on the highly unpredictable NB1. Read on for a gut level, not-so-thorough perspective on a league that continues to surprise (and frustrate) week in and week out.

Paul: Welcome back Chris. We both went a dismal 2-4 last week, both correct on the easy Vidi match with Chris correct on DVSC and my lone source of pride – a draw in the Balmaz-Puskás match. Let’s regroup, put on our winter gear, and cleanly tackle Round 18 with no red cards.

Chris: Last week was a bit of a surprise on many levels. I didn’t give Haladás enough credit playing their first match at their new home, but they came through against Ferencváros for a surprising, and memorable win. I also (shamefully) didn’t support my team, Újpest, but who could blame me after Lilák has dropped so many points already this season. It was a rough week for predictions but we’re back at it this week.

So, on with the previews! As the winter break approaches, each team will want to finish strong and put themselves in the best possible position heading into 2018. The champions are out of the top three, Vasas are heading toward the wrong half of the table and Puskás continue their slow decent toward the drop zone.

Saturday, 2 December

Debrecen vs Honvéd (TV: M4 Sport)
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: DVSC is very confident after their big “away” win against Vasas. I am now a believer and happy to see Debrecen on the top rather than the bottom of the table. Can this young team remain hungry and aggressive? Honvéd are so inconsistent but this will be an offensive game as DVSC earn their second straight Pest scalp.
Prediction: Debrecen 3-2 Honvéd

Chris: Loki enjoyed their biggest offensive production of the season against hapless Vasas. The scoreline flattered Debrecen as late substitute Justin Mengolo piled on two goals in injury time after Vasas were done and dusted, but fair-play to the Cameroonian winger who now has four goals in 12 appearances. This all came a week after shipping five to Videoton at home so it’s hard to say which team will show up.
Things have gone pear-shaped for Honvéd as they dropped their second consecutive game last week against lowly Mezőkövesd at home. An apparent bust-up between Davide Lanzafame and right back Akeem Latifu has seen the latter have his contract terminated this week. The champions are not the same team under Erik van der Meer, but there is still some leadership in that dressing room.
Debrecen took care of Kispest at Bozsik Stadion 3-1 earlier this season, but I see Honvéd stepping up and responding this week.
Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Honvéd

Paks vs Vasas
at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks is home again after giving Vidi a bit of a battle. They are always tough at home and this will be no exception. Paks will take advantage with clever counter attacks.
Something is off at Vasas and the fans are no longer with Oenning. Last season everything went right and it was almost a Leicester City ending, but this year (like Leicester City last year) they are struggling.
Prediction: Paks 2-1 Vasas

Chris: Paks are coming off consecutive defeats against the top two sides and haven’t scored over 180 minutes of play. They fell 3-1 to Vasas back in late August. Vasas have been much better away from home (WLDD in their last four) recently and should turn things around against goal-starved Paks. It will be difficult for Vasas if Paks score first as Michael Oenning’s side hasn’t scored in Paks since 2014, but I’m still counting on a low-scoring draw as Mohamed Remeli and Co. look to regain traction.
Prediction: Paks 1-1 Vasas

Újpest vs Balmazújváros
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Ujpest are playing very well and finally playing the full 90 minutes.  Nebojša Vignjević has his players finally believing in his system and the results are coming.  Now he has so many options, the challenge will be which players click and mesh.  Balmaz will give it their all once again and battle.  It’s what they do.  Horvath has his squad fighting every single game no matter where they play.
Prediction: Újpest 2-0 Balmazújváros

Chris: Ferenc Horváth’s trio of substitutions with 20 minutes remaining was a stroke of genius as Ádám Fekete and Ervin Zsiga combined for the leveler off a corner kick against Puskás three minutes from time in a 2-2 draw last week. Balmaz have done well recently with just one defeat in their last six.
Újpest have also turned it up recently, winning three on the trot and going unbeaten in seven of their last eight. Forward Soma Novothny is on fire with three goals in this last three games. I can only hope to dream that they’ll keep the good times rolling at home.
Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Balmazújváros

Mezőkövesd vs Diósgyor
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul: Kuttor has Mezo playing much better since taking over the squad, while DVTK is on a tailspin with Bodog  criticizing his players for their pre-game music and lack of fight.  Chris, I don’t know what to write here so I hope you will save me with some useful statistics and logic.
Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-2 Diósgyor (AVOID)

Chris: Despite Mezőkövesd’s win over a listless Honvéd last week, Attila Kuttor’s boys are still rooted to the bottom of the table, three points from safety. It was their first victory in fourteen matches and it might be the last one they see in a while. Diósgyor are smarting after a tough loss at Újpest last week. It was their third defeat in a row as Tamás Bódog seems to be losing patience with his charges. Miskolc have been streaky this season. They lost four in succession before winning three in a row and are now back on three defeats. Roland Ugrai found the net last week for the first time in four games and if he can heat up again he could pull them out of their current funk.
Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-2 Diósgyor

Puskás Akadémia vs Haladás
at Pancho Arena, Felcsút

Paul: Chris, we both undervalued a new, beautiful arena with a full house.  There was no way to predict the heartfelt text from a fan shared by Péter Halmosi to the team.  It inspired them to a great victory over Fradi. I was ready to play after I read it and I’m sure if Chris read it he’d have found his football gear as well.   Sadly, back to life and reality, Hali is away and Puskás while having a beautiful arena, play to near empty crowds.  Haladás with their new young phenom, Tamas Kiss, will continue to improve while Puskás are Puskás.
Prediction: Puskás 1-1 Haladás

Chris: What a timely win for Haladás last week against Fradi. They played out of their minds in front of an impressive crowd of over 8,000 at their new digs and it was a match to remember as Tamás Kiss scored the winner with six minutes remaining in a game riddled with fouls and cards.
Puskás dropped important points at Balmazújváros last week and will be itching for a win at home. They have scored the least amount of goals at home (7), but Haladás are worse on the road with just 3 goals in seven away matches.
Prediction: Puskás 1-0 Haladás

Ferencváros vs Videoton (TV: M4 Sport)
at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

Paul: On paper this is the game of the week.  Before the internet, the paper was all I had. Kepes Sport, Labdarugas, Nemzeti Sport etc.   I had no television and waited months and months for the sports magazines to arrive by boat across the Atlantic.  No more nostalgia as this one can be watched live.  There will be a red cards in this game.  I can see Danko Lazovic with a nice goal and then blowing up and earning a red card.  After a flat game against Haladás, can FTC regroup in what should be a standing room only Groupama Arena?
Prediction: Ferencváros 1-2 Videoton

Chris: This should be fun. Key word: “should”.  Videoton crashed out of the Magyar Kupa 3-1 to Vac on Wednesday. Cup holders Ferencváros were ousted from the Magyar Kupa last month and are coming off a disappointing defeat at Haladás last week. Fradi are three points adrift of pacesetters Videoton in the league and this could be season-defining contest for these teams.
Despite Vidi’s midweek defeat in the cup they’ve only lost once all season in the league. They haven’t lost to Ferencváros in their last five encounters, winning three of those. At Groupama, they’ve held Fradi goalless in their last two matches there. Neither team will want to lose and, in what will promise to be an exciting match, will ultimately disappoint.
Prediction: Ferencváros 0-0 Videoton