NB1 Round 27 preview

Neither Ferencváros nor Videoton could take advantage of the other’s stumble last week as they remain knotted at the top of the NB1 table.  Újpest unleashed an explosive attack on Vasas, and a Lanzafame-less Honvéd was unable find a way past Puskás in the race for third place.  At the other end of the table Vasas dropped to the bottom while Mezőkövesd climbed out of the relegation zone.


Paul:  Chris, I like donuts as much as the next guy, but not when it’s a donut (0) for my weekly selections.  In football, shutouts are great for the defense but not for the prognosticator.   On the other hand, you had a nice week, correctly picking 2 matches spot on and using the “Gaby Kovacs” factor to almost perfection.  Ferencváros and Videoton both drew failing to separate from the other.  Curiously, each side has matching results in their last five matches (D,W,D,W,W). Let’s push on as I hope it’s getting better as it could not get any worse, right?

Chris: Yes, using the Gaby Kovacs factor is a powerful asset but the timing needs to be perfect. It was a fairly good week for me but, as we both know, things can change quickly this week as we return to the chaos that is NB1.  My goal is to be short but sweet this week. 

Saturday, 21 April

Honvéd vs Újpest

at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Another Budapest derby between two storied Budapest clubs.  Honvéd looked lackluster again in earning a draw against  Puskás.  Super sub Danilo rather than come on to level the match in the final minutes, did so playing the full 90 minutes.  In a match of teams with  suspect defenses, I will make a counter attack and call this match my “upset of the week.”  An inner, gut feeling as long as Gaby Kovacs is not attending this match.

With a slim 2-1 home victory over Balmazújváros in the Cup, the second leg away will be no cake walk for Újpest.  In league, Újpest looked very impressive in Round 26, easily dispatching Vasas and scoring four goals.  Soma Novothny tallied two more goals to bring his season total to 15.  Has Georges Leekens noticed?  Obinna Nwobodo ruled the left side of the pitch with his speed and crosses.  Defense remains the concern for “Lilak.”

Prediction: Honvéd 3-2 Újpest

Chris: Lanzafame returns for Kispest.  Újpest tired after midweek game.  Novothny hot, defense not. Big battle for third - expect goals. 

Prediction: Honvéd 3-3 Újpest


Diósgyor vs Puskás Akadémia

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul:  Diósgyőr are an oddly unpredictable club, besting Ferencváros and Debrecen in consecutive weeks but currently on a downward slope pushing them to the relegation zone.  Being a fan of the club must be like a roller coaster ride with ups and down weekly.  Last week they had their match in hand against Balmazújváros only to lose on two penalties in the closing minutes.   In all fairness, the second penalty was a phantom call in my eyes.  Their new stadium is still weeks away so until then home games in Debrecen or Mezőkövesd continue.

Puskás Akadémia scored an impressive Cup win over Debrecen on Wednesday and should find themselves in the Cup Final barring a massive let down in the return match.  Ezekiel Henty scored two goals showing the talent he possesses when focused on football only.  Throwing out all the statistics in this match, I will perform a mental coin flip.   Based on current form Puskás Akadémia win...  

Prediction: Diósgyor 1-2 Puskás

Chris:  Diósgyor bounces back with a strong showing against a team that blew their wad in their midweek cup match.  NB1 defies the laws of logic and physics and Puskás will fall here.  

Prediction: Diósgyor 2-1 Puskás

Ferencváros vs Paks

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

Paul: Ferencváros had an expected difficult match at Debrecen in an electric atmosphere with over 10,000 fans in attendance.   At home, Ferencváros have been dominant with an astounding +29 goal differential.  The trend will continue with the only question the numbers of goals scored by the home side against a leaky defense.  Paks, to their credit, never back off in their play for better or for worse.  Will we see ever see Zoltán Gera again this season?

Paks have struggled in the last two weeks after rising up to the third position in the league.  As we see now, a third place finish is a bit too much to ask of this mid-table club.  Losing two straight home matches is not a common feat in Paks and matters shouldn’t improve at Groupama Arena.  A late goal will happen but should be little consolation for a squad in disarray.

Prediction: Ferencváros 4-1 Paks

Chris:  This is low-hanging fruit for Ferencváros who look to surge ahead at the top of the table.  Roland Varga is back in the goals.  Paks are in a poor vein of form and nothing suggests they’ll do what others have been unable to do at Groupama.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Paks

Haladás vs Balmazújváros

at Szombathelyi Haladás Stadion , Haladás

Paul: Haladás have won their last two away matches by identical 2-1 scores to move up to the 7th spot in the NB1.  A welcome return home to the friendly confines of their new stadium in Szombathely is in the offering.  Szombathely curiously in Hungarian means “Saturday place” and Saturday evening should be a nice place to watch football in Western Hungary.  Despite some injuries, Michal Hipp has his squad playing good football and a home win will make it three in a row.  The real question is where will the goals come from but they will be there in some way and form.

Balmazújváros are still alive in the Cup after scoring a late goal away at Újpest to leave the return leg in question.  Last week, Balmazújváros took care of business at home against Diósgyőr albeit in interesting fashion with two late penalties by Gergely Rudolf to secure the win. At this point,  manager Ferenc Horváth will take any win he can get in the relegation battle.   Balmazújváros has three straight away loses and should keep the match competitive, but securing any points may be asking too much here.

Prediction: Haladás 2-0 Balmazújváros

Chris: Haladás unstoppable at home. David Williams is starting. Balmaz struggling on the road and got lucky last week.   

Prediction:  Haladás 2-1 Balmazújváros


Vasas vs Mezőkövesd

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Vasas was trounced away at Újpest by two goals but it did not even seem that close.  Vasas find themselves at the bottom of the table and rightly so.  I’ve mentioned this before but my what a difference a year makes.   A Europa League spot to the bottom of the NB1. Vasas are about as motivated to play as I am to conjure up something positive to write about them.   I will leave it at that!

Mezőkövesd played well against Videoton and actually had a chance to pull the upset.  The schedule sets up well for them if they can regain their form of weeks ago.  Outside of a loss at Ferencváros, Mezőkövesd has been good in its last five away matches.   Mezőkövesd controls this match and earns a vital away win further hurting the chances of Vasas to stay up this season. 

Prediction: Vasas 1-2 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Vasas sinking. Mezo looking to pull away from danger zone.  In their last 8 away games, Mezo have only lost twice (against Videoton and Fradi). These two have drawn twice already this season.

Prediction: Vasas 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Videoton vs Debrecen

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: Videoton did not look too good against Mezőkövesd and lost a chance to steer two points clear of Ferencváros.  They are losing precious points which last year ended up costing them the title to Honvéd .  On a bright note, Attila Fiola played well and made the Round 26 team of the week.  His stock and play have fallen greatly since his injury against Austria in the Euro 2016 opener.  Stefan Šćepović has cooled off after fast start to the new year, but look for both Šćepović brothers to get back on the score sheet this week.

Debrecen had a tough away loss midweek to Puskás ensuring their exit in the Hungarian Cup.  Their focus now will have to be on the league and securing a European place.  Norbert Könyves went off against Puskás due to injury.  Should this be a serious injury, his loss will be a massive blow to the squad.  Playing the top two clubs back to back is difficult for anyone; add a midweek Cup tie and Debrecen are in for a difficult time.   Let’s hope Könyves is back soon as “Loki” played very well against “Fradi” last week in a nice capper to Round 26. 

Prediction: Videoton 2-0 Debrecen

Chris: Vidi coming off disappointing draw against Mezo last week.  Debrecen suffered midweek hammering at hands of Puskás.  Könyves status will affect Debrecen’s mindset against Videoton who have been impenetrable at home. 

Prediction: Videoton 3-1 Debrecen

NB1 Round 26 preview

Videoton’s midweek win has them officially level on points with Ferencváros at the top and now the race is on.   With eight games left it should be another fantastic finish in the NB1 and we take a good look at all of Saturday’s matchups. 


