PREVIEW - NBI Round 18

Ladies and gentleman, there are only two match days remaining before the winter break and this week’s NBI Round 18 preview will give you the scoop on what to watch for as each team looks to finish out the year on a high note.

After the dust settled last Saturday the title race was as tight as it’s been since 21 September when the top five teams were separated by just two points and Vasas had a slim, one-point lead at the top. Márton Eppel’s late winner for Honvéd was a key moment as it was the string that pulled everyone together.

The following tables show the ebb and flow of Vasas' lead which started after round 5 and reached its zenith in late October before coming back down to earth on Saturday.

21 September G Pts GD
Vasas SC 10 19 5
Ferencváros 10 18 8
Szombathelyi Haladás 10 18 3
Videoton FC 10 17 11
22 October G Pts GD
Vasas SC 13 28 11
Videoton FC 13 23 14
Ferencváros 13 22 7
Szombathelyi Haladás 13 21 1
26 November G Pts GD
Vasas SC 17 31 10
Videoton FC 17 30 19
Ferencváros 17 29 9
Budapest Honvéd 17 28 10

The peloton has now caught the breakaway pack and it will be an exciting finish to end the first half of the season.

Ten of the twelve team played in the Magyar Kupa this week with MTK, Haladás and Videoton joining Paksi and Debrecen as eliminated from the competition.  It will be interesting to see how the midweek games affect Saturday's contests.

Berg’s offense catching fire

Debreceni VSC (8th) vs Videoton FC (2nd)
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Videoton dominated MTK last week. If they hadn’t been as wasteful as they were they could have won by 3 or 4 to nil, but at times they were happy to cut through the opposition defense without providing the finish. There’s a cocky arrogance in the side that has shown both the good and the bad recently. For instance, watching Marko Scepovic and Krisztián Géresi stand and watch the opposition goalkeeper hash a save in his six-yard box when they should have been on top of the rebound was just brutal last week. They watched on as if they thought the goal would happen on its own. In contrast, the second half was brilliant. The clairvoyance between Scepovic and Danko Lazovic was palpable and created some entertaining football - including two very well-taken goals. Hopefully, for Henning Berg’s sake, the latter will overcome the former as they look to find consistency and consecutive victories for the first time since September. They’ve come close, but they haven’t won away from home since a 2-1 win over Honvéd on 24 September.

Leonel Pontes must be scratching his head in wonder at how his side managed to be sent packing without a point in Sopron last week. Debrecen had their chances with Dávid Holman and Robert Vittek the main culprits in term of profligacy. Pontes has only had two home games in the league in the last two months and hasn’t won in front of home support since early September. They’ve also been held goalless three times at home this season. Debrecen needed a late equalizer against MTK in round 16 and were held without a goal in the matches preceding and following that match meaning they’ve scored once in their last three. They’ll need something magical against Videoton to take anything from this one.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-3 Videoton - Vidi break Debrecen on the road.

Horváth’s Diósgyor surging

Vasas SC (1st) vs Diósgyori VTK (10th)
at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

Ferenc Horváth takes his side’s resurgence show back on the road after two “home” victories. Diósgyor have yet to officially win away from home this season despite traveling to neutral venues for their victories against Haladás and Paksi in recent weeks. This week’s test against league leaders Vasas will be a true test for Horváth’s squad who are returning to health and form all at once. They will be without skipper Ákos Elek and defender Zoltán Lipták who is a team co-leader in goals scored with four (2 in his last two games). Attacking midfielder István Bognár has come off the bench in the last two games with a broken hand but it’s possible that he might get his first start since round 14.
Super-sub Roland Ugrai scored an injury-time winner a fortnight ago and followed up his own missed penalty to score again in injury time on Saturday giving him two goals in his last 25 minutes played.

Despite leading the league and going unbeaten in their previous six matches, Vasas fell to Honvéd leaving them with just three points in their last four. The leaders missed the attacking threat of striker Mahir Saglik who served his first of a three-match ban on Saturday. Michael Oenning may need to rely upon Martin Ádám a bit more this game. He does lead the club with 6 goals and he last scored against MTK Budapest which was the last time Vasas won at home.

