NB1 Round 20 Preview

“Well, that didn’t go as planned.”  The first week back from the winter break was everything we should expect in Hungarian football – uncertainty.  Vidi’s crushing home defeat against Puskás was the highlight (or lowlight) of round 19 in which only one home team got a victory and several teams introduced their new signings in a topsy-turvy, but entertaining match day.  Read on for a full preview of this week’s action around the NB1. 

Paul: Chris, another predictably unpredictable Saturday!  Goals were hard to come by with only 10 goals scored in round 19.  Let’s hope for more goals in round 20.  Has the championship and one relegation team been decided?  One possibly for certain.  Let’s not mince words and move on to round 20.

Chris: There is still a lot to play for and although Ferencváros look really good, 8 points clear at the top, I’m not convinced Vidi are out of the title race and I expect they will slowly crawl back into it this spring.  There were a lot of young players given their debut last week as well.  Four or five teenagers made their full NB1debuts last week which is exciting but somewhat surprising at this stage of the season. 

Saturday, 9 February

Honvéd vs Puskás Akadémia

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Honvéd gave Ferencváros a tough match but showed no firepower on offense.  They have drawn their last two home matches and have not won since round 13 against Kisvárda.  Things don’t look to get much better this week against a revived  Puskás club.

Welcome to Hungary, János Radoki!  Puskás surprised and won convincingly against Mol Vidi.  The new manager has brought a new mentality to the club along with playing more younger Hungarian players.   Their away form had been poor until last week but a tie may be in the cards here.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Puskás

Chris: Puskás shrugged off their away form hoodoo in impressive fashion with a 3-0 win in Székesfehérvár last week.  The question is, “can they keep it up away from home?”  Puskas have looked dangerous at times this season but they’ve yet to win consecutive league games all season.  Dávid Gróf was impressive once again in goal for Honvéd and if it wasn’t for his heroics this season they would be much worse off.  Scoring goals continues to be an issue for them.  Supka didn’t introduce new signing Zakaria Beglarishvili last week and went with N’Gog up front instead.  When will they realize that N’Gog is past it and move on?  Honvéd’s predictable attack needs a spark.  Perhaps this is the week. Perhaps not.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-2 Puskás

Paks vs Haladás

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks earned a nice away win versus MTK.  While once a very strong home club, Paks has only won once in their last five home matches.  Haladás comes to Paks at the right time and should help Paks regain their usual good home form.

Has Haladás stamped their ticket to the second division?  With only 9 points and a rising 10 points from the safety zone, it sure looks like we may have a club that is eliminated after only 19 matches.  The situation does not improve with yet another loss.

Prediction: Paks 3-1 Haladás

Chris:  Haladás threw everything at Kisvárda but the kitchen sink and yet were unable to break through one of the worst defenses in the league.  The loss of Tamás Priskin to injury will be a blow to a feeble attack that’s only managed to score 13 goals all season.  Ferenc Horváth had to be disappointed to not get at least a point but he realizes his team doesn’t have the players it needs to finish chances and get on top of games.

Paks weren’t threatened much at MTK last week and managed an important away win by finishing their chances when it counted.  Jozsef Windecker returns to NB1 after his year-long exodus to the Greek Superliga with Levadiakos.  Paks picked up the former Újpest midfielder this week who will join fellow ex-Lilák midfielder Benjamin Cseke in midfield that now has plenty of depth in quality. 

Prediction: Paks 2-0 Haladás

MOL Vidi vs Diósgyőr  

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár 

Paul: MOL Vidi looked terrible against Puskás and squandered so many chances to score.  They better right the ship fast or their championship hopes will be gone soon.  They can’t possibly play that bad again, can they?

Diósgyor have not been a good away club despite winning their last home match against Paks.  A match against an angry MOL Vidi side is not a good combination for success and reality settles in again.

