NB1 Round 24 Preview

Just ten rounds remain in the 2018-19 NB1 season and there are still exciting storylines at either end of the table.  Újpest’s latest signing Lacina Traoré is preparing for this first appearance in a Lilák shirt.  Ferencváros’ Davide Lanzafame must be wondering what his role will be on the title-chasers’ squad, and Fernando cancels the party in Diósgyőr.  All this in this week’s preview of the NB1.

Paul: Chris, 18 goals were scored in round 23 with an amazing seven coming from Ferencváros in their rout of Diósgyor.   Even adding up our two predicted scores, we only came up with a total of 5 Fradi goals.  Take away those goals and only 11 were scored in the other five matches total.  According to In-Stat Index, the player of the week was Mikalay Signevich of Ferencváros, who is proving to be a good signing from BATE Borisov.  With that said, let’s move on to our round 24 predictions.

Chris: With the drama of title and relegation battles as well as watching new players integrate into the league, the NB1 continues to entice each week.  Yeah Paul, who would have predicted Ferencváros’ scoring spree last week?  Also, who would have thought Haladás would have beaten Kispest in a bizarre match at the “prison yard.”  So much is unfolding this week.  Read on for an in-depth look at this week’s games. 

Saturday, 9 March

Paks vs MOL Vidi

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks looked very flat in their last match losing to Mezőkövesd.  They should get up for this match but a loss moves them down to the relegation zone.  They must tighten up their defense or they may find themselves in a fight for survival in NB1.

MOL Vidi has now won three matches in a row and appear to be back in form.  They have lost defender Attila Fiola to injury but should do enough to earn the three points here in their fight for the championship.  With nine matches to go and Ferencváros playing very well, they need to pick up some points on the leaders soon.

Prediction: Paks 1-2 Vidi

Chris: Paks lost their first game of the spring at Mezőkövesd last week as they their defense faltered and, despite putting up a big fight in the second half, couldn’t find a breakthrough.  They’re still dealing with some long-term injuries and will be without András Simon up front.

Vidi have won five in a row and three on the trot in the league.  They weren’t at the races for a bit against Kisvárda but came back in the second half with some superb play by István Kovács who looked particularly fired up.  They signed a new right back from Spain, Joan Campins who isn’t likely to start but might be on the bench with Fiola out injured. Vidi won here 4-0 back in November but I can’t see a similar score line here.  Szabó’s injury has hurt Paks and his absence could (again) be the deciding factor.

Prediction: Paks 1-2 Vidi

Mezőkövesd’s Gábor Molnár moments before bagging his second against Paks

Kisvárda vs Honvéd

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda 

Paul: Kisvárda played solid in their narrow defeat to MOL Vidi.  At home, they are playing a Honvéd side at the right time.  Their winter signings were very good and are proving to be positive additions to the club.  A strong performance will get them back to their winning ways in convincing fashion.

Honvéd received an old fashioned beating from Haladás and rightly so.  I see their slide continuing and don’t see them playing in the Europa League come fall.  They have lost their last four away matches and with this loss, make that five in a row!

Prediction: Kisvárda 3-1 Honvéd

Chris:  Kisvárda played bravely against Vidi last week but were unable to hold onto their unbeaten run against a motivated Vidi side in Székesfehérvár.  This week they signed former Mezőkövesd AM Mevoungou to shore up their midfield and are hoping to get his paperwork sorted in time to play on Saturday. 

Honvéd looked lost against dismal Haladás.  With Danilo not fully-fit they were forced to start N’Gog up front again and he did nothing to inspire that he’s the man to turn to in time of need.  Even their inspired new boy Änis Ben-Hatira couldn’t rescue them this time.  A trip to Kisvárda won’t be an easy task for them.  It’s a good thing they still have Dávid Gróf between the posts.

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-1 Honvéd

Haladás vs Újpest  

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely 

Paul: Haladás showed some fight in their away win against Honvéd.   They are almost certain to fall to the second division but I believe they will play out the season and give respectable performances from here on in each match.

Újpest played a boring scoreless draw against MTK.  Looks like they left their goal scoring boots on the sidelines after scoring five in the prior match.  Their inconsistency comes up yet again and who knows what to expect in this match.  I will predict a draw but a loss would not surprise me in the least.

Prediction: Haladás 1-1 Újpest

Chris: Haladás won their first league game in three months last week as they toppled Honvéd in Budapest.  They return home this week to face the best defensive team in the league.  Two of their winter signings chipped in with goals last week (Holodiuk and Ivanov) to help them over the line.

Újpest have still only conceded one goal since the winter break and have only allowed 15 in 23 league games this season.  Even without Kire Ristevski they looked solid at the back and shouldn’t have any trouble denying Haladás.  Goalkeeper Filip Pajovic claimed that he was the league’s top goalkeeper based upon the team’s defensive record which forced a smile.  I think he’s not giving his back four their proper credit.

