NB1 Round 25 preview

The NB1 is headed for the international break and there will be plenty of incentive for each club to enter on a high note this week.  Read on for a full, in-depth preview of round 25 in the Hungarian top league.  If you aren’t riveted by this competition yet you just haven’t been paying attention! :) Rain is headed to every venue this weekend so don’t forget your umbrellas. 

I want to give a shout out to a couple of people who help each week.  Gayle keep us all updated on referee appointments and league discipline, and Aron helps translate a lot of the news and reports that can be confusing.  Thanks guys!

Paul: Chris, we are at the last week before a break for National Team matches.  It seems like we’ve only come back from the Winter.   18 goals were scored this week in fairly competitive matches overall.  The player of the week, according to the InStat-Index was Soma Novothny of Újpest who is now leaving for Korea.  We had a coaching change at MTK which made a few of us scratch our heads in confusion.  Off to round 25 we go before St. Patrick’s Day and some time off for everyone.

Chris: It’s been a grueling slog since the end of the winter break and we are now watching Ferencváros drift into an almost insurmountable lead at the top.  Fernando’s canceled party helped them grab all the points last week and Puskás dropped back into the relegation fray with their defeat in Miskolc.  Vidi are dropping points at the wrong time and they could be further behind the leaders if they don’t concentrate this week. Soma’s swan-song at Újpest was one to remember as last week’s brace-bagger heads to the Far East paving the way for another Lilák hero to emerge from their ranks.  Can Haladás do the unthinkable this week?  Take a breath … and let’s get into … the preview.

Saturday, 16 March

Puskás Akadémia vs MTK

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul: Puskás  Akadémia is happy to be back at their beautiful stadium as they have lost four out of their last five away matches.  Based on their home form despite playing a superior club, I will go with the home win.

MTK confounded me by letting their manager go despite being mid-table.  Tamás Feczkó is a good manager and will find work elsewhere.  In the meantime, a bit odd to make the change now but we will see what happens here and after the break.  For now, it’s a bad move in my eyes.

Prediction: Puskás 1-0 MTK

Chris: Puskás are quickly falling into a relegation fight.  Janós Hegedus’ absence hasn’t helped in recent weeks.  They are a better team at home and should feel pretty fairly confident playing a struggling MTK side.  They signed Panamanian international forward Antonio Taylor this week until the end of the season.  The 29 year-old most recently turned out for Ottawa Fury in Canada. 

MTK parted ways with manager Tamás Feczkó this week in a bit of surprising move.  They are still struggling with injuries and especially missing captain Joszef Kanta.  Hard to say how they’ll respond to new boss Tamás Lucsánszky who was most recently the Ferencváros U19 manager.  This is a game that neither side can afford to lose and I don’t think either will.

Prediction: Puskás 2-2 MTK

Ferencváros vs Haladás

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest 

Paul: Ferencváros is playing very well and look unstoppable at the moment.  We had a Davide Lanzafame sighting as he scored two goals last week.  They have not lost at home all season and the only question here is by how many goals do they win?

Haladás has won their last two matches and I must commend them on their effort.  They could easily write off this season but as we know anything can happen in the NB1.  Earning any points here will be too much to ask of the side.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Haladás

Chris:  Ferencváros are now 8 points clear and in stellar form in the league.  They took a dip in their midweek cup match against Vidi, losing 2-1 at home in the first leg, but they rested key players in Davide Lanzafame and Gergo Lovrencsics.  The loss of Ivan Petriak to suspension will be a tough pill to swallow, but Roland Varga has been sensational in attack lately.  Dávid Siger’s injury will also be significant and it was evident he was missed this week against Vidi.

Haladás found a new hero last week in Funsho Bambgoye who scored twice in six minutes in a come-from-behind win against Újpest.  A result for Haladás at Groupama is a bit much to ask at this stage but, they did manage to win at home in their match against Fradi back in November.  They’re also playing a Fradi team that are playing a lot of football in the last few weeks.  Haladás will enter with some confidence but Ferencváros haven’t lost in the league at Groupama all season and that shouldn’t change this week.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Haladás

Where will Lilák look to for goals now that Soma is gone?

Újpest vs Kisvárda  

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: Újpest followed their fellow Budapest rivals Honvéd in falling to bottom dwellers, Haladás.  Losing Novothny can’t be good as he as was just appearing to find his form.  They are a solid home squad and I see a draw here.

Kisvárda once again played well and secured a draw but draws will not keep them up in the first division.  They are a squad that deserves to stay up and they will do well here to secure a point at a difficult place to play.

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Kisvárda

Chris: Újpest goalkeeper Filip Pajovic is eating his words after claiming to be the best keeper in NB1 before last week’s horrific collapse against lowly Haladás.  The rock-bottom club scored three unanswered goals in six minutes to overturn a 2-0 deficit and beat Újpest.  We did get our first glimpse of Lacina Traoré who didn’t seem quite up to the pace just yet.  Theophilus Solomon looks like the one who will replace Novothny up front but that won’t be confirmed until game-time.  Kire Ristevski will sit this one out due to suspension, but Mijusko Bojovic is a more than adequate cover in the Lilák defense. 

Kisvárda have cooled down after winning three in a row as part of a run of five games without defeat.  However, they still only have one defeat in their last nine games.

Újpest will be looking to make amends from last week as manager Nebojsa Vignjevic has been seething all week. I sense a response from the hosts here. 

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Kisvárda

Honvéd vs Paks 

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest   

Paul: Honvéd find themselves slowly moving down the table and stand in the fifth spot.  They lost their last home match to Haladás and seem to lack spark and cohesion.  I don’t see the situation improving this week even against a poor Paks side.

Paks rose to the occasion to earn a draw against Mol Vidi at home.  They find themselves in a similar situation as Honvéd so this shouldn’t be too exciting of a match on paper.  I see a low scoring draw here, nothing more and nothing less.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Paks

Chris: Honvéd had to come from behind and beat NB2 side Budaors in the cup on Wednesday.  They continue to look suspect in attack and they’ll be without second leading scorer Danilo who will miss this one - this time due to suspension, not injury. 

Paks saw leading scorer János Hahn return to scoring ways last week in their brave 2-2 home draw against Vidi.

The rainy conditions suit Paks, and with Honvéd without one of their best finishers they’ll struggle to get something out of this one. 

Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Paks

MOL Vidi vs Mezőkövesd

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár 

Paul: Mol Vidi defeated Ferencváros mid week in the Hungarian Cup but can we read much into that?  They must continue to win and hope that Fradi has a few loses along the way.  This will be another hard fought match but Vidi will come out victorious by a goal.

