NB1 Round 33 preview

Videoton claimed the NB1 title last week but there is still much to play for as we head into the last match day.  The fights over the last European spot and safety from relegation for five clubs all must be sorted in what is sure to be a dramatic day of elation and despair.  It’s sure to be a fantastic finish to another campaign in Hungary’s top flight.

Paul: Chris, it’s the final week of the season with the World Cup quickly approaching. Congratulations to Videoton who with a win over Honvéd are the champions this season.  The fourth spot in Europe is still up for grabs as well as the two squads to be relegated.  Finally, Chris it has been a pleasure working with you this season and I enjoyed writing our prediction columns while attempting to tame the unpredictable world of Hungarian football.   Hope we continue this madness next season!

Chris: I sure hope so!  It’s a long summer and there will be many changes over the coming months, but the lure of Champions League and Europa League qualifiers will be right around the corner and I’m already looking forward to what awaits our Hungarian teams in continental competition.  But we still have one more day with many loose ends that need to be tied so on to the previews and predictions!

Saturday, 2 June

Honvéd vs Vasas

at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Honvéd will achieve their goal at making it back to Europe with a decisive win over Vasas.  It was a very up and down year for last year’s champions but a win here secures a spot in the Europa Liga.  At the same time, they will send their rivals Vasas down to the second division.

What a difference a year makes?  Last year, Vasas were the surprise team in the NB1 and almost defeated Beitar Jerusalem in the Europa Liga.  This year has been a struggle and they will go down to the second division hoping to rebuild and return to the NB1 in a years time.

Prediction: Honvéd 2-1 Vasas

Chris: Honvéd defeated Videoton last year to win the title in the last day of the season.  However, last week Videoton held their nerve and sealed the championship against Honved in Felcsút for a bit of revenge.  Now, a week after handing their title over to the team that they beat to it last season, Kispest are in need of a result to have a chance of securing the final European spot allotted to Hungarian teams.  Honvéd haven’t been very successful against Vasas, losing their last three competitive matches against them.  Also, Kispest haven’t had much luck at home, going without a victory in their last four.   Leading scorer Davide Lanzafame has scored 3 goals in their last three games but has never scored against Vasas.

Vasas are desperate to get a result here and they’ll throw the kitchen sink at Attila Supka’s squad.  Evgen Pavlov’s last gasp goal against Haladás has given them this final attempt at saving their NB1 status.  I think they can get a draw here which would be enough with some help.

Prediction: Honvéd 2-2 Vasas

 Újpest vs Debrecen

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul:  Újpest have had quite a season with a Hungarian Cup win and to add to their collection a bronze medal in the NB1.  They can keep Debrecen out of Europe with a win here to end the season.  They come out with a good effort to achieve all of the above.

Debrecen were the surprise team in the NB1 this season.  We all predicted them to struggle to stay up after almost being relegated last season.  The fact that they finished in the top half of the table is a huge success.  With some consistency, next year can be very exciting.  

Prediction: Újpest 2-0 Debrecen

Chris:  Despite having already secured their Europa League qualification spot with the cup title, Lilák still had enough in the tank to put down Mezőkövesd last week and stay in the chase for third place.  Újpest have only lost one match in their last seven but have still had a difficult time scoring goals in league matches.  Only four goals have been scored in that seven-game stretch.

Debrecen are currently sitting in the final European spot, but a defeat could see them overtaken by one or more teams. After such a promising start to the season, Loki have been beset by injuries to key players and with just two wins in their last six league games they have salted away their chance for a spot on the podium and I think they will lose out despite getting a draw.  Haris Tabakovic’s recent form will win them a point on the day.

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Debrecen

Puskás Akadémia vs Paks

at Pancho Arena, Felcsút

Paul: Puskás stayed up and avoided relegation this season.  They almost won the Hungarian Cup to boot, barely losing to Újpest on penalty kicks.  For the team and coach everyone loves to hate, I have to admit it was a successful season.

Paks were the most inconsistent club in the NB1 this season, hands down.  They tended to play to level of their opponents.  At times they looked great and at other times very sloppy.  A Europa Liga place is still possible but a tie here caps a successful season for both clubs.

Prediction: Puskás 1-1 Paks

Chris:  Puskás have nothing to gain here but overtaking Paks with a win would see them finish in the top half of the table.  Paks are hoping to cap an erratic season and claim an unlikely European spot with a victory in Felcsút.

