NBI Round 21 Preview

The league is front and center again on Saturday as the heavy schedule rolls on. Most teams have played four games in less than two weeks and after this week's cup matches the fatigue might be more evident in this round. Join Chris Barrett and Paul Treso as they preview each match and give you their predictions.

Saturday, 15 February

Debrecen vs Mezőkövesd

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen (17:00)

Chris: Debrecen came from behind last week at Diósgyőr to stretch their unbeaten run to four games.  With most everyone available this week and the possibility of players coming back from injuries, Debrecen could be hitting the stride most thought they’d hit this season.  No midweek cup match to fatigue the squad is a bonus.

After falling to Fehérvár last week, Mezőkövesd returned to winning ways in the cup on Wednesday with a 2-1 home win over Kaposvár while being able to rotate their squad.  They were unlucky not to get something out of the Fehérvár game as they had two goals ruled out on close calls and by no means looked second best.  Daniel Vadnai returns from suspension and Attila Kuttor pretty much has a full side to choose from. 

Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Paul: Debrecen has not lost in their last four matches and in fact have not lost in 2020.  They scored a rare away victory in Miskolc and the side are now up to the sixth position.  This will be a major test for the side as they seek to attempt to regain that famous Debrecen home field advantage.  The fact that I am even thinking of a victory speaks volumes of how far this side has come since their embarassing loss at the end of 2019 to Kaposvár. 

Mezőkövesd found that the upper echelon of Hungarian football is still ruled by  Ferencváros and Fehérvár.  Their away form has left a lot to be desired in the new year.   Unfortunately for Mezőkövesd, they catch a team on the rise but they should have enough wherewithall to earn a valuable draw which is always an achievement in Debrecen

Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Zalaegerszeg vs Újpest

at ZTE Aréna, Zalaegerszeg (17:00)

Chris: ZTE seem to be slipping fast, and the introduction of new boss Gábor Márton this week wasn’t able to galvanize them as they lost to NBIII side Lipoti in the first leg of their cup tie against them on Wednesday.  All season long this team has been snakebit in front of goal, but perhaps a new manager will shake things up - but only after the squad settles in with him. Midfielder Gergo Kocsis will be. a significant absence as he’s been one of their more consistent performers in Zalaegerszeg’s transition game, but the late addition Lukas Bőle from Fradi gives them a big boost in midfield.  They could be playing Újpest at the right time. 

Újpest had Saturday off as the derby was cancelled, but even with a fresh team they were unable to find a way past Fehérvár in the cup this week.  Dzenan Burekovic’s suspension will force Nebosja Vignjevic to change some things around.  Burekovic has been serviceable to good this season and he’ll be missed on the left side.  It’s difficult to see this club enjoying much success with everything that’s going on internally as well as on the pitch.  Vignjevic was audibly upset during halftime of the cup match on Tuesday, but hopefully he’s inspired his players to turn things around this week.

Prediction: ZTE 1-1 Újpest

Paul: The new year has not started out well for Zalaegerszeg to say the least.  They have not won in 2020, earning only a draw in four matches. Yet another new managerial changel in Gábor Márton.  A surprising choice in my opinion as he was an excellent player, but I have no idea about his managerial experience nor performance. Perhaps Ferenc Horváth is too busy enjoying his year off?  After an embarassing mid-week  Cup loss this side needs a vitamin B shot NOW to energize themselves or a quick return to the second divsion is in order.  

Újpest should be fresher than most sides due to only playing a Cup match in the mid-week.  Their away form has been solid and their defense should keep them in match with a draw being the logical choice.   Of course a victory is not out of the question as well. All this depends on the mental condition of the home side which is anyone’s guess.

Prediction: ZTE 1-1 Ujpest

Kaposvár vs Honved

at Rákócki Stadion, Kaposvar (17:00)

Chris: Kaposvár have been abysmal lately, and they were unable to take advantage of a weaker Mezőkövesd side in the cup as they field their own second choice side - probably with hopes of turning things around in the league.  There’s not much to base any hope on this side without a bit of luck and some inspiration from within.

Honvéd signed experienced winger Roland Ugrai.  The former Diósgyőr and Haladás player returns to NBI after a 16 month stint in Greece.  It’s likely he’ll make his debut against Kaposvár as the fixture list has put a lot of stress on clubs over the past few weeks.  Honvéd will also get Bence Bano-Szabo back from suspension this week so Giuseppe Sannino should have most of his players available.  Their midweek cup match against Haladás produced plenty of drama with Davide Lanzafame unsurprisingly in the middle of.  This should be a fairly easy three point for a team that has come together defensively and are in fairly good form.

Prediction: Kaposvár 0-2 Honvéd

Paul: Kaposvár’s leaky defense was apparent and exposed in allowing 5 goals in their defeat last week to Kisvárda.   They do play exciting matches to say the least as 8 goals matches are few and far between in the NBI. Kaposvár has lost their last three home matches and even a draw here would be a minor miracle.   They continue to fight and show spirit as their ineviatable demotion is merely a formality.

Honvéd had quite an exciting mid-week Cup match but I will leave it at that.   They made a great new signing in Roland Ugrai after his return from Greece. I am not sure how much he will feature here.   This an excellent chance for Honvéd to earn a valuable away victory. Despite their poor away record anything but a victory would be a great dissapointment.

Prediction: Kaposvár 0-2 Honvéd

Puskás Akadémia vs Kisvárda

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút (17:00)

Chris: DefenderKamen Hadzhiev returns for Puskás this week and they’ll need him against a Kisvárda side that exploded for five goals against Paks last round.  Pancho Aréna hasn’t been a comfortable place for Puskás this season as they’ve been without a win there in their last six.  They sent out a fairly strong starting XI against Bekescsaba in the cup this week.

If Tamás Bódog’s return to NBI means more goals, then this could be an exciting team as the season progresses.  Kisvárda took advantage of every opportunity despite conceding three goals and managed to grab three points for the first time since November last week against Paks.  With no cup match to draw their attention away they have been able to concentrate solely on the league.  Patrick Tischler seemed a man re-born under Bódog last week, but it remains to see if his tutelage will also bring consistency.

Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Kisvárda

Paul: Puskás are hoping to build on the momentum of  their comfortable Cup win. The minor obstacle to this thought is their home record.   Puskás has not won in their last five home matches but still find themselves just four points behind in the race for  the third spot in the table. I can’t figure out this club. On paper they are much better than on the pitch, but in truth isn’t true of a great many sides in football?