Mezőkövesd have only won one of their last five home matches.  They seem happy to settled in as a mid-table club.  As always they will be in this match and give the champions a run for their money.  They will come up a little short on a late Vidi goal. 

Prediction: Vidi 2-1 Mezőkövesd

Juhasz controlling the box despite close attention.

Chris: MOL Vidi couldn’t keep pace with Ferencváros in the league last week as they dropped points at Paks in a disappointing draw.  However, they did fashion some revenge with a 2-1 win over the league leaders in the cup this week.  They’ve won their last two at home but Mezőkövesd will be tough competition.  

Mezo were held goalless for the first time in six games last week and their form has looked inconsistent.  Gábor Molnár was almost nowhere to be seen last week while leading scorer Drazic was not in the lineup for a second straight week.  They also lost their cup match 1-0 to Debrecen midweek.  Mezőkövesd did beat Vidi at home back in November but the expectation here is that Vidi should win at home.  If they don’t they’ll be handing over the championship sooner rather than later.

Prediction: Vidi 2-0 Mezőkövesd

Debrecen vs Diósgyőr 

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen 

Paul:  This is a clash between two of the Eastern clubs in Hungary and has developed into quite a rivalry.   Debrecen have won their last two home games and I see no reason for them to make it three in a row in a hard fought match.

Nice to see Diósgyor bounce back with a win and a shut out to boot.  They have lost their last two away games after winning their prior two away matches.   It looks like they may have tightened their defense but their lack of offense remains a concern.  

Prediction: Debrecen 1-0 Diósgyőr

Chris:  Debrecen beat Mezőkövesd last week and added a cup win on Wednesday against them for good measure to give them a huge boost heading into their derby against Diósgyőr.  They are currently sitting in third place and are expecting the returns of Ádám Bódi (who played in the cup midweek) and last season’s leading scorer Haris Tabakovic soon, if not this week.

Diósgyőr are good spirits after a narrow win over fellow relegation-battlers Puskás last week.  Fernando will be without defensive stalwart Márk Tamás (who was sent off against Puskás), but will welcome back Dusan Brkovic and Dejan Karan who will reinforce their back line.  

More than likely a low-scoring draw on the cards here.

Prediction:  Debrecen 1-1 Diósgyőr

NB1 Round 24 Preview

Just ten rounds remain in the 2018-19 NB1 season and there are still exciting storylines at either end of the table.  Újpest’s latest signing Lacina Traoré is preparing for this first appearance in a Lilák shirt.  Ferencváros’ Davide Lanzafame must be wondering what his role will be on the title-chasers’ squad, and Fernando cancels the party in Diósgyőr.  All this in this week’s preview of the NB1.

Paul: Chris, 18 goals were scored in round 23 with an amazing seven coming from Ferencváros in their rout of Diósgyor.   Even adding up our two predicted scores, we only came up with a total of 5 Fradi goals.  Take away those goals and only 11 were scored in the other five matches total.  According to In-Stat Index, the player of the week was Mikalay Signevich of Ferencváros, who is proving to be a good signing from BATE Borisov.  With that said, let's move on to our round 24 predictions.

Chris: With the drama of title and relegation battles as well as watching new players integrate into the league, the NB1 continues to entice each week.  Yeah Paul, who would have predicted Ferencváros’ scoring spree last week?  Also, who would have thought Haladás would have beaten Kispest in a bizarre match at the “prison yard.”  So much is unfolding this week.  Read on for an in-depth look at this week’s games. 

Saturday, 9 March

Paks vs MOL Vidi

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks looked very flat in their last match losing to Mezőkövesd.  They should get up for this match but a loss moves them down to the relegation zone.  They must tighten up their defense or they may find themselves in a fight for survival in NB1.

MOL Vidi has now won three matches in a row and appear to be back in form.  They have lost defender Attila Fiola to injury but should do enough to earn the three points here in their fight for the championship.  With nine matches to go and Ferencváros playing very well, they need to pick up some points on the leaders soon.

Prediction: Paks 1-2 Vidi

Chris: Paks lost their first game of the spring at Mezőkövesd last week as they their defense faltered and, despite putting up a big fight in the second half, couldn’t find a breakthrough.  They’re still dealing with some long-term injuries and will be without András Simon up front.

Vidi have won five in a row and three on the trot in the league.  They weren’t at the races for a bit against Kisvárda but came back in the second half with some superb play by István Kovács who looked particularly fired up.  They signed a new right back from Spain, Joan Campins who isn’t likely to start but might be on the bench with Fiola out injured. Vidi won here 4-0 back in November but I can’t see a similar score line here.  Szabó’s injury has hurt Paks and his absence could (again) be the deciding factor.

Prediction: Paks 1-2 Vidi

Mezőkövesd's Gábor Molnár moments before bagging his second against Paks

Kisvárda vs Honvéd

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda 

Paul: Kisvárda played solid in their narrow defeat to MOL Vidi.  At home, they are playing a Honvéd side at the right time.  Their winter signings were very good and are proving to be positive additions to the club.  A strong performance will get them back to their winning ways in convincing fashion.

Honvéd received an old fashioned beating from Haladás and rightly so.  I see their slide continuing and don’t see them playing in the Europa League come fall.  They have lost their last four away matches and with this loss, make that five in a row!

Prediction: Kisvárda 3-1 Honvéd

Chris:  Kisvárda played bravely against Vidi last week but were unable to hold onto their unbeaten run against a motivated Vidi side in Székesfehérvár.  This week they signed former Mezőkövesd AM Mevoungou to shore up their midfield and are hoping to get his paperwork sorted in time to play on Saturday. 

Honvéd looked lost against dismal Haladás.  With Danilo not fully-fit they were forced to start N’Gog up front again and he did nothing to inspire that he’s the man to turn to in time of need.  Even their inspired new boy Änis Ben-Hatira couldn’t rescue them this time.  A trip to Kisvárda won’t be an easy task for them.  It's a good thing they still have Dávid Gróf between the posts.

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-1 Honvéd

Haladás vs Újpest  

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely 

Paul: Haladás showed some fight in their away win against Honvéd.   They are almost certain to fall to the second division but I believe they will play out the season and give respectable performances from here on in each match.

Újpest played a boring scoreless draw against MTK.  Looks like they left their goal scoring boots on the sidelines after scoring five in the prior match.  Their inconsistency comes up yet again and who knows what to expect in this match.  I will predict a draw but a loss would not surprise me in the least.