Paul:  Another normal (crazy) week in Hungarian football.  Who would have expected Debrecen to erupt for five, yes 5, away goals in Paks?  Videoton and Ferencváros kept  pace with identical 3-0 home victories over Mezőkövesd and Újpest, respectively.  Honvéd and Videoton make up their cancelled match Wednesday and my prediction of a 4-2 Videoton away win will have the top two clubs level on points but with Ferencváros still ahead on goal differential (note actual score was 4-1 Vidi).  I have to admit I’m almost at the point of having Chris stand 10 meters away from me and use the William Tell method of choosing results of matches.  We can’t do worse can we?  I promise Chris that I’m not too bad with a bow and arrow.  Fortunately for Chris, we live too far away to make this method become a reality.

Chris:  Yep, good thing there are a fair few miles separating us Paul because no matter how good you (think you) are I’m not facing the firing squad. Speaking of getting shot down - I’m getting that every week in NB1.  Honestly though, I’m actually just over 50% on picks this season but it’s been brutal at times. I’m going back to the stats and trends and sticking to a combination of science and my gut to force feed all you lemmings with well-thought out picks. 

Saturday, 14 April

Paks vs Haladás

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks is usually a very difficult place to play for opposing teams but Debrecen stormed in and embarrassed the home squad.  I see this as a statement game for Paks as they bounce back from last weeks defeat.  We will see that the loss against Debrecen was a rare blip at home.   With Haladás having a rash or recent injuries, I don’t see them having two away successes in a row or posing any threat to Paks.

Haladás scored a rare away victory against Diósgyőr showing an ability to win away from the friendly confines of their new stadium in Szombathely.  In the course of the match, three players had to be substituted due to injury including Michael Rabušic.  Rabušic’s injury is the most serious and he looks to be out for the season which is a shame considering he had been playing well.   This now leaves Haladás quite depleted in forwards and may result in a David Williams or Miroslav Grumic start up front as the lone attacker.

Prediction: Paks 3-1 Haladás

Chris: Paks endured their worst defeat of the season, conceding five goals against Debrecen at home.  Last season they conceded a grand total of nine goals at home.  Their frustration came out through stalwart defender Dávid Kulcsár last week.  The right back was sent off for use of offensive language against referee Tamás Bognár in the 66th minute and will miss the team’s next three league games.  It’s likely that he’ll be replaced by András Vági.  My guess is that Aurél Csertoi has drilled his side on defense this week and will look to shut down their guests.

David Williams had a good second half of the season last term and will be looked upon to get the goals for Haladás as they look to avoid the drop.  With Rabusic out for a while and Myke Ramos still out with a thigh injury Hali will need someone to produce on attack and, although Williams hasn’t scored since late September (though still leads the team in goals) it looks like he will get some starts in the near future.  Haladás’ rare away win last week pulled them out of the relegation zone and should give them some confidence at a place they haven’t won at since 2016.  Paks has won both previous meetings this season but I think the visitors will get something here. 

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Haladás


Mezőkövesd vs Videoton

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul:  Mezőkövesd did not back down against Ferencváros which was admirable.  They were not much of a threat to score but gave it their all which is all a manager can ask for from his squad.   This week finds them at home against another title contender with similar results for Mezőkövesd forthcoming.   Mezőkövesd has lost their lost two matches and this should make it three in a row for a squad that only a few weeks ago was playing some of the best football in NB1.

Videoton have looked sharp their last two games besting both Újpest and Honvéd by three goals.  They did not have to expend too much energy in their midweek destruction of Honvéd so I expect their energy level to be fine in this match.   Szabolcs Huszti scored a nice goal on a set piece last week against Újpest.  He should supplant Danko Lazović as the corner kick and set piece specialist for the squad freeing up Lazović to score as he did twice against Honvéd on Wednesday.  

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-3 Videoton

Chris:  After an eight-match unbeaten run Mezőkövesd have now lost their last two games and are back in the relegation zone.  They will be thin on defense with both Dávid Hudak and Pál Lázár suspended for this game.  Having lost both games to Videoton this season without scoring a goal, they will do well to put one past a team that has only conceded once in their last four games.  

Videoton are coming off consecutive wins on Saturday and Wednesday respectively to draw level on points with Ferencváros at the top of the table.  Manager Marko Nikolic feels like his team hasn’t had enough time to regenerate and be fully prepared for this match, but I feel like they have the depth to squeeze out a win here. 

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 0-2 Videoton

Újpest vs Vasas

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Budapest sides don’t make up a majority of the first division as they did many years ago. In fact, now only four Budapest sides are found in Hungary’s top tier.  Újpest have won only one once in their last five matches and find themselves in the 6th spot currently.  Their play has been very mediocre of late.  Perhaps the additional Cup matches have taken a toll on the club.  Should their questionable form continue, and I believe it will this week, the Hungarian Cup may turn out to be their only way of a European appearance.

Vasas does not score many goals and lack firepower.  Except for a winning match against Honvéd, they usually score on average a goal a game.  They should not break the trend in this match either with a goal at best.   I don’t see much excitement in this match and as a result have very  little to say.  Funny how a year ago, this match wouldn’t have made me as sleepy as it does today.

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Vasas

Chris:  Our man Gaby Kovacs will be in attendance at this one which means that Újpest will win.  There is no doubt in my mind and you’ll do well to listen.  I’m not going to say much or try to give any statistical data to back up this pick but even though Újpest haven’t scored in three games they will return with a bang and destroy Vasas with one of their biggest wins of the the season against a Vasas side that won’t know what hit them. 

Prediction: Újpest 4-1 Vasas

Puskás Akadémia vs Honvéd

at Pancho Arena, Felcsút

Paul: Puskás Akadémia are slowly rising up the table with some good efforts the last two weeks.   Honvéd should be the right medicine for manager Attila Pintér’s squad to score some goals. I can’t recall a match where Puskás have scored many goals,  but then again they haven’t played Honvéd in a while. The suspect Honvéd defense is ripe for the picking.  Look for Josip Knežević to rediscover his goal scoring form of the fall.

Honvéd are “givers” which in the football world means allowing bunches of goals.  They have allowed the 3rd most goals in NB1 but still find themselves competing for a spot in Europe.   Davide Lanzafame scored midweek against Videoton and also had a spat with Roland Juhász, someone he’d be wise not to spar with in the future.  Honvéd, even with the skill of Lanzafame and Eppel, have a very suspect defense.   Despite the great goalkeeping of Dávid Gróf, Honvéd should allow up to three goals and revive a suspect Puskás attack.

Prediction: Puskás 3-1 Honvéd

Chris: Attila Pintér’s side got a late goal to complete a comeback win against Vasas last week in Budapest.   They have picked up four points in their last two games despite forward Ezekiel Henty absence due to suspension.  Henty will sit out this one also as he completes his three-match ban.  Puskás are in the semifinals of the Magyar Kupa and will have one eye on that as well, but they’ve managed to grind out points in six of their last seven games at home. 

A huge loss for Honvéd will be Davide Lanzafame who picked up his fifth yellow card in Honvéd’s midweek defeat against Videoton.  Kispest’s leading goal-scorer will have to witness this one from the stands just days after finding his scoring boots, scoring his first goal from the run of play since November.  

Danilo scored a dramatic late winner in their last meeting at Bozsik Stadion back in early November, but Honvéd haven’t won in their last five matches away from home. 

Prediction:  Puskás 1-1 Honvéd


Balmazújváros vs Diósgyor

at Városi Sportpálya, Balmazújváros

Paul: Balmazújváros have earned four draws in their last four home matches.  Losing points at home does not bode well for a squad struggling to stay up in the first division.  With three straight losses on the road, losing points again at home is making a goodbye to NB1 more likely every week.  At this point, even manager Ferenc Horváth has to be wondering where he will work next season.

Diósgyőr have not won in their last five away matches and that won’t change even against lowly Balmazújváros.  Other than for the fans of the two squads, not much inspires in this match even for  casual observers of Hungarian football.  I must commend the fans of Diósgyőr who do travel in good numbers away to support their club.  Diósgyőr should score a goal which is customary for them and a tie in a very “frog” (insert your least favorite food here) football match. 

Prediction: Balmazújváros 1-1 Diósgyor

Chris: Ferenc Horváth’s side must be happy to be back at home where they are unbeaten in their last five.  Despite their home advantage, Balmazújváros have only won once since mid-November and hold up the bottom of the table with just 24 points.  They are in touching distance of safety, however, and will be looking to take full advantage of this game. Balmaz are still in the Magyar Kupa and have a decent chance to get past Újpest in the semis, but trainer Tamás Szamosi made it clear that the club’s main objective is to stay in NB1. 