Prediction: Vidi 2-0 Diósgyőr

Chris: Fernando must be counting his lucky stars after last week’s late winner gave his side a share of the points at home against Mezőkövesd.  Diósgyőr are on a five-match unbeaten run but they will be up against it against MOL Vidi at Sóstói Stadion. 

Puskás made Marko Nikolic’s side look average last week as they defeated the title-holders for a second consecutive time this season.  New Vidi signings Ákos Elek and Marco Futács didn’t look up for the pace of the game against Puskás and their impact was minimal.  Look for the hosts to make some adjustments and take control of this one early.  If not, they could be looking at an insurmountable gap for the top spot.

Prediction: Vidi 3-0 Diósgyőr

Mezőkövesd vs MTK

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd  

Paul: Mezőkövesd have improved their home form and this should continue against MTK.  They should have secured the three points in Miskolc.  In a match that can go any of three ways, I will go out on a limb and predict a Mezőkövesd win.

MTK continued where they left off before the winter break with a loss at home against Paks.  They have now lost four of their last five matches.  MTK are settling into reality after a quick start to the season.  Their slide continues.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-0 MTK

Chris: There’s been only one win between these two teams in their last five games.  Mezőkövesd looked good enough to win last week but were punished for their late lapse in concentration at Diósgyőr.  Gábor Molnár continues to lead the way for Attila Kuttor’s side as he linked up nicely with Daniel Vadnai for his 8th goal of the season last week.

MTK have lost their last three away games as well as last week’s lacklustre effort against Paks at home and a trip to Mezőkövesd won’t be an easy task.  Jozsef Kanta seemed disinterested and Sándor Torghelle looked desperate while the supporting cast didn’t really wake up until midway through the second half. 

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-1 MTK

Kisvárda vs Debrecen

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda

Paul: Kisvárda have won their last two matches and are looking to separate themselves from the relegation zone.  Felipe has been great in goal and was the man of the match against Haladás.   They are coming on and this should be a good match and of course difficult to predict as always.

Debrecen had their chances to keep the three points at home versus Újpest.  They had so many opportunities to score but could not put the ball in the net.  They have won their last two away matches and I see them making it three in a row. 

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-2 Debrecen

Chris: Kisvárda goalkeeper Felipe continues to be one of the stories of the season as he inspired his team to another three points against Haladás last week.  Despite the three points, Laszlo Dajka couldn’t have been too impressed with the way his team played overall.  Haladás bossed the play for most of the game and were only denied a share of the points because of Felipe’s stellar goalkeeping.

Debrecen are team to look out for this spring.  Their goalless draw against Újpest showed encouraging signs as they hit the post twice in a back-and-forth affair.  Debrecen forwards shouldn’t have a hard time getting chances here as they picked apart Kisvárda earlier this season at home 3-1.  Kisvárda have been on a great run over their last four games but this will be their toughest test since November.

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-2 Debrecen

Újpest vs Ferencváros

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: This is one of the biggest rivalries in Hungarian football and should be a fun match.  Újpest did not look too good against Debrecen in earning a draw.  Goalie Dávid Banai was the player of the match for Lilák.  They always get up for this match and this should be no different.

Ferencváros did not impress against Honvéd but earned the three points which was their objective.  They’ve now opened an eight point lead on Vidi.  This is always a tough match and I see a competitive draw here.  

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Ferencváros

Chris:  The stars are aligning for this one folks.  A perfect storm is upon us.  Újpest are unbeaten at home except for the first game of the season – a string of eight games at Szusza Ferenc without defeat.  They have also failed to score at home only twice this season and have scored two goals in three of their past four in front of their home support.  Lilák found themselves in a number of good positions last week against Debrecen but were denied by an equally good Tomas Kosicky in the Loki goal.

Fradi know this can be a statement game for them if they win and open a larger chasm at the top of the table over Vidi.  They hammered Honvéd in terms of chances and if not for some superb custodian work by Gróf they could have won 3 or 4-nil.  This could be a cracker of a game.  Watch for fireworks both on and off the pitch. 

Prediction:  Újpest 2-2 Ferencváros