Prediction: Haladás 1-1 Újpest

Chris: Haladás won their first league game in three months last week as they toppled Honvéd in Budapest.  They return home this week to face the best defensive team in the league.  Two of their winter signings chipped in with goals last week (Holodiuk and Ivanov) to help them over the line.

Újpest have still only conceded one goal since the winter break and have only allowed 15 in 23 league games this season.  Even without Kire Ristevski they looked solid at the back and shouldn’t have any trouble denying Haladás.  Goalkeeper Filip Pajovic claimed that he was the league’s top goalkeeper based upon the team’s defensive record which forced a smile.  I think he’s not giving his back four their proper credit.

Lilák’s was back to old ways in the scoring department, however, as they dominated the game but couldn’t find the back of the net.  Perhaps the arrival of Lacina Traoré will help with this, but his inevitable debut remains unconfirmed.  The club extended manager Nebojsa Vignjevic’s contract this week as well as other key coaches and staff which should encourage the players and supporters with stability going forward.  

Props to Ferenc Horváth and his team for winning last week but I don’t think they’ll be able to deny Újpest here.

Prediction: Haladás 0-2 Újpest

Diósgyőr vs Puskás Akademia 

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc   

Paul: Puskás  Akadémia looked impressive with their decisive home win over Debrecen.   Josip Knežević scored two goals and if he can regain his goal scoring form that would be a big boost to the club.  Will they score five or more goals against a club that has given up 12 in their last two matches?  No,  but a comfortable win and the three points will suit them just fine.

What has happened to Diósgyor?  Their defense has fallen apart in their last two away matches.  On the plus side, this match thankfully is not in Budapest but regardless  their slide continues and they are looking more and more likely to join Haladás next season in the second division.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 0-2 Puskás

Chris: Diósgyőr manager Fernando Fernandes is in no mood to celebrate as he canceled a charity ball that the club was hosting for a local foundation.  After conceding 12 goals and scoring none in the past two weeks, Fernando has his team focused to return to recent successes that have pulled them back from the depths and into a fight for survival.  

Despite winning last week Puskás are still in the midst of said relegation scrap.  Puskás held off a rampant Debrecen even without their defensive anchor János Hegedus in the back.   

I think the last two weeks will have destroyed any pride in the Diósgyőr camp.  I’m backing them to return to a more hard-working, conservative style that allowed them some success at the start of the second half of the season.. 

Prediction: Diósgyőr 2-2 Puskás

Debrecen vs Mezőkövesd

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: Debrecen continue their roller coaster ride this season.  They have now lost two matches in a row after their impressive victory against Ferencváros.  They are a solid home side which should make this an interesting match.  The problem with Debrecen is that you never know which side will show up on match day.

Mezőkövesd have moved up to a position where they are now in the conversation for a spot next season in Europe.  To accomplish this, they must defeat clubs ahead of them.  First challenge up is Debrecen.  In another addition of the ‘“upset of the week”, my pick is Mezőkövesd to win and with that prove that they are not simply a middle of the table squad but a club ready to put their hat in for a European spot next season. 

Prediction: Debrecen 0-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Debrecen were relentless in attack last week but ended up on the wrong side of a 2-0 score line against Puskás.  The loss of Ádám Bódi to injury and the lack of any clinical finishing has them licking their wounds after consecutive defeats.  They return home after three consecutive away games.

Mezőkövesd looked great against Paks last week as Gábor Molnar led the way with a goal and an assist.  This is likely to be a tight affair as Debrecen are at home where they defeat Ferencváros in their most recent contest there.   Mezo are coming off a strong win at home and have a fully rested Stefan Drazic returning to the lineup..

Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Signevich has three goals in four games since joining Ferencváros this spring.

MTK vs Ferencváros

at Hidegkuti Nándor, Budapest 

Paul:  Three Budapest derby matches in a row for MTK and one finally at home.   They now find themselves in the 7th spot in the table and moving down now on a weekly basis.  They are close to becoming a relegation battling team.

What can you say about Ferencváros?  Rebrov appears to finally have his team clicking on all cylinders.  Daniel Lanzafame now find himself on the bench but could prove to be a valuable substitution when the situation warrants it.  The goal scoring cools down a bit but a comfortable win nonetheless.  

Prediction: MTK 1-3 Ferencváros

Chris:  Injuries are racking up for MTK  as they will hope to bounce back from defeat.  Their recent form at home, however, leaves little to be desired.  MTK have one just once in their last five games at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, and they lost their last two against Ferencváros there as well by a combined score of 7-2. 

Ferencvaros were rampant and have now won two in a row after a seven goal performance last week.  Lanzafame did score two goals last week and is NB1 top scorer along with Honvéd’s Filip Holender (10 league goals), but those two strikes (one was a penalty) were late on after the game was already won.  It’s fairly obvious the dour-faced Italian can see the writing on the wall - this is no longer his team.  Signevich, Gorriaran, and Varga got the headlines last week and rightfully so.  It’s almost as if Fradi are positioning Lanza for a summer move and they’re pulling all the right strings. We’re beginning to see Rebrov’s team come together and Lanzafame will have to decide if he’s happy sharing the spotlight - now will be a test of their resolve. With cup games coming up against Vidi there will be a call for all hands on deck, but after that Rebrov will have some decisions to make.  Can they find some consistency?  For this week at least. 

Prediction:  MTK 1-3 Ferencváros

NB1 Round 23 preview

Another round of the Magyar Kupa is behind us and more teams are focusing on the league as only half of the NB1 clubs remain in the competition at this stage.  Read on for the latest news of each team as we head into Round 23.  Chris and Paul give you their predictions and bring you up to date on what’s unfolding throughout the league. 

Paul: Chris, we had a total of 20 goals scored in round 22.  I’m not sure the last time so many goals scored,  but unfortunately nine of those goals came in two matches.  Goal of the week goes to Obinna Nwobodo of Újpest . For me it was a very vanilla week.   I watched the Hungarian show “Gol!” to catch the highlights of the matches but couldn’t make it through all six matches.   Is it time for a break yet? Whoops we just came off winter break and another break won’t come until round 25.  Oh well and here’s hoping for a better round 23 at least in my eyes in California!

Chris: I have to say it was satisfying watching Lilák’s offense explode against Diósgyőr last week.  It’s been a long time coming and it served to cast a shadow on another result that was seemingly overlooked - Fradi’s dismantling of Puskás.   Rebrov’s side exhibited their depth as they aggressively set the pace with some dominant football.  Both ends of the table are getting interesting.  Let’s see what’s in front of us this week.

