NB1 Round 33 Preview

Spring rains will be falling throughout Hungary on Sunday (ironically) providing a little extra level of drama to an already tension-filled final round.  The rains will also reflect the sadness of a country who will bid adieu to the NB1 for 8 weeks.  Buckle up!  Chris and Paul have all the news and previews of the final round of the NB1 2018-19 season!

Paul: Chris, the last match day of the season.  Can you believe it?  This week all the matches start at the same time.  We had a total of 20 goals scored in round 32, which included 8 goals in the wild Honvéd and Diósgyor match.   We know that Ferencváros are the champions and will attempt to qualify for the Champion League.  MOL Vidi are in the Europa Liga and Haladás are relegated.  Outside of that everything is up in the air.  With these few knowns let’s get to the unknowns and see what unfolds in the final match day of the NB1 season.

Chris: It seems as if this league continues to produce drama until the end each season. The battle for safety rolls into the final day with three teams still in the race.  There’s also the small matter of third place with three teams in with a chance for that final Europa League spot.  Still much to fight for here.  On to the previews!

Sunday, 19 May

Puskás Akadémia vs Ferencváros 

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul: A rare road win for Puskás last week against Újpest.  They are safe once again and will remain in the first division.  They have been a thorn in Ferencváros’ side so this match is anyone’s guess.   Since the match is at home, let’s go for an “upset of the week.”  The only thing I can say for sure is that I don’t see a goal coming from half field.

Ferencváros ended their home season in style winning 14 out of 17 matches with no losses. Like many teams, they will be here physically but I am not sure if they will give more.  I am curious if Dániel Böde starts the match in what could be his final match in his Ferencváros career.

Prediction: Puskás 1-0 Ferencváros

Can Davide Lanzafame secure his second consecutive NB1 scoring title?

Chris: It was ‘mission accomplished’ for András Komjáti last week.  He took over at Puskás and steered them to safety with an unlikely unbeaten run in his five games at the helm.  The squad have responded well and are playing with confidence, but will be without the suspended Patrik Poór at right back.  Playing at home has also been key for them this season – they beat Ferencváros 1-0 at Pancho in their first meeting this season.  The winning goal in that one was launched by none other than Janos Hegedus who happens to be returning from suspension this week.

Ferencváros will want to end the season strong and the scoring title is still up for grabs which Davide Lanzafame will no doubt like to settle.  A big miss for them will be the ever-present Gergo Lovrencsics who is suspended for this one.

Prediction: Puskás 2-2 Ferencváros

Kisvárda vs Mezőkövesd

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda  

Paul: Kisvárda can stay up in the first division with an MTK loss but why depend on other clubs when you have your fate in your own hands.  They have not won in their last five home matches and now is the time to change that and stay up in the first division!

Mezőkövesd are safely staying up in the  first division next season.  They have been weak away from home despite their away win at MTK.  I don’t seem them putting much effort into this match against a club in a “do or die” situation.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Kisvárda have it all to play for this week. I honestly thought they’d be free and clear by now but they’ve stumbled with two defeats in their last three against bottom half of the table teams.  No doubt this has been a heroic effort for them to remain in the NB1 and with Mezőkövesd already safe, this is their match to win and secure another NB1 season in front of their home fans.

Mezőkövesd blitzed their way to mid-table safety with three straight wins without one of the their best attackers in Gábor Molnár.  They’ll be tough to beat.

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Haladás vs MOL Vidi  

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely   

Paul: We bid goodbye to a Haladás squad that never gave up and made things interesting in the relegation battle.  They will go out in style and we hope to see them back up the following season as they belong in the first division.  

MOL Vidi has lost their last two away matches.  I see them looking ahead to the Magyar Kupa final match and not giving it their all in this match.  They have the second spot secured so their aim is coming out of this match with no significant injuries.

Prediction: Haladás 2-1 Vidi

Brave spring effort from Haladás fell short of NB1 survival last week.

Chris: Neither team has anything to play for here. Haladas want to finish strong in front of their home fans in their last NB1 match for a while.  With Gábor Király unavailable the goalkeeper duties go to Dániel Rózsa who has been adequate.  