Quite a return to the NBI for new manager Tamás Bódog with a big assist from Kaposvár.  Patrik Tischler is alive and well as his name has not been mentioned in who knows how long?  I have to wager that there has not been an “all header” hat trick (any correct terms for this football fans?) in the NBI this season and who knows when the last time this rare feat happened?  Goals should be much harder to come here in a tight match. Kisvárda will need to play much better here than round 20 to have any shot at a point(s).

Prediction: Puskás 2-1 Kisvárda

Diósgyőr vs Paks

DVTK Stadion, Miskolc (17:00)

Chris: Diósgyőr started well last week but were unable to hold onto their early lead against Debrecen.  They played well enough to earn a point but were unlucky in a couple of occasions.  Fully rested and at home this week, they should be able to take advantage of a weakened Paks side. 

Paks dropped a difficult one last week, seeing two key players sent off in Daniel Böde and Norbert Könyves - both of whom deserved their dismissals but not without some crap sportsmanship from Puskás.  They did managed to win the first leg of their cup match against Pecsi on Wednesday but their attack will be severely hampered without two of their best producers.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 2-0 Paks

Paul: Diósgyőr came back to earth last weekend with a resounding thud.  They home record has been poor despite having some of the best fans in Hungarian football.  Last week they were outplayed by Debrecen in losing at home. This round despite playing a much improved Paks side, they will find a way to win in a tight, low scoring match.

Paks took care of business in their mid-week Cup battle but will be missing Norbert Könyves who has been their best player of late.  Paks has won two of their last three away matches but even a draw here is a bit much to ask of this side but not impossible. Maybe János Hahn will get a chance to earn his way back to the starting 11?   He has proven to be an excellent warm weather player and the weather in Hungary has been very nice lately.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Paks

Ferencváros vs MOL Fehérvár

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest (19:30)

Chris: Ferencváros are well-rested and mostly healed up for what could be a turning-point match of the season against second-place Fehérvár.  With so much depth in midfield, they sent Lukas Bole to ZTE this week to get more playing time.  Fradi are champing at the bit and should take the game to a beaten and battered Fehérvár side.

Fehérvár claimed a massive win against closest pursuers Mezőkövesd last week despite not being the better team on the pitch.  They are struggling with injuries as right back Attila Fiola has been added to the heap that includes Loïc Nego and Szabolcs Huszti none of which are likely to feature in this top of the table clash.  Lyes Nouri hammered a stunning goal to open his account last week and Nemanja Nikolics is slowly becoming re-acclimated to NBI football after making his debut as a second half substitute last week.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Fehérvár

Paul: Ferencváros had no matches during the week due to their early Cup exit and the unplayable grounds at Újpest.   The extra time should benefit the club as I am certain their manager Rebrov made valuable use to acclimate his new players to the side.  Things should be a bit more difficult here than it would have been a few weeks ago.

Fehérvár hopefully have found themselves after looking much better in their defeat of Mezőkövesd last Saturday.   Despite their poor play, they are still only three points behind Fradi with Fradi having a game in hand. These matches have not usually lived up to the hype but I see this match having some quality football.   It was special to see Nemanja Nikolić back in the NBI and he should be featured more in this match. A low scoring draw but will live up to the billing this time!

Prediction: Ferencváros 1-1 Fehérvár

NBI Round 20 Preview

With games coming thick and fast to start the spring season the teams are having to settle in earlier and this week should be an exciting lineup of games. One very large absence this week, however, will be the Budapest derby as Újpest's newly-laid pitch at Szusza Ferenc has been deemed unfit for the teams to play and has been postponed to a later date.

As unfortunate as that is, there are still five other games to watch on Saturday including a mouthwatering clash between second and third place in Székesfehérvár with a certain legend returning at the same time. Read on for all the ins and outs of this week's games.

Saturday, 8 February

MOL Fehérvár vs Mezőkövesd

MOL Aréna Sóstó, Székesfehérvár (17:00)

Chris: Fehérvár got the best news they could have hoped for this week as Nemanja Nikolics returned to the club after a five-year hiatus where he won scoring titles in Poland with Legia and in the United States with Chicago.  His return is huge boost for Joan Carillo’s side who have averaged less than a goal scored per game in their last five league matches.  Fehérvár failed to kill the game off against Debrecen last week and paid for their profligacy as Debrecen leveled with a late penalty.  Right back Loïc Nego continues to miss with a calf injury which won’t help as Fehérvár look to end a run of five home games without a victory. 

Mezőkövesd came from behind to secure a draw on Tuesday to keep pace with the top teams with new signings Marin Jurina and Dino Besirovic finding the back of the net.  Besirovic has been a great addition so far and has scored in consecutive games. Regular left back Daniel Vadnai is suspended for this one after accumulating five yellow cards.  A win here will pull them ahead of Fehérvár but it will probably require more than the 1.3 goals they’ve scored on average this season.  Mezőkövesd haven’t won in their last three trips to Vidi/Fehérvár. 

Prediction: Fehérvár 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Paul: The match of the week in my humble opinion!  Makes sense as it’s a battle between two of the top sides in Hungary at the moment.  Fehérvár needed a shot in the arm after their recent lackluster play.   Perhaps Nemanja Nikolić can be that shot?  I am excited to see him play as it has been a while.  I am not sure of his fitness level or if he figures to be a part of this match.

This is a test for Mezőkövesd to see if they are ready to remain an upper echelon team in Hungary.  They catch Fehérvár at the right time as the home side has been abysmmal of late.  Mezőkövesd were hard pressed to earn a late draw last week against Újpest and had to work hard to gain that single point. Tamás Cseri almost scored the goal of the week but his shot was denied not by the keeper but the cross bar.  Last round, was it 5 of 6 matches that ended in a draw? Easy is not always the right choice, especially when predictions are involved.

Prediction: Fehérvár 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Paks vs Puskás Akadémia

Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks (17:00)

Chris: Paks were the only midweek winners in NBI and have won their last two games against the bottom teams.  This should be a much tougher test, but they have a full squad to choose from with Bence Lenszer returning from suspension.  Forward Dániel Böde has looked much better in the last couple of games, but can he keep it up and help Paks to a third consecutive home win?