Saturday, 2 March

Puskás Akadémia vs Debrecen

at Pancho Arena, Felcsút

Paul: János Radoki has to be wondering what he has gotten himself into as the manager of Puskás  Akadémia.   They now find themselves in the relegation battle and with a real change of falling down a division.  Will their home field dominance continue?  I think not.

Debrecen came back to earth with an away loss against Paks.  Consistency is a concern with this young squad.  Speaking of consistency, they will come up with a good performance here and take the three points home back to Debrecen.

Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Debrecen

Chris: Puskás staged an unlikely comeback at Paks to overturn their first leg deficit in the cup and advanced thanks to a midweek hat trick from Liridon Latifi on Tuesday.  Puskás have been dismal in the league, however and, with János Hegedus out of the lineup this week (concussion), we had a peek at how poorly they played without their defensive anchor as they fell apart against Ferencváros.

Debrecen lost at Paks last week and followed that with an aggregate win in the cup against Ajka midweek.  They suffered another blow with winger Bódi out with an ankle injury, however, and are likely scrambling for a healthy eleven this week.

This will be a tough game for the hosts but their momentum from the cup and a return to home comforts should allow them to avoid defeat. 

Prediction: Puskás 2-2 Debrecen

Újpest vs MTK

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: Újpest trounced Diósgyor by five goals and now the question is was this a fluke or sign of things to come?  We shall see.   I see the squad coming together and making a run to safety secure the third spot in NB1.  There is a lot of competition for the starting 11 and with the signing of Lacina Traoré it should be an exciting spring for the club from the fourth district.

Will MTK get up for this match?  It’s another Budapest derby but at least this time the match will be in Budapest.  Not a good sign when your starting forward, Sándor Torghelle, is 36 years old. I like him much better playing in the last 15 minutes of a match.  MTK has lost their lost two matches and four of their last five away matches.

Prediction: Újpest 2-0 MTK

Chris:  Újpest showed what they’re capable of last week in their 5-0 demolition of Diósgyőr.  Without the cup to alter their focus they are fresh and ready to keep up their good momentum.  The signing of giant forward Lacina Traoré was a bit of a surprise this week.  The former Monaco striker turned down a few clubs to join Újpest and get his career on the right track.  If he can find form this could be a game-changer for Nebosja Vignjevic’s side.   Kire Ristevski’s injury isn’t ideal for Újpest but Bojovic is a natural replacement and will likely fill in nicely without them missing a beat at the back.

MTK are also without the distraction of the cup but are coming off consecutive defeats.  They had their chances to get something out of the game against Honvéd but were dismal in front of goal including a missed pen.   Starting center back Eugene Selin left the game last week with an injury and it’s likely he will miss out this week. 

Újpest haven’t lost at home all season and have only conceded once since the winter break.  They’ll come back down to earth but still have enough to see off MTK.

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 MTK

Honvéd vs Haladás  

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: I must admit I still bear a grudge against Honvéd for their loss against a Luxembourg club in European football.  Perhaps, after seeing how well those teams played in Europe maybe I should temper my stance.   I do like their new signing, Anis Ben-Haira and with Danilo returning they should keep the three points at home.

Haladás are now out of the Hungarian Cup and the question is now what to do?  Will their manager, Ferenc Horváth, make it to the end of the season?  Even he seems at a loss for what to do?   Maybe it’s time to play their young Hungarian players in preparation for the NB2 where foreigners cannot play?

Prediction: Honvéd 3-1 Haladás

Chris: Things went from bad to worse for Haladás after last week’s narrow defeat at Vidi, they crashed out of the cup on an injury time winner for Mezőkövesd and are now truly without anything to play for.  Honvéd won last week but their play (other than goalkeeper Dávid Gróf) wouldn’t have inspired anyone.  They played to a meek 1-1 draw against lower league Duna Aszfalt in the cup to barely advance to the next round.  

Danilo is set for a return to the lineup, having played in the cup and scoring the only goal on the night.  Haladás are playing for pride here and will sneak a point … because this is NB1.

Prediction: Honvéd 0-0 Haladás

MOL Vidi vs Kisvárda 

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár   

Paul: MOL Vidi once again looked listless in defeating Haladás.  They very nearly once again lost points to the league leaders, Ferencváros.  Mol Vidi were not tested in their midweek Cup clash and should do just enough to gain the three points in another tough match in what has become Vidi’s modus of operandi. 

Kisvárda did well to keep their unbeaten streak alive against Mezőkövesd. They have become that team that no one wants to face.  They could do anything here and even an upset victory would not surprise me.  They have become a very interesting squad in the new year.

Prediction: Vidi 1-0 Kisvárda

Chris: Vidi kept the good times rolling with a fourth consecutive win midweek against minnows Taksony in the cup.  They were less than impressive against basement dwellers Haladás last week at home with a narrow 1-0 win, however, and certain players still seem to be settling into Nikolic’s system.  Even so they are playing attacking football and finding ways to win.

Kisvárda remain unbeaten in the league (7 games) and managed a 1-1 draw against Ferencváros in the cup this week despite crashing out on aggregate.  Laszlo Dajka’s men have impressed of late and they’ve risen above their initial “ league whipping boy” status.    Stavros Tsoukalas has been a revelation and Gheorghe Grozav has brought some quality on the wing making them a formidable offensive threat. 

Vidi’s defense is good but they have been exposed this spring on occasion.  Only Loic Nego was rested in their back line this week and that might cause a problem or two.

Prediction: Vidi 2-2 Kisvárda

Mezőkövesd vs Paks

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul: Mezőkövesd now find themselves five points above the relegation zone and rather than moving up the table are moving down it.  They have not been a strong home club and haven’t won since defeating Mol Vidi at home.  This will be an entertaining match and feature some goals and attacking football.

Thank you Paks for finally proving an “upset of the week” prediction correct.  They took care of business at home against Debrecen.  They have not lost in the new year and I see that continuing this week as well. 

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-2 Paks

Chris: Mezőkövesd got a late winner in the second leg of the cup this week sending them through in spectacular fashion over Haladás.  They will truly miss the presence of Vadnai in both defense and attack, but Lajos Bertus will be motivated to play well against his former club at his new home.

Paks are getting back Kulcsar from suspension but will be missing two other defensive stalwarts in János Szabó (injury) and Zsolt Gevay (suspension).  They also fell apart in their midweek cup match at home allowing Puskás to come back and overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit.  Look for the hosts to exact some revenge from their defeat at Paks in late October.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-1 Paks

Ferencváros vs Diósgyőr

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest 

Paul:  Ferencváros finally scored some goals in their demolition of Puskás Akadémia.  They have not lost at home all season with three ties in eleven matches.  Victory here is assured the question is in a low or high scoring match.  I’ll side with the over.

