NB1 Round 17 preview

This is a weekly preview and prediction column for Hungarian NB1 football.  Chris Barrett and Paul Treso have collected the data and followed the teams and players closely all season to give you some insight to the upcoming games this weekend.  With only two weeks left until the winter break the teams will be looking to make as strong a finish as possible – stay tuned!

Paul: Chris, once again it was a crazy week in Hungarian football with low scores in the cold Hungarian winter.  A total of nine (warning: this is a not a typo) goals were tallied in round 16. Three of them were scored by Ferencváros.  Chris, I am guessing that this would be a season low goals total for any round?  It should be interesting to see how the mid-week Hungarian Cup matches effect the games on Saturday.  We plan to bounce back this week  with good predictions  so off we go to Round 17 with the accuracy of Robin Hood’s bow and arrow.

Chris: Hey Paul, I think Robin Hood won Prince John’s archery tournament so I’m okay with that analogy! (For the record, only nine goals were scored in round 7 this season as well). I feel pretty good about this week, but squad mindsets tend to change after midweek games.  Three NB1 teams were knocked out of the Magyar Kupa including holders Újpest (more about that later), but for now we will concentrate on the league.  Here goes round 17!

Saturday, 8 December

Debrecen vs Honvéd

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: Debrecen played a very entertaining Hungarian Cup match that elicited a lot of excitement in our Twitter Group.  P.S if you’d like to join the group please message Chris or I to be added.  Debrecen has played well at home minus a blip against Vidi.  I see them playing a good match and beating Honvéd in possibly the match of the week.

Honvéd is coming off a tough loss to Mol Vidi and I see them starting to trend downward in the standings.  They baffle me by being in the third spot and I still haven’t forgiven them for losing to a Luxembourg club in the Europa Liga.

Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Honvéd

Chris: Debrecen advanced in the Magyar Kupa with a hard-fought 2-1 over an impressive Vasas side, while Honvéd breezed to a 4-0 win against Tiszaújvaros.

Debrecen ended a run of three games without a victory last week with a narrow win against MTK in which they had no business winning.  MTK were the better team and Debrecen were a little lucky to take all the points.  They return home this week were they’ve won two of their last four but injuries are taking their toll.

Honvéd still continue to struggle in attack and have scored just one in their last three league games.  Botond Barath has been Honvéd’s best player in recent weeks, anchoring a solid back line, but he’ll be unavailable this week due to suspension and that will be a blow.  Also, if Danilo’s early exit in their midweek game is worse than expected Honvéd might have their hands full in Debrecen.  Home team shades it.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-0 Honvéd

Diósgyőr vs Kisvárda

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc

Paul: Diósgyor has not lost in their last three matches to show some life recently.  They play a fellow relegation contender in the friendly confines of their new Miskolc stadium.  A goal will decide this match in a battle featuring two Northeastern Hungarian clubs.

Kisvárda took care of business in securing three vital points last Saturday.  This is an important match for a club struggling to stay up in the first division.  They could surprise and take this match but, I don’t see them scoring against a revitalized home defense.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Kisvárda

Chris:  Diósgyőr bounced out of the cup with a 5-3 defeat at NB2 side Budaörsi, while Kisvárda needed extra time to see off Szentlőrinc 4-1 in their midweek match. 

Zoltán Horváth was on target again for Kisvárda as they won their first league match since mid-September last week against Puskás.  They’ll be in good spirits after following that up with a cup win this week, but Diósgyőr are also in form despite their cup exit.  Fernando Fernandes’ team kept their league unbeaten streak going last week with a 1-1 draw against Haladás – their first away point since August.  Miskolc should be the favorites and I expect them to win a close one at home.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 2-1 Kisvárda

Ferencváros vs Mezőkövesd 

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest 

Paul: Ferencváros  played very very well in defeating Paks away.  Now they return home where they have been very good.  I don’t see many goals in this match but Fradi will do enough to get a comfortable two goal win.

Mezőkövesd finds themselves in the fifth spot on the table.  They are a very workman-like club in the image of their manager.  They always seem to be in matches and that pattern will continue here with a respectable performance.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Ferencváros strolled to a 4-0 win over minnows Sényő-Carnifex in the Magyar Kupa, but only after their opponents were reduced to 10 men in the second half.  Mezőkövesd made quick work of their cup foes seeing off III. Kerületi 6-0.

Ferencváros looked in high gear against Paks last week and continued rolling in the cup on Wednesday.  They are still unbeaten at home this season and they’ll be favorites to win again.

