NB1 Round 32 Preview

The final two weeks of the season are upon us and, as always, Chris and Paul are on top of things. Here they will bring you all the team news and their predictions ahead of each match this weekend.  Read on, follow us on Twitter, and open yourself to the burgeoning global world of the NB1 football community.

Paul: Chris, it was another crazy week in NB1 which is what we have come to expect.   A total of 17 goals were scored which is about normal for NB1, where the average for the season is 2.5 goals per match.  Three of the top four squads lost so the battle for Europe is still on.  The relegation battle may be between five squads for the final ticket to NB2.  Mathematically, Haladás is still alive but it will take two wins from them along with a lot (I mean a lot) of help from the other clubs.   My picks for the two sides to leave us next year are Haladás and MTK.  Two past first division clubs will be joining us next year in Zalaegerszeg and Kaposvár .  Not to get ahead of myself, we have two match days left and still a lot to be decided.

Chris: There’s alway’s that little extra measure of excitement in the final few weeks of the season and we’ve been feeling that with the relegation battle mostly.  Who would have thought MTK would have fallen so drastically this spring? But here they are – on the verge of slipping through the trap door just one season after returning to the top flight.  This is the week that should bring the league into focus but, let’s be honest, besides Ferencváros claiming the title very little has held true to the script this season.  

Saturday, 11 May

Újpest vs Puskás Akadémia 

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Újpest played an entertaining match in a great derby atmosphere against Ferencváros. They are back home where usually they have been very good.  Surprisingly, you have to go back five matches against Mezőkövesd for their last home win.  I think they will be motivated here for a spot in Europe and that will be the difference.

Puskás have been a totally different club since changing managers.  They have drawn three of their last four matches which has kept them within distance of a relegation spot.  They will give the Lilak all they can handle but lose by a late goal.

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Puskás

Dániel Nagy scored his first goal since February last week

Chris: Újpest were unable to hold on to an important point at Ferencváros last week in the derby despite a strong showing against the champions.  Lilák are sweating on the fitness of Obinna Nwobodo who will be a massive addition (or absence) in this one as Újpest have missed his creativity in attack over the last few weeks.  Lone striker Lacina Traoré seems to be getting worse up front for Újpest despite having all the tools to be an impact player. 

It’s difficult to tell if Puskás should be glad they kept their unbeaten run alive against Honvéd last week or mad that they let up a two-goal lead.  Either way, they’re virtually safe and would require a major meltdown to end up on the wrong side of the line when all is said and done.  The loss of János Hegedus in defense will be a major blow to András Komjáti’s defense which  has had their struggles away from Pancho Arena this season.

Prediction: Újpest 1-0 Puskás

Honvéd vs Diósgyőr

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest  

Paul: Honvéd came back twice to draw away against Puskás and keep their slim European hopes alive.  With that motivation, I see them coming up big in this match and win comfortably against the club from Eastern Hungary.  My crystal ball sees a few goals from Filip Holender here before he leaves for Switzerland. 

Diósgyor was one of my shining moments last week in coming through as my upset of the week.  They are away from Miskolc this week which has not been good for the club.  They have only gained a point in their last five away matches.  In addition, this match is in Budapest where Diósgyor tends to leave with massive defeats.  These two facts will continue the trend and make next week’s home battle against Paks a win or die situation.

Prediction: Honvéd 3-0 Diósgyőr

Chris: Honvéd battled back to grab a point at Pancho Aréna last week with Filip Holender scoring his 15th goal of the season and Ivan Lovric being rewarded with some solid play over the last two months with his first goal of the season.  Three points off of third place with two games to go and cup final to consider, Attila Supka has some decisions to make in his route to Europe this summer.  Is it worth pushing for third or conserving energy for what will prove to be a hotly-contested Magyar Kupa final.

Diósgyőr grabbed an unexpected three points against Vidi last week to keep their survival hopes alive.  They are in desperation mode and need at least a point to realistically keep them afloat until the final round. Bence Szabó’s ban isn’t disastrous, but coupled with Sergei Shestakov’s injury could create some problems in generating attacking opportunities if both are absent.  I think DVTK will grind out a heroic result here.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Diósgyőr

MOL Vidi vs MTK  

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár   

Paul: Who knows how MOL Vidi will play in this match?  I have to think they will give a decent effort in front of their home fans.  They have to right the ship and gain some momentum before their Hungarian Cup final match against Honvéd.  It does help that they play MTK or at least it should, no?

The situation is difficult for MTK with this match and next week’s final match against Honvéd.  It has been a tale of two seasons for MTK.   Remember when they started the season off so well and they looked to reclaim their place in the first division?  The hole is getting bigger and bigger and I can’t see them climbing out of it.

Prediction: Vidi 2-1 MTK

László Lencse (left) is unavailable for MTK this week.
Torghelle scored their last team goal on 6 April.