Puskas haven’t been able to separate themselves from the middle of the table with five draws and a defeat in their last six games.  The frustration has shown on the pitch as they’ve amassed 10 yellow cards and two red cards since the start of the spring season less than two weeks ago.  Kamen Hadzhiev is the latest to miss as he sits out his second game of the spring following his double yellow debacle despite his usually solid performance.  He’ll be missed.  Goalkeeper Lajos Hegedus’ equalizing goal in the final minutes of Wednesday’s game against Diósgyőr was inspirational but shows the club’s need for another scorer.  Adám Gyurcsó is still finding dangerous positions but he hasn’t scored since returning from winter break and they’ll need him to be sharp to keep Puskás’ streak of seven away games without defeat intact.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Puskás

Paul: Paks have won four of their last five matches and are playing much improved football.  Of course, their last two matches were against fellow relegation sides but these are the matches that a team must win to stay up and avoid relegation.  Norbert Könyves is playing inspired football that recalls his glory days at Debrecen.   
Gábor Osztermajer, while a total unknown to me, is proving to be the man for the job at Paks after his recent successes as manager.

Puskás have three straight draws and now are seven points adrift of the third spot behind Mezőkövesd.  They were fortunate to earn a late draw against Diósgyőr on a questionable offside goal by goalkeeper Lajos Hegedűs.  In a match of two sides going in opposite directions, I will play the odds and call for a draw as I can’t see a Paks victory or Puskás playing up to their capabilities.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Puskás

Kisvárda vs Kaposvár

Várkerti Stadion, Kisvárda (17:00)

Chris: Tamás Bódog returns to NBI as Kisvárda’s new manager, a couple of years after being sacked by Diósgyőr.  It appears his language skills and his experience as professional director with DVTK as well.  Kisvárda are having trouble putting the ball int the back of the net, and will need Gheorghe Grozav to start scoring again.  Grozav leads the team with 7 goals but has only scored once in their last ten league matches. Bódog will have a full squad to choose from as Bohdan Melnyk returns from suspension this week.  The big question is, “where is Anton Kravchenko?”  Easily one of the best performers in the fall, Kravchenko has only been on the bench so far since the break. 

Kaposvár looked really good for the first five minutes against Paks on Wednesday and should have scored twice in the first ten minutes, but they missed glorious opportunities and went on to fall hard against Paks - their 10th match this season without scoring.  Nothing points to any hope of a result here.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-0 Kaposvár

Paul: Welcome back to Hungarian football, Tamás Bódog!  I think this will prove to be a great signing for a club with more than usual player and manager movement.  Bódog burnt a few bridges during his tenure at Diósgyőr but I do believe in second chances and hopefully this one will succeed for him and the club alike.  Kisvárda has lost their last two home matches but those were against the current top two NBI sides. This match should be a victory in Mr. Bódog’s home debut.

After a promising start to 2020, Kaposvár find themselves back to business as usual in losing their last two matches by a total of 5 goals.  They have won only once in nine home matches and I can’t see that form changing. Kaposvár now are 11 points from the 10th spot and the relegation hole is becoming deeper by the week.  I’m sure Chris can crunch the numbers when they are officially relegated.

Prediction: Kisvárda 3-0 Kaposvár

Honvéd vs Zalaegerszeg

Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest (17:00)

Chris: Honvéd were let off the hook against Ferencváros as they were the beneficiary of a couple of questionable calls inside the penalty box on Wednesday.  Davide Lanzafame’s return to the lineup was hardly noticed and Giuseppe Sannino’s strategy of playing for a point somehow worked.  Nasir Aliji and Eke Uzoma return to the lineup, but their biggest need is finishing their chances. Honvéd have scored just one goal in their last four games and two in their last six.

ZTE continue to play well despite not getting the results.  Eduvie Ikoba finally broke through again to earn a midweek draw but it’s not good enough for a side drifting further away from the line.  Center back David Bobál is suspended which leaves a big hole in their defense.  Bobál has been a fixture all season and that leaves the door open for János Szépe to make his second start in a row. Barna Dobos continues rotate his forwards in hopes of finding one who will claim the striker role outright.  András Radó has yet to click since the break - perhaps this will be his time.

Prediction: Honvéd 3-1 ZTE

Paul: Honvéd have not won in their last five matches and have been reeling in the New Year.   Their lack of winter activity is showing. The goals are not coming and they have turned into a staunch defensive club with little to no firepower.  Even Lanzafame has gone quiet in the goal scoring department. Are they ripe for defeat?

What has happened to Zalaegerszeg?   I am losing belief in this club in the new year.  I am making a last stand and predicting an upset victory.   This makes no sense (as do most of my predictions). “Upset of the week” for the boys of Zalaegerszeg and the start of turning their season around in an effort remain in the NBI

Prediction: Honvéd 1-2 ZTE

Diósgyőr vs Debrecen

DVTK Stadion, Miskolc (17:00)

Chris: Diósgyőr have seen a renaissance since Tamás Feczkó has taken over.  They were two minutes from starting the spring with three consecutive victories before a late leveler from ten-man Puskás stole the show.  Even so, Diósgyőr have been impressive and are arguably one of the better teams after the winter break so far.  Márk Tamás is suspended and this would be a great time for the return of Dejan Karan in their defense.  The team captain hasn’t played yet this spring after signing a contract extension over the holidays.

Debrecen’s second half equalizer against Fehérvár on Wednesday was a bit fortuitous in a back-and-forth affair at Nagyerdei Stadion.  Zoltán Vitelki has three games under his belt as the club’s new manager and hasn’t tasted defeat yet.  A month ago one might have guessed that Diósgyőr would have been their easiest opponent in the opening four matches of the spring, but that’s not the case here.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 2-1 Debrecen

Paul: Diósgyőr deserved a road victory last weekend against Puskás.  Their turnaround has been amazing.  It is a bit unusual to see them in the fifth spot in the standings but it is well earned.  This is one of the main Eastern Hungarian derbies and usually Debrecen are the favorites. In truth, there aren’t many Eastern Hungarian derbies. The easy choice is to take the home team and while that sounds a bit too easy, I shall do it.

Debrecen has played much better in the new year and that can be attributed to the return of their best player, Ádám Bódi.   Loki has a good track record against their fellow opponents from the east but a draw should be the best they could hope for in Miskolc.  More likely is a defeat from a side that is playing very, very well.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Debrecen

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

NBI Round 16 Preview

Welcome to HungarianFootball.com's weekly preview where Chris Barrett and Paul Treso take a look at each game and give their predictions throughout the season.