Paks were on a run of four away matches without defeat when they lost to Diósgyor two weeks ago.  They enjoyed success against Puskás earlier this season at Pancho Arena, a 2-1 win in late September.  

Puskás have had some good results at home but all of their recent home defeats have come against teams at or near the bottom of the table.  I think Paks’ determination will win out here. 

Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Paks

Balmazújváros vs Ferencváros

at Városi Stadion, Balmazújváros

Paul: Balmazújváros have a tenuous hold on the last spot in the NB1.  With two wins in a row they have given themselves a great chance to stay up.  They could have asked for an easier opponent but with the two clubs beneath them having equally difficult matches staying up in the NB1 is very possible.

Ferencváros have only themselves to blame for not winning the championship.  They have left a lot of points on the pitch and those matches have come back to hurt them in the hunt for championship #30.  They should end the season with a win and look forward to Europe.

Prediction: Balmazújváros 1-2 Ferencváros

Chris: No one like an underdog more than I, and this Balmazújváros side have shown time and again that they are fighters.  Not many gave them more than a passing chance to survive their first season in NB1 but they have held their own in the league and made it to the semifinals of the Magyar Kupa.  They have as a good a record at home of any team outside the top two, and they third best overall defense in the league at home – conceding just 16 goals in 15 games.

Ferencváros would surely like to end the season on a high note but they will be hard-pressed to get a win here.  They have only scored 19 goals in 15 away games this season which has cost them points along the way.  Ferencváros are playing a caged animal in Balmazújváros on Saturday and we saw how the small-town club played last season with the cards on the table.  I’m backing Balmaz to get a result here but it might not be enough to save their NB1 status.

Prediction:  Balmazújváros 1-1 Ferencváros

Diósgyor vs Videoton

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc

Paul: Diósgyőr look to go down to NB2.  It has been a very difficult season for the club.  A late managerial change has not helped nor the opening of their new stadium.  I’m curious if Fernando will stay on next season as I think he would be good for the club.  The question here is what type of effort does Videoton give here?

Videoton have won the championship and should field a respectable starting 11 and get the win here.  It wouldn’t be right or fair to bring less than a decent effort in this match. 

Prediction: Diósgyor 0-1 Videoton

Chris: Congrats to Videoton in winning the championship.  Despite being head-to-head with Ferencváros for most of the season there was always the feeling that they’d win this season.  Fradi’s inability to score away from home was Videoton’s gain.  Now that they have sewn up the title and Champions League football next season they are without a whole lot of motivation here.

Diósgyor are in serious trouble and they need goals – which has been a problem for them.  In their last six games they’ve only scored twice, and only 6 in their last 10.  Videoton has the best defense in the league and even their second team would be enough to blank DTVK.

Diósgyor have scored 3 goals against Vidi this season but they’ve lost both times they’ve met.

They got their first victory in their second attempt at their new stadium against Paks a fortnight ago, but they’ll fall short against the champions who will finish in style.

Prediction: Diósgyor 1-2 Videoton

Haladás vs Mezőkövesd

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely 

Paul: Haladás are not safe as if things get crazy they could find themselves relegated. Fortunately they are playing at home where they have been very good.  I look for the club to end the season on a high note and stay up in NB1.

Mezőkövesd have to be commended for staying up in the NB1.  They have a young, improving squad that with a few key additions can be a stable midtable squad next season.  Since arriving, manager Attila Kuttor, has brought stability to the club.

Prediction: Haladás 2-0 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Neither of these two teams are out of the woods yet.  If Mezőkövesd lose and the other teams below them win they will be relegated.  A Haladás defeat opens up a similar situation for Michal Hipp’s side.  Mezőkövesd will be safe with a draw, but a Vasas win over Honvéd could spell trouble for Hali.  This will be a key match that will determine a lot of finishes.

After a 3 match winning run, Mezőkövesd narrowly fell to Újpest last week but could have just as easily taken a point.  They’ve been playing well enough to earn another season in the top flight and will look to finish strong here.  They defeated Haladás 2-1 at home in their last meeting with them, and drew 2-2 earlier in the season before Hali moved into their new stadium.  They’ve also won their last two away games and are unbeaten in 8 of their last 9 away. 

Haladás will need something special here with just one win in their last six matches.  Even at home, where they had been unbeatable after moving into their new stadium, they’ve been unable to put away teams like Balmazújváros, Debrecen or Újpest in recent months.  If Haladás do stay up it won’t be because they won here. 

Prediction: Haladás 2-2 Mezőkövesd