Diósgyor fell to Haladás last week to keep them as close to the danger zone as they’ve been all season.  They haven’t been able to score more than one goal in their last four games.  This is an important game for Diósgyor but they haven’t had much luck against Balmaz who they’ve lost their last three matches against.  

I’m gambling on the hosts getting a massive win here. 

Prediction: Balmazújváros 2-1 Diósgyor

Debrecen vs Ferencváros

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: Debrecen is fresh off a spring high with an impressive  5-2 away win at Paks.  They are coming on and I see some glimpses of the surprise team of the fall.  Norbert Könyves is playing some of the best football of his career as evidenced by his 5 goals in two games last week.  To think a few short weeks ago I was lamenting Debrecen’s lack of goal scoring.  I see Debrecen playing up to the ability of Ferencváros and will finally make me look good my “upset of the week” pick (note 0-2 in upsets).

Ferencváros took care of business and had a comfortable win against Mezőkövesd.  I attempted to watch the match on television but could only last a half due to the early game time.  The match was always in hand and Fradi continued their home dominance at Groupama Arena.  Dániel Böde will continue his goal scoring prowess but other than that the squad will struggle to score goals.  Everything in my soul says to make the easy Ferencváros choice but I will go out on a limb with Debrecen here.  This should be one, if not the most entertaining match of the week. 

Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Ferencváros

Chris: While I agree that Debrecen has played some good football of late and that Könyves is on fire, Ferencváros also has the best defense away from home this season with only 13 goals conceded in 12 games.  Also, Loki’s win last week was just their first of the spring season - going six matches prior without a victory. 

Ferencváros only led by one at half last week against Mezőkövesd but still did the business and strolled to a 3-0 win after wearing them down in the second half.  I think Debrecen will be brought back down to earth despite playing at home and Fradi will keep pace at the top. 

Prediction: Debrecen 1-2 Ferencváros

NB1 Round 25 preview

Only Paks gained any ground in the league last week as five of last week’s six NB1 matches ended all square.  After another midweek slate of Magyar Kupa games, the league resumes for round 25 with a proper headliner in Videoton hosting Újpest at Pancho Arena.  Read on for a full preview of all of Saturday’s matches.   


Paul:  Good day, Sire Chris.   Round 24 proved to be somewhat of a “Game of Thrones” episode, not in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the continent of Westeros but in the mystical football world of Hungary.  More exact, we should call Round 24 a “Game of Ties” as all but one match resulted in a tie.  I’m not the “stat man” a la Chris,  but I would put up a bottle of Palinka that this has not happened yet this season.  Prove me wrong Chris!  The real and only winner last week were Paks and in this case there can be no dispute.  Speaking of THRONES, it seems neither Ferencváros nor Videoton are ready to run away with the throne as of yet.   Is it too late to adjust the last  match of the season to a  Ferencváros & Videoton clash like last season’s Honvéd/Videoton season ending match? In the meantime, it’s 2018,  let’s put on our seatbelts, place our seats in the upright position, turn off all electronic devices and take off to Round 25!

Chris:  Hello Paul.  To answer your inquiry, there have been four matchdays where there have been no draws, and the most amount of draws has been three in one round until round 24.  Last week there were five draws (three 1-1 draws and two goalless draws), the worst of which was probably the most anticipated match of the day - the Budapest derby - which left us with much to be desired last week in NB1. Honvéd’s Lanzafame continued to struggle in front of the goal, Haladás remained unbeaten in their new home thanks to winter-signing Michael Rabusic’s first goal at his new club, and Paks moved into third place with an impressive win over Mezőkövesd.  I’m hoping for more to unfold in round 25. 

Saturday, 7 April

Ferencváros vs Mezőkövesd

at Groupama Arena, Budapest

Paul: The derby between Ferencváros and Újpest while not resulting in any goals was literally full of fireworks as the “Ultras” were welcomed back to the match.  The atmosphere was electric with the pyrotechnics but a bit hard to see at times in the smoky air.  In a home match, I expect Fradi to bounce back and reassert themselves with a comfortable win.  Take away a 2-1 home win over Debrecen,  and Ferencváros have not scored less than 3 goals in their last five matches at home.  That trend continues along with the goal scoring of Dániel Böde.

The bubble had to burst some time for an overachieving Mezőkövesd squad.   I expected it to be this week  rather than last week against Paks. Mezőkövesd  actually have been quite good away from home in winning three of their last four matches.  Earning a point here would be a bit too much to ask of the squad.  It would be special to see István Bognár score an early goal against his former club which cast him away.  The match could be close for 60 minutes when Fradi score to seal the deal.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Ferencváros return home where they have 10 wins and two draws in their 12 league games there thus far. They look to rebound from a tough derby draw against where they were held goalless for just the second time all season.  Fradi have won both games against Mezőkövesd this season without conceding a goal.  Thomas Doll’s side need to keep flying at home to keep the pressure on Videoton. 

Mezőkövesd are coming off their first home defeat since October when they narrowly lost to Fradi.  Attila Kuttor’s boys fought back with two late goals against Paks last week but were unable to finish their comeback attempt at the end.  In need of a win to stay out of the danger zone, they are entering the black hole of hope at Groupama.  

This should be a fairly easy three points for the hosts. 

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Mezőkövesd


Honvéd vs Balmazújváros

at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

Paul:  Rather than speak of last week's match, I have more to say about the midweek Cup tie against Debrecen.   Honvéd allowed 3 goals but with very questionable and often comical defending.  In defense of Honvéd nothing can be said as there was not any defense.  Norbert Könyves scored a hat-trick and sends a thank you card for his late Easter basket courtesy of Honvéd’s lack of defense.  Paging Davide Lanzafame, we miss your great play and hope to see your brilliance again soon on an NB1 pitch.  Kudos to Márton Eppel who split his ear in an odd injury but managed to play on and split the defense for a goal to secure a tie against Diósgyőr.  I may criticize his play at times but his toughness is unquestioned.

Don’t count out Balmazújváros quite yet as they almost pulled off a win against Vasas.  Prior to the match, manager Ferenc Horváth said that his squad will have to play the final 10 matches as if they were in the finals of the Champions League.   The master of post match interviews,  Horváth  said opposing players seem to score the goal of the week against his squad as evidenced  last week by Máté Vida.    More importantly, Horváth is the  master at firing up his squad and me as well as I pick this match as the “upset of the week.”  

Prediction: Honvéd 1-2 Balmazújváros

Chris:  This Honvéd team is a long way from their championship season of a year ago.  Fresh off a 3-1 midweek defeat at Debrecen in the Magyar Kupa they return to the capital to face a Balmazújváros side they haven’t lost to in two games this season.   Kispest have been effective at home winning their last two but they’ve been far from dominating there.  It’s now been seven games that leading scorer Davide Lanzafame has failed to score and one has to wonder if the mercurial Italian will ever find his scoring touch again.  

In contrast Balmazújváros finished a 7-1 aggregate thrashing of Bekescsaba in the cup and finally broke their three-match league scoring drought with a goal and a draw against Vasas last week.  Balmaz are sitting bottom in the league but they aren’t playing like a bottom club.  Honvéd will need to be wary especially as they’ve conceded the second most goals at home in the league, while Balmaz have actually won more games away this season than at home.   I’m tempted to follow Paul in his delusions but I’ll stick to my gut here. 

Prediction: Honvéd 2-2 Balmazújváros

Diósgyor vs Haladás

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul: It has been announced that Diósgyőr’s new stadium will open May 5th but until then the rotating home matches continue this week not in the beautiful stadium of Debrecen, but in Mezőkövesd.  Diósgyőr squandered many chances last Saturday against Honvéd including a missed penalty by Roland Ugrai .  They were also bounced out of the Hungarian Cup 0-3 against Puskás Akadémia.   This is exactly the type of match where Tamás Bódog inspires his squad to bounce back after a bad showing.  Such  will be the case once again.

