NB1 Round 29 Preview

Paks’ heroic victory over Videoton allowed Ferencváros to slip into the top spot one week after they stumbled. With just five matches remaining and just three points separating the bottom five there is still a lot to play for.  Let’s take a more comprehensive look at this week’s matchups. 

  

Paul:  Chris, I’m writing this a little early this week, in fact on a Tuesday due to taking 6th grade students to Yosemite National Park for the week.  With questionable internet and a possible good performance maybe I’ll make this a regular occurrence?   The number of goals jumped from 6 to 17 and with no scoreless draws.   Diósgyőr have their new stadium ready for a grand opening against Mezőkövesd, who graciously allowed them to use their grounds for  home matches in the last year plus.  The marquee matchup, Ferencváros-Videoton, is finally here.  Part of me would like the champion determined on the last match of the season but its not to be.  Not sure if last seasons exciting finale will ever be repeated. I still think regardless of the outcome, the championship will not be entirely sewn up yet.  Paks has shown again that anyone can beat anyone, anywhere and anytime in the NB1. “Survivor” becomes reality as any of five clubs are in contention for relegation.

Chris: Maybe Paul has something up his sleeve by making his predictions early.  We shall see.  In the meantime I’m still trying to get over Paks’s win over Vidi.  Vasas’ win last week pulled them up from the drop zone and they’ll be entertaining a buoyant Paks squad in the capital on Saturday.  I agree with Paul that any result in the game of the week won’t decide anything but a win by Fradi will really put the pressure on last season’s runners-up.


Saturday, 5 May


Honvéd vs Debrecen

at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Honvéd posted an impressive away win at Mezőkövesd and now find themselves with a legitimate chance at a place in Europe.  Davide Lanzafame is back as evidenced by his two goals scored last week.  Look for Lanzafame to continue his goal scoring form and make a claim for the goal scoring title.  Honvéd plays Debrecen at the right time and should have no trouble securing another win.

Debrecen has a ton of injuries as Chris brought up last week.  Where does he get his inside information? Ádám Bódi sadly is out for the rest of the season.  I still can’t figure out Videoton spending such a high transfer fee on him yet giving up on him so soon.    Norbert Könyves started but was brought off after only 15 minutes.  Haris Tabakovic scored twice and now looks like the only source of real offense for Loki.  Fortunately, Debrecen have enough points to stay up and we see now that manager András Herczeg was correct when he stated avoiding relegation was the reality.

Prediction: Honvéd 3-1 Debrecen

Chris: Kispest have been there or thereabouts as they continue to sniff out a spot on the podium at the end of the season.  Only two weeks since mid-March have they been more than a point out of third place, but their away win at Mezőkövesd showed grit and heart last week as they held off a desperate team in a game that saw nine yellow cards.  Honvéd’s record at home is the same as on the road.  In fact, they have a better goal differential away from home this season.  

Debrecen has had Honvéd’s number all season, winning both of their previous meetings (1-0 and 3-1 respectively).  Loki are arguably a better team away from home and have played much better defensively conceding the least amount of away goals outside of the top three.   Most of my inside information comes from my pre-match phone calls with each of the managers. 

I’m sensing disappointment for the hosts in this one as Honvéd seem to come down after a win.  The last time they won two games in succession was in late October.  

Prediction: Honvéd 2-2 Debrecen

 


Vasas vs Paks

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul:  No way did I see Vasas scoring three goals last week against Debrecen, let alone win the match.  I will challenge Chris, our stat guru, to find out this when Vasas last tallied three goals. Vasas do have the disadvantage of not playing true home matches this season.    They do have a difficult final five matches with four of them against Top 5 clubs.   Any point will help at this stage of the season.

What can I say about  Paks?  The last two weeks were masterful performances against the big two:  Ferencváros and Videoton.  I’ve said it again and again but Aurél Csertői is a master at getting the most out of his players.  Can they do it again or will they play to the level of their opponent?  I have to admit that I am somewhat a closet Paks fan ( I love the underdogs) but I must pick an “upset of the week” and this match is the ONE.  

Prediction: Vasas 2-1 Paks

Chris:  Paul, you’d have to go all the way back to 18 November when Vasas last scored three goals in a 3-3 draw against Mezőkövesd.  Vasas’ attack was much better earlier this season and, in a stretch of four games in late August/early September, they scored 12 goals in four games including a 4-1 demolition of Honvéd.   Last week’s win was vital as they pulled out of danger after three weeks in the relegation zone.  They’ll be without talented forward Martin Ádám after his dismissal last week. Michael Oenning had four players named to the Team of the Week so they’ll feel confident heading into this one. 

Paks pulled off a stunning win over then-leaders Videoton with a defensive effort that had echoes of last season’s stifling performances.  Both teams have traded 3-1 results with the hosts winning each time this season.  I’m banking on Vasas to nip this one in a close game.

Prediction: Vasas 2-1 Paks


Diósgyor vs Mezőkövesd

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc

Paul: Diósgyőr’s days of playing “away” home matches in Debrecen and Mezőkövesd are over!   Welcome to another new stadium in Hungary!  This one is rightly earned for some of the best football fans in Hungary.  I’ve only been in the old stadium once, witnessing the 1990 Cup Final between Ferencváros and Vác.    If you do get the chance to take a peek at the empty stadium somewhere on the internet, please do!  The new stadium is beautiful and the “12th man” the fan will “will” the squad to win in their inaugural home match.  Miskolc will be rocking a full house and the “Haladas” effect will be in full effect here.

