NB1 Round 30 Preview

Here we go. Just four more games and still so much to determine. Last week’s anticipated ‘match of the week’ was not the showcase of the beautiful game and did not flatter the state of club football in Hungary. All of that is in the rearview mirror now as we look ahead to Round 30.

Paul: Chris, compliments on a good week of predictions for you in Round 29.  You were spot on in the Videoton/Ferencváros match which had an amazing combined 13 yellow cards. The final four matches should be interesting as each club plays three of the same teams. A low number of total goals scored once again with 13 goals.  Watching the game highlights, the lack of quality finishing is amazing. I will leave the stats to Chris and rely on my “Hungarian” feelings from now on in my predictions.  Sometimes in life, feelings take precedence over facts.  I was totally wrong again on my “upsets of the week”, and don’t feel any this week.    I feel for the fans of Diósgyőr as they welcomed a beautiful new stadium only to lose to Mezőkövesd.  Paks continues to impress and may just find themselves with a European place. The relegation battle  is down to about 4 clubs (Vasas, Diósgyőr, Mezőkövesd, Balmazújváros). I really feel that one of the promoted teams and an established first division club will fall this season.  Once again who knows what will happen in Hungary, but it is the unpredictable that defines Hungarian football.

Chris: Well, nothing changed at the top after the ‘Folly at Felcsút’ last week, while Mezőkövesd climbed up from the bottom and found temporary safety. There was midweek glory for Puskás and Újpest who punched their tickets to the Magyar Kupa Final. We get a preview of the cup final this week as the two finalists square off against each other in the capital.
As this season nears its climax it’s a bit strange to see Paks in third place, but they’ve taken advantage of a lot of mediocrity among the ‘middle of the pack’ teams and earn their spot on the podium. Let’s take a closer look at this week’s games.

Saturday, 12 May

Debrecen vs Diósgyor
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: Debrecen is like the boxer who is knocked down again and again.  Yet, they never complain and show up week after week. Like a good Hungarian, they endure the blows, sometimes fall, but get back up again.   Much of this has to be attributed to their manager, András Herczeg, who finds ways to win despite the injuries and the odds.  Norbert Könyves was out again but Haris Tabakovic has filled in splendidly, scoring 4 goals in his last two matches.  Debrecen will do just enough to win this match and I dare say Mr. Tabakovic will score again.
Diósgyőr had everything going for them last week:  new stadium, new coach, and over 12,000 fans in attendance.  What did they do? The opposite of what I imagined, they lost!  Relegation is a reality in Miskolc. I don’t see things improving at all as Diósgyőr lack any offensive punch and even a single goal allowed can equal a loss for this bunch.
Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Diósgyor

Chris: Loki managed just their second victory since December by defeating champions Honvéd, putting them back within touching distance of a spot in the Europa League. They have split their previous two matches against Diósgyor this season – each winning at home.
Diósgyor have dropped three straight by a 1-0 scoreline and have lost their last five, pushing them further and further into a relegation dogfight.
Debrecen will enjoy home comforts here.
Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Diósgyor

Mezőkövesd vs Balmazújváros
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul: In my mind this is the game of the week, not for the quality of play but for the implications of the result.  A loss by either side equals relegation. A bit harsh but reality is reality. Mezőkövesd spoiled the opening of Diósgyőr’s new stadium. They have not been very good at home but I see Balmazújváros taking some chances which will open up some great chances for goals by the home club.
To be truthful, I don’t want to see any club relegated but that is the beauty of football as opposed to the  other sports I follow. I can’t see Balmazújváros even securing a point here as they have lost four of their last five away matches.  I see a let down after their midweek Cup semifinal loss which was their “match of the season.” No matter the result, they fought hard in the NB1 and made for some fun matches.  I have enjoyed watching the club but they don’t have enough to stay up this year. Ferenc Horváth is a very good coach and has gotten out everything he could from this squad.  With this loss, relegation is almost certain.
Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-0 Balmazújváros

