NB1 Round 26 preview

Videoton’s midweek win has them officially level on points with Ferencváros at the top and now the race is on.   With eight games left it should be another fantastic finish in the NB1 and we take a good look at all of Saturday’s matchups. 

  

Paul:  Another normal (crazy) week in Hungarian football.  Who would have expected Debrecen to erupt for five, yes 5, away goals in Paks?  Videoton and Ferencváros kept  pace with identical 3-0 home victories over Mezőkövesd and Újpest, respectively.  Honvéd and Videoton make up their cancelled match Wednesday and my prediction of a 4-2 Videoton away win will have the top two clubs level on points but with Ferencváros still ahead on goal differential (note actual score was 4-1 Vidi).  I have to admit I’m almost at the point of having Chris stand 10 meters away from me and use the William Tell method of choosing results of matches.  We can’t do worse can we?  I promise Chris that I’m not too bad with a bow and arrow.  Fortunately for Chris, we live too far away to make this method become a reality.

Chris:  Yep, good thing there are a fair few miles separating us Paul because no matter how good you (think you) are I’m not facing the firing squad. Speaking of getting shot down – I’m getting that every week in NB1.  Honestly though, I’m actually just over 50% on picks this season but it’s been brutal at times. I’m going back to the stats and trends and sticking to a combination of science and my gut to force feed all you lemmings with well-thought out picks. 

Saturday, 14 April


Paks vs Haladás

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks is usually a very difficult place to play for opposing teams but Debrecen stormed in and embarrassed the home squad.  I see this as a statement game for Paks as they bounce back from last weeks defeat.  We will see that the loss against Debrecen was a rare blip at home.   With Haladás having a rash or recent injuries, I don’t see them having two away successes in a row or posing any threat to Paks.

Haladás scored a rare away victory against Diósgyőr showing an ability to win away from the friendly confines of their new stadium in Szombathely.  In the course of the match, three players had to be substituted due to injury including Michael Rabušic.  Rabušic’s injury is the most serious and he looks to be out for the season which is a shame considering he had been playing well.   This now leaves Haladás quite depleted in forwards and may result in a David Williams or Miroslav Grumic start up front as the lone attacker.

Prediction: Paks 3-1 Haladás

Chris: Paks endured their worst defeat of the season, conceding five goals against Debrecen at home.  Last season they conceded a grand total of nine goals at home.  Their frustration came out through stalwart defender Dávid Kulcsár last week.  The right back was sent off for use of offensive language against referee Tamás Bognár in the 66th minute and will miss the team’s next three league games.  It’s likely that he’ll be replaced by András Vági.  My guess is that Aurél Csertoi has drilled his side on defense this week and will look to shut down their guests.

David Williams had a good second half of the season last term and will be looked upon to get the goals for Haladás as they look to avoid the drop.  With Rabusic out for a while and Myke Ramos still out with a thigh injury Hali will need someone to produce on attack and, although Williams hasn’t scored since late September (though still leads the team in goals) it looks like he will get some starts in the near future.  Haladás’ rare away win last week pulled them out of the relegation zone and should give them some confidence at a place they haven’t won at since 2016.  Paks has won both previous meetings this season but I think the visitors will get something here. 

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Haladás

 


Mezőkövesd vs Videoton

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul:  Mezőkövesd did not back down against Ferencváros which was admirable.  They were not much of a threat to score but gave it their all which is all a manager can ask for from his squad.   This week finds them at home against another title contender with similar results for Mezőkövesd forthcoming.   Mezőkövesd has lost their lost two matches and this should make it three in a row for a squad that only a few weeks ago was playing some of the best football in NB1.

Videoton have looked sharp their last two games besting both Újpest and Honvéd by three goals.  They did not have to expend too much energy in their midweek destruction of Honvéd so I expect their energy level to be fine in this match.   Szabolcs Huszti scored a nice goal on a set piece last week against Újpest.  He should supplant Danko Lazović as the corner kick and set piece specialist for the squad freeing up Lazović to score as he did twice against Honvéd on Wednesday.  

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-3 Videoton

Chris:  After an eight-match unbeaten run Mezőkövesd have now lost their last two games and are back in the relegation zone.  They will be thin on defense with both Dávid Hudak and Pál Lázár suspended for this game.  Having lost both games to Videoton this season without scoring a goal, they will do well to put one past a team that has only conceded once in their last four games.  

Videoton are coming off consecutive wins on Saturday and Wednesday respectively to draw level on points with Ferencváros at the top of the table.  Manager Marko Nikolic feels like his team hasn’t had enough time to regenerate and be fully prepared for this match, but I feel like they have the depth to squeeze out a win here. 

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 0-2 Videoton


Újpest vs Vasas

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Budapest sides don’t make up a majority of the first division as they did many years ago. In fact, now only four Budapest sides are found in Hungary’s top tier.  Újpest have won only one once in their last five matches and find themselves in the 6th spot currently.  Their play has been very mediocre of late.  Perhaps the additional Cup matches have taken a toll on the club.  Should their questionable form continue, and I believe it will this week, the Hungarian Cup may turn out to be their only way of a European appearance.

Vasas does not score many goals and lack firepower.  Except for a winning match against Honvéd, they usually score on average a goal a game.  They should not break the trend in this match either with a goal at best.   I don’t see much excitement in this match and as a result have very  little to say.  Funny how a year ago, this match wouldn’t have made me as sleepy as it does today.