This is the last round before the winter break and the table has begun to tighten up. Recent results have proven that even the top teams have chinks in their armor and can be beaten on any given day.

Saturday also features one more Budapest derby before the end of the year as Honvéd play host to Újpest in what should be an entertaining contest.

Saturday, 14 December

Paks vs Mezőkövesd

Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks (17:00)

Chris: Paks shocked NBI last week with a 2-0 win over Fehérvár in Székesfehérvár.  It wasn’t an “excuse me” win either as they took advantage of Fehérvár’s vapid defense.  It was their first win since early October and second clean sheet win (the first was at Mezőkövesd in late August).  Paks have won only two of seven home games this season and have not shown much consistency despite some above average talent in their squad.

Mezőkövesd were held goalless for just the third time last week despite dominating Diósgyőr at home.  It was a game that was highlighted by the play of Tamas Cseri once again, but forwards Budu Zivzivadze and Daniel Nagy misfired leading to just their third defeat of the campaign.  This week they’ll be without the services of midfielder Zsombor Berecz and defender Matija Katanec to suspension - both of whom who have played almost every minute this season so far.  Manager Attila Kuttor has balanced his team well this season and should rebound with a more clinical performance here.

Prediction: Paks 1-2 Mezőkövesd

Paul: Ladies and gentlemen, Paks are alive after being missing in action.  I dare say in the upset of the season, the men of Paks defeated Fehérvár away to announce that they have not given up on the season.  Paks will not go down quietly and will battle to remain in the NBI.   Hopefully they will make it excitng as Haladás last season. Yes a good number of “if’s.”  The task doesn’t get any easier this week. “Upset of the week.”

Unlike Paks, Mezőkövesd were the victims of an upset loss, this time to Diósgyőr. Go figure?  I cannot gauge this side at all. They seem to do the opposite of what I predict though I have no data to prove this just my vague memory.  No matter what happens in this match, it has been a great 1st half of the season for Mezőkövesd. Richárd Guzmics is ready to join the side in the winter and the side are in for an exciting Spring 2020.

Prediction: Paks 2-1 Mezőkövesd

Kisvárda vs MOL Fehérvár

Várkert Stadion, Kisvára (17:00)

Chris: Kisvárda felt the absence of goalkeeper Felipe in a narrow defeat at Újpest last week. It was their first defeat in four games and they looked out of ideas going forward. There’s something about the Brazilian goalkeeper’s presence behind their back line that bolsters the defenders’ efforts and they will have a tougher time against at team like Fehérvár.     

Fehérvár missed a perfect opportunity to gain some points against the champions but laid an egg at home to Paks.  They’ll be looking to rebound with a good effort here and should be able to return to winning ways as long as Roland Juhasz and Visar Musliu can regain their concentration in the back line.

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-2 Fehérvár

Paul:  Middle of the table, safety for Kisvarda supporters and six points above the relegation zone.  I think most fans of the side would have been happy with their start to the season. A loss of a manager but the return of a master motivator, László Dajka to the sideline.  Will this be the final match of Gheorghe Grozav for Kisvarda? In the NBI?

Fehervar seemed to have been on an “unofficial” vacation for severval matches now.  Perhaps they were not aware that round 16 was the final one of 2019? Regardless, three straight home loss and yet two straight away victories.  Your prediction is better than mine. Heads is a win, tails is a loss….Heads it is!

Prediction:  Kisvárda 1-2 Fehérvár

Puskás Akadémia vs Zalaegerszeg

Pancho Aréna, Felcsút (17:00)

Chris: Puskás’ Ezekiel Henty has turned up the heat in the final few weeks of 2019, scoring five goals in his last seven games.  Zsolt Hornyak’s side completed a sensational come-from-behind result at Groupama last week.

Zalaegerszeg got their reward with a solid win over Kaposvár last week.  Barna Dobos’ side were clinical early and then played a well defensively to complete a third clean sheet of the season - their second against Kaposvár this term.  Eduvie Ikoba got back on the score sheet after two frustrating defeats in a row.  This will be a big test for them heading into the winter break.   

Prediction: Puskás 2-1 ZTE

Paul:  Name this player?  12 matches, 7 goals, 3 yellow cards, and 0 red cards?  Ezekial Henty! Yes this is only a half a year’s worth of statistics but a nice start to the season.  I was very impressed by Zsolt Hornyák in his first few interviews. I heard a solid manager with good people skills and a manager ready to adjust his starting 11 in a fluid manner.  I was and am very impressed to say the least.  

Zalaegerszeg is another one of my pleasant surprises to the first half of the NBI season. I like their style, they attack, they are scrappy and not afraid.   They are not the luckiest side in the league but that is bound to change. Zalaegerszeg need to remain in the NBI. They play young players with a few experienced veterens.  Manager, Dr. Dobos Barna is a lot calmer than I. With all these turn of events, I would have had a heart attack by now. In 2020, I hope the bad luck of 2019 will be replaced by a side that stays up in the NBI.

Prediction:   Puskás 2-2 ZTE

Kaposvár vs Debrecen

Rákóczi Stadion, Kaposvár (17:00)

Chris: Kaposvár are now eight points adrift of the safety line and falling fast.  They’ve played some entertaining football but haven’t been able to turn it into points.  Center back David Hegedus’ return to the lineup was good as the 34 year-old looked tireless after missing the last four games.  This is not a team that currently has the tools to survive at this level but they can take a couple scalps along they way.  This seems like one of those opportunities for them.  

Debrecen’s lost in penalties against Dorog in the cup this week and have not had a particularly good autumn season.  The loss of Nagy and Szécsi will hurt them, and if Kevin Varga has the flu as reported it’s quite possible that he won’t feature in this one as well.  If ever there was a banana peel for Loki this would be the week for it.  Failure to reach the last 16 in they Magyar Kupa and playing against a motivated team on the road could be see them miss out on a couple of points again this week. 

Prediction: Kaposvár 1-1 Debrecen  

Paul: Against whom did Kaposvár win their only NBI matches so far?  Take a moment - Diósgyőr and (sorry Charlie) Debrecen. Interestingly two of the eastern Hungarian sides.   Kaposvár are in dire straits and prove that a side cannot get money for nothing and their players for free.   They will battle be assured and give it their all.