Diósgyor lost their eight match non-losing streak by allowed an astonishing five goals to Újpest.  I’m not sure if they will allow five here but they will come very close.  Remember when they defeated Ferencváros at home?  

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Diósgyőr

Chris:  Last week’s 4-0 thrashing of Puskás showed just how dangerous Ferencváros’ assimilation of talent really is.  They have skill, depth, and understanding but the fans are still unhappy as they only managed a 1-1 draw midweek against Kisvárda.  They’ve won their last two home matches with a combined score of 6-0 and should be able to keep things going this week at home.  Has anyone noticed the peculiar absence of Davide Lanzafame? The mercurial target man still leads the club in scoring but doesn’t seem to be among Rebrovs favorites?

Diósgyőr manager Fernando admitted his players were playing off past results and had a letdown last week.  It remains to be seen if they’ll turn things around this week.  They’ve had a whole week off as they didn’t have a cup match this week but I think Fradi are still too strong for them at home.

Prediction:  Ferencváros 2-0 Diósgyőr

NB1 Round 22 Preview

Welcome to Round 22 of the 2018-19 NB1 season.  This is the round that complete’s each team playing one home and one away game against every other team.  The margins at both ends of the table were reduced last week and there is a full plate of tasty morsels this week so read on and get caught up on what’s happening. 

Paul: Chris, nice work on correctly picking the final score of the Debrecen/Ferencváros match. A total of 17 goals were scored this week which included a scoreless draw between Kisvárda and Paks.  The goal of the season may have been scored by Dániel Zsóri on a spectacular bicycle kick to defeat Ferencváros.  Interestingly in Hungary, they call them “scissor kicks.” Nine of the twelve first division clubs played midweek Cup matches, so we will soon know what type of effect, if any, this has on them.  On to round 22, we go!

Chris: Paul, I pay no attention to what happened last week!  Only looking forward! ;) These rounds after a mid-week cup game tend to spring a few surprises and I’m sure the NB1 will be happy to oblige.  The recent successes of Kisvárda and Diósgyőr have sent alarm bells going at the bottom of the table as Puskás and even Paks have been drawn into the relegation vortex.

Saturday, 23 February

Ferencváros vs Puskás Akadémia

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

Paul: Ferencváros controlled the match against Debrecen but fell apart in the final ten minutes to lose in demoralizing fashion.  Fortunately they are back home where they have been very good.  They hope to exact some revenge on Puskás who defeated them on a memorable goal scored in miraculous fashion near half field by Janos Hegedus.

Puskás are terrible on the road if you take away their surprising defeat of Mol Vidi to start the second half of the season.  They are back to earth after that win and manager János Radoki has to be scratching his head after the crazy goal his team conceded to lose to Újpest.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Puskás

Chris: Fradi boss Sergei Rebrov has to be at his wits end after a late collapse in Debrecen as well as a tepid performance in the cup on Wednesday.  With Frimpong likely out injured, Rebrov will hope to re-insert Miha Blazic back in the heart of his defense as the Slovenian center back was seen on the bench against Kisvárda.  If this collection of talent ever clicks it looks to be unstoppable, but it will have to include scoring more than one goal in a league match - something Ferencváros hasn’t done yet after the winter break.

Puskás lost their first leg cup match at home this week and are coming off consecutive league defeats.  They have been known to surprise teams this season but that might be too big an ask at Groupama this week.  Rebrov’s public criticism of his team’s mentality should spur them on to new heights.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Puskás

Mezőkövesd vs Kisvárda

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd 

Paul: In a continuing theme from last week, Mezőkövesd were lucky to defeat Haladás by a score of 2-1.  Outside of forward Stefan Drazic, the squad has not looked very good in recent weeks.  With their poor home form and a rejuvenated Kisvárda club entering Mezőkövesd, they will be lucky to earn  a draw.

Kisvárda played an ugly scoreless draw against Paks but still haven’t lost in a good many matches.  Their defense and goalkeeping is solid as they have not allowed a goal in four matches. They should keep their streak alive in not losing but a goal here will leave both sides content with a tie.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-1 Kisvárda

Chris:  I’d like to think that Kisvárda’s dream start to the spring will continue, but they were held to a goalless draw at home last week and will be without their top goal-scorer Zoltán Horváth (suspended) this week.  It is notable that Kisvárda ‘keeper Felipe has yet to concede in the league for four straight game but you can count on that changing this week.  Teams aren’t approaching László Dajka’s side with the same bravado as before and now that the relegation zone is creeping closer for more teams are going to have to adjust.

Mezőkövesd are a team that can win big with attacker like Gábor Molnar and Stefan Drazic in the squad.  Both were essentially rested in the cup this week and should be raring to go.  First home win should be on the cards for them.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-0 Kisvárda

MOL Vidi vs Haladás  

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár 

Paul: MOL Vidi stepped back into the title chase by defeating MTK and gaining a valuable three points to climb within six points of league leaders Ferencváros.  They were unspectacular in their midweek cup match in a one goal win against third division Taksony.  They should win here and earn another three points keeping their championship hopes alive.

Haladás were unfortunate not to at least earn a draw in their last match.  They are still alive in the Hungarian Cup which is something for them to play for as relegation is all but a foregone conclusion.  They have not won in their last seven matches with their last win surprisingly against  Ferencváros.  Another loss is inevitable but they will make a respectable showing.

Prediction: Vidi 2-0 Haladás

Chris: It was only a matter of time before Marko Nikolic’s team righted the ship.  After two defeats to start the spring season they shifted through the gears quickly against MTK and finished their chances in a solid win away from home.  They return home with the hopes of winning their first competitive game there since beating Ferencváros in December.

Ferenc Horváth looks out of idea and out of passion.  His reserved and muted approach oozes out during games.  Unfortunately for his side they face an awakened tiger this week.

Prediction: Vidi 3-0 Haladás

Újpest vs Diósgyőr 

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest  

Paul: Újpest were fortunate to defeat Puskás on a fluke goal but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.  In the most intriguing match of the week, I see a gritty match where goals are few and yellow cards plenty.

Diósgyor made it eight matches in a row without a loss.  What a turn around for a squad that looked like a certain relegation club.  Now who knows?  They have won their last two away matches but should be content with a draw here.

