NBI Round 17 Preview

Welcome back NBI fans! We’re back in full swing at Hungarianfootball.com to bring you all the latest news, previews and predictions ahead of each match day throughout the season. After only a five-week winter break this year, the teams have returned from their training camps across the continent refreshed and recharged (some more than others) to take on the spring season. An updated list of each team’s winter transfers can be found here.

With just the league to concentrate on this spring, it’s no surprise that Ferencváros are favorites to claim a second straight title in May, but there’s a dwindling clutch of teams that might make things more difficult for them as the season progresses. There’s always a surprise or two to look forward to as the second half brings out even more uncertainty with the pressure of a ticking clock bringing out the best (and worst) in players.

Saturday, 25 January

Ferencváros vs Paks

Groupama Arena, Budapest (14:55)

Chris: Ferencváros returned from training camp in Spain this week where manager Sergei Rebrov introduced three new midfielders to increase competition in an already solid midfield.  With nothing but the league to play for, Fradi are locked and loaded into retaining the title.  Somália returns to the club after a four-year hiatus plying his trade in France and Saudi Arabia. The Brazilian midfielder played from 2011-15 for Fradi. He’s been training apart from the team and will not be ready to play this week. However, Gastón Lódico (on loan from Lanús) and Bálint Vécsei (from Lugano) are here to provide competition for Daniel Ihnatenko and Ihor Kharatin.  Also, both Kenneth Otigba and Lasha Dvali are lining up to return from long, injury layoffs. 

Paks saw the return of midfielder Lajos Bertus over the winter break, while Mohamed Remili’s first-team appearances in the fall didn’t do enough to keep him at the club.  With key defender Attila Osváth suspended for this one, Paks will be short-handed against a rested and motivated Fradi side.   Dániel Böde returns to the Groupama for the first time since his move last summer and I’m sure he’ll be motivated to make an impact, but it’s more likely he’ll get sent off than do something positive. I can’t see any other winner here.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Paks

Paul: Ferencváros kept their squad together which I think is a major achievement.  Somalia promised he would be back in the squad and here he is, but reports say he won’t play here.   I have never seen Bálint Vécsei but he sure looks good on paper.  Fradi get back to business and start 2020 off in proper fashion.   Side note, the match starts at 5:55 am Pacific time. Does 555 have some significance in Hungary?  No party for me.

The winter break did not come at a good time for Paks as they won their final two matches before the Winter break.  They had some movement of some past players returning. I will miss Mohammed Remili who I always thought deserved more play and who takes his skill set to the  Lake Balaton with Siófok in the NBII.  Paks did defeat Fehérvár recently  but another scalp of the top side in Hungary is too much to ask of any NBI side.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Paks

MOL Fehérvár vs Honvéd

MOL Sóstó Aréna, Székesfehérvár (17:00)

Chris: Fehérvár returned from their training camp in Marbella on Sunday and have been preparing to incorporate French midfielder Lyes Houri into their midfield.  Houri comes from Romanian side FC Viitorul where he was under the tutelage of Gheorghe Hagi over the last year. With little other movement, Fehérvár manager Joan Carillo feels that he still has a team to compete for the title.

Honvéd are back from their training camp in Turkey and have said goodbye to world traveler Krisztián Vadócz who moved on to Uruguay to play under Diego Forlan at Peñarol.  Patrik Hidi will mark his return to the club, and the addition of Mayron George from Denmark is in hope that he can add a bit more firepower up front.  George scored 22 goals in 93 matches in the Danish league.  Goalkeeper Rubi Levkovic and defender Mohamed Mezghrani are still rehabilitating from long injuries for Kispest. I can’t believe David N’Gog still has a contract at the club.

Prediction: Fehérvár 1-1 Honvéd

Paul: Fehérvár hope to regain the great form they had at the start of the 2019 season.  New manager Jaon Carillo had some time to work with the team and hopefully this will result in positive results.  After three straight surprsing home losses, Fehérvár need to regain their form pronto or else Ferencváros will be popping open the champagne early in 2020! 

Honvéd find themselves in their usual position of competing for a Europa League spot.  They have been very inconsident this season along with their flamboyant Italian manager Giuseppe Sannino. They are an excitng side to watch for their play and Saninno’s passion.  Patrik Hidi is back after travels to Spain and Kazahsktan. We say goodbye to Krisztián Vadócz who leave abroad to Uruguay adding to his resume of foreign clubs.

Prediction: Fehérvár 2-1 Honvéd

Mezőkövesd vs Kisvárda

Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd (17:00)

Chris: Mezőkövesd manager Attila Molnár beefed up his squad this winter with a few players from the Balkans. Marin Jurina is the latest signing – a forward who scored 8 goals in 16 games for Zenica in the Prva Liga in the fall season.  Jurina joins Budu Zivzivadze in attack supported by the very capable trio of Tamás Cseri, Aliaksandr Karnitski, and Zsombor Berecz. Last season’s standout Gábor Molnár found it difficult to break into the squad and moved to Diósgyor.  Midfielder Dino Besirovic comes on loan from Hajduk but is a relatively unknown player. 

There were a lot of changes at Kisvárda over the break as Felipe and Anderson Pico were released.  Portuguese forward Hugo Seco found his way back home as well, returning to Portugal to play for Farense.  David Dombo brings a bit of experience at goalkeeper as he was Mezőkövesd’s former number one keeper at the start of last season.  With captain Lucas suspended and Felipe out of the picture it will take some time for Kisvárda to get going this spring.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-0 Kisvárda

Paul: Full disclosure, I am rooting for this small club from North Eastern Hungary  to make the Europa League. They will battle Puskás for European play unless they can win the Hungarian Cup.  Richárd Guzmicsis is back in Hungary after seasons in Poland, China, and Slovakia.  He will head in the game winner in the final minutes to win for the home side.