Lilák’s was back to old ways in the scoring department, however, as they dominated the game but couldn’t find the back of the net.  Perhaps the arrival of Lacina Traoré will help with this, but his inevitable debut remains unconfirmed.  The club extended manager Nebojsa Vignjevic’s contract this week as well as other key coaches and staff which should encourage the players and supporters with stability going forward.  

Props to Ferenc Horváth and his team for winning last week but I don’t think they’ll be able to deny Újpest here.

Prediction: Haladás 0-2 Újpest

Diósgyőr vs Puskás Akademia 

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc   

Paul: Puskás  Akadémia looked impressive with their decisive home win over Debrecen.   Josip Knežević scored two goals and if he can regain his goal scoring form that would be a big boost to the club.  Will they score five or more goals against a club that has given up 12 in their last two matches?  No,  but a comfortable win and the three points will suit them just fine.

What has happened to Diósgyor?  Their defense has fallen apart in their last two away matches.  On the plus side, this match thankfully is not in Budapest but regardless  their slide continues and they are looking more and more likely to join Haladás next season in the second division.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 0-2 Puskás

Chris: Diósgyőr manager Fernando Fernandes is in no mood to celebrate as he canceled a charity ball that the club was hosting for a local foundation.  After conceding 12 goals and scoring none in the past two weeks, Fernando has his team focused to return to recent successes that have pulled them back from the depths and into a fight for survival.  

Despite winning last week Puskás are still in the midst of said relegation scrap.  Puskás held off a rampant Debrecen even without their defensive anchor János Hegedus in the back.   

I think the last two weeks will have destroyed any pride in the Diósgyőr camp.  I’m backing them to return to a more hard-working, conservative style that allowed them some success at the start of the second half of the season.. 

Prediction: Diósgyőr 2-2 Puskás

Debrecen vs Mezőkövesd

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: Debrecen continue their roller coaster ride this season.  They have now lost two matches in a row after their impressive victory against Ferencváros.  They are a solid home side which should make this an interesting match.  The problem with Debrecen is that you never know which side will show up on match day.

Mezőkövesd have moved up to a position where they are now in the conversation for a spot next season in Europe.  To accomplish this, they must defeat clubs ahead of them.  First challenge up is Debrecen.  In another addition of the ‘“upset of the week”, my pick is Mezőkövesd to win and with that prove that they are not simply a middle of the table squad but a club ready to put their hat in for a European spot next season. 

Prediction: Debrecen 0-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Debrecen were relentless in attack last week but ended up on the wrong side of a 2-0 score line against Puskás.  The loss of Ádám Bódi to injury and the lack of any clinical finishing has them licking their wounds after consecutive defeats.  They return home after three consecutive away games.

Mezőkövesd looked great against Paks last week as Gábor Molnar led the way with a goal and an assist.  This is likely to be a tight affair as Debrecen are at home where they defeat Ferencváros in their most recent contest there.   Mezo are coming off a strong win at home and have a fully rested Stefan Drazic returning to the lineup..

Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Signevich has three goals in four games since joining Ferencváros this spring.

MTK vs Ferencváros

at Hidegkuti Nándor, Budapest 

Paul:  Three Budapest derby matches in a row for MTK and one finally at home.   They now find themselves in the 7th spot in the table and moving down now on a weekly basis.  They are close to becoming a relegation battling team.

What can you say about Ferencváros?  Rebrov appears to finally have his team clicking on all cylinders.  Daniel Lanzafame now find himself on the bench but could prove to be a valuable substitution when the situation warrants it.  The goal scoring cools down a bit but a comfortable win nonetheless.  

Prediction: MTK 1-3 Ferencváros

Chris:  Injuries are racking up for MTK  as they will hope to bounce back from defeat.  Their recent form at home, however, leaves little to be desired.  MTK have one just once in their last five games at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, and they lost their last two against Ferencváros there as well by a combined score of 7-2. 

Ferencvaros were rampant and have now won two in a row after a seven goal performance last week.  Lanzafame did score two goals last week and is NB1 top scorer along with Honvéd’s Filip Holender (10 league goals), but those two strikes (one was a penalty) were late on after the game was already won.  It’s fairly obvious the dour-faced Italian can see the writing on the wall – this is no longer his team.  Signevich, Gorriaran, and Varga got the headlines last week and rightfully so.  It’s almost as if Fradi are positioning Lanza for a summer move and they’re pulling all the right strings. We’re beginning to see Rebrov’s team come together and Lanzafame will have to decide if he’s happy sharing the spotlight – now will be a test of their resolve. With cup games coming up against Vidi there will be a call for all hands on deck, but after that Rebrov will have some decisions to make.  Can they find some consistency?  For this week at least. 

Prediction:  MTK 1-3 Ferencváros