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Diósgyőr

Chris: This could be the match of the round.  Újpest are coming off a lucky win without their top scorer Soma Novothny last week.  They didn’t have a mid-week cup match and have Novothny back up front.  It might be too much to hope for Lilák supporters that Soma took the time off to rethink his mentality.  As the top defensive team in the league Újpest look to stop one of the hottest teams in Diósgyőr who keep being overlooked by “better” teams.  However, Nebojsa Vignjevic is too sly to let Fernando get one past him at home and I think Újpest have enough to end Diósgyőr’s  run. 

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Diósgyőr

Paks vs Debrecen

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: It was very difficult to watch Paks’ scoreless draw against Kisvárda, even if you were a fan of either side.  In their inconsistent form, I am guessing the home side will rise up to defeat a Debrecen side that may still be rejoicing against their win against the league leaders.

Debrecen played 82 minutes before scoring two late goals to knock off Ferencváros. Consistency has been a big problem for this club and I see them falling back to earth this week against a Paks club that has not lost in the new year. 

Prediction: Paks 2-1 Debrecen

Chris: Debrecen blew their wad with a fantastic late win over Ferencváros last week, coupled with another late winner in their mid-week cup match against Ajka.  Mounting suspensions and injuries as well as the longest trip to freezing Paks won’t be in their favor this week either.  Erik Kusynir and Bence Pavkovics are both suspended (yellow card accumulation) and will leave a big hole in András Herczeg’s back line.
Paks are undefeated this spring and are coming off a 2-1 away win against Puskás in the cup on Wednesday.   Paks haven’t been great this season but they can hang with a buoyed (but hampered) Debrecen.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Debrecen

Honvéd vs MTK

at Alcufer Stadion, Győr 

Paul:  Honvéd rightfully lost against Diósgyor on two goals scored by ex-players.  I try to avoid their matches if I can as they are a not a fun side to watch with their steady decline of quality. In an odd twist of turn the match is being played in Gyirmót and that makes this my “upset of the week.”

MTK were finished quite early in the first half by giving up three early goals at home against Mol Vidi.  This is the lone Budapest derby of the week though it won’t be played in Budapest but in a city outside of Győr.  Strange choice of location and I  wonder how many fans will show up?  

Prediction: Honvéd 1-2 MTK

Chris:  On the very week that Honvéd’s historic former home is being torn down, they will break free from their current landlords and play them at a neutral site in the hinterlands of Hungary.  Kispest will be sweating on Danilo’s fitness after he was removed from last week’s game with an injury.  That’s not good news for a team that has struggled to score for most of the season.

MTK have been back and forth all season.  They’ve conceded far too many goals in recent weeks and Feczko will have them drilled into submission this week.  Low scoring draw looks on the cards. 

Prediction:  Honvéd 1-1 MTK

Foto: Kovács, Peter

NB1 Round 21 Preview

The spring season has greeted us with some surprising results in the past two weeks and now that the Hungarian transfer window is closed we can expect the teams to settle into to their squad adjustments.  Kisvárda and Diósgyőr are playing like their NB1 lives are at stake (and they are), while Debrecen and Vidi have seemingly gotten off on the wrong foot.  There are six more tantalizing contests this week in the Hungarian top flight.  Paul and Chris are here again to lead you through each match with the hope of making sense of the nonsensical, unpredictable puzzle that is the NB1.   

Paul: Chris, another eventful week with a total of 21 goals scored.  It appears that Mol Vidi and Kisvárda have switched places due to their recent forms.    Relegation is down to a second club as Haladás look  certain to fall to NB 2.  The battle for places for Europe is a bit more wide open as any of six clubs are still alive for the top four spots.   Let’s move onto an uncertain round 21 in which I will pick a fair amount of upsets in a “spoiler alert.”

Chris: I don’t think I’ve predicted more than one correct result since we got back this spring which means I’ll be going full-on rogue this week as well (to some degree). There were some interesting developments and signings around the league this week.  I’ll take a look at how some of those will affect certain teams as we head into Round 21. 

Saturday, 16 February

Debrecen vs Ferencváros

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: Debrecen lost convincingly away to a suddenly dangerous Kisvárda club.  At home, they should be more motivated playing to a large crowd.   Debrecen always seem to get up for their matches against Ferencváros and this should be no different.  

Ferencváros lost the chance to gain a full three points in their lead against Mol Vidi.  Their goal scoring has not been too impressive since their return from the winter break either.  They will have another tough match here and will be fortunate to leave Debrecen with a point.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-1 Ferencváros

Chris: Debrecen need to bounce back after last week’s feeble performance.  The return of starting goalkeeper Sándor Nagy will be a boost to a Loki side who conceded more than two goals in a league game for the first time since August.  András Herczeg’s squad continues to thin out as midfielder Balazs Benyei joins the growing ranks of injured players.

Ferencváros suffered a let-down at the end of the derby last week as their mish-mash of new talent are still adjusting under pressure situations.  The positives for Rebrov’s side is that David Lanzafame and captain Leandro only played bit-part roles from the bench last week so they should be more than rested for this one.  

Debrecen haven’t lost to Fradi at home in their last five head-to-head contests, and they’ll be gunning for the front-runners at home after a disappointing reverse.  I’m looking for a response here.

Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Ferencváros

Diósgyőr vs Honvéd

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc

Paul: Diósgyor have not lost in their five matches and despite lacking talent they make it up with heart and tenacity.  No one could have seen their upset away victory last week against Mol Vidi.  In another going against the grain pick, the home side will find a way to earn another valuable three points.

Honvéd were gifted two goals to earn a home win against Puskás.  Perhaps their new signing in ex-Hertha Berlin player, Enisz Ben-Hatir will add some spice to the bland club.  For now, I see an uninspired club.   In a week of upsets, here we go again with an improbable win for the home side.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Honvéd

Chris:  Honvéd won for the first time since November and it was hardly in scintillating fashion.  Their first goal was off a defensive error and their second came on a set piece to give them an early lead against Puskás who subsequently dominated the rest of the game and were unfortunate not to have grabbed a share of the spoils in Budapest.  Honvéd haven’t scored in their last three league games away from home.

Diósgyőr made the NB1 stand up and notice with a “smash and grab” victory in Székesfehérvár.  Fernando’s men stood up against massive pressure throughout the game and left Sóstói Stadion with all the points, putting another dent in Vidi’s title aspirations.  Diósgyőr fought back from behind down early and credit is due to their manager who has remained composed during a tense season.  He now looks like he is reaping the rewards for his patient style and direction. 