Thanks goodness Debrecen have one of the best managers in the NBI, András Herczeg.  They played Honvéd to a hard fought draw.  The offseason will be big for this squad.  Will a healthy Ádám Bódi return to the side in the second half?  Will Debrecen sign some magical players to reneergize the squad? Back to the prsent, can they lose again to the newcomers to the NBI?  NBI unpreditabilty says yes, but my heart says no!

Prediction:  Kaposvár 0-2 Debrecen

Honvéd vs Újpest  

Új Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest (19:30)

Chris: Honvéd are still sorting out who they want to be this season.  Eke Uzoma’s return for them at left back was a boost to their sides’ performance but they only managed a 1-1 draw against Debrecen.  Attacking midfielder Änis Ben-Hatira terminated his contract early and has left the club.  The sparsely-used Tunisian scored just one goal in 8 appearances this season after impressing with 3 goals and 2 assists in 12 appearances after he joined Kispest last spring. It’s been a wild ride for Honvéd in the first half of the season and their heavy lifters will need to come with their best to get something out of this one. 

Újpest dismissed Pacs with relative ease in the Magyar Kupa earlier this week.  Their impressive league form has also handed them four wins in their last five to solidify their league position in the top half of the table. Robert Feczesin continues to be Nebojsa Vignjevic’s talisman with 8 goals on the season and four in his last four league matches.  Lilák’s fortunes are looking up and they should be able to hang with Honvéd in the last Budapest derby of 2019.

Prediction: Honvéd 2-2 Újpest

Paul: The last round of 2019 cannot end without a derby and this is it!  Honvéd have not won in their last two matches.  You know they would love to end 2019 by defeating their fellow Budapest rivals with whom they are tired with at 23 points.  Is it too dramatic to ask for a Lanzafame goal and red card?

Újpest just a month ago  looked liked a team left for dead.  With the skillful tuning of their masterful manager, Nebojsa Vignjević, Lilak have won their last two matches.  A win here would send the lads off to a nice winter vacation with hopes of an excting 2020.

Prediction:  Honvéd 1-2 Újpest

Sunday, 15 December

Diósgyőr vs Ferencváros

Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc (18:00)

Chris: Tamás Feczkó has turned Diósgyőr’s fortunes around with some smart tactical changes to suit his most committed players and it has allowed them to pull five points clear of the relegation zone after nicking one against high-flying Mezőkövesd last week.  Now that he’s righted the ship, Feczkó will be looking to end the autumn season on a high note heading into the winter break.

  This has been an exhausting first half of the season for Ferencváros.  They ended their Europa League campaign with a 1-1 draw in Bulgaria this week, falling just short of punching their ticket for the knockout rounds.  They made a good showing for themselves in their first foray into continental group stage competition in quite some time, but they were also eliminated in the Magyar Kupa before the final 16.  This, however allows them to put their sights solely on the league which they are currently leading with a game in hand.  Sergei Rebrov’s team is tired but won’t be satisfied without a strong result to kick off their winter break.  Look for some rotation in the squad but Fradi should eke this one out.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-2 Ferencváros

Paul: Diósgyőr made an excellent decision in bringing in Tamás Feczkó to replace Fernando early in the season.   Feczkó is indeed one of the hardest working managers in NBI and his influence on the club has been immediately felt.  The new arena will be full and the 12th man, the fans, will be ready. I’m not ready to predict just yet but I know I must.

Ferencváros capped off a successful season by reaching the group stage of the Europa Leauge all the while leading the NBI by 4 points with a match against Debrecen in hand.  I can argue that they were some defensive lapses and a referree decision away from finsihing 2nd in their group. But that is old news. They travel to Miskolc in what I hope is an excellent end to round 16.

Prediction:  Diósgyőr 1-1 Ferencváros

NBI Round 15 Preview

Welcome to HungarianFootball.com's weekly preview where Chris Barrett and Paul Treso take a look at each game and give their predictions throughout the season.

After a midweek rush of Magyar Kupa matches, NBI rolls on with the penultimate match of the year this week as teams jockey for position heading into the winter break. Diósgyőr, Kisvarda and Ferencváros (you heard me the first time) were all eliminated from the cup this week.

Rotated squad and a number of missing players might make this another surprising weekend in terms of results. Let's take a look under the hood and see what's in store for Round 15.

Saturday, 7 December

Mezőkövesd vs Diósgyőr

Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd (14:30)

Chris: Mezőkövesd survived the cup against a very good Győr side, giving a first team debut to forward Artem Kontsevoy, but fielding a strong supporting cast.  Attila Kuttor’s side drew at Puskás last week in the league to remain in the top three.  Even though they’ve “cooled down” from their red-hot start in August and September, Mezőkövesd are still without defeat in their last seven league matches.  They’ve managed to stay away from injuries to key players and can arguably boast one of the best midfields in the league with Tamas Cseri, Aleks Karnitski, and Zsombor Berecz holding everything together.

Diósgyőr decided to field a second string side against MTK in the cup this week and were unable to overturn an early goal by hosts MTK.  Not only did they crash out before the final 16, they also lost key midfielder David Márkvárt to injury and he won’t feature against Mezőkövesd. Despite having a rested first team, the absence of Márkvárt will be significant blow.  The good news is that suspended defender Dejan Karan as well as forward Mirko Ivanovski return to the lineup.  Mezőkövesd played a more difficult match than they hoped this week and that could cost them.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-1 Diósgyőr

Paul: Mezőkövesd play their eastern Hungarian rivals in what should be an enteraing match.  The midfield of the home side will be the difference in this match. Mezőkövesd have won their last two home matches by two goals.  Can they make it three? That’s a bit too predictable for NBI.

Diósgyőr has been up and down as usual.  The men from Miskolc are so unpredictable like wildfire.  The wildfire will flicker in and cause some concern before it is put out by a single goal.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-1 Diósgyőr

Debrecen vs Honvéd

Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen (17:00)

Chris: Debrecen’s cup match against Dorog was postponed until next week due to an unplayable pitch.  This could be a blessing in disguise as they host Honvéd this week.  Loki have been banged up with injuries this year and the match-postponement has given them a few more days to heal.  Ádám Bódi came on as a second half substitute last week, making his debut after working hard to overcome an injury.  Debrecen also get defender Ákos Kinyik back from suspension this week.  Goalkeeper Tomas Rosicky has been brilliant in place of injured starter Sandor Nagy and is likely to start again.  Their problem remains in defense and don’t let last week’s clean sheet fool you.  Zalaegerszeg were kept off the scoreboard due to their own lack of finishing rather than a stellar Honvéd back line.     