Prediction: Vasas SC 2-1 Diósgyor

Gyirmót looking to end run of futility

Gyirmót FC Gyor (12th) vs Budapest Honvéd (4th)
at Alcufer Stadion, Gyor

István Urbányi needs a win as his side are spinning out of control. Six consecutive defeats have seen Gyirmót fall from 9th and land at the bottom of the table with a crash. Their lack of offensive production hasn’t been a surprise. After scoring a season high 2 goals in their opening match this season they haven’t scored more than one goal in any game since. What helped them earlier this season was a run of five clean sheets where they picked up 11 of their 13 points. Since then they have shipped an average of 2 goals per game during their current run of miserable form.

Honvéd marked their intentions with a late victory over Vasas last week. They are four matches without defeat, winning three in that span. Red-hot goal scorer Davide Lanzafame seems to have cooled down over the last couple of weeks, but it was encouraging for Marco Rossi to see Márton Eppel get back on the score sheet - his first since scoring five in his first five matches this season.
Rossi gets Endre Botka back from suspension this week which will be a boost for his backline. Gyirmót shouldn’t threaten much, though, as they’ve scored just four goals in 8 home games.

Prediction: Gyirmót 0-2 Budapest Honvéd

Újpest put 8-match unbeaten run on the line

MTK Budapest (9th) vs Újpest FC (7th)
at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest

Újpest get back on the road this week, and that’s a good thing. Their last two victories have come on the road with their most recent against lowly Gyirmót two weeks ago. Their previous win was back in mid-August. This is a problem for Nebojša Vignjevic who has seen his team squander valuable points this season. They must improve defensively as their lack of concentration has turned victories into draws during their bittersweet eight-match unbeaten run. Lilák were without Souleymane Diarra who was banned after collecting five yellow cards but he’s likely to make a return in Saturday’s derby.  Also, Kylian Hazard looks to be recovering well from his knee injury and could return for Újpest in February.

MTK return home to try and end a four-match run without a victory after being outclassed against Videoton last week. Sándor Torghelle had returned from suspension against Vidi but he was isolated and rendered ineffective for most of the game. He’s played much better at home and should be relishing the chance to take advantage of Újpest’s porous defense. These two clubs battled to a goalless draw in their first meeting of the season back in late August but I don’t see a similar result on the cards. Even though they've scored more than one goal only once in their last nine matches they always seem to keep things close - especially at home where they’re unbeaten in their last five.

Prediction: MTK Budapest 2-2 Újpest FC - Same, same, same.

Tujvel one to watch in Fradi clash

Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE (6th) vs Ferencváros (3rd)
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

I’m really liking Mezőkövesd these days. They have put up a very respectable run of six matches unbeaten with four victories. Goalkeeper Tomas Tujvel has been nothing short of amazing, conceding just twice six matches and last week’s goal was a penalty. His confidence looks to be growing and he can enter this match with knowledge of his foe as he helped Mezo to a 2-2 draw at Groupama in August. They don’t have much going forward but Gábor Molnár looked lively against Újpest on Saturday. New striker Ulysse Diallo didn’t play last week but it will be interesting to see if he factors in this one. Attila Pintér’s squad is undefeated in their last three at home and another result against the champions would be massive for a side that was promoted last season from NBII.

Fradi did what they needed to do last week against Gyirmót, but it was far from the impressive, comprehensive victory that they hoped for. Both of their goals were unconventional as they labored to pick apart a team that they clearly outclassed in terms of talent. Yes, they picked up their first home clean sheet of the season, but is that something to celebrate against a team that have scored 8 goals all season?
At the other end, they don’t look like a team that is hitting on all cylinders. Own goals and penalties still get the desired result at the end of the day, but relying upon them isn’t a good strategy. Marco Djuricin has looked positive recently, scoring in each of his last two games, but Dániel Böde looks an imposter to his form earlier in the season. They're in need of some inspiration if they’re to take control of the league as expected.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE 1-1 Ferencváros - solid defending will frustrate Fradi again.

Haladás dive into the void in search of points

Paksi FC (11th) vs Szombathelyi Haladás (5th)
at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paksi were dismantled by a superior Diósgyor last week, falling to defeat for just the second time in their last eight. It was the first time they’d been held off the score sheet since a late September goalless draw against MTK in Budapest. Aurél Csertoi’s squad will be back at home this week where they are still unbeaten. They’ve only conceded 5 goals this season at Fehérvári úti Stadion but, maybe just as importantly, they’ve only scored six. Paks have only been defeated in consecutive weeks just once this season (both were away matches, of course). Their lack of any real attacking threat is a worry for Paksi supporters but they’ve managed to stay within touching distance of safety. They’re just a point adrift of both DVTK and MTK who both have difficult matches this week as well. János Hahn has looked energized in recent matches yet has nothing to show for his industry in the last couple of games.

