NB1 Round 31 Preview

It’s derby week! What can be better than that? With only three rounds remaining in the season, the battles for relegation and the final spot on the podium are still in full frenzy.  There are plenty of intriguing matches this week (including Fradi vs Újpest) and we have Paul and Chris to update you on team news and give you their previews and predictions of each game.  

Paul: Chris, we had a total of 16 goals scored which is about average for NB1 matches.  A big congratulations for Ferencváros on winning their 30th Hungarian football title.   With three matches left in the season, anything can and will happen.  I cannot remember a more exciting relegation battle to stay up in NB1.  Only seven points separate six squads for the right to remain in NB1 next season.   Let’s see if Chris and I can unravel some of this confusion that is inherent in Hungarian Football.

Chris: Battle stations!  We are down to the wire and this is the time for crazy results in the league.  With teams that have already achieved their goals it will be a question of motivation, and with teams who are still fighting it will be a matter of concentration.  This is a difficult time of the season to predict anything as mindsets control outcomes more often than not.  Just ask Ferencváros after last week’s defeat. 

Saturday, 4 May

Puskás Akadémia vs Honvéd 

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul: Wonderful a match at the beautiful, but often empty, Pancho Arena.  Puskás took a point from MOL Vidi away and have been a thorn in side of last year’s champions.  Puskás are back home which usually is a good thing for them.  I have recently lost confidence in their home form so I can’t see them taking the three points here.

Honvéd showed some life in an entertaining win against Ferencváros.  Änis Ben-Hatira looked very good last week against Fradi and will need to continue his good form for Honvéd whether it be in the league or Hungarian Cup final.  I will pick a Honvéd away win put please be advised that my record on Honvéd predictions is quite poor.

Prediction: Puskás 0-1 Honvéd

Chris: Puskas haven’t lost since replacing former manager János Radoki with Director of Sport András Komjáti.  Playing at home has been their forte and a result here will ensure their place in NB1 next season.  Puskás’ draw at Vidi last week means they were undefeated this season against last season’s champions.  Komjáti has them playing better football.  

Honvéd pulled themselves back into the podium equation with win over newly-crowned champions Ferencváros last week.  However, Honvéd hero Änis Ben-Hatira exited late in the game with an injury after scoring two second-half goals and the jury is still out on his availability for this one.

Prediction: Puskás 2-1 Honvéd

Haladás’ Tamás Priskin scored last week against Kisvárda – his first since September.

Haladás vs Paks

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely  

Paul: There is still life in the club from Szombathely.   Haladás is still alive after a nice away victory against fellow relegation strugglers Kisvárda.   I love an underdog as everyone knows, so I will go with Haladás to continue their fairytale ride to first division football.

Paks took care of business with a home win against MTK.  Away from Paks is a different story as they have lost four away matches in a row.  Make that five now against a squad that could just be on the cusp of writing a miracle ending to their season.

Prediction: Haladás 1-0 Paks

Chris: Haladás are playing with the form of champions.  After a stunning 2-1 win at Kisvárda last week they are well and truly in a fight for survival after being written off a month ago.  Rui Pedro has been the spark in this revival as he’s brought some creativity and industry to their attack.  The Portuguese attacking midfielder has 5 goals and 2 assists in twelve games since joining from Ferencváros on loan in the winter.  Despite limping off at the end of the game against Kisváda, left back Dávid Mohl looks to have recovered in time to play this week.  He’s been solid since taking over that position three weeks ago.

Paks won unconvincingly last week.  It was their first win since February and it came even though MTK bossed the play and got the better chances.  It had to be encouraging for Aurél Csertői to see his defense (ravaged by injuries) keep a clean sheet, but MTK haven’t been lighting up the attacking end recently. Paks have lost their last four away games without scoring a goal. 

Prediction: Haladás 1-0 Paks

MTK vs Mezőkövesd  

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest  

Paul: MTK has now lost four matches in a row to become a member of the relegation fight. Fortunately they face a poor away squad so despite their poor form, I will take the easy route and call for a draw here.  This match could be difficult to watch.

Mezőkövesd did what they were supposed to in defeating Diósgyor although by a surprising three goals.  I so want to predict an away win for this club but can’t bring myself to do it based on the fact that they have lost their last four away matches.

Prediction: MTK 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: MTK are up against the wall, slipping to within 3 points of the drop zone after a fourth consecutive defeat last week at Paks.  They have only scored one goal in that span and under new coach Tamás Lucsánszky they look to be in trouble.  MTK have collected just four points in their last ten league matches. 

Mezőkövesd ended a run a string of four consecutive defeats with a comprehensive 3-0 win over relegation battlers Diósgyőr last week.  The win puts them seven points clear of the drop with three games to go so a draw here would be just as good as a win to clinch another season in NB1 for Atilla Kuttor’s side. 

