NB1 Round 27 preview

Neither Ferencváros nor Videoton could take advantage of the other’s stumble last week as they remain knotted at the top of the NB1 table.  Újpest unleashed an explosive attack on Vasas, and a Lanzafame-less Honvéd was unable find a way past Puskás in the race for third place.  At the other end of the table Vasas dropped to the bottom while Mezőkövesd climbed out of the relegation zone.

  

Paul:  Chris, I like donuts as much as the next guy, but not when it’s a donut (0) for my weekly selections.  In football, shutouts are great for the defense but not for the prognosticator.   On the other hand, you had a nice week, correctly picking 2 matches spot on and using the “Gaby Kovacs” factor to almost perfection.  Ferencváros and Videoton both drew failing to separate from the other.  Curiously, each side has matching results in their last five matches (D,W,D,W,W). Let’s push on as I hope it’s getting better as it could not get any worse, right?

Chris: Yes, using the Gaby Kovacs factor is a powerful asset but the timing needs to be perfect. It was a fairly good week for me but, as we both know, things can change quickly this week as we return to the chaos that is NB1.  My goal is to be short but sweet this week. 


Saturday, 21 April


Honvéd vs Újpest

at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Another Budapest derby between two storied Budapest clubs.  Honvéd looked lackluster again in earning a draw against  Puskás.  Super sub Danilo rather than come on to level the match in the final minutes, did so playing the full 90 minutes.  In a match of teams with  suspect defenses, I will make a counter attack and call this match my “upset of the week.”  An inner, gut feeling as long as Gaby Kovacs is not attending this match.

With a slim 2-1 home victory over Balmazújváros in the Cup, the second leg away will be no cake walk for Újpest.  In league, Újpest looked very impressive in Round 26, easily dispatching Vasas and scoring four goals.  Soma Novothny tallied two more goals to bring his season total to 15.  Has Georges Leekens noticed?  Obinna Nwobodo ruled the left side of the pitch with his speed and crosses.  Defense remains the concern for “Lilak.”

Prediction: Honvéd 3-2 Újpest

Chris: Lanzafame returns for Kispest.  Újpest tired after midweek game.  Novothny hot, defense not. Big battle for third – expect goals. 

Prediction: Honvéd 3-3 Újpest

 


Diósgyor vs Puskás Akadémia

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul:  Diósgyőr are an oddly unpredictable club, besting Ferencváros and Debrecen in consecutive weeks but currently on a downward slope pushing them to the relegation zone.  Being a fan of the club must be like a roller coaster ride with ups and down weekly.  Last week they had their match in hand against Balmazújváros only to lose on two penalties in the closing minutes.   In all fairness, the second penalty was a phantom call in my eyes.  Their new stadium is still weeks away so until then home games in Debrecen or Mezőkövesd continue.

Puskás Akadémia scored an impressive Cup win over Debrecen on Wednesday and should find themselves in the Cup Final barring a massive let down in the return match.  Ezekiel Henty scored two goals showing the talent he possesses when focused on football only.  Throwing out all the statistics in this match, I will perform a mental coin flip.   Based on current form Puskás Akadémia win…  

Prediction: Diósgyor 1-2 Puskás

Chris:  Diósgyor bounces back with a strong showing against a team that blew their wad in their midweek cup match.  NB1 defies the laws of logic and physics and Puskás will fall here.  

Prediction: Diósgyor 2-1 Puskás


Ferencváros vs Paks

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

Paul: Ferencváros had an expected difficult match at Debrecen in an electric atmosphere with over 10,000 fans in attendance.   At home, Ferencváros have been dominant with an astounding +29 goal differential.  The trend will continue with the only question the numbers of goals scored by the home side against a leaky defense.  Paks, to their credit, never back off in their play for better or for worse.  Will we see ever see Zoltán Gera again this season?