Honvéd finally came back down to earth with a thud at Kisvárda last week to end a five-match winning streak.  Kisvárda stifled Honvéd’s attack and finally broke through what had been a very stingy Honvéd back line.  Giuseppe Sannino’s side earned a comfortable 3-1 win over Monor this week with a strong starting attack.  One notable addition to the midweek cup squad was defender MacDonald Niba’s return to the lineup.  Niba has been out since Round 5 and will be a welcome addition to an already good back three.  Despite controlling the ball for a good part of the game last week, Honvéd are still lacking tactical guile to break down NBI defenses with precision.  As Lanza goes, so goes Honvéd, and Lanza was a passenger last week. 

Prediction: Debrecen 1-2 Honvéd

Paul:  Debrecen aka Loki are alive. They shocked me to life with their away win against Zalaegerszeg. Perhaps that will turn out to be the match that served as a wake up call for this young squad.

I fell into the romance of seeing Honvéd try to win five consecutive road matches. Four in a row was quite a feat for the men from Kispest. Right away they have a opportunity to begin a new streak. Here they catch a team at the wrong time and another streak begins...

Prediction:  Debrecen 2-1 Honvéd

Újpest vs Kisvárda

Illovszki Rudolf Stadion, Budapest (17:00)

Chris: Újpest were given a reprieve as their mid-week cup match was postponed due to a frozen pitch. Coming off a splendid win over Paks last week, Lilák are hoping to keep the attack flowing this week.  Robert Feczesin was astounding again but will have to become more consistent if he’s to keep Újpest moving up the table.  Defense continues to be a problem as they’ve now conceded at least two goals in five of their last six competitive matches.

Kisvárda crashed out of the cup after fielding a somewhat weaker starting lineup at Pecs. With starting goalkeeper heading back to Brazil to undergo surgery for torn cartilage in  his knee, Kisvárda will be without their heart and soul in the back this week.  21 year-old backup goalkeeper Illés Zöldesi will be making his season debut for the club.  Claudiu Bumba returned to action in the cup match but might make way for Stavros Tsoukalas who rested midweek.   

Prediction: Újpest 3-1 Kisvárda

Paul:  Újpest are showing continued good form in winning three out of their four matches.  Now home matches are a bit more different. The tough part is that the Lilak are two different sides home and away.  With that said I will make the easy choice….draw.

This match is one of clashing styles. Kisvárda, with so many foreign players, can adapt during the match depending on the formation of their opponent. They are a fun squad to watch as will this match.

Prediction:   Újpest 2-2 Kisvárda

MOL Fehérvár vs Paks

MOL Aréna Sóstó, Székesfehérvár (17:00)

Chris: Fehérvár looked a different team as won just their second league game since early October last week and scored more than two goals.  New manager Joan Carillo seems to have given them permission to enjoy the game again and now return home to face a struggling Paks side.  Fehérvár got past Szeged 1-0 in the cup this week with a somewhat second string side. Juhász and Musliu anchored the defense, and Pátkai supported Ivan Petriak through the middle but the rest of the side was rested.  They’ve lost three of their last four home games, but will be looking to make Carillo’s first game in charge back in Székesfehérvár one to remember. 

Paks made no mistake in the cup with a strong lineup which ensured a comfortable 4-0 win over Mosonmagyaróvár. Perhaps it was what was needed after falling at home last week to Újpest, equalling their highest amount of goals conceded at home this season with four.  They allowed four against Ferencváros back in late August as well.  Paks haven’t won in their last six league matches and will have their work cut out for them here.  Players who weren’t in the squad last week such as midfielder Kristóf Papp and right back Attila Osváth, started in the cup so it looks as if most players (besides the injured Laszlo Bartha) are available. 

Prediction: Fehérvár 3-1 Paks  

Paul: Vidi, my old way of calling this squad, were back to their winning ways in their resounding win over Diósgyőr. Once again, I think we see the "Carillo effect" in a match where the home side dominates with many goals and beautiful football.

Paks still have an interim manager as far as I know. Does anyone want the job? They have not won in their last five matches. Things will not get any better in this match. Could it get much worse? Yes it does unless the cold weather stops this from being a route.

Prediction:  Fehérvár 4-0 Paks

Zalaegerszeg vs Kaposvár  

ZTE Aréna, Zalaegerszeg (17:00)

Chris: Zalaegerszeg continue to be a frustrating club to watch.  With all of their good ball movement of positive play, they are still lacking the final touch to finish off all of the chances they’re creating.  Last week’s 2-0 defeat to Debrecen could have been a draw or a win if they would have finished half of what they created.  Barna Dobos’ squad did make it to the final 16 in the Magyar Kupa after a 2-1 win over Szarvasi this week.  Eduvie Ikoba was back on the score sheet for the first time since September which will hopefully be a boost to his confidence.

Kaposvár battled bravely against Ferencváros last week but eventually fell and are still on just 6 points after 14 games.  This week won’t be any easier despite having midfielder Attila Szakály back after suspension as Csaba Vachtler will be forced to watch this game from stands.  The defender picked up his fifth caution last week.  To heap on the misery, leading scorer Martin Ádám is out as well as winger Norbert Csiki - both of whom are sick and unlikely to play on Saturday.

Prediction: ZTE 2-0 Kaposvár

Paul: Zalaegerszeg is a snake bitten team but it’s time for them to throw that snake to the side and earn three points.  We can say “should have”, “could have”, “would have” but if you "should have" won, then you "would have" won the match. Zala will take the 3 points here but not easily.

Kaposvár have lost five straight matches which can be seen on paper. In reality we see a squad that enter each match and give it 100%. Last week we saw them give Fradi a tough match and a run for their money. They will give another effort in this battle of promoted squads.

