NB1 Round 21 Preview

The spring season has greeted us with some surprising results in the past two weeks and now that the Hungarian transfer window is closed we can expect the teams to settle into to their squad adjustments.  Kisvárda and Diósgyőr are playing like their NB1 lives are at stake (and they are), while Debrecen and Vidi have seemingly gotten off on the wrong foot.  There are six more tantalizing contests this week in the Hungarian top flight.  Paul and Chris are here again to lead you through each match with the hope of making sense of the nonsensical, unpredictable puzzle that is the NB1.   

Paul: Chris, another eventful week with a total of 21 goals scored.  It appears that Mol Vidi and Kisvárda have switched places due to their recent forms.    Relegation is down to a second club as Haladás look  certain to fall to NB 2.  The battle for places for Europe is a bit more wide open as any of six clubs are still alive for the top four spots.   Let’s move onto an uncertain round 21 in which I will pick a fair amount of upsets in a “spoiler alert.”

Chris: I don’t think I’ve predicted more than one correct result since we got back this spring which means I’ll be going full-on rogue this week as well (to some degree). There were some interesting developments and signings around the league this week.  I’ll take a look at how some of those will affect certain teams as we head into Round 21. 

Saturday, 16 February

Debrecen vs Ferencváros

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: Debrecen lost convincingly away to a suddenly dangerous Kisvárda club.  At home, they should be more motivated playing to a large crowd.   Debrecen always seem to get up for their matches against Ferencváros and this should be no different.  

Ferencváros lost the chance to gain a full three points in their lead against Mol Vidi.  Their goal scoring has not been too impressive since their return from the winter break either.  They will have another tough match here and will be fortunate to leave Debrecen with a point.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-1 Ferencváros

Chris: Debrecen need to bounce back after last week’s feeble performance.  The return of starting goalkeeper Sándor Nagy will be a boost to a Loki side who conceded more than two goals in a league game for the first time since August.  András Herczeg’s squad continues to thin out as midfielder Balazs Benyei joins the growing ranks of injured players.

Ferencváros suffered a let-down at the end of the derby last week as their mish-mash of new talent are still adjusting under pressure situations.  The positives for Rebrov’s side is that David Lanzafame and captain Leandro only played bit-part roles from the bench last week so they should be more than rested for this one.  

Debrecen haven’t lost to Fradi at home in their last five head-to-head contests, and they’ll be gunning for the front-runners at home after a disappointing reverse.  I’m looking for a response here.

Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Ferencváros

Diósgyőr vs Honvéd

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc

Paul: Diósgyor have not lost in their five matches and despite lacking talent they make it up with heart and tenacity.  No one could have seen their upset away victory last week against Mol Vidi.  In another going against the grain pick, the home side will find a way to earn another valuable three points.

Honvéd were gifted two goals to earn a home win against Puskás.  Perhaps their new signing in ex-Hertha Berlin player, Enisz Ben-Hatir will add some spice to the bland club.  For now, I see an uninspired club.   In a week of upsets, here we go again with an improbable win for the home side.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Honvéd

Chris:  Honvéd won for the first time since November and it was hardly in scintillating fashion.  Their first goal was off a defensive error and their second came on a set piece to give them an early lead against Puskás who subsequently dominated the rest of the game and were unfortunate not to have grabbed a share of the spoils in Budapest.  Honvéd haven’t scored in their last three league games away from home.

Diósgyőr made the NB1 stand up and notice with a “smash and grab” victory in Székesfehérvár.  Fernando’s men stood up against massive pressure throughout the game and left Sóstói Stadion with all the points, putting another dent in Vidi’s title aspirations.  Diósgyőr fought back from behind down early and credit is due to their manager who has remained composed during a tense season.  He now looks like he is reaping the rewards for his patient style and direction. 

Look for DVTK to keep up their unbeaten run against a team that have yet to prove they can score on a consistent basis.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-1 Honvéd

Kisvárda vs Paks  

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda 

Paul: Which Hungarian club has the best record in the last five matches?  If you guessed Kisvárda you are surprisingly correct.  Something has happened to this team and they are suddenly a very dangerous club.  They have won their last three home matches but making it four in a row will be very, very difficult.

