NB1 Round 26 Preview

We welcome back the NB1 this week after last week’s international break.  If you’re still buzzing about Hungary’s massive win over Croatia in Euro 2020 qualifying, don’t worry – so are we!  A number of stars from the league got some time at the national level, but none more memorable than (MOL Vidi midfielder) Máté Pátkai’s game-winning goal performance against the 2018 World Cup silver medalists on Sunday.  Now with the memory of that magical night in Budapest fading into the rearview mirror, we’ll turn our attention to the full plate of domestic matches on offer this Saturday. 

Paul: Chris, do we have to come back from the break  or can we bask in Hungary’s big win just a little longer?  That was a shocker but shows everyone what Hungarian football is capable of and why we believe in and follow Hungarian Football.  Nice to hear you and Tom Mortimer speak about the National Team matches in the Hungarian Football Podcast.  Let’s hope the spirit and hard work of that Sunday night continues in the NB1 and our predictions!  I’m ready!

Chris: Welcome back Paul (and all you band-wagoners)! It’s time for the the final push in the Hungarian top flight and we have (nearly) all the news we can drum up from around the league as well as our thoughts on how each of this week’s matches will turn out. Here we go!

Saturday, 30 March

Mezőkövesd vs Honvéd

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul: Mezőkövesd has only won one of their last five home matches.  They seem happy to be settled in as a consistent mid-table club.  As always they will be in this match and give the champions a run for their money.  They will come up a little short and lose the victory on a late Danilo goal. 

I have been wrong too many times on Honvéd and I can’t seem to figure them out.  They looked very solid against Paks and maybe just maybe David N’Gog will build on his last match where he scored a goal with two assists. They have not won in their last five away matches so I’ll call a draw.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-2 Honvéd

Chris: After two defeats in a row, Mezőkövesd are in need of a home win.  With leading scorer Stefan Drazic healthy it may bring them back into form.  They still have yet to utilize winger Moutari Amadou whom they acquired from Ferencváros during the winter transfer window and now might be a good time to try.

Honvéd won handily in their last match but they are away from home where they haven’t won in the league in their last six.  They should get a boost with both Danilo and Dániel Gazdag returning from suspension.

Honvéd have won at Mezőkövesd in their last four trips there but after the international break this is a match they’re ripe to stumble in.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-1 Honvéd

József Windecker turning out for Paks these days.

Paks vs Újpest

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks 

Paul: These two clubs always seem to play entertaining matches and this one should be no different.  Paks has been a very average squad at home and is no longer a tough play to play for visiting teams.   Rather than a high scoring match, look for a defensive battle.

Újpest bounced back with a win over Mezőkövesd after a surprising loss to  Haladás.  The Lilak have only one one of there last five away matches and I don’t see that changing this week.  I came close to picking a Paks upset but I will chicken out and go with the safe draw.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Újpest

Chris:  József Windecker will play against former club Újpest for the first time since joining Paks earlier this year.  The midfielder has had a slow introduction into the side but looks ready to become a first team regular for them.  The status of injured left back János Szabó is unclear but his absence has been felt with Paks winning none of the matches he’s missed since his injury a month ago.

Újpest returned to strong defending last round, holding Kisvárda without a shot on goal as they did just enough to take all the points.  New striker Lacina Traoré opened his account from the spot in that game and he looked useful for most of the 79 minutes he played.  The giant Ivorian should only get better as the season wears on.  Újpest will also be missing Vincent Onovo (suspension) but have Kire Ristevski returning to the side which will only make them even more impenetrable in the back.

Prediction: Paks 1-2 Újpest

Kisvárda vs Ferencváros  

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda 

Paul: Kisvárda has not gone on a win streak like I had thought they would to begin the second half of the season.  They aren’t playing badly but they need wins NOW  and not draws.  I think that changes in this match.  I am calling this the “upset of the week.”   They catch Fradi at the right time and come up with a win by a goal.

Ferencváros is still average on the road which should make this an interesting match.  Perhaps the break came at the wrong time for them as they have been playing great.  Their heads won’t be in this game I predict.   The race for the championship is still on with a loss here.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-1 Ferencváros

Chris: Kisvárda are on a tough run of fixtures.  After losing at Újpest they will be hosting Ferencváros who are cruising at the top of the table.  Kisvárda have looked good at home, however, without defeat in their last six at Várkert. A lot of that can be attributed to resurgent captain Lucas as well as the injection of newly acquired Stavros Tsoukalas in midifield.