Prediction:  ZTE 3-2 Kaposvár

Sunday, 8 December

Ferencváros vs Puskás Akadémia

Groupama Aréna (15:45)

Chris: Fixture congestion might just be catching up to Ferencváros as they fell 2-0 to Békéscsaba this week to end this season’s Magyar Kupa campaign.  Leandro’s first minute dismissal had them down to ten men and the NBII side took advantage.  In Fradi’s last two league contests they’ve just edged bottom sides Kaposvár and ZTE despite dominating the games, and then gave up a late goal to Espanyol in the Europa League in a game they should have wrapped up earlier.  Sergei Rebrov has made it clear that the league is where Fradi’s priorities lie, but with the lure of playing continental football in the spring still within their grasp they’ll likely continue to manage their players fitness and minutes to maximize their chances over the next couple of weeks.  

Puskás rested a number of key players but still managed a fairly comfortable 3-0 win over Dabas-Gyón in the cup.  Ezekiel Henty, Kamen Hadzhiev, and Josip Knezevic all sat this one out and Puskás still controlled the game.  Captain Roland Szolnoki will miss this game after picking up a red card in last week’s league draw against Mezőkövesd but Zsolt Hornyak’s team has confounded the league with some good results.  They’ve defeated both Fehérvár and Ferencváros earlier this season, but I think the champions will eke another close one here.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-1 Puskás

Paul: Ferencváros are on a roll and have won four of their last give matches. Their wins have not been convincing but in the end its all about earning the 3 points. This will be a match where Fradi have to work a little harder to win as their opponents are no pushovers

Last week, I recalled the upset of Puskás defeating Ferencvaros with an odd midfield crazy goal.  Crazy things in football stick in my head. I don’t see anything like that goal happening in this match.  Of course this is football where as in life anything goes. Who knows but I can’t see Puskas winning here a draw maybe (not).

Prediction:  Ferencváros 2-0 Puskás

NBI Round 14 Preview

Welcome to HungarianFootball.com's weekly preview where Chris Barrett and Paul Treso take a look at each game and give their predictions throughout the season.

Last week we saw Honvéd come back to win their fifth straight while MOL Fehérvár tumbled into third place after a home defeat to Puskás which led to the sacking of manager Marko Nikolic. Will Joan Carillo have a successful debut in his second stint in Székesfehérvár? Have Diósgyőr turned things around? Are Paks and Kaposvár already doomed before the winter break? Can Debrecen win without defenders? Are Zalaegerszeg on the verge of a strong run? Hopefully the answers to these questions become clearer as we look ahead to Round 14.

Paul:  Chris, wait please. I’m on vacation but NBI football is not.  Our love of Hungarian football is great and I knew that my piece could not be late.  What a round 13 for players, teams and managers. I hope the players of Diósgyőr bought lotto tickets, or at the very least were given a feast by the board.  I can’t remember the last time they won in Budapest? Another very good manager for “Vidi” was fired and a old-new manager rehired.  A major announcement, I have been making my predictions based on statistics.  From this point on my choices will be from the Heart. It’s never too late to use your heart and maybe be smart?

Saturday, 30 November

Zalaegerszeg vs Debrecen

ZTE Aréna, Zalaegerszeg (15:45)

Chris: Zalaegerszeg conceded three goals in the first half against Ferencváros last week, but turned things around and came a whisker away from leveling in the second half. Their lack of points isn’t because of lack of effort.  None of their defeats have been by more than a goal.  They’ve played the top three teams in the league in the last three rounds, scoring six goals while conceding seven.  They lost at Debrecen earlier this season but should feel somewhat confident playing at home this week.  Regular center back Zoran Lesjak was missing from the lineup last week, as was left back Krisztián Tamas who has played in only two of their past six games due to injury.

Debrecen saw Kevin Varga return after his three-match ban but was unimpressive as they fell to a second consecutive defeat last week.  Goalkeeper Tomas Kosicky was the best Loki player on the pitch as he deputized for the injured Sandor Nagy.  Manager Andras Herczeg announced Nagy won’t be fit for the clash against ZTE.  Center back Ákos Kinyik will be out due to yellow card accumulation, but it looks as if winger Ádám Bódi could make his season debut after sitting out the first 12 games due to injury.  It’s more likely he’ll come on as a late substitute but the fact he's being considered is good news for the club.  Debrecen’s defense has been their weakness and Kinyik’s absence thins out an already fragile back line.

Prediction: ZTE 2-1 Debrecen

Paul:  The stars will align in Zalaegerszeg on Saturday.    Bring on Jiminy Cricket and a wish! ZTE will win as is their due.  (Note: I have been wishing upon a star for the last 20 years)

DVSC please do not fire András Herczeg as he knows his young players!  Debrecen need to get to winter break and things will be fine. For now it’s “Frozen II” and in the Spring they will ring and click.

Prediction: ZTE 3-2 Debrecen

Puskás Akadémia vs Mezőkövesd

Pancho Aréna, Felcsút (17:00)

Chris: Puskás took advantage of a Fehérvár team in turmoil last week, scoring three goals in Székesfehérvár and exacting some revenge against them for an early season defeat at Pancho Aréna.  Adám Gyurcsó added two more goals last week to give him seven goals in his last seven matches, ending PAFC's run of two defeats.  Zsolt Hornyák’s squad have proven they can compete among the top teams this season.  Puskás’ defense rode their luck a bit last week as Fehérvár lacked confidence despite creating some good scoring opportunities, but Mezőkövesd will be in a better frame of mind than moody Fehérvár and the Horny Boys will have to be alert.    

It was business as usual for Mezőkövesd last week as they easily dismantled Kaposvár and nullified their attack with a smothering defense. Now in second place after Fehérvár’s hiccup last week, Attila Kuttor’s side are cruising on a six-match unbeaten run playing some very efficient football.  Daniel Vadnai started at right back in place of the suspended Daniel Farkas and played one of his best games of the season.  Farkas is likely to return at right back and with Erik Silye shining on the left side it probably mean Vadnai starts on the bench again.  Mezőkövesd are one of two teams that are undefeated away from home (the other is Fehérvár).

Prediction: Puskás 1-1 Mezokovesd

Paul:  This may be the most up and down match of the week.  Both sides are entertaining to watch unless weather interferes.  Draws are so difficult to predict but I will. I love this Mezőkövesd side.   An away win could happen but a late goal makes this dramatic.

