NB1 Round 31 Preview

There are nine points on offer in the final three weeks of the NB1 season and the bottom five clubs are only separated by five points.  This will be an important weekend to determine who is staying up and going down.   Also, at the top of the table, the barroom brawl between Ferencváros and Videoton continues as Vasas pulled off a late minute surprise to deny Fradi the top spot.  With just one point separating the two it should be a fantastic race to the finish line.

Chris: Looks like I’ll be alone in my predictions this week but let’s not let that ruin a perfectly good preview.  

Paul:  Wait. Wait. Sorry Chris, Here I am and I apologize for my tardiness…  It looks like we have three distinct battles in NB1: the battle for the championship, two Europa Liga spots and the battle to stay in NB1.  Ferencvaros and Videoton changed places with Fradi’s surprise draw against Vasas. The battle for Europe is open to three clubs. Videoton or Fradi will gain one as the 2nd place finisher.   One spot will come from the winner of the Hungarian Cup and the last, the next highest placed club. The relegation zone is still open but Diosgyor and Balmazújváros appear as the runner runners  for those two spots. A lot will depend on difficulty of the individual match-ups in the final three games  Let’s put our seats in the upright position as the final three weeks of the season will be anything but a smooth ride.  Expect some turbulence and excitement! And Upsets.

Saturday, 19 May

Balmazújváros vs Debrecen

at Balmazújváros  Városi Sportpálya, Balmazújváros

Paul:  Chris, I agree this is the last stand for Balmazújváros.  They come out in this match  with everything they have this week.   They better as this is a a do or die match.   Ferenc Horváth rallies the troops and they come up with a big win.  With their last home match against Ferencváros, they need a home win to keep their first division hopes alive.  This is the first of a few upset choices. My first crazy “palinka pick”.

Debrecen took care of business with a win over Diósgyor.  It wasn’t the most impressive effort even with a man up advantage in the first minute.    Haris Tabakovic is on fire and scored two goals again.  Norbert Könyves came on late and appears fit.   Interesting to see if both can co-exist on the pitch.   The club is due for a let down.

Prediction:  Balmazújváros 2-1 Debrecen

Chris:  This is it for Ferenc Horváth and his band of freedom fighters at Balmazújváros.  The club’s inaugural season in the top flight hasn’t been a disaster but they cannot afford to slip up – especially with their final game being against title-hungry Ferencváros.  There’s a lot pressure here for the hosts to win, and that’s something they’ve only achieved in the league once since February.  The good news is that Ervin Zsiga and Bachana Arabuli, who both came on as second half substitutes last week, are ready for full selection this week.  Arabuli leads the team with seven goals scored. 

Debrecen have won their last two games and are currently clinging to third place.  It can be argued that they should have defeated Diósgyor last week by a much larger margin after playing against ten men for 90 minutes, but they only managed to score twice.  Haris Tabakovic is seriously on fire, scoring a brace in his last three games.  Loki will be waiting on late fitness tests for injured players Ádám Bódi and János Ferenczi.  

I think the freedom fighters will call upon their home support to get them over the line here. 

Prediction: Balmazújváros 2-1 Debrecen

Diósgyor vs Paks

at Diósgyor Stadion, Miskolc

Paul:  Diósgyőr had a hard luck loss against Debrecen and actually outplayed them at times despite being a man down for 89 minutes!  They had at least three shots hit the post if I recall correctly. With their last two matches against Fradi and Vidi, the club will win in their second match in their new home.   Even three points here may not be enough. “Palinka” pick #2.

Paks seem to do the opposite of my predictions.   They were outplayed by Honved and came back to earth.   They will have a tough go against a Diósgyőr club playing for their lives and for some frustrated fans.  They will be down early in this one and never find the goal.

Prediction:  Diósgyor 1-0 Pak

Chris:  Diósgyor were hardly given a chance last week, playing with ten men from the first minute against Loki’s white-hot Haris Tabakovic.  This week they’ll have to make due without center back Márk Tamás who will be suspended after his professional foul against Diósgyor.  On top of that, starting goalkeeper Botond Antal was injured this week and won’t be available to play on Saturday.  New boss Fernando has had his side playing better since he took over but the reality is that they are currently riding a run of six straight defeats and relegation is looking more and more likely unless they can pull themselves out of this dive.  

Paks were brought back down to earth last week against Honvéd.  After consecutive 1-0 wins over Videoton and Vasas they were unable to take advantage of Honvéd’s poor defensive record and lost their fifth home game of the season – a huge change from last season’s Paks team who lost just once at home and conceded 9 goals there all season. 

This is the weekend for the fighters and Diósgyor will get their first win at their new stadium. 

Prediction: Diósgyor 1-0 Paks

Puskás Akadémia vs Mezőkövesd

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul:  Puskás are finally safe  after spending much of the season in the relegation zone.  With no losses in their last five matches, they are ending the year just right.   Can they continue? Wouldn’t it be crazy if they won the Cup? Yes crazy but not impossible.

Mezőkövesd stepped up and defeated fellow newcomers Balmazújváros to help out their first division hopes.  This should be a very vanilla match with few goals scored. It works for both clubs.