Haladás played an entertaining match against against Debrecen but came away without a win for the first time in their new stadium.  Michael Rabušic played well in scoring a goal and even a David Williams sighting was reported but all for not last week.  Losing home points could be vital in the battle to stay up in NB1.  While Haladás means “progress” in Hungarian, little progress has been made in the club’s poor away form which should continue this week as well.

Prediction: Diósgyor 1-0 Haladás

Chris:  As I continue to write these previews I’ve become increasingly aware that there aren’t any teams in the league that have been consistently impressive outside of the top two.  Diósgyor fit the “unimpressive” mold as they were dispatched 3-0 by Puskás in the Magyar Kupa this week and are currently on a three-match winless run in the league.  Tamás Bódog’s frustration has reached new heights but he and his squad should be buoyed by the fact that they’ve defeated Haladás 3-0 twice already this season.  

Haladás avoided defeat at home for the fourth consecutive time last week but return to the road where they’ve lost three in a row. Hali have been abysmal in attack away from home, scoring just 8 goals in 11 games.  They are truly a different team when they’re not in front of their own fans.

Prediction: Diósgyor 2-1 Haladás

Paks vs Debrecen

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks is a very difficult squad to predict as both Chris and I did not see an away win last week against  Mezőkövesd. Yet despite this unpredictably,  Aurél Csertői’s squad finds themselves in the  3rd spot and playing well.  One of the strengths of the squad is the number of players who are capable of putting the ball in the net.  In typical Paks fashion this match is what Hungarians call a 3-chances (háromesélyes) match with no result a surprise in my eyes.

Debrecen is fresh off a midweek Cup “gift” win over Honvéd.  I am very curious to see if this confidence can rub off on a very young but capable squad.  Norbert Könyves has established himself as the main  goal scorer on a club that unlike Paks does not have many goal scoring threats.  Everything in my bones calls for a Paks win but Debrecen is playing better so I see a game of ties here.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Debrecen

Chris: Paks held on for an important three points at Mezőkövesd last week to vault into third place - an impressive position for a team that’s only finished higher than fifth just once since they entered the league twelve years ago.   Aurél Csertoi’s team can make known their intentions with a win in this one.  They’ve been successful at home recently, outscoring their opponent 8-3 with three wins and draw in that span.  

Loki are still scrambling for traction as they slide down the table.  They’ve dropped from third to fifth in the last two rounds and another defeat could see them drop into the wrong half of the table.  They played well at Haladás last week and were the first team to steal any points at Hali’s new stadium.  A midweek win over Honvéd proved that they can score against a shaky defense but Paks are used to shutting things down at home. 

Prediction:  Paks 1-1 Debrecen


Vasas vs Puskás Akadémia

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Vasas have played a bit better of late.  Last week was the typical Vasas match, low scoring with a lot of  1 v. 1 battles.  This week should be more of the same.  Máté Vida scored a beautiful goal from over 27 meters to secure a tie against Balmazújváros.  In a nice gesture, he dedicated his goal to his brother who scored an own goal in a vital Euro U-17 Qualification loss costing Hungary a place in the tournament.

I have been a major critic of Puskás Akadémia and manager Attila Pintér but I must admit the squad have been playing better the last few weeks.  Pintér has finally drastically altered the squad from an almost all-foreign line-up to a majority Hungarian starting 11.  The results have showed in more cohesion and team work.  The recent inclusion of  László Zsidai, Balázs Balogh and András Radó in the starting 11 have positively  impacted the squad.  In another dog fight, a late goal gives Puskás a long awaited league win. 

Prediction: Vasas 0-1 Puskás

Chris: After losing five straight, Vasas are now on a modest run without defeat. Last week’s draw at Balmazújváros means they have now picked up five points in their last three games, but they are still agonizingly close to the relegation line. They continue to struggle in attack, scoring more than one goal just twice since late September (14 games).  In that stretch they’ve only kept two clean sheets and have conceded 29 goals.  

Puskás are coming off a 3-0 win over Diósgyor in the cup this week and they did a job against Videoton last Saturday with a goalless draw at Pancho Arena.  However, in the league, they are without a win in five and without an away win in their last 7 games.  Leading scorer Josip Knezevic hasn’t scored in their last 8 games. He did get one in the midweek win over DVTK, but as a team, Puskás have only scored twice in the league since the Spring season started. 

Puskás have yet to solve Vasas this season and I think their focus is now on winning the Magyar Kupa which should leave the door open for the hosts in this one. 

Prediction: Vasas 1-0 Puskás

Videoton vs Újpest

at Pancho Arena, Felcsút (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: Videoton lost valuable points to Puskás in the manner of which last year cost them the championship.  Teams are finding the blueprint for success against Videoton  is playing 10 men back and counter attacking when possible.  In all fairness, Videoton was fortunate  not to lose last week spurred on by the strong play of goalkeeper Ádám Kovácsik.  Szabolcs Huszti was featured in the starting 11 but did not make much of an impression on me.

Back to back matches against #1 and #2  for Újpest after last weeks hard fought derby versus Ferencváros. I don’t see manager Nebojsa Vignjevic sitting back and defending with 10 men in this match.  Újpest have the talent and manager to compete with anyone in Hungary when on form.  I see this as the highest scoring match of the week.  In characteristic fashion, the Lilák will be up 2-1 playing great, only to find themselves giving up 2 goals in the last third of the match.  The torture of being a fan of Újpest continues... 

Prediction: Videoton 3-2 Újpest

Chris: Undefeated at home, Videoton look to bounce back from a disappointing draw against their co-inhabitants, Puskás last week.  Vidi still have a game in hand but need to keep winning to keep pace with frontrunners Ferencváros who are three points ahead.  Last week’s draw broke a three-match winning run, but Marko Nikolic’s side are still riding a six-game home winning streak and have dominated opponents with a league-low 8 goals conceded in 12 games there.  Even if you add the two “away” games they’ve played against Puskás they’ve only conceded 9 in 14 games.  

Újpest are coming off two goalless draws; the last of which was a very tame goalless draw against rivals Ferencváros in the derby.  Soma Novothny saved Lilák from Magyar Kupa elimination as he scored twice in the second half against MTK to send Újpest through to the semifinals on away goals.  As inspirational as that was, there has to be concern that they conceded three when they had the lead from the first leg.  

Újpest haven’t won against Videoton in their last six meetings dating back to February 2016, and you have to go all the way back to 2009 for a Lilák away win against Vidi.  Going with my head on this one.

Prediction: Videoton 2-1 Újpest

NB1 Round 24 preview

With ten games remaining there’s still a title race at the top and a mad scramble to avoid relegation at the other end of the table - roll on Week 24!

Paul: Welcome back after a vacation of sorts.  NB1 received a nice break for the national team games.  Hungary debuted her new coach, Georges Leekens, with an embarrassing home loss to Kazakhstan and more expected  loss to Scotland. Leekens has not changed much in the new squad selection. Isn’t that the point of friendlies?  Yes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. The losses continue to mount and the magical summer of  Euro 2016 seems so long ago. For those well versed in Hungarian football, a longing for the past is a common theme in Hungary concerning the national sport. Back to the present and the unpredictable world of Hungarian club football where WINS and GOALS do happen.  In the Hungarian Easter tradition of boys sprinkling perfumed water on girls, Chris and I hope to do the same while ending up smelling like roses.

Chris: The international break couldn’t get behind us fast enough. I think Leekens has a tough job against a world of expectation and this transition will take longer than one or two international weeks. Either way, it will be nice to see the clubs back on warmer (if not drier) pitches across the country this week.