Chris: Mezőkövesd got their first win in six games last week to jump out of the relegation zone for the first time since March. Balmazújváros battled bravely for a point against Újpest but they know they need to start winning before they sink their way into NB2. I agree with Paul that this will be the game of the week as both sides are desperate for points
Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-1 Balmazújváros

Paks vs Honvéd
at Fehérvári úti, Paks

Paul: I keep looking for a Paks letdown that has not happened.  Last week against Videoton, Paks had a different game plan with a strong defensive show  and a winning goal in their counter attacking style. This week the goals should be easier to come by against a Honvéd defense prone to giving up goals in bunches.
Just when I start to believe in Honvéd and see them earning a place in Europe, they fall flat on their faces and lose at home to Debrecen.  They have been poor away from home and coupled with the home form of Paks should lead to a Paks win. I see this as the highest scoring match of the week but with Paks a goal better.
Prediction: Paks 3-2 Honvéd

Chris: Paks can sniff a spot in Europe and they’ll keep the good times rolling once more at home. Honvéd crashed hard last week and they’ll be hard-pressed to get a result here.

Prediction: Paks 1-0 Honvéd

Újpest vs Puskás Akadémia
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Who would have thought that these two clubs would be playing eventually for the Hungarian Cup?   Me neither. I don’t see Újpest showing much in this clash after having played midweek.  One would think the Cup would be more important to the Lilak but why not win it and a 3rd place in NB1 as well?
Puskás Akadémia came into their semi final  Cup match against Debrecen with a four goal advantage so even losing by 2 goals was enough to make it to the final against the Lilak.  Amazingly, love him or hate him, Attila Pintér has now made it to Cup finals with 5 different clubs.  I don’t see either club showing their hands this week in poker terms.   A tie is fine for both clubs in what should be an uninspiring match. The great play better come out in the Cup Final on the 23rd of May.
Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Puskás Akadémia

Chris: This is the match Nebojsa Vignjevic needs to intimidate Puskás before the Magyar Kupa final and I thin Lilák will be turning last week’s near-misses into goals. Puskás struggle against the better teams away and they’ll see an energized Újpest side here.
Prediction: Újpest 3-1 Puskás Akadémia

Videoton vs Haladás
at Pancho Arena, Felcsút

Paul: Videoton were lucky not to lose against Ferencváros last week.  They still have a shot at the title but they must win their final four matches and hope for a Fradi falter.  Danko Lazovics will be out for a while after his childlike tantrums on the pitch. Big players come up big in big matches, not the opposite.   Videoton should do enough to keep their title chase alive. It won’t be pretty but three points is a must from now on…
Haladás upheld their home form and took care of business last week against the “Academy.” They look to be safe from relegation barring a complete breakdown.   I came very close to choosing this match as the “upset of the week” and would have had the match taken place in Szombathely.
Prediction: Videoton 2-1 Haladás

Chris: Unfortunately for Haladás, Videoton don’t lose at home. Hali did win their last meeting at home, but Videoton beat them handily in Felcsút back in September. I can’t see anything other than a win for Videoton here, but it won’t be impressive.
Prediction: Videoton 1-0 Haladás

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

Paul: Ferencváros should have defeated Videoton and had so many scoring  chances. Roland Varga missed several spot on opportunities.  At least this way the title is still up for grabs with some excitement.   Of course if Fradi win their final four matches, there will be no question as to the champion.  Ferencváros have yet to lose a match at home and it won’t happen this week against Vasas in a Budapest derby.  This match will be more difficult for Fradi due to all their injuries but Roland Varga scores two this week to regain his goal scoring form.
Vasas came back to earth in losing valuable points at home to Paks.   I see the “Iron and Metal Workers” club giving Fradi a tough scoreless first half.   Derby elation will last 45 minutes until Ferencváros wake up and take care of business.  Relegation is becoming a possibility for a club that only last season played in Europe.
Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Vasas

Chris: Despite their thinned ranks due to injuries, Fradi will take all the points here in a game that won’t ever get out of their grasp. Ferencváros have been unstoppable at home and have averaged over three goals scored in their last seven home matches. Vasas won their last away match a fortnight ago but this is a completely different situation.
Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Vasas