Prediction:  Puskás 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Paks vs Újpest

Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks (17:00)

Chris: Paks descent into the relegation zone continued last week as they fell apart in the final 15 minutes against Honvéd, sending them to their fourth defeat in their last five league matches.  Interim manager Gábor Osztermájer will have midfielders Kristof Papp and Norbert Könyves back from suspension this week which should bolster the squad ahead of this week’s game which pits them against another side that can score goals in a hurry.  Paks defense has not been up to standards in recent weeks and, with no one carrying the attack, their feeble back line hasn’t kept them in close games like in years past.

Újpest manager Nebojsa Vignjevic’s frustration was palpable last week as he saw his side dominate yet lose to two first half goals that could have been avoided.  Lilák’s domination was at its zenith in the second half and they still couldn’t find the back of the net.  It was a game they could have won 3-1 or 3-2 but instead were held without a goal.  Újpest have the capacity to beat any team in the league depending on which team shows up mentally.  Captain Robert Litauszki returned to the side last week but it was obvious he wasn’t back to full match fitness. He'll only improve in the weeks to come but will that be enough for this week?  Robert Feczesin, Donát Zsótér, and Obinna’s misses last week need to be converted. If they can keep creating the chances it’s likely they’ll be successful in Paks.   

Prediction: Paks 1-2 Újpest

Paul:  Everything says Paks will lose this match. And they should. Do they even have a permanent manager?  Despite the odds, this is my "upset of the week!"

Your guess here is as good or most likely better than mine.  Újpest have to be better than what they are showing on the pitch.  Their manager deserves so much more . . . hang in there Nebojsa!

Prediction:   Paks 2-1 Újpest

Kisvárda vs Honvéd

Várkerti Stadion, Kisvárda (17:00)

Chris: Kisvárda returned to winning ways at home against Debrecen last week. Of course it was Anton Kravchenko who led the way with a first half goal increasing his stature as one of the better all-around defenders in the league.  Kisvárda suffered two blows last week, however, as rising box-to-box midfielder Claudiu Bumba and defender Rados Protic both hobbled off injured and are questionable for Saturday’s match.  Kisvárda took advantage of Honvéd's early-season goalkeeper crisis, putting three past backup András Horvath in a win in Budapest back in August.  This will be a tougher test despite being at home as they face a positive Kispest.

There is no hotter team in Hungary right now than Honvéd.  Giuseppe Sannino’s continues to win whether he’s on the bench or not.  The fiery Italian supremo spent another match in the stands last week due to a compiling of touchline infractions.  Despite all of that, Honvéd turned around a late 1-0 deficit and came from behind to defeat Paks.  Davide Lanzafame score his second penalty of the season to tie the league lead in scoring (7 goals), and Naser Aliji scored his first of the season for the winner.  Defender Bence Batik was removed early in the second half due to injury and was replaced by David Kálnoki-Kis who played his heart out for 41 minutes.  Even so, this isn’t a team that looks dangerous week-in and week-out. They’re riding their luck a bit and I think it runs out this week.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-1 Honvéd  

Paul: I will check in here at times just for the Kisvarda supporters as their drumming and spirit is small town football at its best.  Kisvárda continue to be a side of a great many nationalities. Who else has Greek and Portuguese players with a very good Romanian of good skill mixed in?

Honvéd enjoy football outside of Budapest with their recent success.  Something has to give or will it? Lanzafame may have a goal but a card to go with it?

Prediction:  Kisvárda 1-2 Honvéd

Diósgyőr vs MOL Fehérvár  

Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc (17:00)

Chris: Diósgyőr have now won three of their last four and all is looking up for the team from Miskolc.  Haris Tabakovic is back and he opened his account last week in a win against Újpest.  Debrecen’s leader scorer two seasons ago, Tabakovic could be a key ingredient to Diósgyőr’s turnaround this season.  After a poor start they are now in 9th place, four points clear of trouble.  Forward Mirko Ivanovski is available after serving his one-match ban, but Serheii Shestakov and Tabakovic’s performance last week might make it difficult for him to return.  Manager Tamás Feczkó will return to the dugout after sitting in the stands last week.

A disappointing defeat at home to Puskás spelled curtains for manager Marko Nikolic.  The Serbian had led Vidi to a championship in 2018 and into the the Europa League group stages last season, but their early exit in Europe this summer and recent slide in league form was enough for the club.  He was replaced this week by former Vidi manager Joan Carillo, who won the championship with the club in 2015.  This is a talented side that has reportedly been underperforming because a poor clubhouse atmosphere.  The arrival of Carillo is sure to bring some hope and fresh air to a side that was stagnating in both attacking creativity and defensive resilience.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 2-3 Fehérvár

Paul: Diósgyőr are back home after their great Budapest win.  With the 12th man in force they will have another Spanish manager at Miskolc but sorry girls it will not be Fernando.

Another new manager for Fehervar, though this time it was done not after but during the season.  An new-old manager should bring some salsa picante to the side, and he will. All indicators point to an away win so I'm going for my “upset of the week #2" here.

Prediction:  Diósgyőr 1-0 Fehérvár

Sunday, 1 December

Kaposvár vs Ferencváros

Rákóczi Stadion, Kaposvár (18:00)

Chris: Kaposvár were shut down by Mezőkövesd last week and they really seem a step or two behind the level needed to really compete for survival in NBI. With captain Attila Szakály suspended for this game and their recent run of form it would take a miracle for them to get something against the champions.  

Ferencváros are in first place with a game in hand but are also coming off a tough result against Espanyol in the Europa League.  After missing a penalty and then going ahead late at Groupama on Thursday, they conceded a late, late goal to drop two vital points in their group.  Playing lowly Kaposvár will be a welcome respite for a team that’s playing two competitive matches per week.  Fradi have conceded in six of their last seven matches which means they’re not without their weaknesses, but they shouldn’t have much trouble in Kaposvár.  It’s likely David Gróf will get the start in goal and there could be some other rotation with a Magyar Kupa match next week.

Prediction: Kaposvár 1-3 Ferencváros

Paul: Stranger things have happened!  Remember PAFC upsetting Fradi with that goal from half field?  Kaposvár are proving that the first division may be a bit too much for them.  I cannot fault them for their effort. The “little engine” has come close many times to the three points but will have to travel a bit more to find that goal.

Ferencváros played a very exciting match against Espanyol.  They could have and should have won. But if they should've won they would have won.  That match is done, so now onto more fun. Will they have any gas left?

Prediction:  Kaposvár 1-2 Ferencváros