Saturday, 31 March

Mezőkövesd vs Paks
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul: Can you believe Mezőkövesd has won their last three matches?  Manager Attila Kuttor has his club playing top notch NB1 football.  The squad has no stars but unlike the Hungarian national team, Mezőkövesd play as a team with a lot of heart and passion.  István Bognár has played well since escaping from Ferencváros.  The rejuvenating Spring continues for the club as they defeat Paks making it four wins in a row.
Paks played a tough home against Ujpest in a scoreless draw.  Away from home is a different matter and especially against a Mezőkövesd team that has found its identity in the new year.  It should be a tough match by two hard working clubs but decided by a single goal. The home team will win it in the final fifteen minutes of the match.
Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-1 Paks

Chris: In the last three matchdays, Mezőkövesd have gone from sitting four points deep at the bottom to three points clear in 8th place. It’s not just the three-match winning run, but Attila Kuttor’s side are impressively without defeat in their last eight. After three matches without scoring (or conceding for that matter) they have now scored 8 goals in their last three. Márk Koszta has been remarkable up front for Mezo with four goals in his last three games for a total of nine on the season.
Paks’ goalless draw with Újpest was a drab affair but predictable. They are also on an unbeaten run - two draws and two victories in their last four games while only conceding two goals in that span. But they now go back on the road where they haven’t had much luck this season especially lately with two defeats and a draw and no goals scored. I think you have to play the odds here and bank on the hot team at home.
Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-0 Paks

Diósgyor vs Honvéd
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: Diósgyőr were fortunate to earn a late draw against Vasas.  In their “Brother Bódog’s Travelling” football road show, this week finds Tamás Bódog’s squad not playing in Mezőkövesd but in Debrecen’s Nagyerdei Stadion.  Extra points if you got the aforementioned Neil Diamond song reference.  Diósgyőr has won their last two “home” games defeating Ferencváros and Debrecen.  This week in Easter terms, I see Diósgyőr laying an egg.
Ah Honvéd where have you gone?  Last week, they re-appeared briefly with a nice win over Haladás.  Honvéd has lost their last four away matches.  That streak ends in this match. They will score on a penalty kick this week despite missing the most in the NB1.  In my crazy pick of the week, Honvéd will remind us of last year and score a rare away win.
Prediction: Diósgyor 1-2 Honvéd

Chris: Other than defeating Ferencváros at home this spring, Diósgyor have looked decidedly average if not sub-standard. Dusan Brkovic’s late equalizer against Vasas on the road a fortnight ago showed that they had some mettle and they seem to play better in their adopted home.
Honvéd are falling from grace. Despite their narrow win against lowly Haladás they have yet to impress since the spring season restart and Davide Lanzafame’s goal drought is creating a crisis. This game gives me a rash just thinking about it. I’m going for a draw as two struggling teams keep up appearances in Debrecen.
Prediction: Diósgyor 2-2 Honvéd

Balmazújváros vs Vasas
at Balmazújváros Városi Sportpalya, Balmazújváros

Paul: Balmazújváros fought Videoton hard two weeks ago only to lose in the last minutes of the match.  Home matches have not been kind to them as they have drawn their last three at the Városi Stadion.  Ferenc Horváth is still an excellent manager but his squad is in big trouble.  It will be up to Horváth to perform his magic once again. Perhaps this time it may prove to be too much to ask even of him?
Vasas has not won in their last 5 away matches, losing three of them.  Yet, they have played better of late and almost defeated Diósgyőr allowing a late 94th minute goal by Dusan Brkovic.  Top player Szilveszter Hangya sustained an injury in the first half in the friendly against Scotland and will not play in this one.   An already susceptible defense has gotten weaker.  Combine the poor away form of Vasas and the home record of Balmazújváros, and the old Commodore 64 spits out a yet another low scoring game.
Prediction: Balmazújvaros 1-1 Vasas

Chris: Ferenc Horváth must be breathing a sigh of relief after the last two games. Playing the title challengers in consecutive weeks on the road was brutal for Balmazújvaros. They were smashed by Ferencváros but they showed some fight against Videoton two weeks ago despite the defeat. Now at the bottom of the table there’s nowhere but up for the NB1 debutants and it will be interesting to see if they can jumpstart an attack that has only scored twice over the last five games.
Vasas came close to a second straight win but were unable to hold the lead against Diósgyor in injury time and settled for a disappointing draw. Now on a two-match unbeaten run, Vasas have kept their nose above the drop zone, but they’ve picked up only 8 points away from home this season. This is an important game for both teams and I’m backing the hosts to barely scrape this one.
Prediction: Balmazújvaros 1-0 Vasas

Újpest vs Ferencváros
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: The Újpest/Ferencváros derby is always a special match in Hungary and should be hotly contested once again.  For referee fans, Zoltán Iványi presides in his third derby match of the season.  Krisztián Simon seriously injured his knee in the last match versus Paks and will be out 6-8 months.  Sadly this is his third major knee injury and is a big blow to Újpest.   I look for the derby to bring out the best in Újpest.   Nebojsa Vignjevic will have his squad motivated and I see an entertaining match with goals galore as Roland Varga and Soma Novothny each battle it out for the top spot in goals scored.
Ferencváros had a tougher game than expected against a motivated  Puskás squad.     I see another tough match for Ferencváros as teams seem to give solid performances against them.   Will Daniel Böde score again this week against a porous Újpest defense?  Roland Varga appeared back in the national team and I hope he stays there.  He should become the free kick specialist for them as well. I see a hotly contested match with a good number of goals scored in a good match.
Prediction: Újpest 2-2 Ferencváros

Chris: I’m surprised this game isn’t the feature of the week. The Budapest derby has been decided by a goal or less in eight of the last nine meetings between these two clubs and this one should be no different. Újpest are battling for third spot and would love to set the pace but they are without a win against Fradi in their last seven derbies. Their last win at home against Ferencváros was in 2014.
Thomas Doll’s side seem to have forgotten their hiccup against Diósgyor earlier this month, scoring eight goals in their last two games against Balmazújvaros and Puskás respectively (both wins). Lilák are a team that have trouble closing games they should win and I have a sneaky suspicion that’s what will happen here.
Prediction: Újpest 2-3 Ferencváros

Puskás Akadémia vs Videoton
at Pancho Arena, Felcsút

Paul: Is this a home or away game as both sides for the moment play at the beautiful Pancho Arena?  In all certainty more Videoton fans should be at Pancho Arena, don’t you think? Puskas surprisingly made a game of it against Ferencvaros. Ezekiel Henty scored a goal but ended the game with an unsportsmanlike red card.  As many agree, a one match suspension was too light for such a severe offense. I don’t see the “Akadémia” putting up much of a battle in Felcsút and relegation is becoming a reality for Pinter’s squad.
Videoton had to work hard in beating Balmazújváros.  Not entertaining football in the least but a valuable 3 points on a late header by Roland Juhász in the 84th minute.  Promising youngster Krisztián Géresi is out for the year and like István Kovács may find himself stuck on the bench in a squad full of foreigners.   Videoton should find the net at least three times here as did their championship rivals Ferencváros two weeks ago.
Prediction: Puskás 1-3 Videoton

Chris: Puskás late collapse last week had to hurt. After taking an early lead and seeing Fradi reduced to ten men after only 38 minutes they were looking pretty good. However, tempers flared and Ezekiel Henty showed maybe why he was let go by Videoton over the winter break. His lack of discipline set up Ferencváros at just the right time as his sending off leveled the playing field and Thomas Doll’s squad could take advantage of the extra space. Attila Pinter’s side fell to a second straight defeat and are now without a win in their last four.
Videoton showed they can win ugly with a narrow win over Balmaz to keep the pressure on leaders Ferencváros. It was Vidi’s third win in a row and, despite the lack of style, it showed the club’s leadership as captain Roland Juhász bundled home a late header off a free kick to give them maximum points. These two teams have played to two 1-1 draws this season at Pancho Arena, but I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a tight win for Marko Nikolic’s squad.
Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Videoton

Haladás vs Debrecen
at Szombatheley Haladás Stadion, Budapest (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: Haladás hope to click their football boots three times and repeat, “There is no place like home, there is not place like home.”   They have yet to lose in their new Haladás Stadion and this should continue against a struggling Debrecen squad. A win is vital after two consecutive 2-1 away loses to Honvéd and Mezőkövesd.  With their poor season long away form, wins at home are crutial to keep the Western Hungarian squad in the first division.  Look for veterans, Gábor Király and Péter Halmosi, to rally the youngsters and keep the squad in contention to stay in the NB1.  Australian goal scorer David Williams was not even on the bench in the last match and finds himself out of favor with manager Michal Hipp.
Debrecen have struggled in the new year and their 2-3 home against Mezőkövesd was not as close as the score indicated.  I am starting to believe manager András Herczeg that the goal now avoiding relegation.  Goals are hard to come by and injuries and a general loss of confidence have overtaken the surprise club of the Fall.  Sadly, the fall continues for “Loki.”
Prediction: Haladás 2-0 Debrecen

Chris: Is it a coincidence that Debrecen rhymes with “depression”? They conceded three unanswered goals against Mezo. Three! And they are now out of the top three. Haladás will relish the chance to be back at home even without captain Peter Halmosi who is suspended for this one. Haladás will enjoy lifting themselves out of the danger zone this week.
Prediction: Haladás 3-0 Debrecen

NB1 Round 23 preview

NB1 Round 23 preview

It just keeps keeps getting better as the spring season rolls right along. Read on and get a preview of all the drama as the last third of the NB1 season kicks off on Saturday.