I sure would like goalkeeper Felipe to return to Hungary as he himself is worth watching a match!  Ex-Mezőkövesd goalkeeper, Dávid Dombó joins the side. Should he regain his form from a few years ago, he could be a serviceable replacement.   Gheorghe Grozav is still here and the club were active in the winter transfer window.  It’s refreshing to see them attempting to be a stable mid-table side.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-0 Kisvárda

Zalaegerszeg vs Diósgyőr

ZTE Aréna, Zalaegerszeg (17:00)

Chris: Barnas Dobos has added some strength a squad that impressed most of us in the fall, staying well within touching distance of safety through December and scoring goals in the process.  Eric McWoods is the second American signing for Dobos after bringing on Eduvie Ikoba at the start of the season. Both bring strength and pace to an attack that has been fun to watch.  Stjepan Ostrek is a technical forward from NK Nafta in Slovenia who will be counted upon to create and help ZTE finish the numerous chances they squandered in the fall. Dobos also unloaded a number of players and brought in Cypriot midfielder Fanos Katelaris to upgrade.

Tamás Féczkó plucked talented playmaker Gábor Molnár from Mezőkövesd and signed two forwards to address Diósgyőr’s attacking woes.  Molnár is playing for his hometown club and is excited to return to Miskolc.  Féczkó showed the door to a few players brought in by his predecessor, and has begun in earnest to make this his team.  Suspended midfielder Bence Iszlai’s absence will felt as he had become a consistently solid performer in DVTK’s squad in the fall.

Prediction: ZTE 1-0 Diósgyőr

Paul: This is the time for Zalaegerszeg to show that they belong in the NBI.  No better time to start NOW than a home match against another club fighting to stay up in the first division.   ZTE were busy in the transfer market in bringing in another American player, Eric McWoods plus a few possible quality foreigners on loan.  The mid-table march starts today.

Diósgyőr have made some great progress since the arrival of Tamás Feczkó.  The club added some depth to the team along with Tamas Kiss on loan from Puskás.  Only a few years ago, Kiss was an up and coming younster after his masterful goal for Haladás  against Ferencváros.  He still has great potential and for a side lacking offensive punch, he should be given every chance to play and shine.

Prediction: ZTE 1-0 Diósgyőr

Kaposvár vs Puskás Akadémia

Rákóczi Stadion, Kaposvár (17:00)

Chris: Kaposvár beefed up depth level midfield players and some defense with their signings over the winter but they’ll be missing the suspended Martin Ádám in this game.  Ádám is suspended for yellow card accumulation and the team’s leading scorer will be difficult to replace. 

Puskás will be without two of their key players for their trip to Kaposvár.  Both Josip Knezevic and Kamen Hadzhiev are suspended this week.  The biggest surprise for the club over the break, however, came this week with departure of leading scorer Ezekiel Henty to Slovan Bratislava.  The club was able to lure forward Luciano Slagveer from Dutch side Emmen – the 26 year-old had scored two goals and two assists in nine Eredivisie matches. This could be a tricky game for the visitors and I wouldn’t put it past Kaposvár to pinch a point here.

Prediction: Kaposvár 1-1 Puskás

Paul: I’ve got a feeling on this one.  Kaposvár showed with their year ending win against Debrecen that they have some fight left in them.  They will surprise at home and not go down to NBII without a fight. “Upset of the Week.”

I may be the only person on record, but I am sad to see Ezekiel Henty leave Hungary.  Perhaps it is the educator in me who is big on second chances? It is unfortuate as Henty was developing a good rapport with manager,  Zsolt Hornyák. The side added even more foreign players to the club. Chemistry may be an issue for this club as it may take some time for the manager to regain the chemisty of the 1st half of the season. Puskás  are ripe for defeat.

Prediction: Kaposvár 3-2 Puskás

Debrecen vs Újpest

Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen (19:00)

Chris: Debrecen have made no significant squad moves during the winter break.  Manager András Herczeg stepped down after a disappointing fall season and was replaced by Zoltán Vitelki who has just two short stints of being caretaker manager for Diósgyőr in the past.  With team captain Dániel Tőzsér out for the foreseeable future (ankle surgery) it seems like it’s going to be a long road back for Loki.

Újpest ownership continues to be a raging dumpster fire and the inability to sign forward Robert Feczesin to a longer contract means more changes at the club.  Soma Novothny returns from his year-long loan in Korea, but the addition of Patrik Bacsa and winger Andreias Calcan from Viitorul means it’s possible that Soma will sit.  There are rumors that more players are on their way out which must be disheartening for manager Nebojša Vignjevic who continues playing a shell-game with squad he has no control over.

Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Újpest

Paul: Congratulation to András Herczeg on a great managerial career.   It is wonderful that he is staying on at the club to work at the youth level.   He is a great manager and the first team will miss him greatly. His replacement was not among my first 50 choices as manager but hopefully will prove to be successful.  The vanilla match of the day. Will any goals be scored here?

Are Újpest throwing in the towel?  A white flag? Soma Novothney is back after his stint in Vietname but the Lilak were in Winter hibernation during the break.  Vasas seems keen to pillage the club in their quest for NBI football. One has to feel terrible for the predicament of manager, Nebojša Vignjević, who deserves so much better.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-1 Újpest