NB1 Round 28 preview

Just six goals were scored last week in all of Round 27 which was easily the least goals scored in any round so far this season.  However, just one goal made any significant difference and that was Marko Scepovic’s 10th of the season for Videoton as he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Debrecen to take over the top spot in NB1. Read on for a complete look at this week’s action in Hungary’s top flight.

Paul:  Chris, Round 27 is very difficult to sugar coat so I won’t even attempt to add some sweetness.  The lowest number of goals scored in any round in the 2017-2018 season.  Three goalless draws and a total of only six goals scored.  One of the most lackluster Saturdays in recent memory.  I’m not sure if it was great goalkeeping or poor finishing.  Jumping around in the viewing of the matches, I’m more prone to side with poor finishing.    Diósgyőr, after three straight losses, fired manager Tamás Bódog much to the chagrin of many fans who protested the decision.  Out of curiosity how many managerial changes have there been in NB1 this season?  Answer after Ferencváros-Haladás prediction.

Chris: It was anything but the “beautiful game” last week, but Videoton made it count as they muscled through a tough battle against a pesky Debrecen to grab first place in the League.  Bódog’s dismissal was rough but understandable as the team hasn’t improved as much as they had hoped and they find themselves perilously close to the same position they were at this point last season when he was brought in.  I know Paul will agree that anything will be better than last week’s display.  For our viewing’s sake, let’s hope so. 


Saturday, 28 April


Paks vs Videoton

at Pasksi Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks almost pulled off one of the upsets of the year against Ferencváros.  A late penalty and quite a bit of stoppage time proved to be too much for a miracle at Groupama Arena.  I have to commend manager Aurél Csertői for a masterful attacking game plan against the Green Eagles.  I see a natural let down for Paks in this match as they played their hearts out against Fradi.

Videoton is back in the top position but has not looked too impressive the last few weeks.  It was an ugly win against Debrecen with a goal that was perhaps not rightly allowed.  Ugly wins count just as much as a five goal domination.  Videoton have not been very dynamic lately scoring a majority of their goals on set pieces and corner kicks.  They catch Paks at the right time and should secure a hard found, “ugly” win.

Prediction: Paks 1-2 Videoton

Chris: Goalkeeper Gergo Rácz made his debut in last week’s draw against his former team Ferencváros and made a good showing of himself.  It was Paks’ first point in three games as they seemed to emerge from their current funk.  They will face a Videoton side they haven’t defeated since 2015 and whom they’ve lost their last two meetings against. 

Videoton’s game-winner Marko Scepovic was the hero against Debrecen last week but also exited the game early due to injury.  The pacesetters have plenty of options to choose up front if he can’t return, however, and they have been in stellar form of late.  They did fail to take maximum points at Mezőkövesd a fortnight ago and were only able to manage one goal at home against Debrecen last week. 

I think Paks plays tough at home against they and can get a result against Vidi here. 

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Videoton


 

Debrecen vs Vasas

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul:  Debrecen had a tough luck loss to Videoton on a disputed goal.   They matched Videoton punch for punch in boxing terms.   I’m not sure if Norbert Könyves returns this match but Debrecen will come out on the offensive and defeat Vasas in comfortable fashion.  They will find a way to score here whether it be by head or by foot.

Michael Oenning still finds himself with a job at Vasas.   Vasas have not won in their last five matches and the situation won’t improve this week.  Their three defender system should open up holes for Debrecen to exploit as Újpest did two weeks ago.  Vasas will be shut out as Debrecen spends most of the match on the Vasas side of the pitch.  

Prediction: Debrecen 2-0 Vasas

Chris:  Loki will be itching for a comeback this week as they are smarting from a narrow defeat in Felcsút.  However, Debrecen will be without a number of players.  János Ferenczi and Ádám Bódi are injured, Kevin Varga’s fifth yellow card has him suspended and Balázs Bényei, Justin Mengolo and Norbert Könyves are also questionable with knocks. I don’t see where the offense is coming with all these absences.

Vasas kept their first clean sheet since late October last week, earning a point against fellow strugglers Mezőkövesd.  At the bottom of the table, a defeat will be huge blow as the season is winding down.  They need a result in the worst way.  Midfielder Zsombor Berecz is struggling with injury and looks to be out for Saturday’s game. 

This is a coin flip for me as Loki haven’t won at home since December and look more like The Walking Dead than a football team.  Draw. 

Prediction: Debrecen 1-1 Vasas


Mezőkövesd vs Honvéd

at Varosi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul: Mezőkövesd  has played two scoreless draws in a row.  Against Videoton, they actually had a chance to pull the upset.  They have only one win  at home in their last five matches.   The magic appears to have left the club which had a magical run midseason but now are  struggling for survival.