Paul: Well a little bit of separation and congestion has definitely occurred after round 22.  It is two team race: Ferencváros and Videoton battling it out for championship.   The other ten teams are “the rest.” Their fates can be anywhere from relegation to a spot in Europe for the third place club.   The fourth European place will depend on the Hungarian Cup results. I’ve never seen such parity in Hungarian football. Usually by now at least one club is relegation bound but at the moment only 5 points separate the bottom 7 clubs.  Anything can happen and it usually does in Hungarian football. Armed with 100 forint coins to flip, Chris and I are ready to predict yet again.

Chris: Yes, it’s going to be either Fradi or Vidi that celebrate the championship this season but there is still so much to unfold. Mezőkövesd’s two-game winning streak has thrown a wrench into the whole table as they’ve crawled back into a relegation scrap and dragged Haladás, Balmazúváros and Vasas into their sights. Back to the stats and the trends to pick the winners and be completely humbled by the fickle fates of NB1 football.

Saturday, 17 March

Honvéd vs Haladás
at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Honvéd have not had a promising start in the New Year with two away loses.  The “magic” of last year is gone. The team lacks the creative play of last season.  The defense is prone to giving up goals in bunches. Davide Lanzafame was frustrated against Vasas as he was wrapped up by Kire Ristevski and given no space to operate.  Your guess is as good as mine in this match. I have to believe Lanzafame will be the difference in a tight match.
Haladás have also lost their last two away matches but put up a good fight against an in-form Mezőkövesd club.  In 10 away matches, they have only managed one win and one draw. Even with the poor form of Honvéd recently, the away form of Haladás is questionable at best.   They are improving under their new manager but the away results have not been there.
Prediction: Honvéd 2-1 Haladás

Chris: Honvéd's tough defeat at Vasas last week means they’ve lost five of their last six games and are struggling to hold on to a mid-table position. I watched their midweek cup match against Debrecen and didn’t see anything that would suggest they’re near to breaking out of their current slump. Márton Eppel missed a penalty (a common occurrence among Honvéd players these days) and Kispest never looked in control of the game. This is a rough patch for the champions and another defeat could put them closer to relegation rather than the top three.
Haladás suffered a narrow defeat at Mezőkövesd last week, but that could have been expected as they are woeful away from home this season (4 points and 7 goals in 10 games). Normally this would be another difficult trip as they’ve lost their last two at Bozsik Stadion but Kispest are in a bad place.
This could be a scrappy game and I’m not tipping it to be a thing of beauty but I’m backing the hosts to just edge this one.
Prediction: Honvéd 2-1 Haladás

Vasas vs Diósgyor
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Vasas won for the first time after losing their last 4 matches.  Michael Oenning had his club playing with aggressiveness and fight.   For now his job is safe and the rumor mill can quiet down at least this week.  Gergely Nagy returned after a long absence and provided a stable presence in the goal.  Perhaps the club can regain some of last season’s magic? This should be a bruising matching between two aggressive clubs.  With that said more yellow cards than goals by a mile.
Tamás Bódog’s Diósgyőr is a very up and down roller coaster club, one weak defeating  Ferencváros and the next getting blown out by Videoton. They play up or down to the level of their opponent.  This should be a choppy game at best. I see lots of set pieces and a corner kick goal wins it, perhaps by Tamás Vaskó like last season?
Prediction: Vasas 1-0 Diósgyor

Chris: With their first league victory under their belt since mid-October, Vasas “host” Diósgyor with the hopes of keeping up some momentum. It’s possible the strong challenge from Managing Director Miklós Vancsa put a fire under some under-performers, and this week’s opposition could be ripe for the picking as DVTK come in after being handed a 4-1 whipping at the hands of Videoton. Vasas have yet to score against Diósgyor this season and have conceded 7 goals in two games against them already.
Diósgyor will have to pick themselves up off the floor after Danko Lazovic’s blitzkrieg, first half brace against them last week. Tamás Bódog’s men never recovered and failed to keep up with the other chasers for third place. They won’t be facing Vidi’s speed of attack in Vasas this week, but Michael Oenning’s side still has some poachers that could abuse a defense that has conceded 14 goals in their last 8 games.
This smells like a draw.
Prediction: Vasas 2-2 Diósgyor

Videoton vs Balmazújváros
at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul: Videoton looked great in quickly disposing of Diósgyőr to keep pace with Ferencváros. Danko Lazovic quickly scored two goals to erase any doubts of the end result of the match. The club is looking very well and it will be a two horse race between Videoton and Ferencváros for the championship.  Can Vidi score 5 against Balmazújváros? They will most likely back off after scoring a comfortable 4 goals.
Balmazújváros had been playing well before their debacle against Ferencváros.  Playing the league leaders away in consecutive weeks is not easy for anyone so another big loss is in the cards.  The fight for relegation will continue and will need to be won when and if Balmazújváros will be able to defeat fellow bottom feeders.
Prediction: Videoton 4-1 Balmazújvaros

Chris: A third successive home game for Videoton? It almost doesn’t seem fair, does it? In their last five home matches they’ve scored 14 goals and only conceded two. Danko and Marko look like they’re back to their confident selves, and the addition of Stefan Scepovic has given them another color on their attacking “easel” to paint with up front. Marko’s older brother already has two goals in two games since joining the club.
Ferenc Horváth’s side were hammered by Ferencváros 5-0 last week so their midweek demolition of NB2 side Bekescaba by the same score line in the Magyar Kupa might fuel a better effort on Saturday. The defeat against Fradi was their worst of the season but they can take heart that they’ve managed to remain in a competitive spot to avoid relegation so late in their inaugural season in the top flight. They’ve managed 1-1 draws against Videoton in both of their matches against them already this season, but I feel as if another result is too big an ask this week.
Prediction: Videoton 3-1 Balmazújvaros

Paks vs Újpest
at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks recent good form has found them in the fifth spot competing for a place in Europe. Paks has not qualified for Europe since finishing second in the 2010-2011 season.  Not getting too far ahead of ourselves, now lies a battle with fellow rivals Újpest.  Can Paks regain their “home pitch” advantage of the past in a big game?   If the fans can turn out in force, a nice win can happen with a determined group led by manager, Aurél Csertői.  The “Atomcsapat” (Nuclear team) comes up big in this one.
Újpest pulled even on points with Debrecen after nice win against DVSC.  Can they do it again away at Paks? This week finds them against a club surprisingly just a point behind then.  Nebojsa Vignjevic has Újpest in a good position but once again consistency is the key.  In addition, playing a cup tie on Tuesday puts the club at a slight additional  disadvantage. Not ready to predict another away win for the “Lilák”, but  would not be surprised with either variation of a 2-1 scoreline.
Prediction: Paks 2-1 Újpest

Chris: It hasn’t been two week since Lilák last won at Paksi Stadion - a 2-0 win in the second leg of the Magyar Kupa on 6 March saw them through to the quarterfinals. Újpest have also had pretty good luck in Paks, losing just once in their last seven trips there. Nebojsa Vignjevic’s charges won again in the cup this week. Fielding a weakened side, they were able to see off MTK 2-1 in the first leg of their quarterfinal and should be feeling good ahead of this one. Despite a shaky defense and some dodgy goalkeeping by Filip Pajovic this season, they’ve managed to stay near the top three and have actually won six of their last seven.
Paks are feeling confident after a strong home win against Puskás last week and I think they’ll have enough to stall Lilák’s climb.
Prediction: Paks 1-1 Újpest