Mezőkövesd have only lost two of seven away games this season and they’re currently on a four-match unbeaten run in the league.  They’ve only lost by more than one goal just once all season and I think they’ll keep this one close as well, but if Fradi can keep up their current form they shouldn’t have any problem against a team they’ve defeated in their last three head-to-heads at Groupama.  Stefan Spirovski’s injury hasn’t really affected Fradi’s quest to stay atop the league as the club’s depth of quality has been evident in recent weeks.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Mezőkövesd

MTK vs Haladás

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: MTK has lost their last two matches and come back home with a chip on their shoulder.  I can’t see them losing three matches in a row.  The perfect club has arrived in Budapest to right the ship for the men in blue.  A win, a win, a win.

Haladás drew last week at home but have lost their last 4! away matches.  Make that five in a row with a lackluster performance.  Remember when they played well in their new stadium?  Not now and like Chris noted last week, they are a surprising relegation contending club.

Prediction: MTK 1-0 Haladás

Chris: MTK surprisingly lost their fourth consecutive competitive match as they fell to third tier minnows Ajka.  Haladás were able to get by their third tier test defeating Ivancsa 4-2 on Wednesday.

MTK are in need of a win here and should get it.  They outplayed Debrecen last week but were unable to even share the points in a 1-0 defeat.  Haladás shared the points with fellow bottom-dwellers Diósgyőr last week but away from home they don’t really stand a chance this week in the capital – they’ve lost seven of eight of their away days.  Haladás will get László Tamás back in defense, but MTK will get Sándor Torghelle back from his one-match ban and he has a knack of scoring key goals. 

Prediction: MTK 2-0 Haladás

Puskás Akadémia vs Paks

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul: Puskás is a squad of two faces depending on where they play.  Home they are very good and away they simply put BAD.  The easy choice here is a victory but they are playing a squad that should come to Pancho Arena with fire on this cold match day.

Paks were soundly beaten by three goals last week at home.  They will come up with a big performance here and defeat Puskás to end the home club’s recent home dominance. Manager Aurél Csertői will bring out the best in his squad. 

Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Paks

Chris: Both Puskás and Paks got past their midweek cup opponents although Paks needed penalties to advance.  It’s been a serious case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for Puskás this season.  At home they’ve defeated the top three teams in the league, and away from home they’ve yet to win.  Their last game against Paks was a five-goal thriller on the road where they had their hearts broken by a late, late winner from János Hahn.  It’s difficult to pick against Puskás at home this season, especially with Paks struggling of late.

Paks needed a late equalizing penalty by Lajos Bertus to take Siófok into extra time before winning with an extended penalty shootout.  They’ve only one once away from home in the league this season and wouldn’t hold my breath for any heroic, late winners by the visitors in this one.

Prediction: Puskás 2-1 Paks

Újpest vs MOL Vidi

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest 

Paul:  Our last match of the day since there are  no Sunday matches.  Újpest has drawn their last two matches and lacks the fire of last season.  That will continue today with another sub-par performance.  It’s not for the lack of management as they have one of the best managers in the first division.

Vidi play a day earlier this week due to no Europa Liga matches.  Outside of a loss to Mezőkövesd, Vidi has been very good away from home.   That will continue this week with yet, big yawn, another low scoring match.  

Prediction: Újpest 0-1 Vidi

Chris:  Holders Újpest were unceremoniously dumped out of the Magyar Kupa by in-form NB2 side Kaposvár while Vidi got some revenge this week.  According to Gergely Marosi, Lilák are just the fourth team in the last 22 years to exit the competition before the winter break.  Újpest are in a spin that they can’t seem to get out of.  It’s a commonly accepted phenomenon that there’s a lack of quality strikers in the league, but one goal in their past three league games as well as none scored this week in the cup equals a huge problem for the capital side.  Defensively, however, they haven’t conceded more than two goals in their last fourteen games which leads to close games and bags of heartbreak for Lilák supporters.  

At the other end of the spectrum, Vidi kept up their good recent form and got some revenge in the cup as well.  Budafok, who sent them tumbling out of the cup at the same stage last season, were swept aside by a 79th minute Marko Scepovic winner on Wednesday.  It’s been happy days for the champions in recent weeks. 

Normally I’d say this game could go either way, but I can’t see Újpest beating an in-form Vidi side.  Their only hope might be that Vidi will keep some players rested for their Europa League match against Chelsea next week but, even so, I think the visitors will edge this one. 

Prediction:  Újpest 0-1 Vidi