Honvéd was once again lackluster against Újpest and the “lackluster” adjective is becoming my “go to”  term in describing last year’s champions.   After the number of goalless draws last week, there has to be one this week, right?  Why not make it this match?   Or it well could be a 3-3 high scoring affair with goals galore, which of course is preferable by far.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 0-0 Honvéd

Chris:  Five of Mezőkövesd’s last ten league games have ended 0-0 which proves they can play some good defensive football when they want.  In the other five they’ve conceded 11 goals which just goes to show you that anything can happen in this league (but you already knew that).  

Honvéd’s third match in a row without a victory last week against Újpest saw them miss a chance to jump into third place.  They are also six games without a victory away and will be looking for their first away win since late October when they travel to Mezőkövesd on Saturday.  These two have traded 2-1 results at the other’s stadium so far this season and I’m in agreement with Paul that the two will share the spoils, but there will be goals. 

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-2 Honvéd


Újpest vs Diósgyor

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Újpest must be excited to catch Diósgyőr in the midst of a coaching change.   Normally a coaching change provides a club with a temporary shot in the arm but I don’t see that happening in this case.   Look for Újpest to welcome Fernando to the Hungarian managerial  ranks with a dominating win.  Soma Novothny adds to his goal totals and the Lilak control the match throughout.

In any sport when a team is performing poorly the manager takes the blame as the players can’t be fired.  Diósgyőr’s policy of buying only free transfer players literally make things difficult for a club that deserves more.  I continue to be a fan of Tamás Bódog and know he will continue his career next season in Hungary or elsewhere.  In his defense, during his Diósgyőr tenure, his teams never played a single home match.  Diósgyőr welcome new manager Fernando who played for the club in 2012-2013 season.  His prior coaching experience was last season at a  fourth division club in Spain, El Palo.  Not the most impressive managerial experience but we shall see…

Prediction: Újpest 3-1 Diósgyor

Chris: It’s on.  This will be the game that Lilák stake their claim for the Europa League as they take advantage of a team in turmoil.  Considering all of the other draws in the league last week, Újpest did well not to allow Kispest to leapfrog them.  They have another route to Europe through the cup but I think Nebojsa Vignjevic would like to keep his options open by setting the pace in third.  

Diósgyor are six games without a win and it’s anyone’s guess as to how they’ll respond to Bódog’s dismissal but they haven’t defeated Újpest in two games this season and will need to conjure up something we haven’t seen much from them recently – offense.    

Prediction:  Újpest 2-1 Diósgyor

 


Puskás Akadémia vs Balmazújváros

at Pancho Arena, Felcsut. 

Paul: Puskás Akadémia continued its good form with an “away” win versus Diósgyőr.  In their usual fashion, Puskás won in a low scoring match with an early goal by ex-Debrecen player Péter Szakály.  They are due for a goose egg in more ways than one.

Balmazújváros find themselves away again after earning a draw against Haladás.  Quite a good achievement after even the big boys Videoton and Ferencváros left Szombathely with losses.  I’m still looking for a correct “upset of the week” choice, and Balmazújváros will finally prove me correct. 

Prediction: Puskás 0-1 Balmazújváros

Chris: Puskás are five games without defeat in all competitions and have one step in the Magyar Kupa final after a 4-0 win over Debrecen in the first leg.  Their win over DVTK last week pulled them five points away from the danger zone.  The ‘Academy’ seem to be playing much better as a team and they’re unbeaten in their last four at home. 

Balmazújváros have played bravely all season and will be hard done by if they don’t stay up this season.  Four points out of their last two games has kept their noses above the relegation line by goal difference.  Last season they defeated Puskás in Felcsút in their penultimate game as they raced for promotion.  By then Puskás had already wrapped up the NBII championship, but this season Attila Pintér’s side have more to play for. 

Prediction: Puskás 2-0 Balmazújváros


Ferencváros vs Haladás

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: Ferencváros were very fortunate to secure a late point against a motivated Paks squad and came very close to their first home loss of the season.  This week things will be back to normal with a 3-4 goal performance from the Green Eagles.  Dániel Böde will be back with two goals this week and all will be happy at Groupama Arena.

Haladás have flipped flopped their home/away form in their last four matches, winning both away games and drawing twice at home.  A goalless draw at home  and losing precious points against Balmazújváros does not “Böde” well.  I’m curious to see what tactics manager Michal Hipp will use in the match.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Haladás

Chris: Good one Paul.  Anytime you can use a Hungarian name in a witty statement, you win. Fradi are still undefeated at home and I can’t see them falling here.  Haladás are going to into this game with a number of question marks including goalkeeper Gábor Király.  With Márton Gyurján already injured, the gloves would be passed on to Dániel Rózsa who has only started one match this season.  Five field players including Myke Ramos and Michal Rabusic are unavailable due to injury.  

With Fradi’s home record and the pressure to keep pace at the top they should perform reasonably well to get maximum points. 

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Haladás