Debrecen vs Mezőkövesd
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: Debrecen deserved a better fate in their match last week against Újpest.  A bit odd that manager András Herczeg is speaking of the fight to avoid relegation while the club currently sits in the third spot.   As Chris noted last week, Debrecen is missing several key players and the injuries have greatly hurt a club with a lack of depth.   The club lacks any bonafide goal scorers.
Mezőkövesd have won their last two matches in a row are back in the chase to stay in the first division.  They looked to be surely relegated but are now in the picture and manager, Attila Kuttor has installed a quiet confidence and belief in his club.  Márk Koszta started finally and scored yet another goal in a well deserved win at home versus Haladás. I believe in Mezőkövesd and am picking them to beat Debrecen away as they did Újpest two weeks ago. In the fall such a result would have been unheard of from the newly promoted club.
Prediction: Debrecen 0-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Patrik Tischler’s last gasp goal for Újpest sent Debrecen to their third defeat in their last four games but they still remain in third place despite their current skid. With winger János Ferenczi out for the season, András Herczeg is without an important weapon out wide. However, they still have options in attack and need to rediscover the confidence they had back in late August and early September. Norbert Könyves’ goal at the 76 minute mark last week was the first goal of the spring for Loki and they’ll be looking to add to that against the NB1 basement dwellers this week.
Mezőkövesd have surprised many NB1 followers with victories in successive weeks to sling them into the midst of relegation fight. After three straight goalless draws they’ve exploded with five goals in their last two games. Márk Koszta has been the inspiration behind the surge in offense with three of those goals and he now leads the team with eight.
I have a sneaky feeling that Debrecen will “switch back on” this week and get a big win here.
Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Mezőkövesd

Ferencváros vs Puskás Akadémia
at Groupama Arena, Budapest (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: Ferencváros throttled Balmazújváros 5-0 at home and more of the same should occur against Puskás.  Look for the goals to pile up once again and help Ferencváros’ goal differential.   Can Daniel Böde score another hat trick this week?  He has scored 6 goals in his last three matches.   Fradi have scored a 10 goals in two home contests and may keep their average at 5.  Nice to see Roland Varga back in the line-up.
Puskás Akadémia is in a tailspin with a terrible beginning to the new year.  The club was very busy during the Winter break but the new additions have not had the expected impact on the club.   Last week found Puskás playing 9 foreign players in their loss to the “All Hungarian” Paks side. Tuesday, Puskás continued their slide with a loss at home against Diósgyőr in the Hungarian Cup.  Things don’t figure to get any better this week against a high scoring Fradi. Another high scoring game with all the goals coming from Ferencváros.
Prediction: Ferencváros 4-0 Puskás

Chris: Daniel Böde is already one goal shy of last season’s total of eleven after last week’s remarkable performance. His hat trick could have been four had he converted the penalty that was handed to him in the 60th minute but it wasn’t to be. Fradi’s response to their 2-1 defeat against Diósgyor a fortnight ago was clinical and complete against Balmazújváros and they'll look to build on that on Saturday.  They’ve won their last eight games at home and I can’t see them falling here against a Puskás side that has only scored once since the start of the spring season. Fradi have also never lost to Puskás at home.
Attila Pintér’s side were thumped at Paks last week and they continue to struggle mightily on the road. I don’t see that changing here. They’ve drawn both games against them 1-1 so far this season, but Thomas Doll has his side hitting on all cylinders at home this season.
Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Puskás

NB1 Round 22 preview

NB1 - Round 22 preview

Paul and Chris  are licking their wounds after a particularly harsh match day 21 where the likes of Újpest and Ferencváros went down to surprising defeats. Last season’s title rematch between Videoton and Honvéd was abandoned due to the pitch resembling the wastelands of Siberia than a proper surface (like Paks’), meaning we’ll never really know the lowly depths our predictions for that week. So Paul and Chris will return to the punishment buffet (commonly known as the NB1) as proper gluttons.

Paul: Hello Chris.  I don’t know about you but I had a terrible week 21.  I’m ready to throw my hands up in frustration but then again I’m thankful to live in California with nice weather and not the unpredictable Hungarian winter.   Once again I was fooled by every single team in the first division. Just when I thought Ferencváros was ready to pull away from the pack, they lost to a pesky Diósgyőr side. Újpest show they are not ready to be a consistent top 3 club.  The fight to stay in the NB1 may prove to be as exciting as anything else in the division. Apologies to Mezőkövesd who I called vanilla and not very exciting, they were anything but.   Chris and I won’t give up and hope to have better fortunes in Round 22!

Chris: I have to admit that I sensed Haladás coming up with a big win and they didn’t disappoint, but there certainly were a number of surprising results last week. Lilák proved they still can’t hold a lead, Tamás Bódog’s halftime pep talk must have stirred something within the DVTK squad, and Vasas sunk to a new low. Let’s move on to this week’s action and see what’s in store.

Saturday, 10 March

Vasas vs Honvéd
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Vasas did not show up at against Haladás.  I saw no inspiration or fight whatsoever from the club which was quite disappointing.  Michael Oenning’s time at Vasas will not be long unless the wins start happening now.  Rumours are circulating of either Géza Mészöly or Bernd Storck replacing Oenning as the manager.  Last year’s great season is only a memory and relegation is a real possibility.  The squad is weak and nearing the point where the manager will be the sacrificial lamb for the team’s  poor performances. Vasas has 5 defeats in a row and counting…
Honvéd had a week off due to the poor playing conditions at Bozsik József Stadion which at least meant they did not lose.  Vasas should be the right medicine for a Honvéd club that has lost four out of their last five games.  Look for Davide Lanzafame to find his goal scoring touch again along with an assist to Eppel.  As long as Lanzafame plays well and is interested, Honvéd are a fun side to watch. Once again, what a difference a year makes for last year’s champions.
Prediction: Vasas 1-3 Honvéd

Chris: This is a match with 102 years of history behind it and this will be the 176th league meeting between these old foes. Vasas will want to look back on better days but their dreadful run continued last week. What’s more concerning is their lack of goals over the long haul. In their last 11 games they’ve scored more than one goal only once, and have been kept off the score sheet four times. Managing director Miklós Vancsa believes that the club can stay up but he had some strong words  for his team this week ahead of the match against Honvéd. Manager Michael Oenning has bemoaned his lack of depth due to injury, but he should see some of his wounded returning shortly. Mohamed Remeli’s injury last week shouldn’t keep him out of this one and team co-scoring leader Bálint Gaál could be ready.
Attila Supka’s start at Kispest hasn’t been stellar with a nervy win at home against Paks and then a total defensive breakdown at Groupama a fortnight ago. With an extra week to prepare, Honvéd will want to take full advantage of Vasas’ current plight. Davide Lanzafame’s inability to find the back of the net recently has hurt the champions in their quest for a top three spot. The question will be, has the time off helped them to prepare or will it dull their match sharpness? The way things have been going this spring I’m guessing the former.
Prediction: Vasas 2-2 Honvéd

Ferencváros vs Balmazújváros
at Groupama Arena, Budapest

Paul: Just when I thought, Ferencváros was going to start separating themselves from the competition, they lose.  Such is football in Hungary. Parity is the rule not the exception in Hungarian football.   Ferencváros lacked fight and aggressiveness last weak, both qualities Diósgyőr used to pull off the upset last week.   At home, Ferencváros should be back in the win column, though this match will not be easy. Nice to see Daniel Böde in such good form, and the fall play of Roland Varga would be very welcome again for Ferencváros, along with the swift return of Zoltán Gera.
Ferenc Horváth has his squad playing well so this match should not be the blow out it would have been at the start of the season.   Look for Horváth to come up with a game plan to keep his squad in the match. Gergely Rudolf is turning into a good substitution option for the squad but lacks the match fitness to play a full match.  Balmazújváros has drawn four of its last five matches but a draw here appears to be too optimistic.   Ferencváros will win but only by a goal over an overachieving Balmazújváros squad in an entertaining match.
Prediction: Ferencváros 2-1 Balmazújváros

