Quick and dirty NB1 season preview

Hello everyone. We are back to the NB1 in a few short days and this is a no-nonsense review of this season’s teams including summer transfers and some other fun discussion points. (Please contact the editor directly with any discrepancies, wrong information, or other blatant attempts at propaganda.)

MOL Fehérvár

Manager: Marko Nikolic – starting 2nd full season

Last season: 2nd

Leading scorer: Mark Scepovic – 10 goals, 3 assists

Top players: Loïc Nego D/W, Vinícius D, Mate Patkai M

Captain: Roland Juhász D

Key transfers in:

Ivan Petriak W – from Shakhtar Donetsk (played full season at Ferencváros last season)

Adrian Rus D – from Puskas (played 14 games on loan at Sepsi last season (1G, 1A)

Funsho Bamgboye W – from Haladás (35 games – 4G, 6A)

Key transfers out:

None

Major developments

Currently in the second qualifying round of the Europa League

Change from last season: MARGINALLY STRONGER – Marko Nikolic returns for a second season after leading the club to the Europa League group stage and a second place finish last term.  They’ve added two wingers but still have yet to add a top-tier striker.  

Ivan Petriak had a phenomenal season (6 goals, 11 assists) on loan at Ferencváros last year. If he can provide similar offensive support for Nikolics he will improve their attack considerably. Looks like they’re hoping Márkó Futács or Armin Hodic will step up this season as there is no potential out-and-out forward on the horizon.   Defense still among the best, but aging centre back Roland Juhasz and defensive midfielder Szabolcs Huszti (both 36 yrs old) are in their final seasons. 

Ferencváros

Manager: Sergei Rebrov – basically starting 2nd full season

Last season: Champions

Leading scorer: Davide Lanzafame – 16 goals, 7 assists

Top players: Gergo Lovrencsics D/W, Lasha Dvali D, Davide Lanzafame F, Ihor Kharatin M

Captain: Leandro D/M

Key transfers in:

Eldar Civic D- left back from Sparta Praha (22 games, 2 A)

Michal Svarka M – from Zilina (32 games – 10G, 15A)

Dávid Gróf GK – started every game for Honvéd last season

Oleksandr Zubkov W – loan from Shakhtar Donetsk

Danylo Ihnatenko M – loan from Shakhtar Donetsk

Rui Pedro M – returned from Haladás loan

Tamas Priskin F – returned from Haladás loan

Key transfers out:

Fernando Gorriarán M – to Santos Laguna

Dánial Böde F – to Paks

Ivan Petriak W – returned to Shakhtar Donetsk

Major developments

Currently in the third qualifying round of the Champions League

Change from last season: MARGINALLY STRONGER – Technically this will be Rebrov’s first full season at the helm but he’s had time to make the squad and the tactics his own.  Nando Gorriarán’s exit makes sense as it brings revenue allowing him to bring in a few more players.  Besides, Rui Pedro’s performances at Haladás this spring shows that he’s perfectly suited to provide a high-level attacking spark in NB1.  Early performances of Michal Svarka and Zubkov are encouraging as well in central midfield.  

In attack, dumping the aging Böde was a wise move, leaving Lanzafame and Signevich to battle for the striker position.  Priskin’s return from his Haladás loan has helped provide depth this summer but I can’t see him being part of Rebrov’s long-term plans.  Zubkov and Ihnatenko look like very smart business as they will also bring quality depth to a team hoping to reach the group stage in continental competition.

In Gróf, Rebrov has brought in one of the best keepers in the league to back up Dibusz, and left-back Eldar Civic will allow the manager to be more creative with his back four. 

Puskás Akadémia

Manager: Zsolt Hornyak – started 1 July

Last season: 7th

Leading scorer: Josip Knezevic – 12 goals

Top players: Kamen Hadzhiev CB; Josip Knezevic F; Jozef Urblik M

Captain: Roland Szolnoki D

Key transfers in:

Gol-Gol Mebrahtu F – spent last two seasons in Czech league, very little playing time. 

Ezekiel Henty F – loan return from Osijek – 5 goals in 22 appearances

David Vanecek F – from Hearts (SPL) disappointing spring season

Lóránd Fülöp M – from Botosani – 16 goals in 54 appearances

Thomas Meißner D – from Willem II – regular center back for them

Yoëll van Nieff M – from Heracles Almelo – bit part player (15 appearances)

Key transfers out:

Adrian Rus D – to Fehérvár

Liridon Latifi M – to Sheriff Tiraspol

Bachana Arabuil F – to Panionios

Márk Szécsi F – to Debrecen

Branislav Danilovic GK – to Diósgyőr

András Radó F – to Zalaegerszeg

Balázs Balogh M – released

Major developments

New manager to start the season.  Hornyak, most recently with Slovan Liberec, hasn’t had the longest of tenures in his 8-year managerial career. 