Prediction:  Puskás Akadémia 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris:  In a preview of the Magyar Kupa final next week, Puskás defeated Újpest 1-0 last week to all but secure their safety in NB1 for another season.  With four wins in their last six games they have definitely been one of the in-form teams in the league and they haven’t lost at home since early December.  Ezekiel Henty, having joined from Videoton over the winter break, has scored six goals in all competitions and has been a galvanizing player in the squad.

With consecutive wins in the past two weeks, Mezőkövesd have pulled themselves out of the basement and on the cusp of safety.  Both teams need a point here and Puskás are likely to rest some key players with a big game on Wednesday ahead of them.

Prediction: Puskás 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Haladás vs Újpest

at Szombathelyi Haladás Stadion, Haladás


Paul:  Haladás are back home again after being routed by Videoton.  Staying up isn’t a certainty but things set up nicely with two home matches in the next three weeks.   Hali will take care of the Lilak who are in a daze looking ahead to the big day.

Újpest is playing like a team that is looking forward their wedding day.  In this case, their wedding day is the Hungarian Cup tie coming up soon against Puskás Akadémia.   They did not show anything last week and should be in for a tough match against a gritty Haladás club.  

Prediction:  Haladás 2-0 Újpest

Chris:  Haladás had a match to forget last week as they fell hard to Videoton and lost defensive midfielder Lóránt Kovács to suspension as he picked up a second yellow card with 20 minutes to play in the 3-0 defeat in Felcsút.  Their match against Újpest comes at a time when they are nearly over the line in terms of safety while Lilák are still seeking a place on the podium as well as a Magyar Kupa title. Both teams have enjoyed home success against the other with David Williams getting the winner in September and Újpest’s Soma Novothny scored in the game in Budapest. 

Lilák are in need of a win after a disappointing home defeat to Puskás last week.  Nebojsa Vignjevic’s squad have had a difficult time finding the back of the net in recent weeks with just two goals in their last four games.  

I don’t see Haladás losing at home and I can’t see Lilák reversing their scoring woes in this one.  

Prediction:  Haladás 2-1 Újpest 

Vasas vs Videoton 

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Vasas- Videoton

Paul:  Vasas stood tough against Ferencvaros and scored an exciting last minute goal to draw.  Things don’t get easier this week against Videoton even at home. I see a little battle at the start  but even securing a draw here is a bit too much to ask of Vasas.

Videoton are back in first place and now control their fate.   Quite simply, win your last three matches and you are the champions!  Things are never that simple in Hungarian football. I do see a win here but things will come down to the round 33.  It has to be…

Prediction: Vasas 1-3 Videoton

Chris:  Tamás Egerszegi scored a last-gasp winner to deny Ferencváros maximum points last week at Groupama Aréna.  That goal also gave Vasas an important point to pull them out of the danger zone at the bottom of the table.  Vasas can’t afford to drop points and are playing another massive game this week against the other title-chasers Videoton.  They’ll be without defensive midfielder Maté Vida who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in last week’s draw.  They’ve struggled with injuries for most of the spring and saw Benedek Murka and Felix Burmeister leave the game early with knocks last week.

Videoton cruised against Haladás last week to take over first place in the league.  Last season’s runners-up showed their depth with Boban Nikolov, Loïc Nego and Máté Pátkai all scoring as leading scorers Danko Lazovic and Marko Scepovic had the day off.  

Videoton have had their fair share of slips away from home this season and Vasas have their tails up in a dogfight for NB1 survival. 

Prediction: Vasas 2-2 Videoton

Honvéd vs Ferencváros

at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest (TV: M4 Sport)


Paul:  Honvéd seem to play better away than home.  They took all three points against Paks and put themselves back into the battle for a European place.  I see a fun game here as goals will be scored. Davide Lanzafame will score two to keep things exciting but their porous defense will be the difference.

Ferencváros were very lackluster against Vasas.   They fell asleep in the last minute and lost some valuable points.  They must hope for a Vidi mistake somewhere and win their final three matches.  I still believe Ferencváros are the best Hungarian team but last season the best team didn’t win either.  They win here and the excitement builds up in the chase for #1.

Prediction:  Honvéd 2-3 Ferencváros

Chris:  Ferencváros will be happy to copy their last performance at Bozsik József Stadion to erase a tough home result last week.  Fradi defeated Kispest 3-1 back in September and then smashed them at home 5-2 in February.  With just one win in their last five games they need to start winning or else they’ll be in danger of falling out of contention for the championship. 

Honvéd rebounded from a disappointing defeat at home to Debrecen to win at Paks last week.  David Lanzafame was back in the goals with a brace – his first multi-goal game since November.  

Fradi have won eight of the last seven meetings against Honvéd whose only win in that span was last April at Bozsik.  I haven’t been comfortable with Kispest’s defense all season.  They are tied for second highest goals conceded in the league (49) and lead the league in goals conceded at home (28).   Last season they had conceded just 30 total goals and just nine at home. 

Prediction: Honvéd 1-2 Ferencváros