Haladás broke their recent run of bad results last week with a narrow 1-0 victory over Debrecen. It was a fortunate win for them as they seemed outplayed for long stretches, and their goal arrived against the run of play. Young goalkeeper Márton Gyurján looked solid in his debut for Hali with some great saves including an impressive stop on a Dávid Holman breakaway.
Bálint Gaál was held off the score sheet for the first time in four games despite having a couple of good opportunities. Also, defensive midfielder Bence Iszlai will miss Saturday’s contest for accumulating 5 yellow cards. Iszlai’s absence will leave a gaping hole in midfield as he’s not missed a single minute of action in the league this season.

Prediction: Paksi FC 1-1 Haladás - I can’t see either side taking too many risks in this one.

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NBI round 17 review

NBI - round 17 review (part two)

Okay, as promised here's the second part of the NBI Round 17 review. You can read part one here.  Enjoy!

Hali return to winning ways

Szombathelyi Haladás 1-0 Debreceni VSC
my prediction: Haladás 2-1 Debrecen

Haladás and Debrecen played an exciting contest in which the points should have been shared to be fair. The visitors dominated the early stages but didn’t really cause any concern until the 18th minute. Ivan Bobko was left unmarked on the left side of the box, but he decided to slip a teasing ball ahead of Robert Vittek who was unable to reach it with the goal at his mercy. Ten minutes later Dávid Holman scampered down the right but his tight-angled shot was denied by a fine save from goalkeeper Márton Gyurján who was making his debut for Haladás. More pressure resulted in Ioan Filip getting a free header for Debrecen before the half but he directed it well over.
These were all chances the visitors would kick themselves for missing as Hali went ahead early in the second half. A floating Barnabás Rácz corner somehow eluded the rising combatants inside the box and was directed home with a stooping header from Sjoerd Ards. Branislav Danilovic was rooted to spot - no chance.
Gyurján came up big for Haladás as he stopped Holman again - this time on a breakaway in the 65th minute. Later Zsolt Horváth was adjudged to have timed his run perfectly to be sent in behind the protesting Hali defense. His shot beat Gyurján but hit the post and trickled across the goalmouth before being cleared.
More action, this time at the other end as Peter Halmosi played a clever chip ahead of Bálint Gaál who unleashed a right-footed shot that fizzed past the far post five minutes from time.
Another flurry of action in the Haladás area ended without any profit and the hosts held out for the points.

Pauljevic earns Mező a point

Újpest FC 1-1 Mezőkövesd-Zsory SE
my prediction: Újpest 2-1 Mezőkövesd

Újpest were hoping to chalk up another win after getting their first victory since mid-August last week, but their defense let them down in the second half as another lead slipped from their grasp.
The first half was marked by lethargy and half-chances. The only real moment of excitement was a headed free kick that found the back of the net for Mezőkövesd but it was ruled out (rightly) by the assistant referee whose flag was already up. The cheeky Mező skipper András Vági waved his finger at the officials but replays showed he was clearly offside. Then, on 36 minutes, Enis Bardhi tried an ambitious free kick from 40 yards that didn’t miss by much.
In the opening stages of the second half, Bardhi went up for a headed cross in the area but was dragged to the floor by Dávid Hudák and a penalty was given by Mr. Andó-Szabó. Nemanja Andric sent goalkeeper Tomas Tujvel the wrong way and buried the penalty to give the hosts the lead. But, like in so many other matches this season, Újpest couldn’t hold on. In fact, it took just a few minutes for their defense to break down. A long ball was played down the left channel that Gábor Molnár ran onto leaving a trail of bewildered defenders in his wake. As Dávid Banai came off his line to challenge him Molnár touched the ball to his right where an ecstatic Branko Pauljevic almost hashed the opportunity but he found the roof of the net from six yards.
Andric had a gilt-edged chance to put Lilák back in front later in the half when Bálazs Balogh fed him a slide-rule pass into the area. The Serbian fired past Tujvel but off the post. Andric stood there in disbelief, mirroring the home support who were left frustrated once again.