Change from last season: SAME – The “Academy” continues to sign a plethora of players from around the world instead of developing their own talent.  In a search for a striker Puskás have brought on a clutch of possibles. Heart’s manager Craig Levein called Vanecek “rubbish” after his second appearance with the club.  Ezekiel Henty can’t seem to find a team that wants him, and Mebrahtu has yet to click consistently anywhere. 

Meißner looks like a solid signing to add depth behind János Hegedus and Hadzhiev.  Latifi was a bit of a disappointment last season as was Arabuli.  Lóránd Fülöp had a good season at Botosani. 

Honvéd

Manager: Giuseppe Sannino – appointed end of May

Last season: 4th

Leading scorer: Filip Holender – 16 goals, 2 assists

Top players: Ivan Lovric D, Daniel Gazdag M, Amadou Moutari F

Captain: Djordje Kamber M

Key transfers in:

Moutari Amadou F – from Mezőkövesd – 3 goals, 1 assist in 14 appearances

Vladyslav Kulach F – on loan from Shakhtar 

Rubi Levkovich GK – from Hapoel Tel Aviv

Patrick Ikenne-King RB  – on loan from MTK

Niba MacDonald D – from FC Nitra in Slovakia – 21 appearances

Federico Moretti M – from Serie C Abissola 

Key transfers out:

Filip Holender F – to FC Lugano

Danilo F – to Muaither SC in Qatar

Dávid Gróf GK – to Ferencváros

Patrik Tischler F – returned to Újpest

Major developments

Currently in the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

Former Watford manager Sannino is first Italian since Rossi to try and take Honvéd and turn them into a contender. Last time he was at a club for longer than a year was at Varese (2008-11).

Change from last season: MARGINALLY WEAKER – With arguably their top three players moving on after last season, Honvéd have had to do some rebuilding this summer.  Amadou, injured with an achilles rupture for the first half of last season with Ferencváros, transferred to Mezőkövesd and did reasonably well in the spring.  Now healthy he should be at his best but will take a career season to replace Holender’s production. 

Dávid Gróf’s move to Ferencváros left them with a huge hole, but Levkovich has looked very good in the Europa League qualifiers so far.  Good defense but their attack will be the main question mark – N’Gog is not the answer. 

Újpest

Manager: Nebojsa Vignjevic – starting his 6th full season

Last season: 5th

Leading scorer: Soma Novothny – 9 goals

Top players: Robert Litauszki D, Kire Ristevski D, Obinna Nwobodo M

Captain: Robert Litauszki D

Key transfers in:

Aron Bjarnason F – from Breidablik (7 goals and 5 assists in 15 appearances)

Márk Koszta F – from Mezőkövesd (7 goals and 4 assists in 26 appearances)

Karol Mészáros F – from Haladás (2 goals and 2 assists in 20 appearances)

Key transfers out:

Alassane Diallo M – released

Lacina Traoré F – to CFR Cluj

Giorgi Beridze F – to Gent

Patrik Tischler F – to Kisvárda

Dániel Nagy M – to Mezőkövesd

Mijusko Bojovic D – to Keshla (Azerbaijan)

Change from last season: MARGINALLY WEAKER – After a season where Újpest failed to find a consistent goal-scoring threat, they have flushed almost their entire attack and are looking to rebuild it.  So far they’ve managed to keep their impressive defense intact but their entire squad is a skeleton crew at the moment.  Youth players and trialists are currently making up the missing depth as Nebojsa Vignjevic decides on the rest of this squad for the start of the season. 

Debrecen

Manager: András Herczeg – starting his third full season

Last season: 3rd

Leading scorer: Márk Szécsi – 8 goals, 1 assist

Top players: Dániel Tozsér M; János Ferenczi F; Csaba Szatmari D

Captain: Dániel Tozsér M

Key transfers in:

Nikola Trujic F – from Vozdovac (1 goal in 18 matches)

Florentin Bouoli F – 

Tunde Adeniji F – from Al-Nasr

Haruna Garba F – from Gzira United 

Key transfers out:

Aleksandar Jovanovic M – to Szeged

Haris Tabakovic F – to Diósgyőr 

Erik Cikos D – released

Albion Avdijaj F – Grasshoppers

Major developments

Currently in the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

Change from last season: SAME – The trend to bring in more and more attacking players into the league continues as Debrecen scoop another handful of hopefuls.  Nikola Trujic already has two assists for Loki in Europa League qualifying as he’s looking like a good piece of business so far, but the others are all relatively unknown.  They’ve managed to hold on to the core of their team that topped the “also-rans” last season and finished third.  