Not quite fair to Mezőkövesd to play the inaugural match Diósgyőr is it? They did loan out their home to this weeks opponent for a good part of the season.  Alls fair in love and football, right?  As good as Mezőkövesd were in a ten game span, they are now in the midst of a five game winless streak.  Their last win came against Debrecen on St. Patrick’s day.  Not the best time for a team hoping to stay up in NB1 to lose their form.

Prediction: Diósgyor 2-0 Mezőkövesd

Chris:  I fully understand the sentiment of Diósgyor playing well for their fans in Miskolc at their new stadium but I still can’t get past their recent troubles both on and off the pitch.  Even though they kept things close in their last two games they haven’t scored in 223 minutes.  In fact, they scored just 5 goals in their last seven games.  Leading scorer Roland Ugrai was suspended last week against Újpest due to yellow card accumulation, but he’s only scored once in his last eight appearances.   New manager Fernando had his club playing above average in his first game in control, but the attack is lacking that killer instinct. 

Mezőkövesd has lost just once in their last six away games and are scratching and clawing to stay up for a second consecutive season.  Attila Kuttor’s side have ground out results and were unlucky to not have picked up a point against Honvéd last week.  

Prediction: Diósgyor 1-1 Mezőkövesd


Balmazújváros vs Újpest

at Balmazújváros Stadion, Balmazújváros

Paul: Balmazújváros are somehow still in the hunt in the Hungarian game of “Survivor.” As readers know, I love the underdog but I’m losing my patience with the club. This is where I think the number of matches will affect both promoted clubs. Balmazújváros could easily upset Lilák at home and I would not be surprised. After picking them to upset Puskás last week, I cannot do it again. 

Újpest did not look very impressive in defeating Diósgyőr but a win is a win is a win.  Both sides will attack and as a result this will be a match with plenty of goals and dare I say, the most goals of the week.  A late penalty kick by Soma Novothny wins it in the final minute for the Lilak.

Prediction: Balmazújváros 2-3 Újpest

Chris: Nebojsa Vignjevic looked sharp in his light blue blazer last week, but his squad’s finishing must be cause for concern for him.  Újpest were dominant in terms of creating chances against DVTK and it almost seemed more difficult for them to miss the chances they created than to actually score.  Bizarre, I know!    With the second leg of the Magyar Kupa semifinal between these two next week it will be interesting to see how each team approaches this one.  Lilák have the the inside course on third place in the league, and a 2-1 first leg lead in the cup doesn’t assure them of a place in the final yet. 

For Balmazújváros, they have slipped back into the relegation zone and must be prioritizing the league at this point.  They fell hard against fellow promotees Puskás last week in a match they had a chance to pick up points in.  They are unbeaten in their last six home games and will put in a tough performance ahead of their rematch on Wednesday.  

Prediction:  Balmazújváros 2-2 Újpest


Haladás vs Puskás Akadémia 

at Szombathelyi Haladás Stadion, Haladás. 

Paul: Has the honeymoon effect of a new stadium worn off for Haladás?   Two straight draws after three wins in a row to open their new digs.  Michal Hipp hopes to bring the “away” mentality back to the grounds of Szombathely. They did make things very difficult for Fradi.

Puskás Akadémia have to be commended for their fine form of late.  Yes it’s the team with few fans, a beautiful stadium and a manager not beloved in Hungary to say the least.  Yet, Attila Pintér like a fine mechanic has made adjustments week to week in his squad that while not producing a Porsche is a serviceable Toyota.    In an unprecedented move by yours truly , I will make a second “upset of the week” selection. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, right? 

Prediction: Haladás 1-2 Puskás

Chris: I have to disagree with Paul on this one.  Haladás are still unbeaten at home since they moved into their new stadium and they took an early lead against Ferencváros last week at Groupama before conceding a 68th minute backbreaker in a valiant effort. 

Their worst defeat of the season came at the hands of Puskás 5-1 when the season was still new, but they defeated them 3-1 at Pancho Arena in December.  David Williams showed he can still be counted on as their main scorer getting his first goal in just his second start of the Spring. 

Puskás are in a rich vein of form, but their wins have all come against teams in the bottom half of the table.  I’m not as impressed as Paul is about the Academy of late but that doesn’t detract from them getting points when expected.  I just don’t see them winning here. 

Prediction: Haladás 2-1 Puskás


Videoton vs Ferencváros

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: Videoton looked dreadful in losing to Paks last week. Perhaps they were looking ahead to this match? Points lost matter, no matter whom they come against. Danko Lazovics was sorely missed after sitting out due to yellow cards. Videoton seem tired to me and I don’t see much urgency and creativity lately out of the squad.  Strong manager please step forward!

Ferencváros had to work hard to defeat a determined Haladás side but earned the required three points.   Fradi have so many ways to score goals that it makes them such a difficult side to defend.  Yes, Dániel Böde and Roland Varga score the majority of goals, but key on them and a number of other players can step up.  Both sides play cautious resulting in a tactical, card filled match.

Prediction: Videoton 1-1 Ferencváros

Chris: This will be the worst match of the season hands down.  It will be like two boxers waiting for the other to take the first swing and it will end poorly … for the spectators.   Each team has won 3-1 in their home stadium, but his time neither will flinch.  

Prediction: Videoton 0-0 Ferencváros