NB1 Round 22 Preview

Welcome to Round 22 of the 2018-19 NB1 season.  This is the round that complete’s each team playing one home and one away game against every other team.  The margins at both ends of the table were reduced last week and there is a full plate of tasty morsels this week so read on and get caught up on what’s happening. 

Paul: Chris, nice work on correctly picking the final score of the Debrecen/Ferencváros match. A total of 17 goals were scored this week which included a scoreless draw between Kisvárda and Paks.  The goal of the season may have been scored by Dániel Zsóri on a spectacular bicycle kick to defeat Ferencváros.  Interestingly in Hungary, they call them “scissor kicks.” Nine of the twelve first division clubs played midweek Cup matches, so we will soon know what type of effect, if any, this has on them.  On to round 22, we go!

Chris: Paul, I pay no attention to what happened last week!  Only looking forward! 😉 These rounds after a mid-week cup game tend to spring a few surprises and I’m sure the NB1 will be happy to oblige.  The recent successes of Kisvárda and Diósgyőr have sent alarm bells going at the bottom of the table as Puskás and even Paks have been drawn into the relegation vortex.

Saturday, 23 February

Ferencváros vs Puskás Akadémia

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

Paul: Ferencváros controlled the match against Debrecen but fell apart in the final ten minutes to lose in demoralizing fashion.  Fortunately they are back home where they have been very good.  They hope to exact some revenge on Puskás who defeated them on a memorable goal scored in miraculous fashion near half field by Janos Hegedus.

Puskás are terrible on the road if you take away their surprising defeat of Mol Vidi to start the second half of the season.  They are back to earth after that win and manager János Radoki has to be scratching his head after the crazy goal his team conceded to lose to Újpest.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Puskás

Chris: Fradi boss Sergei Rebrov has to be at his wits end after a late collapse in Debrecen as well as a tepid performance in the cup on Wednesday.  With Frimpong likely out injured, Rebrov will hope to re-insert Miha Blazic back in the heart of his defense as the Slovenian center back was seen on the bench against Kisvárda.  If this collection of talent ever clicks it looks to be unstoppable, but it will have to include scoring more than one goal in a league match – something Ferencváros hasn’t done yet after the winter break.

Puskás lost their first leg cup match at home this week and are coming off consecutive league defeats.  They have been known to surprise teams this season but that might be too big an ask at Groupama this week.  Rebrov’s public criticism of his team’s mentality should spur them on to new heights.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Puskás

Mezőkövesd vs Kisvárda

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd 

Paul: In a continuing theme from last week, Mezőkövesd were lucky to defeat Haladás by a score of 2-1.  Outside of forward Stefan Drazic, the squad has not looked very good in recent weeks.  With their poor home form and a rejuvenated Kisvárda club entering Mezőkövesd, they will be lucky to earn  a draw.

Kisvárda played an ugly scoreless draw against Paks but still haven’t lost in a good many matches.  Their defense and goalkeeping is solid as they have not allowed a goal in four matches. They should keep their streak alive in not losing but a goal here will leave both sides content with a tie.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-1 Kisvárda

Chris:  I’d like to think that Kisvárda’s dream start to the spring will continue, but they were held to a goalless draw at home last week and will be without their top goal-scorer Zoltán Horváth (suspended) this week.  It is notable that Kisvárda ‘keeper Felipe has yet to concede in the league for four straight game but you can count on that changing this week.  Teams aren’t approaching László Dajka’s side with the same bravado as before and now that the relegation zone is creeping closer for more teams are going to have to adjust.

Mezőkövesd are a team that can win big with attacker like Gábor Molnar and Stefan Drazic in the squad.  Both were essentially rested in the cup this week and should be raring to go.  First home win should be on the cards for them.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-0 Kisvárda

MOL Vidi vs Haladás  

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár 

Paul: MOL Vidi stepped back into the title chase by defeating MTK and gaining a valuable three points to climb within six points of league leaders Ferencváros.  They were unspectacular in their midweek cup match in a one goal win against third division Taksony.  They should win here and earn another three points keeping their championship hopes alive.