Chris: On paper this is a slam-dunk, no-question, Fradi masterclass that vaults them in the clear at the top of the table, right? Who are we kidding? This is the NB1 folks … where dreams come to die. Thomas Doll’s squad had a chance to show they meant business last week against a Diósgyor side that seemed all but capsized but the current league frontrunners reverted to the stuff of the German manager’s nightmares. Frustratingly so as they grabbed an early lead and looked on course, but lost their concentration after the break. This is another golden opportunity for them. The chance to wash away the bitter taste of last week in their own house, but their opponents are feeling their oats.
Last week’s goalless draw against Paksi extended Balmazújváros’ unbeaten run to seven games and has kept them above the relegation zone for another week. It was also their third clean sheet in succession which has been the most impressive part. Ferenc Horváth’s side have already matched their number of clean sheets from the fall season. I think it’s a stretch to say that Balmaz will end Fradi’s home unbeaten record on Saturday but they could give them a run for their money.
Prediction: Ferencváros 1-0 Balmazújváros

Debrecen vs Újpest
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: Debrecen played better last week against Puskas but has yet to score in league play in the new year.  The chances were there but poor finishing occurs a lot in Hungarian football. Andras Herczeg has to be wondering what happened to the squad that started off so well in the fall and has yet to make an appearance in the new year.  The real Debrecen is somewhere in between the current and the fall squad at the moment.
Nebojsa Vignjevic has to be pulling his hair out after Újpest were not able to close out and win yet another match.  The club has left a lot of points on the table. This is the type of match that can have any outcome and it will not surprise anyone.  Both squads lack consistency and have the “inconsistent” tag on their shoulders. With that said, I see goals finally and another draw which does neither side much good.
Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Újpest

Chris: András Herczeg is really missing the likes of Aleksandar Jovanovic and Justin Mengolo on the wings, and it’s shown as they’ve yet to score in the spring without the craft, speed and aggression of two of their biggest threats. Debrecen are also thin in defense with János Ferenczi and Balázs Bényei out injured. To top it off, stalwart central defender Csaba Szatmári will miss this week due to collecting his fifth caution last week against Puskás. It’s a low time for Loki who were flying high in the fall and they’ll need to see some fringe players step up to get anything out of this one.
Újpest are like a broken record when it comes to late-game concentration. Up 2-1 with 20 minutes to play at home last week, they conceded twice to throw away three important points. A poor performance by goalkeeper Filip Pajovic led to the defeat but it couldn’t have happened with that alone. Lilák’s defense has been suspect for most of this campaign and it’s not due to lack of talent. Szusza Ferenc should be a fortress for them but it really makes no difference this season as they continue to struggle dropping points late in games. They did see off Paks in the Magyar Kupa earlier this week to advance in what could be their only realistic chance for silverware this season.
Újpest haven’t defeated Debrecen away from home since 2013 and have lost their last three meetings with them on the road. However, with Loki’s selection troubles they’ll have a chance to get points here. I have to agree with Paul - another draw is on the cards.
Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Újpest

Paks vs Puskás Akadémia
at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Two squads with different approaches to football.  Paks play all Hungarians and while Puskas claim to be an academy club, yet a majority of the starting line-up is made of foreign players.  Congratulations to Aurél Csertői on a richly deserved contract extension. He always seem to get the best of his teams. His team celebrates with a nice home win over the “Academy.”
Puskás Akadémia has not given up a goal in  2018 league play but at the same time, they have not scored any goals either.   Always look at the bright side of life, right? In Hungary, they say things happen in 3’s but I can’t see another 0-0 draw for Puskas. A goal will be scored but not enough for a win and Paks reasserts their home advantage against a hapless Puskás Akadémia.
Prediction: Paks 2-1 Puskás Akadémia

Chris: Paks returned home with a quality point in unfavorable conditions in Balmazújváros last week. They are tough at home and will hope to use it to full advantage this week. They defeated Puskás in Felcsút back in late September and should be confident to get maximum points here.
Puskás could be getting a huge boost to their squad if forward András Radó returns from a broken ankle this week. The former Fradi forward switched to Puskás last summer but went down with the injury against Honvéd in early August. He might not be fully match fit but if he does play it could energize a lethargic attack that has yet to score this spring. Ezekiel Henty got another 72 minutes in last week but has yet to open his account since moving from Videoton during the winter. Puskás has the players to win games but they’re just not taking full advantage. With only one win in their last five they are slipping down the table.
Prediction: Paks 1-1 Puskás Akadémia

Mezőkövesd vs Haladás
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul: I must commend Mezőkövesd on their win over last week.  They showed that they will battle until the end to stay up in the first division.  Super sub Márk Koszta came on to score two crucial goals to defeat Újpest. The time has arrived for the ex-Honvéd player to join the starting 11 now.   Strange side note that manager, Attila Kuttor, never appears at the end of matches for interviews on the “Góóól!” show on M4.  Please watch it as it is  nice wrap up show available to watch online.  Mezőkövesd has not lost in their last 8 matches, of which 6 are draws.
Haladás continued their strong form at their new home with a 3-0 thrashing of Vasas.  Myke Ramos had a nice goal from a long pass that is worth watching again if you can. One almost wants  Barnabás Rácz to score to witness his Zoltán Gera-esque goal celebrations. The backline of Haladás was impressive with four players, including the age-less Gábor Király earning top 4 ratings in the InStat Index of the last round.   Haladás has yet to lose in their new stadium but this match sees them away. Both clubs are playing well, which will  continue but neither club can pull away from the other in a tight match.
Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-1 Haladás

Chris: Rooted at the bottom of the table, Mezőkövesd look doomed to relegation. However, if you look at their recent run of form they are unbeaten in their last six matches and have only conceded two goals in their last four. Márk Koszta’s late show off the bench last week against Újpest was a boost to their hopes of staying alive in NB1. Now, only three points from the line they return home to play Haladás. Városi Stadion hasn’t been a welcome place for them this season though. Only one win in ten home games is not maximizing potential by any means.
Haladás returned to winning ways last week with an impressive win over dismal Vasas. Their home record is impressive with six wins in 12 games which is the third best home record in the league. Away from home they’ve lost seven of nine. I’m not going with the trend here as Haladás should have enough quality to see their way past Mezo, but it won’t be easy. If they’re to pull away from relegation trouble now they’ll need these three points. Besides, Mezőkövesd haven’t won two games on the trot since the first two games of the season.
Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-2 Haladás

Videoton vs Diósgyor
at Pancho Arena, Felcsút (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: Videoton return after a week off due to the poor pitch conditions against Honvéd. Interestingly, Szabolcs Huszti was on the bench for Videoton’s first match but he should be kept away from any match action until the the pitch conditions improve.  Videoton’s attacking football should be too much in this match against the upstart Diósgyőr club who disposed of Ferencváros last week.
Tamás Bódog has a rare ability to get his team up for matches against the top clubs.  Interesting side note, Bódog is just a day older than myself for what it is worth. Can Diósgyőr pull off a Haladás feat and defeat Vidi and Fradi two weeks in a row? Big difference is this game is being played away, otherwise anything is possible in the wild, wild NB1.  In a match of contrasting styles and coaches, this match should serve as a fitting end to round 22.
Prediction: Videoton 3-1 Diósgyor

Chris: Marko Nikolics continues to be rumored as Partizan’s next manager which can’t be going over well at the club. Videoton are on course to challenge for the title again this season and have had an extra week to prepare for this match, as well as deal with speculation. The club has reiterated that Nikolics is under contract and won’t respond to rumors but that kind of news has to be unsettling to club looking to win the title. Along with that, Vidi might also be on the hook for a fine due to a loophole in the regulations for calling off their match against Honvéd last week. Either way they’ll need to come up with maximum points to put pressure on the league leaders. I have to say they didn’t look particularly impressive against Vasas at home in their first game back, needing a second half goal to win it and failing to produce a third against ten men.
Diósgyor were awakened from their slumber last week and shocked most of us with an impressive, come-from-behind victory against Ferencváros. It wasn’t pretty and the game turned ugly toward the end with goal-scorer Dusan Brkovic being send off in the dying moments. But it was a gritty win and it has to be a boost for Tamás Bódog who was showing tantrum-level frustration. This has the potential to not only be exciting on the score sheet but also in the referee’s book.

Prediction: Videoton 2-2 Diósgyor