Prediction: MTK 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Kosovan Florent Hasani leads DVTK with 5 goals this season

Diósgyőr vs MOL Vidi

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc   

Paul: Diósgyor need this game desperately and must win to have any chance of survival in the first division.    They have been a decent home club with three wins in their last four matches.  I will call for an effort reminiscent of their surprise defeat of Fradi some time ago. In the words of Elvis, “It’s now or never.”   My “upset of the week” but don’t take it to the bank.

It’s difficult to assess the mindset of the MOL Vidi squad in this match.  They are visiting Miskolc to play a club who should be in desperation mode.  Vidi will show up to play their Hungarian Cup Final match but their final three league match results will be anyone’s guess?

Prediction: Diósgyőr 2-1 Vidi

Chris: This matchup has some recent history.  I’ll set the scene. It was 2 June, 2018 and Diósgyőr needed a win against newly-crowned champions Vidi to stay up. In the 88th minute Gábor Makrai scored the winner for DVTK against a youthful and inexperienced defense in what was a poor decision by the champs with Balmazújváros paying the price. Rant over.

Last week’s loss left Diósgyőr under the relegation line and in need of strong final push in their final three games.  They defeated Vidi at the start of the spring season at Sóstói Stadion back in February and will be hoping to mirror that success at home this week.

Vidi’s only hope of a successful season now lies solely in the Magyar Kupa.  A tepid draw at home against Puksás was a reflection of their side’s motivation now that the title race is over.  Center back Vinícius gets a rest this week as he’s suspended for Marko Nikolic’s side.  On paper this should be a win for Vidi, but it will come down to who wants it more and right now, that team will be Diósgyőr. Hopefully Vidi realize there’s still a lot at stake at the other end of the table this year. 

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-1 Vidi

Debrecen vs Kisvárda 

at Nagyerdei Stadium, Debrecen 

Paul: Debrecen played well against Újpest and were unfortunate not to take home the three points. Now that they are back in Debrecen all should be well.  They are very strong at home and have won five matches in a row there.  I don’t see that trend stopping against Kisvárda.

Kisvárda suffered a big blow in losing at home to Haladás.  They are not taking the three points in home matches that are crucial in their effort to remain in the first division.  Oddly, they have won their last two away matches but I can’t see them pulling off an upset in Debrecen this week. 

Prediction: Debrecen 2-0 Kisvárda

Chris: Debrecen got an important point at Újpest to stay in third place despite being outplayed for the vast majority of the game.  They can really put the pressure on Újpest with a home win on Saturday.  They’ve won their last five league home games and have every reason to claim full points here.

Kisvárda lost a biggie last week and they have fallen back into the relegation mire now just a point clear of the drop.  The absence of their suspended captain, Lucas, might have been part of their breakdown after taking lead against Haladás last week, but he is back and they’ll be desperate for points.  As Paul mentioned, they’ve seemed much better away from home and I’ll look for that trend to continue in what I’m claiming as my “upset of the week”. 

Prediction: Debrecen 1-2 Kisvárda

Krisztián Simon’s dramatic late strike earned a point for Újpest in February

Ferencváros vs Újpest

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest   

Paul:  Match Day 31 ends with the big derby between Ferencváros and Újpest.  With the championship decided a let down would be natural for Fradi.   But this is the derby and with a full house at Groupama Arena this will be a hard fought match as always. Ferencváros is always strong at home and with Lanzafame possibly auditioning for a new team next season, it should be business as usual for the champions.

Újpest were fortunate to draw last week against Debrecen.  The offense is still a concern and should pose no problems for Ferencváros.   Lacina Traoré has not been the big signing the club hoped for and he has added little to the Újpest attack.   This should be a high scoring match but I can’t see the Lilák scoring more than a goal, if that.  

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Újpest

Chris:  It’s tempting to think that after having already won the league, Fradi might have a letdown here.  However, their letdown came last week in a disappointing defeat to Honvéd.  Beside’s, they won’t need much more motivation as this is THE derby and Újpest’s late goal in the last installment deprived Ferencváros of bragging rights.

For Újpest this derby means a bit more as they’re in need of points to overcome Debrecen in third place.  If Debrecen lose or draw in the earlier game they may feel a draw is suffice here, but if Debrecen win then this will be a must-win game for them.  Injuries in the midfield have hampered Nebojša Vignjević’s side recently and it’s unclear whether Obinna, Bojan Sankovic, or Lorant Kovács will be available against Fradi.  Lilák haven’t won since 2015. Unfortunately for them, the run continues. 

Prediction:  Ferencváros 2-1 Újpest