Look for DVTK to keep up their unbeaten run against a team that have yet to prove they can score on a consistent basis.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-1 Honvéd

Kisvárda vs Paks  

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda 

Paul: Which Hungarian club has the best record in the last five matches?  If you guessed Kisvárda you are surprisingly correct.  Something has happened to this team and they are suddenly a very dangerous club.  They have won their last three home matches but making it four in a row will be very, very difficult.

Paks looked terrible against Haladás and failed to earn three home points.  In their odd fashion, look for Paks to come up with a big performance and upset the home in form club.  This should be the most exciting match of the week.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-3 Paks

Chris: Kisvárda’s recent good form started before the winter break and has continued in the spring with the addition of some key players. Hugo Seco, Gheorghe Grozav, and Stavros Tsoukalas have really bolstered Laszlo Dajka’s side as they’ve come in and provided some quality performances so far.  Add to this the inspirational form of goalkeeper Felipe and Kisvárda look like a team that could break into mid-table within a couple of weeks.  Forward Zoltán Horváth has also scored in each of the last two games and leads Kisvárda with six league goals.

Paks were just one of a few teams that collapsed after giving up an early lead last week.  They conceded late against lowly Haladás to finish 1-1.  Leading scorer Janos Hahn hasn’t found the back of the net since October.  These are the games you’d expect Paks to win but Dajka and Co. are on fire and it would be foolish to count them out at home, right?

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-1 Paks

Puskás Akadémia vs Újpest

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút  

Paul: Puskás has been a very good home club during the 2018 season.  Their defense looked almost comical in giving up two ridiculous goals in their match versus Honvéd.  I see a tough match this week and a rare home loss against Újpest.

Újpest somehow found a way to earn a hard fought point at home against Ferencváros,  For no rhyme or reason, I predict somewhat of an upset in this match despite the  strong home form of Puskás.  The Lilak will come out with an inspired, well-played match.

Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Újpest

Chris: Despite losing last week, Puskás had the lion’s share of possession against Honvéd and should have done better than they ultimately did.   They swarmed Kispest in the second half even after going a man down with twenty minutes left in the contest.  

Újpest’s defense has been best in the league all season (15 goals conceded in 20 games), and they put their back line on display once more last week against Fradi.  Scoring continues to be a problem for Lilák.  They did little to put Ferencváros under pressure at home and their late equalizer came more from poor communication from their visitors rather than any finely crafted attacking nous.

Vignjevic’s side have lost just once in the league since October but they’ve only won once as well.  They’re the king of draws and it won’t be a surprise when they play to another here. 

Prediction: Puskás 1-1 Újpest

Haladás vs Mezőkövesd

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely

Paul: Haladás are still playing hard and giving it effort.  I believe this will continue until the very last match.  They are still signing new players in the hope of somehow magically staying up in the first division.

Mezőkövesd made a great signing in getting Amadou Moutari from league-leaders Ferencváros.  I have always liked his play.  He may improve the club in a few weeks after he gets his bearings within the squad.  In the meantime, Mezőkövesd has not won in their last five matches and with this match, make that six! 

Prediction: Haladás 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Everything points to Mezőkövesd losing this game.  They haven’t defeated Haladás away from home - ever.  They are nursing their pride after a home collapse against MTK last week and they are floundering in a dismal run of form - the likes they haven’t experienced all season.  But I think they will win and win big.

Haladás are returning home after some late joy in Paks last week, but they’ve been marred with accusations and training ground bust-ups over the last few days.  Peter Halmosi has been suspended from training and won’t play this week due to an alleged incident with Funsho Bambgoye.  With leading scorer Tamás Priskin out for an extended absence, Ferenc Horváth brought in a late signing as Bulgarian international forward Galin Ivanov has been signed to give Hali some options up front.

This is a team that’s struggled all season long and I think Mezőkövesd will find their scoring boots at Haladás’ expense

Prediction: Haladás 1-3 Mezőkövesd

MTK vs MOL Vidi

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest 

Paul:  MTK showed some life and inspired play in their away win at Mezőkövesd,  They still don’t have me convinced that they can be a consistent upper level club.  I do like the fact that they are playing quite a few youngsters from their Academy.  These young players are not looking half bad so far.

Can Mol Vidi lose their first three matches of 2019?  Where is the club that looked so good last season? They squandered so many chances in their match last week against Diósgyor.  They must step forward this week, or the championship can be awarded to this early to Ferencváros.  

Prediction: MTK 0-2 Vidi

Chris:  Is it possible we’ve been wrong all along about Vidi this season?  Did they get into the UEFA group stages through blind luck and easy draws?  Are they about to fritter away any last bits of title hope with a third consecutive defeat?  Not on your life.  This is a team who managed to compete in two campaigns with a skeleton crew of a squad for most of the fall. Even without the additions of Marko Futács and Ákos Elek they should have kept the pressure on Fradi but despite playing some good football they’re not finding the target.  

It has to be all or nothing here for the champions.  MTK were inspired by captain Jozsef Kanta and Patrik Vass’ late goals last week, and they can feel confident after beating Vidi 3-0 earlier this season in Felcsút, but my money is on Vidi to turn things around in the capital. 

Prediction:  MTK 1-2 Vidi

NB1 Round 20 Preview

“Well, that didn’t go as planned.”  The first week back from the winter break was everything we should expect in Hungarian football - uncertainty.  Vidi’s crushing home defeat against Puskás was the highlight (or lowlight) of round 19 in which only one home team got a victory and several teams introduced their new signings in a topsy-turvy, but entertaining match day.  Read on for a full preview of this week’s action around the NB1. 

Paul: Chris, another predictably unpredictable Saturday!  Goals were hard to come by with only 10 goals scored in round 19.  Let’s hope for more goals in round 20.  Has the championship and one relegation team been decided?  One possibly for certain.  Let’s not mince words and move on to round 20.

Chris: There is still a lot to play for and although Ferencváros look really good, 8 points clear at the top, I’m not convinced Vidi are out of the title race and I expect they will slowly crawl back into it this spring.  There were a lot of young players given their debut last week as well.  Four or five teenagers made their full NB1debuts last week which is exciting but somewhat surprising at this stage of the season. 

Saturday, 9 February

Honvéd vs Puskás Akadémia

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Honvéd gave Ferencváros a tough match but showed no firepower on offense.  They have drawn their last two home matches and have not won since round 13 against Kisvárda.  Things don’t look to get much better this week against a revived  Puskás club.