Paks looked terrible against Haladás and failed to earn three home points.  In their odd fashion, look for Paks to come up with a big performance and upset the home in form club.  This should be the most exciting match of the week.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-3 Paks

Chris: Kisvárda’s recent good form started before the winter break and has continued in the spring with the addition of some key players. Hugo Seco, Gheorghe Grozav, and Stavros Tsoukalas have really bolstered Laszlo Dajka’s side as they’ve come in and provided some quality performances so far.  Add to this the inspirational form of goalkeeper Felipe and Kisvárda look like a team that could break into mid-table within a couple of weeks.  Forward Zoltán Horváth has also scored in each of the last two games and leads Kisvárda with six league goals.

Paks were just one of a few teams that collapsed after giving up an early lead last week.  They conceded late against lowly Haladás to finish 1-1.  Leading scorer Janos Hahn hasn’t found the back of the net since October.  These are the games you’d expect Paks to win but Dajka and Co. are on fire and it would be foolish to count them out at home, right?

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-1 Paks

Puskás Akadémia vs Újpest

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút  

Paul: Puskás has been a very good home club during the 2018 season.  Their defense looked almost comical in giving up two ridiculous goals in their match versus Honvéd.  I see a tough match this week and a rare home loss against Újpest.

Újpest somehow found a way to earn a hard fought point at home against Ferencváros,  For no rhyme or reason, I predict somewhat of an upset in this match despite the  strong home form of Puskás.  The Lilak will come out with an inspired, well-played match.

Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Újpest

Chris: Despite losing last week, Puskás had the lion’s share of possession against Honvéd and should have done better than they ultimately did.   They swarmed Kispest in the second half even after going a man down with twenty minutes left in the contest.  

Újpest’s defense has been best in the league all season (15 goals conceded in 20 games), and they put their back line on display once more last week against Fradi.  Scoring continues to be a problem for Lilák.  They did little to put Ferencváros under pressure at home and their late equalizer came more from poor communication from their visitors rather than any finely crafted attacking nous.

Vignjevic’s side have lost just once in the league since October but they’ve only won once as well.  They’re the king of draws and it won’t be a surprise when they play to another here. 

Prediction: Puskás 1-1 Újpest

Haladás vs Mezőkövesd

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely

Paul: Haladás are still playing hard and giving it effort.  I believe this will continue until the very last match.  They are still signing new players in the hope of somehow magically staying up in the first division.

Mezőkövesd made a great signing in getting Amadou Moutari from league-leaders Ferencváros.  I have always liked his play.  He may improve the club in a few weeks after he gets his bearings within the squad.  In the meantime, Mezőkövesd has not won in their last five matches and with this match, make that six! 

Prediction: Haladás 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Everything points to Mezőkövesd losing this game.  They haven’t defeated Haladás away from home – ever.  They are nursing their pride after a home collapse against MTK last week and they are floundering in a dismal run of form – the likes they haven’t experienced all season.  But I think they will win and win big.

Haladás are returning home after some late joy in Paks last week, but they’ve been marred with accusations and training ground bust-ups over the last few days.  Peter Halmosi has been suspended from training and won’t play this week due to an alleged incident with Funsho Bambgoye.  With leading scorer Tamás Priskin out for an extended absence, Ferenc Horváth brought in a late signing as Bulgarian international forward Galin Ivanov has been signed to give Hali some options up front.

This is a team that’s struggled all season long and I think Mezőkövesd will find their scoring boots at Haladás’ expense

Prediction: Haladás 1-3 Mezőkövesd

MTK vs MOL Vidi

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest 

Paul:  MTK showed some life and inspired play in their away win at Mezőkövesd,  They still don’t have me convinced that they can be a consistent upper level club.  I do like the fact that they are playing quite a few youngsters from their Academy.  These young players are not looking half bad so far.

Can Mol Vidi lose their first three matches of 2019?  Where is the club that looked so good last season? They squandered so many chances in their match last week against Diósgyor.  They must step forward this week, or the championship can be awarded to this early to Ferencváros.  

Prediction: MTK 0-2 Vidi

Chris:  Is it possible we’ve been wrong all along about Vidi this season?  Did they get into the UEFA group stages through blind luck and easy draws?  Are they about to fritter away any last bits of title hope with a third consecutive defeat?  Not on your life.  This is a team who managed to compete in two campaigns with a skeleton crew of a squad for most of the fall. Even without the additions of Marko Futács and Ákos Elek they should have kept the pressure on Fradi but despite playing some good football they’re not finding the target.  

It has to be all or nothing here for the champions.  MTK were inspired by captain Jozsef Kanta and Patrik Vass’ late goals last week, and they can feel confident after beating Vidi 3-0 earlier this season in Felcsút, but my money is on Vidi to turn things around in the capital. 

Prediction:  MTK 1-2 Vidi