Haladás were unfortunate not to at least earn a draw in their last match.  They are still alive in the Hungarian Cup which is something for them to play for as relegation is all but a foregone conclusion.  They have not won in their last seven matches with their last win surprisingly against  Ferencváros.  Another loss is inevitable but they will make a respectable showing.

Prediction: Vidi 2-0 Haladás

Chris: It was only a matter of time before Marko Nikolic’s team righted the ship.  After two defeats to start the spring season they shifted through the gears quickly against MTK and finished their chances in a solid win away from home.  They return home with the hopes of winning their first competitive game there since beating Ferencváros in December.

Ferenc Horváth looks out of idea and out of passion.  His reserved and muted approach oozes out during games.  Unfortunately for his side they face an awakened tiger this week.

Prediction: Vidi 3-0 Haladás

Újpest vs Diósgyőr 

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest  

Paul: Újpest were fortunate to defeat Puskás on a fluke goal but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.  In the most intriguing match of the week, I see a gritty match where goals are few and yellow cards plenty.

Diósgyor made it eight matches in a row without a loss.  What a turn around for a squad that looked like a certain relegation club.  Now who knows?  They have won their last two away matches but should be content with a draw here.

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Diósgyőr

Chris: This could be the match of the round.  Újpest are coming off a lucky win without their top scorer Soma Novothny last week.  They didn’t have a mid-week cup match and have Novothny back up front.  It might be too much to hope for Lilák supporters that Soma took the time off to rethink his mentality.  As the top defensive team in the league Újpest look to stop one of the hottest teams in Diósgyőr who keep being overlooked by “better” teams.  However, Nebojsa Vignjevic is too sly to let Fernando get one past him at home and I think Újpest have enough to end Diósgyőr’s  run. 

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Diósgyőr

Paks vs Debrecen

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: It was very difficult to watch Paks’ scoreless draw against Kisvárda, even if you were a fan of either side.  In their inconsistent form, I am guessing the home side will rise up to defeat a Debrecen side that may still be rejoicing against their win against the league leaders.

Debrecen played 82 minutes before scoring two late goals to knock off Ferencváros. Consistency has been a big problem for this club and I see them falling back to earth this week against a Paks club that has not lost in the new year. 

Prediction: Paks 2-1 Debrecen

Chris: Debrecen blew their wad with a fantastic late win over Ferencváros last week, coupled with another late winner in their mid-week cup match against Ajka.  Mounting suspensions and injuries as well as the longest trip to freezing Paks won’t be in their favor this week either.  Erik Kusynir and Bence Pavkovics are both suspended (yellow card accumulation) and will leave a big hole in András Herczeg’s back line.
Paks are undefeated this spring and are coming off a 2-1 away win against Puskás in the cup on Wednesday.   Paks haven’t been great this season but they can hang with a buoyed (but hampered) Debrecen.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Debrecen

Honvéd vs MTK

at Alcufer Stadion, Győr 

Paul:  Honvéd rightfully lost against Diósgyor on two goals scored by ex-players.  I try to avoid their matches if I can as they are a not a fun side to watch with their steady decline of quality. In an odd twist of turn the match is being played in Gyirmót and that makes this my “upset of the week.”

MTK were finished quite early in the first half by giving up three early goals at home against Mol Vidi.  This is the lone Budapest derby of the week though it won’t be played in Budapest but in a city outside of Győr.  Strange choice of location and I  wonder how many fans will show up?  

Prediction: Honvéd 1-2 MTK

Chris:  On the very week that Honvéd’s historic former home is being torn down, they will break free from their current landlords and play them at a neutral site in the hinterlands of Hungary.  Kispest will be sweating on Danilo’s fitness after he was removed from last week’s game with an injury.  That’s not good news for a team that has struggled to score for most of the season.

MTK have been back and forth all season.  They’ve conceded far too many goals in recent weeks and Feczko will have them drilled into submission this week.  Low scoring draw looks on the cards. 

Prediction:  Honvéd 1-1 MTK