Vidi’s intentions will be revealed with their starting eleven. Vidi will want to keep their team healthy for the cup final next week.  They have a history of fielding subpar sides in games that matter little.  I wouldn’t rule out a Haladás result here.

Prediction: Haladás 2-2 Vidi

MTK vs Honvéd

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest   

Paul: MTK is in a must win situation and must hope to gain more points than Diósgyor or Kisvárda.  Quite simply, a loss and they are down to the second division regardless of any other results.  The situation has been bad for MTK for some time and I can’t see them rallying here unfortunately.  They will come very close in this derby match.

What a strange match for Honvéd last week.   The whistle from the stands cost them a penalty but in their defense they did show some mettle in coming back to tie Diósgyor.  This is their final tune up before their Hungarian Cup final match against Mol Vidi.  I see them rallying in the final minutes to prevent MTK from staying up in the first division.

Prediction: MTK 1-1 Honvéd

Chris: This is an interesting match for both sides.  MTK are currently in the drop zone and need a win in the worst way.  They finally scored last week after a four consecutive 1-0 defeats but they still haven’t earned a point in their last six matches. There should be a lot of changes to the side with injuries and players returning from suspension.  It was good to see Ákos Baki finally return to the MTK lineup last week, but a red card prevents him in being a part of staying up this week.

Honvéd would need a lot to happen to claim 3rd place.  Claiming fourth, however, is a much more realistic possibility and it would lift the pressure off of them in the cup.  A defeat for either Debrecen or Újpest and win for Kispest would secure fourth place. With Filip Holender battling former teammate Lanzafame for the scoring title this could be another interesting side show.  Central defender Bence Batik is suspended for Honvéd. 

Prediction: MTK 1-2 Honvéd

Diósgyőr vs Újpest 

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc 

Paul: Diósgyor scored four away goals in Budapest so you would think they won, but unfortunately they also allowed four goals as well.  A point was well earned despite a gift goal from the referee.  This is probably the most difficult match of the week to predict but I will go with the home side.

Újpest has not won in their last three matches and those lost points may cost them a spot in the Europa League.  Their attack has been poor and the addition of Lacina Traore has not paid off at all.  Újpest will root for a MOL Vidi cup win which could possibly get them into Europe depending on Honvéd’s results.  I see a lot of changes coming for this squad next season on the offensive side of the ball.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Újpest

Újpest captain Róbert Litauszki will miss final game with injury.

Chris: Diósgyőr are above the line but must treat this one as an elimination game.  A win is all they need to assure safety and they have played very good football lately.  Fernando has his team fully fit and ready to go.  Újpest are suffering in attack, and last week their fabled defense had a lapse of communication with backup keeper David Banai that led to an unlikely home defeat. To add to their misery, Lilák captain Róbert Litauszki will sit the final match due to injury.  Újpest just look tired and slow and will need something special here to get a result.  It pains me to predict this but … 

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Újpest

Debrecen vs Paks

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen   

Paul:  A big match for Debrecen at home.  They win and they have third place in the league and Europa League spot.   A loss and they will need some help.  I can’t see them losing two matches in a row at home.  With some striker help next season, this could be one very exciting team next season.

Paks are safely secure for a spot in the first division next season so they are just playing this match out.  Their heads will be on their summer vacation and will not provide much of a challenge for the home squad.  They had a nice celebration in the locker room after last weeks big win so this match is meaningless for them.  

Prediction: Debrecen 3-1 Paks

Sandor Nagy out injured in crucial league finale.

Chris:  Debrecen will be without starting goalkeeper Sandor Nagy who injured his thigh last week.  He’ll be replaced by Tomas Kosicky who doesn’t inspire confidence in the Loki squad.  

Paks haven’t won in their last five games away from home and have only scored one goal in that span.  I’m not looking for fireworks here from Paks, but the slick surface should help Paks with their style of play.  Aurel Csertői will look for a low scoring win if possible, but I don’t think Debrecen will allow it.

Prediction:  Debrecen 1-1 Paks