NB1 Round 2 preview

Football is back in Hungary and what a solid start to the season! On top of last week’s season openers across the country, Ferencváros pulled off quite the result on Tuesday, earning a 1-1 draw against GNK Dinamo in their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first leg in Zagreb.

Once again Fradi will suspend the start to their domestic season to concentrate on the second leg against Dinamo in Budapest this week with the hopes of reaching the group stage. This, however, is not good news for Zalaegerszeg who I’m sure would have loved to play their home-opener against the champions.

Paul:  Chris, I’m back from the beautiful weather of Alaska to the hot summer in California.  Not a lot of surprises for me in the first round of play. I know this will not last long at all and the craziness will return on a regular basis when we least expect it.   I didn’t see a single match and as a result, I I don’t have much to say at the moment. With that said I will pass to Chris to dazzles us with his analysis and statistics.

Chris: Congrats Paul! Four out of five with two perfect scores! What a way to start the season. I’m not worthy. I defer to your greatness and give up already.

Well, not really. Like you said, the craziness has yet to start and there are 32 more rounds to totally screw up. 🙂 Let’s move on to this week’s games.

Saturday, 10 August

Kaposvár vs Mezőkövesd

Kaposvári Rákóczi Stadion, Kaposvár

Chris: Kaposvár were hammered by Fehérvár last week in their opener but still managed to get two past a formidable defense.  Martin Ádám scored as many goals last week (2) as he did in the entire 2017/18 NB1 season with Vasas.  I was impressed with new-signing Andrey Yakimov.  The Ukrainian midfielder only played 60 minutes but was seemingly everywhere. Last season’s leading scorer Gergo Beliczky sat the bench last week.  It should be quite an atmosphere in Kaposvár as they host their first top flight  match in over five years. 

New Mezőkövesd signing Budu Zivzivadze did exactly what was expected of him as he scored the winner against ZTE last week. Most might have seen that scoreline as unimpressive, but Zalaegeszeg looked quite solid in their first NB1 match in recent history.  Credit to Mezo goalkeeper Péter Szappanos for keeping them in that one.  Attila Kuttor’s side borrowed trouble as they sat back  and protected an early lead but I think they’ll make the adjustment here.

Prediction: Kaposvár 1-2 Mezőkövesd

Paul:  Kaposvár look to be an attacking club as evidenced by their goal filled match against Fehérvár.  They will have the home fans behind them hopefully in good numbers as NB1 football has not been played in Kaposvár since 2014.  Yet, I see this as a defensive match and the home club will do well do earn a draw.

Mezőkövesd opened the season with their typical hard fought 1-0 match scoreline and this week find themselves against the other promoted club to the first division.  I don’t see this as a very exciting match and this may be one I skip and head to the fitness club instead. No 1-0 match here but a tie with a goal apiece.

Prediction: Kaposvár 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Budu Zivzivadze scores in his debut for Mezőkövesd (photo: Attila Török)

Diósgyőr vs Újpest

Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc

Chris: DVTK will play their second straight home game to start the season and Fernando Fernandez’s side must be soaring after holding off Honvéd last week in their opener.  Diósgyőr rode their luck a bit, but they managed to finish their chances while Kispest didn’t. If Joachim Adukor can play consistently in midfield like he did last week, Diósgyőr could be more of a threat this season.

What a disappointing defeat for Újpest last week.  Not only did they lose their “home” opener at Vasas’ new stadium, but their supporters also showed their discontent with some disparaging chants. It was understandable as Újpest’s normally solid defense crumbled under the physical attacking quality of Ezekiel Henty who outmuscled and out-paced Lilák’s backline.  The injury to Dzenan Burekovic saved the left back from having an even worse game.  His replacement, Benjamin Balázs scored the lone goal and was arguably their best player in a team that looked out of ideas on attack.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-1 Újpest

Paul:   Diósgyőr opened with a nice opening home win against Honvéd and find themselves with another home match against another Budapest based club.  This match should be tougher but wouldn’t it be something if the club from Miskolc started with two wins to open the season? I think this will be a defensive match once again with few goals unlike the match to end last season.

Újpest looked very bad in their opener against Puskás and the fans voiced their displeasure with their home club.  They will be lucky to earn a point here and I wouldn’t be shocked if they left Miskolc without a point.  I still like their manager, Nebojša Vignjević and see him as a good fit for the club. Unless they sign some attacking  players before the transfer deadline, Újpest could be in for a rough start to their season.