Chris: Vidi dropped their obligatory game to Diósgyőr in what has become an annual charity event for the strugglers from Miskolc.  With that out of the way they should resume normal service against MTK at home this week but will likely be without captain and defensive stalwart Roland Juhasz who has been struggling with an illness this week.  Vinícius returns to the side after serving his ban last week which is a boost.  It’ll be interesting to see if Marko Nikolic uses Ákos Elek in center back again.  The former Hungarian international looked very comfortable in Vidi’s back line where he’s played only sparingly since joining from Kairat over the winter break.

What can I say about MTK anymore?  How many times can a team lose 1-0 consecutively? So far it’s four times for MTK.  I keep holding out hope that Tamás Lucsánszky’s side will finally find their scoring boots and save their season, but with injuries and suspensions adding up it looks unlikely.  Foward László Lensce is suspended as well as right back Máté Katona which is not good news for Lucsánszky who is running out of time. 

Prediction: Vidi 1-0 MTK

Mezőkövesd vs Haladás

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd   

Paul: Mezőkövesd have assured themselves a spot in the first division next year.  They are the definition of a mid-table first division squad who are content on coming back to the NB1 year after year.  With that said, I see a let down here and an opportunity for a club playing for their lives.

They came oh so close last week.   Haladás lost on a corner kick goal which is indeed a rare thing.  What a goal and in the final seconds to boot.  Look it up!   Nonetheless, they will come up with a big win here and makes us all wonder what if… My question is where will manager Ferenc Horváth end up to start next season?

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-2 Haladás

Chris: With consecutive wins in the last two weeks Mezőkövesd are sitting pretty and they’ve done it without the services of striker Gábor Molnár who has been out with an injured shoulder for the past few weeks.   Mezo have been winning with defense and I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the job Róbert Pillár has done marshaling Kuttor’s back line to two consecutive clean sheets.

Haladás hearts were broken in the dying embers of last week’s gut-wrenching draw against Paks.  Now, with a 352km trek across Hungary to a place they haven’t won since 2013 ahead of them, they must win at all costs.  With center back Milán Németh banned and midfielder Oleh Holodiuk a question mark after a nasty collision last week it looks grim for the miracle boys of Szombathely.  However, with Mezo already safe this could get interesting. Rui Pedro and Galin Ivanov are still creating and Tamas Priskin showed he can still find the back of the net when given an unobstructed chance from 12 yards.  

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-2 Haladás

Paks vs Kisvárda 

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks 

Paul: A true relegation match here folks.  Paks left Szombathely with an important point and find themselves in a must win situation heading into next week’s clash at Debrecen.  I think they will come up big here with a late score breaking a scoreless match.

Kisvárda is the wild card this season in the NB1.  They are so terribly inconsistent.  One week I see them look horrible and then last week they travel to Debrecen and demolish the home side’s unbeaten home streak.   Two weeks in a row would be magical but I can’t see them doing it again. 

Prediction: Paks 1-0 Kisvárda

Chris: Paks are backpedaling their way to safety by staying close in games and getting just enough to stay above the line.  Last week’s miracle goal by Mohamed Remili kept them ahead of Kisvárda in 8th place but they’re still only two points clear of the drop. 
Kisvárda are making their move to stay up and looking good in doing so.  They created chances while absorbing a lot of pressure last week en route to a big 3-1 win over Debrecen.  They are away from home again this week where they’ve won their last three by a combined score of 8-1.

Prediction: Paks 0-2 Kisvárda

Priskin had Haladás hoping

Ferencváros vs Debrecen

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest   

Paul:  What an atmosphere at Groupama Arena  last week in the derby against Újpest!  I knew they would not have a let down in this big match.  It was quite a sight to see a full arena with all the various colored smoke.  On a side note, it was quite a surprise to see them lose Ivan Petryak to Mol Vidi.  It was Paintsil all over again unfortunately.   Who knows what really happens in these dealings?

Debrecen shocked me in losing by two goals at home last week where they are usually very strong.  Their last match against Fradi was one of the most entertaining of the year but that was in Debrecen.  I think they make this a fun match and will come to play this Saturday.  

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-2 Debrecen

Chris:  With the title in the bag and the derby behind them, Ferencváros have little to play for and that likely will show this week as they come down from the mountain. Davide Lanzafame and Fernando Gorriaran are suspended, and Gergo Lovrencsics needed stitches after his face was carved open by a hard shot last week, so his place in the side is in some doubt.

Debrecen spurned a chance to pick up points in the race for the final spot on the podium last week.  Despite an honest effort and plenty of chances, they weren’t able to take advantage and fell to Kisvárda.  I’m banking on a response from Loki who should be throwing caution at the wind.

Prediction:  Ferencváros 1-2 Debrecen