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Vasas

Chris:  Our man Gaby Kovacs will be in attendance at this one which means that Újpest will win.  There is no doubt in my mind and you’ll do well to listen.  I’m not going to say much or try to give any statistical data to back up this pick but even though Újpest haven’t scored in three games they will return with a bang and destroy Vasas with one of their biggest wins of the the season against a Vasas side that won’t know what hit them. 

Prediction: Újpest 4-1 Vasas


Puskás Akadémia vs Honvéd

at Pancho Arena, Felcsút

Paul: Puskás Akadémia are slowly rising up the table with some good efforts the last two weeks.   Honvéd should be the right medicine for manager Attila Pintér’s squad to score some goals. I can’t recall a match where Puskás have scored many goals,  but then again they haven’t played Honvéd in a while. The suspect Honvéd defense is ripe for the picking.  Look for Josip Knežević to rediscover his goal scoring form of the fall.

Honvéd are “givers” which in the football world means allowing bunches of goals.  They have allowed the 3rd most goals in NB1 but still find themselves competing for a spot in Europe.   Davide Lanzafame scored midweek against Videoton and also had a spat with Roland Juhász, someone he’d be wise not to spar with in the future.  Honvéd, even with the skill of Lanzafame and Eppel, have a very suspect defense.   Despite the great goalkeeping of Dávid Gróf, Honvéd should allow up to three goals and revive a suspect Puskás attack.

Prediction: Puskás 3-1 Honvéd

Chris: Attila Pintér’s side got a late goal to complete a comeback win against Vasas last week in Budapest.   They have picked up four points in their last two games despite forward Ezekiel Henty absence due to suspension.  Henty will sit out this one also as he completes his three-match ban.  Puskás are in the semifinals of the Magyar Kupa and will have one eye on that as well, but they’ve managed to grind out points in six of their last seven games at home. 

A huge loss for Honvéd will be Davide Lanzafame who picked up his fifth yellow card in Honvéd’s midweek defeat against Videoton.  Kispest’s leading goal-scorer will have to witness this one from the stands just days after finding his scoring boots, scoring his first goal from the run of play since November.  

Danilo scored a dramatic late winner in their last meeting at Bozsik Stadion back in early November, but Honvéd haven’t won in their last five matches away from home. 

Prediction:  Puskás 1-1 Honvéd


  

Balmazújváros vs Diósgyor

at Városi Sportpálya, Balmazújváros

Paul: Balmazújváros have earned four draws in their last four home matches.  Losing points at home does not bode well for a squad struggling to stay up in the first division.  With three straight losses on the road, losing points again at home is making a goodbye to NB1 more likely every week.  At this point, even manager Ferenc Horváth has to be wondering where he will work next season.

Diósgyőr have not won in their last five away matches and that won’t change even against lowly Balmazújváros.  Other than for the fans of the two squads, not much inspires in this match even for  casual observers of Hungarian football.  I must commend the fans of Diósgyőr who do travel in good numbers away to support their club.  Diósgyőr should score a goal which is customary for them and a tie in a very “frog” (insert your least favorite food here) football match. 

Prediction: Balmazújváros 1-1 Diósgyor

Chris: Ferenc Horváth’s side must be happy to be back at home where they are unbeaten in their last five.  Despite their home advantage, Balmazújváros have only won once since mid-November and hold up the bottom of the table with just 24 points.  They are in touching distance of safety, however, and will be looking to take full advantage of this game. Balmaz are still in the Magyar Kupa and have a decent chance to get past Újpest in the semis, but trainer Tamás Szamosi made it clear that the club’s main objective is to stay in NB1. 

Diósgyor fell to Haladás last week to keep them as close to the danger zone as they’ve been all season.  They haven’t been able to score more than one goal in their last four games.  This is an important game for Diósgyor but they haven’t had much luck against Balmaz who they’ve lost their last three matches against.  

I’m gambling on the hosts getting a massive win here. 

Prediction: Balmazújváros 2-1 Diósgyor


Debrecen vs Ferencváros

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: Debrecen is fresh off a spring high with an impressive  5-2 away win at Paks.  They are coming on and I see some glimpses of the surprise team of the fall.  Norbert Könyves is playing some of the best football of his career as evidenced by his 5 goals in two games last week.  To think a few short weeks ago I was lamenting Debrecen’s lack of goal scoring.  I see Debrecen playing up to the ability of Ferencváros and will finally make me look good my “upset of the week” pick (note 0-2 in upsets).

Ferencváros took care of business and had a comfortable win against Mezőkövesd.  I attempted to watch the match on television but could only last a half due to the early game time.  The match was always in hand and Fradi continued their home dominance at Groupama Arena.  Dániel Böde will continue his goal scoring prowess but other than that the squad will struggle to score goals.  Everything in my soul says to make the easy Ferencváros choice but I will go out on a limb with Debrecen here.  This should be one, if not the most entertaining match of the week. 

Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Ferencváros

Chris: While I agree that Debrecen has played some good football of late and that Könyves is on fire, Ferencváros also has the best defense away from home this season with only 13 goals conceded in 12 games.  Also, Loki’s win last week was just their first of the spring season – going six matches prior without a victory. 

Ferencváros only led by one at half last week against Mezőkövesd but still did the business and strolled to a 3-0 win after wearing them down in the second half.  I think Debrecen will be brought back down to earth despite playing at home and Fradi will keep pace at the top. 

Prediction: Debrecen 1-2 Ferencváros