Welcome to Hungary, János Radoki!  Puskás surprised and won convincingly against Mol Vidi.  The new manager has brought a new mentality to the club along with playing more younger Hungarian players.   Their away form had been poor until last week but a tie may be in the cards here.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Puskás

Chris: Puskás shrugged off their away form hoodoo in impressive fashion with a 3-0 win in Székesfehérvár last week.  The question is, “can they keep it up away from home?”  Puskas have looked dangerous at times this season but they’ve yet to win consecutive league games all season.  Dávid Gróf was impressive once again in goal for Honvéd and if it wasn’t for his heroics this season they would be much worse off.  Scoring goals continues to be an issue for them.  Supka didn’t introduce new signing Zakaria Beglarishvili last week and went with N’Gog up front instead.  When will they realize that N’Gog is past it and move on?  Honvéd’s predictable attack needs a spark.  Perhaps this is the week. Perhaps not.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-2 Puskás

Paks vs Haladás

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks earned a nice away win versus MTK.  While once a very strong home club, Paks has only won once in their last five home matches.  Haladás comes to Paks at the right time and should help Paks regain their usual good home form.

Has Haladás stamped their ticket to the second division?  With only 9 points and a rising 10 points from the safety zone, it sure looks like we may have a club that is eliminated after only 19 matches.  The situation does not improve with yet another loss.

Prediction: Paks 3-1 Haladás

Chris:  Haladás threw everything at Kisvárda but the kitchen sink and yet were unable to break through one of the worst defenses in the league.  The loss of Tamás Priskin to injury will be a blow to a feeble attack that’s only managed to score 13 goals all season.  Ferenc Horváth had to be disappointed to not get at least a point but he realizes his team doesn’t have the players it needs to finish chances and get on top of games.

Paks weren’t threatened much at MTK last week and managed an important away win by finishing their chances when it counted.  Jozsef Windecker returns to NB1 after his year-long exodus to the Greek Superliga with Levadiakos.  Paks picked up the former Újpest midfielder this week who will join fellow ex-Lilák midfielder Benjamin Cseke in midfield that now has plenty of depth in quality. 

Prediction: Paks 2-0 Haladás

MOL Vidi vs Diósgyőr  

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár 

Paul: MOL Vidi looked terrible against Puskás and squandered so many chances to score.  They better right the ship fast or their championship hopes will be gone soon.  They can’t possibly play that bad again, can they?

Diósgyor have not been a good away club despite winning their last home match against Paks.  A match against an angry MOL Vidi side is not a good combination for success and reality settles in again.

Prediction: Vidi 2-0 Diósgyőr

Chris: Fernando must be counting his lucky stars after last week’s late winner gave his side a share of the points at home against Mezőkövesd.  Diósgyőr are on a five-match unbeaten run but they will be up against it against MOL Vidi at Sóstói Stadion. 

Puskás made Marko Nikolic’s side look average last week as they defeated the title-holders for a second consecutive time this season.  New Vidi signings Ákos Elek and Marco Futács didn’t look up for the pace of the game against Puskás and their impact was minimal.  Look for the hosts to make some adjustments and take control of this one early.  If not, they could be looking at an insurmountable gap for the top spot.

Prediction: Vidi 3-0 Diósgyőr

Mezőkövesd vs MTK

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd  

Paul: Mezőkövesd have improved their home form and this should continue against MTK.  They should have secured the three points in Miskolc.  In a match that can go any of three ways, I will go out on a limb and predict a Mezőkövesd win.

MTK continued where they left off before the winter break with a loss at home against Paks.  They have now lost four of their last five matches.  MTK are settling into reality after a quick start to the season.  Their slide continues.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-0 MTK

Chris: There’s been only one win between these two teams in their last five games.  Mezőkövesd looked good enough to win last week but were punished for their late lapse in concentration at Diósgyőr.  Gábor Molnár continues to lead the way for Attila Kuttor’s side as he linked up nicely with Daniel Vadnai for his 8th goal of the season last week.

MTK have lost their last three away games as well as last week’s lacklustre effort against Paks at home and a trip to Mezőkövesd won’t be an easy task.  Jozsef Kanta seemed disinterested and Sándor Torghelle looked desperate while the supporting cast didn’t really wake up until midway through the second half. 

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-1 MTK

Kisvárda vs Debrecen

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda

Paul: Kisvárda have won their last two matches and are looking to separate themselves from the relegation zone.  Felipe has been great in goal and was the man of the match against Haladás.   They are coming on and this should be a good match and of course difficult to predict as always.

Debrecen had their chances to keep the three points at home versus Újpest.  They had so many opportunities to score but could not put the ball in the net.  They have won their last two away matches and I see them making it three in a row. 

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-2 Debrecen

Chris: Kisvárda goalkeeper Felipe continues to be one of the stories of the season as he inspired his team to another three points against Haladás last week.  Despite the three points, Laszlo Dajka couldn’t have been too impressed with the way his team played overall.  Haladás bossed the play for most of the game and were only denied a share of the points because of Felipe’s stellar goalkeeping.

Debrecen are team to look out for this spring.  Their goalless draw against Újpest showed encouraging signs as they hit the post twice in a back-and-forth affair.  Debrecen forwards shouldn’t have a hard time getting chances here as they picked apart Kisvárda earlier this season at home 3-1.  Kisvárda have been on a great run over their last four games but this will be their toughest test since November.

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-2 Debrecen

Újpest vs Ferencváros

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: This is one of the biggest rivalries in Hungarian football and should be a fun match.  Újpest did not look too good against Debrecen in earning a draw.  Goalie Dávid Banai was the player of the match for Lilák.  They always get up for this match and this should be no different.

Ferencváros did not impress against Honvéd but earned the three points which was their objective.  They’ve now opened an eight point lead on Vidi.  This is always a tough match and I see a competitive draw here.  

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Ferencváros

Chris:  The stars are aligning for this one folks.  A perfect storm is upon us.  Újpest are unbeaten at home except for the first game of the season - a string of eight games at Szusza Ferenc without defeat.  They have also failed to score at home only twice this season and have scored two goals in three of their past four in front of their home support.  Lilák found themselves in a number of good positions last week against Debrecen but were denied by an equally good Tomas Kosicky in the Loki goal.

Fradi know this can be a statement game for them if they win and open a larger chasm at the top of the table over Vidi.  They hammered Honvéd in terms of chances and if not for some superb custodian work by Gróf they could have won 3 or 4-nil.  This could be a cracker of a game.  Watch for fireworks both on and off the pitch. 

Prediction:  Újpest 2-2 Ferencváros