Prediction:  Diósgyőr 1-1 Újpest

Sunday, 11 August

Paks vs Honvéd

Paksi Stadion, Paks

Chris: Paks were shut down by Kisvárda in their opener last week.  New-signing Dániel Böde was a passenger and last season’s team leader in goals, János Hahn, was even worse.  Midfielder Kristóf Papp seemed to get in more dangerous positions.  Jozsef Windecker and his replacement Benjamin Cseke were solid in midfield.

Rumors are swirling that Ferencváros striker Davide Lanzafame is likely to return to Honvéd in the coming days and boy, do they need him!  Kispest were all over Diósgyőr last week but only managed a penalty despite some golden opportunities to score.  Now add Dániel Gazdag and Barna Kesztyus to the injured list and Honvéd’s midfield depth is dwindling.

Prediction: Paks 1-0 Honvéd

Paul:  Paks lost a hard fought match last Sunday but didn’t show much on the offensive side of the ball.  They are home and look to rebound against a frustrated Honvéd squad. In Dániel Böde’s homecoming, Paks will be on target and stun Honvéd in my “upset of the week.”  It can be debated if this would really be an upset?

The word is Lanzafame is coming home to Honvéd.   That would be a shot in the arm for a squad in search of some desperate attacking help.   It certainly would spice up the NB1. For all his histrionics, I do very much enjoy watching Lanzafame play.   This match will show how much he needs to return “home.”

Prediction:   Paks 3-1 Honvéd

Can Dániel Böde rebound at home this week for Paks? (photo: György Koncz)

Puskás Akadémia vs MOL Fehérvár

Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Chris: Ezekiel Henty looked really good for Puskás last week.  His two goals highlighted a new-look Puskás side which included impressive performances from new faces Thomas Meissner and Yoëll van Nieff as well as former Hearts forward David Vanacek.

Fehérvár look to turn around a run of four games against Puskás without a win.  Their 4-2 win over Kaposvár last week wasn’t as dominant as they might have hoped, but they are now out of continental competition and can focus solely on the league. Ivan Petriak played extremely well in his debut last week with two assists, and newly-signed Macedonian defender Visar Musliu will bring even more quality to an already solid defense.

Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Fehérvár 

Paul:   Puskás looked very good in their away win against Újpest.  I was very impressed with an interview I saw with  their new manager, Zsolt Hornyak. At the same time, I must temper this with the fact the János Radoki won his opening match last season against Fehérvár. 3-0.   That won’t happen again, but I see this as the match of the week – an up-and-down affair.

I cannot express my disgust for the performance of Mol Fehérvár in losing to Vaduz.  I agree that they have taken several steps back after last season’s magical European run.  The squad is getting old in my opinion and Roland Juhász has already said that the Vaduz match will be his last in European football.  A loss would not surprise me in the least but the away team will come back in the end to secure a draw.

Prediction:  Puskás 2-2 Fehérvár

Debrecen vs Kisvárda

Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Chris: After getting trounced by Torino in Europa League qualifying, Debrecen will finally kick off their new season at home this week.  András Herczeg is starting his third full season and he’s added a number of attacking players to a team that finished third last season.  Nikola Trujic and Haruna Garba are two players that have already made an impact for Loki in continental play, but the loss of Ádam Bódi (7G, 9A last season) to an ankle injury will hit hard. 

Kisvárda edged past Paks in last week’s opener as Gheorghe Grozav picked up where he left off last season, scoring the winner in front of the their home fans.  Vasile Miurita’s team won’t be pushovers this season and could cause Debrecen some problems this week.  Anton Kravchenko continued his good form from last spring in Kisvárda’s back line and goalkeeper Mihai Minca made a good showing against Paks in just his second start in two seasons at the club.  It’s only a matter of time before Miurita hands Claudiu Bumba his debut bringing a distinctively Romanian feel to the side.  Kisvárda won both league games against Loki last season, scoring six goals and conceding only once.

Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Kisvárda

Paul: It’s not often that a club begins with an open date the first week of the season, but this gives Debrecen an extra week to prepare for this match.  Debrecen will take full advantage of the extra week and come through with a convincing home win. I predict a top-3 finish for Loki this season.

Kisvárda took care of business with a home victory over Paks.  I am curious as to what style of play they incorporate under new manager, Vasile Miriuță.  I am not sure if Felipe will be match fit and playing again after his off the field shenanigans but it won’t matter here in a convincing away loss.

Prediction:  Debrecen 3-1 Kisvárda