Sergei Rebrov should have a healthy Ferencváros squad at his disposal.  With Ivan Petriak returning from suspension it should prove to create some selection problems for him.  They do have a rather competitive cup match next week so we are sure to see an omission or two against the likes of Kisvárda but I think they still have to be the favorites here. 

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-3 Ferencváros

Haladás goalkeeper Gábor Király starts a three-match ban this week.

Haladás vs Puskás Akadémia 

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Haladás   

Paul: Haladás played a respectable match against Ferencváros only losing by two goals.  Manager, Ferenc Horváth has his squad  playing out the season with pride and effort.  Another win here and who knows maybe a miracle can happen in Szombathely?  Stranger things have happened in Hungarian football.

Puskás  Akadémia is miserable on the road and has won only one of their last five away matches.  Another loss here moves them further down the table and they become serious relegation contenders.  Can their home form be enough to keep them up in NB1?

Prediction: Haladás 1-0 Puskás

Chris: Haladás are having a tough week.  After a tough defeat against Ferencváros and the dubious dismissal of their captain/motivator Gábor Király, they,ve also learned that the club is in serious financial trouble.  If that’s not enough, new-signing Kornél Saláta has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury suffered against Fradi last round.  Thoughts return to the pitch this week against a very beatable Puskás side, however.  Haladás had won two in a row before running into the Fradi juggernaut and will like their chances at home against their fellow strugglers despite all of their problems.

Puskás came from behind to beat MTK at home last round as their frail defense almost let them down once again.  A poor away record and leaky defense are working against them in a match they should win but won’t.

Puskás came from behind to beat MTK at home last round as their frail defense almost let them down once again.  A poor away record and leaky defense are working against them in a match they should win but won’t. 

Prediction: Haladás 1-1 Puskás

MTK vs Diósgyőr

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: The break could not have come at a better time for MTK.  They have not won in their last five matches.  Both their recent home and away form has been poor.  New manager, Tamás Lucsánszky hopes to right the ship or else they too will enter the relegation discussion.  I think they come back with a win here though by a goal.

Diósgyor played a respectable match against Debrecen in losing by a single goal.  They a two completely different squads depending on where they play.  Their offense has been almost non-existent  and the lack of goals will once again harm them as they are shut out in Budapest.  Budapest is not one of their favorite away venues. 

Prediction: MTK 2-0 Diósgyőr

Chris: MTK look to be sinking fast.  Injuries have been a factor this spring and they are without a win in five.  Their collapse in Felcsút last round was a disgrace and the new manager looks as helpless as Feczko was before he was removed.

Diósgyőr are not looking good away from home lately.  After conceding 12 goals against the two Budapest powerhouses they allowed just one in Debrecen a fortnight ago.  They haven’t scored in neither their last five trips to MTK nor their last three league away matches so it’s not looking good.  MTK haven’t fared well at home either, losing four out of their last five at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion.  With both teams struggling this could be an entertaining contest.

Prediction: MTK 2-1 Diósgyőr

Marko Futács breaks scoring duck against Mezőkövesd

MOL Vidi vs Debrecen 

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár  

Paul:  This could be the most entertaining match of the week.  Mol Vidi have been playing much better lately. They must continue winning ways and hope Fradi lose some points here and there.   In a typical Vidi type match they get the points but not without a battle.  Their matches always seem to be won or lost by a goal these days.

In a pattern of Hungarian clubs, Debrecen are a completely different home versus away squad.   Debrecen find themselves in the third spot and competing for a place in Europe.  They will give Mol Vidi  a run for their money but lose late on Vidi goal, perhaps by Máté Pátkai?  

Prediction: Vidi 2-1 Debrecen

Chris:  Vidi can’t afford another slip up this spring as they are staring down the barrel of an eight-point gap with Ferencváros at the top of the table.  They’ve had their troubles scoring in recent games but will be feeling good against a team that has conceded 9 goals in their last four away games.  Marko Futacs finally opened up his account with Vidi last round in a narrow win over Mezőkövesd. 

Debrecen have been very efficient if not spectacular at home, but their away form leaves a lot to be desired.  Vidi are the better team and should be winning this one but stranger things have happened this season.

Prediction:  Vidi 2-0 Debrecen