Moving Haris Tabakovic on was a bit of a head scratcher as he finished seventh in the league in scoring two years ago and was just recovering from a season-long injury. 

Paks

Manager: Tomislav Sivic – appointed in May

Last season: 8th

Leading scorer: Janos Hahn (9 goals)

Top players: Zsolt Gevay D, Daniel Böde F, Bence Lenzsér D; Janos Hahn F

Captain: Tamás Báló D

Key transfers in:

Dániel Böde F – from Ferencváros (7 goals, 1 assist in 23 appearances) 

Attila Osváth D – from Puskás (14 appearances)

Key transfers out:

Tamás Egerszegi M – on load to Honvéd

Major developments

Tomislav Sivic is in his second stint with Paks.  The first was 7 years ago where they finished 13th of 16.  He’s also had unsuccessful tours of duty with Diósgyőr and Mezőkövesd most recently in Hungary.

Change from last season: SAME – Paks parted ways with long-time manager Aurel Csertői at the end of last season.  Replacing him with Sivic is a step down in my opinion.  Dániel Böde brings a proven target man to the club – a big presence up top to balance out Janos Hahn’s more nimble approach in the final third.  Böde’s age may get the better of him this season but he still has a nose for goal.  They were crippled with injures last season, especially to their defense.  Most are back and healthy to start the season. 

Mezőkövesd 

Manager: Attila Kuttor – starting first full season

Last season: 6th

Leading scorer: Stefan Drazic – 11 goals, 6 assists

Top players: Gabor Molnar F; Tamás Cseri F; Robert Pillar D

Captain: Tamás Cseri F

Key transfers in:

Budu Zizivadze F – Torpedo Kutaisi (19 goals, 5 assists in 24 appearances)

Aleksandr Karnitskiy M – Sepsi (1 goal in 24 appearances)

Andrii Nesterov D – Karpaty (1 goal in 6 appearances)

Dániel Nagy M – Újpest (4 goals in 24 appearances)

Zsombor Berecz M – on loan from Fehérvár (9 appearances)

Key transfers out:

Stefan Drazic F – to CC Yatai

Amadou Moutari F – to Honvéd

Richard Nagy M – to Kapsovar

Márk Koszta F – to Újpest

Change from last season: MARGINALLY STRONGER – Stefan Drazic’s transfer is a big blow in terms of production, but it looks as if Kuttor has addressed wholesale needs of the club as well as a possible replacement of their top scorer with the addition of Zizivadze from Georgian giants Topedo Kutaisi.  Defender Andrii Nesterov was injured for most of last season at Karpaty and is looking to make his mark with a fresh start in NB1.  The trade with Újpest, bringing Dániel Nagy to the club for Koszta is essentially a wash, but the deal that brought Gábor Molnár to the club permanently was very smart even though it was expected. 

Diósgyőr 

Manager: Fernando Fernández – starting his second full season

Last season: 10th

Leading scorer: Richárd Vernes F – 7 goals, 4 assists

Top players: Dusan Brkovic D, Mátyás Tajti M; Florent Hasani F

Captain: Botond Antal GK

Key transfers in:

Haris Tabakovic F – from Debrecen

Branislav Danilovic GK – from Puskás

Joachim Adukor M – from Sarajevo (1 goal, 2 assists in 19 appearances) 

Key transfers out:

Richárd Vernes F – Hapoel Kfar Saba

Tomislav Mazalovic M – Inter Zapresic

Change from last season: SAME – Fernando was shown faith by the club last season and they struggled but finished just above the line for a second consecutive season.  This is the season they’ll expect more from him as they look for comfortable mid-table.  The loss of Richárd Vernes will be cushioned by the arrival of a healthy Haris Tabakovic from Debrecen.  If Tabakovic can equal the 12 goals he scored two seasons ago then DVTK will have made a nice coup here. Danilovic provides some nice insurance for Antal who, quite honestly, didn’t have the best of seasons.  Danilovic was Puskás’ first choice in the first half last season, but then fell out of favor. 