Paks have struggled in the last two weeks after rising up to the third position in the league.  As we see now, a third place finish is a bit too much to ask of this mid-table club.  Losing two straight home matches is not a common feat in Paks and matters shouldn’t improve at Groupama Arena.  A late goal will happen but should be little consolation for a squad in disarray.

Prediction: Ferencváros 4-1 Paks

Chris:  This is low-hanging fruit for Ferencváros who look to surge ahead at the top of the table.  Roland Varga is back in the goals.  Paks are in a poor vein of form and nothing suggests they’ll do what others have been unable to do at Groupama.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Paks


Haladás vs Balmazújváros

at Szombathelyi Haladás Stadion , Haladás

Paul: Haladás have won their last two away matches by identical 2-1 scores to move up to the 7th spot in the NB1.  A welcome return home to the friendly confines of their new stadium in Szombathely is in the offering.  Szombathely curiously in Hungarian means “Saturday place” and Saturday evening should be a nice place to watch football in Western Hungary.  Despite some injuries, Michal Hipp has his squad playing good football and a home win will make it three in a row.  The real question is where will the goals come from but they will be there in some way and form.

Balmazújváros are still alive in the Cup after scoring a late goal away at Újpest to leave the return leg in question.  Last week, Balmazújváros took care of business at home against Diósgyőr albeit in interesting fashion with two late penalties by Gergely Rudolf to secure the win. At this point,  manager Ferenc Horváth will take any win he can get in the relegation battle.   Balmazújváros has three straight away loses and should keep the match competitive, but securing any points may be asking too much here.

Prediction: Haladás 2-0 Balmazújváros

Chris: Haladás unstoppable at home. David Williams is starting. Balmaz struggling on the road and got lucky last week.   

Prediction:  Haladás 2-1 Balmazújváros

  


Vasas vs Mezőkövesd

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Vasas was trounced away at Újpest by two goals but it did not even seem that close.  Vasas find themselves at the bottom of the table and rightly so.  I’ve mentioned this before but my what a difference a year makes.   A Europa League spot to the bottom of the NB1. Vasas are about as motivated to play as I am to conjure up something positive to write about them.   I will leave it at that!

Mezőkövesd played well against Videoton and actually had a chance to pull the upset.  The schedule sets up well for them if they can regain their form of weeks ago.  Outside of a loss at Ferencváros, Mezőkövesd has been good in its last five away matches.   Mezőkövesd controls this match and earns a vital away win further hurting the chances of Vasas to stay up this season. 

Prediction: Vasas 1-2 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Vasas sinking. Mezo looking to pull away from danger zone.  In their last 8 away games, Mezo have only lost twice (against Videoton and Fradi). These two have drawn twice already this season.

Prediction: Vasas 1-1 Mezőkövesd


Videoton vs Debrecen

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: Videoton did not look too good against Mezőkövesd and lost a chance to steer two points clear of Ferencváros.  They are losing precious points which last year ended up costing them the title to Honvéd .  On a bright note, Attila Fiola played well and made the Round 26 team of the week.  His stock and play have fallen greatly since his injury against Austria in the Euro 2016 opener.  Stefan Šćepović has cooled off after fast start to the new year, but look for both Šćepović brothers to get back on the score sheet this week.

Debrecen had a tough away loss midweek to Puskás ensuring their exit in the Hungarian Cup.  Their focus now will have to be on the league and securing a European place.  Norbert Könyves went off against Puskás due to injury.  Should this be a serious injury, his loss will be a massive blow to the squad.  Playing the top two clubs back to back is difficult for anyone; add a midweek Cup tie and Debrecen are in for a difficult time.   Let’s hope Könyves is back soon as “Loki” played very well against “Fradi” last week in a nice capper to Round 26. 

Prediction: Videoton 2-0 Debrecen

Chris: Vidi coming off disappointing draw against Mezo last week.  Debrecen suffered midweek hammering at hands of Puskás.  Könyves status will affect Debrecen’s mindset against Videoton who have been impenetrable at home. 

Prediction: Videoton 3-1 Debrecen