Kisvárda

Manager: Vasile Miriuta – appointed mid-June

Last season: 9th

Leading scorer: Zoltán Horváth F – 9 goals, 5 assists

Top players: Felipe GK; Stavros Tsoukalas M; Gheorghe Grozav F, Lucas M

Captain: Lucas M

Key transfers in:

Patrik Tischler F – from Újpest

Claudiu Bumba F – from Adanaspor (3 goals, 5 assists in 27 appearances)  

Key transfers out:

Zoltán Horváth F – to FC Gyor

Barnabás Vári D – to FC Gyor

Brana Illic F – released

Pavlo Lukianchuk D – return to Dynamo Kiev

Patrick Mevoungou M – released

Major developments

László Dajka took a team with one of the worst starts in recent history to safety with a four-point cushion thanks to a phenomenal second half last season.  His replacement, Miriuta, has coached in NB1 before – steering Gyor to a mid-table position in the 2014-15 season, but Gyor were relegated to NBIII due to financial reasons. He has managed some of the top teams in Romania including Cluj and Dinamo Bucharest.

Goalkeeper Felipe didn’t show up to pre-season training on time but, despite some summer drama, he is back to marsahl the. backline in his odd quirky way.

Change from last season: MARGINALLY STRONGER – Miriuta looks to be good replacement for Dajka who stayed with the club with another role.  Miriuta was key in signing Bumba, a 3x capped full Romanian international, who is forecasted to do well in Hungary.  This is good news as leading scorer Zoltán Horváth has jumped ship along with regular defender Vári to join Gyor.  There are also rumors that Ferencváros are trying to lure Grozav which would be a big blow to their attack.   Kisvárda were a competitive team under Dajka and if Miriuta can get the same or more from this side they should be able to reach mid-table comfort. 

Zalaegerszegi TE

Manager: Barna Dobos – starting essentially his second full season

Last season: 1st in NBII (promoted)

Leading scorer: Benjamin Babati – 15 goals, 7 assists in 28 games

Top players: Benjamin Babati F; Szilárd Devecseri D; Dávid Barczi M

Key Transfers in:

Kristztián Tamás D – on loan from Fehérvár (1 goal, 1 assist in 17 appearances)

András Radó F – from Puskás Akadémia (6 goals, 2 assists in 32 appearances)

Eduvie Ikoba F – from Dartmouth (US university)

Oleh Holodiuk M – from Haladás (1 goal, 1 assist in 12 appearances)

Nikola Mitrovic M – from Keshla FK (2 goals, 4 assists in 27 appearances)

Key Transfers out:

Zsolt Gajdos F – to Szeged (9 goals, 1 assist in 26 appearances)

Balazs Farkas II F – to Soroksár (2 goals, 1 assist in 13 appearances)

What to expect:

ZTE ran away with the NB2 championship, finishing 8 points clear with a +36 goal differential.  Benjamin Babati’s 15 goals led the way and Zsolt Gajdos also provided a threat up front with 9 of his own last season.   Dobos has wisely brought in some talent with NB1 experience as Tamás, Radó, and Holodiuk have all been there before.

Attacking midfielder Miroslav Grumic, wide midfielder Dávid Barczi, and defenders Szilárd Devecseri and Zoran Lesjak have top league experience as well.   The interesting signing is American forward Eduvie Ikoba who is a monster target man up front and will certainly be treated to some abuse by NB1 defenders, but perhaps it will give Babati more room to roam in attack. 

Back in the NB1 for the first time since the 2011/12 campaign, ZTE might be able to fight off some of the low-hanging fruit if they can gel in time.  If Kisvárda could turn things around after the poor start they had last season then that gives any promoted team hope they can do the same. 

Kaposvár

Manager: Róbert Waltner – 3rd season

Last season: 2nd in NBII (promoted)

Leading scorer: Gergo Beliczky F – 12 goals, 5 assists in 36 appearances

Top players: Attila Szakály M; Gergo Beliczky F; Csaba Vachtler D; Krisztián Pogacsics GK

Key Transfers in:

Norbert Csiki M – from Budaörs (11 goals, 9 assists in 27 appearances)

Matej Poplatnik F – from Kerala Blasters (4 goals in 16 appearances)

Key Transfers out:

Péter Rajczi F – (9 goals, 2 assists in 24 appearances)

What to expect:

Kaposvár finished comfortably in second place with a nine point buffer above and below to cruise into the top flight for the first time in six years – and first time since the league was reduced to 12 teams from 16.  Main striker Gergo Beliczky is back to lead the attack, but they’ve added a bit of a wild card with Matej Poplatnik coming in from the Indian Super League’s Kerala Blasters to join in the attack.  38 year old Péter Rajczi had a good season but he’s made way for Poplatnik apparently.  

Richárd Nagy will be back as a loan player from Mezőkövesd.  The attacking midfielder chimed in with 6 goals and 10 assists last season.  Right winger Ervin Zsiga looks like he’ll also return for a second season after contributing with 11 assists.

It will be a tough go for Kaposvár against some improving NB1 teams this season, but they have some exciting players to watch.