Lazovic double puts Vidi on the cusp

Videoton 2-0 MTK Budapest
my prediction: Videoton 4-1 MTK Budapest

In the late game at the glorious Pancho Aréna, aglow with a bright green pitch and the majestic orange splayed colonnades that set a unique backdrop, Videoton and their usual 1,400 or so supporters played host to MTK. Vidi had the better chances out of the gates and a flowing move between Danko Lazovik and Marko Scepovic almost created the opener. Lazovik played Scepovic deep down the right and ran through the middle to pounce on the return pass across the the top of the area and smashed it on goal. The keeper spilled the save but Scepovic and Krisztián Géresi never followed the shot and the chance was lost. Miserable.
Then, on the half hour, Lazovik struck a sweet free kick that came of the bar and fell to Roland Juhász who headed over from 8 yards out. Unforgivable.
Minute 64 was the next missed opportunity by the hosts as Scepovic chased another long ball down the right flank before setting up Kristian Geresi at the top of the area to screw his shot wide of the far post. Head in hands.
The opener came with an amusing prelude as MTK’s Sándor Torghelle scrambled to control a loose ball at midfield before being knocked flat on his back side by Stopira. What followed was a great team move. The ball was moved out to István Kovacs who played a pinpoint ball over the top to the outside of Scepovic’s right boot that set up Lazovic with a scorching volley - pandemonium.
Scepovic was at it again in the final moments as he stripped Dragan Vukmir and fed Lazovic with a sweet pass into space. Lazovic dribbled and darted in and around Ádám Vass before rifling a shot that went through the hands of the keeper and in. Henning Berg’s side are now just a point off the pace. Wow, what a league! Three points separate the top four sides after 17 games.

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NBI - round 17 review (part one)

It was another compelling weekend in Hungarian football. The script-writers have decided to create a frustrating, yet enthralling congestion at the top of the table that will only become more intriguing in the last two weeks before the winter break. It was a banner week for me as I predicted three of six correctly - an impressive feat for sure during this crazy season.
Here is part one of my review this week:

Kispest reel in Vasas at top

Budapest Honvéd 2-1 Vasas SC
my prediction: Honvéd 1-2 Vasas

Honvéd decided to be fashionably late to the “injury time drama” party, coming up with their own fireworks this week as they set aside the league leaders at home. Patrick Ikenne-King had the best chances on either side of the break. The Honvéd winger’s first chance came toward the end of the opening half when Filip Holender floated a left wing cross to a wide open Ikenne-King who volleyed a dipping shot wide of Gergely Nagy’s right hand post. In the opening minute of the second half it was Ikenne-King who took advantage of a failed Vasas clearance in their box and he lashed a goal-bound drive but was denied by the keeper’s quick right foot.
Honvéd continued to apply pressure but it was Vasas who struck first. On 71 minutes Vasas skipper Mohamed Remeli surged into the area and seemed to stumble with the ball escaping his control, but Evgen Pavlov was alert enough to run onto the stray ball and thump it past the stranded Grof. 1-0 to Vasas.
Honvéd leveled ten minutes later, however, when an inswinging corner from Dániel Prosser curled wickedly right at the keeper who misjudged it and couldn’t keep it out.
The winner came in injury time as a long Lanzafame free kick found Márton Eppel running through unmarked and he cooly side-footed past Nagy before wheeling away in delight.

 

Diósgyor crawl out of relegation zone

Diósgyori VTK 2-0 Paksi FC
my prediction: DVTK 1-1 Paksi

Ferenc Horváth will be delighted with his side’s first consecutive wins since the start of the season. With players coming back from injury, we may see a new DVTK in the second half of the season and this recent resurgence might be a portent of what’s to come.
Diósgyor started the game with intent. On the quarter hour Nono’s free kick rattled the bar. The loose ball was chased down by Zoltán Liptak who hooked the ball back into the area only for Patrik Bacsa to nod wide of the far post.
János Hahn almost got the visitors on the board with a long-range drive on 55 minutes that was pushed away by the DVTK keeper.
Diósgyor deservedly went ahead on 59 minutes when Liptak glanced a Nono corner past the keeper from a tight angle. The hosts doubled their lead late when substitute Roland Ugrai was brought down in the area by Paks captain Zsolt Gévay. Ugrai’s penalty was saved by Szabolcs Kemenes but the rebound fell fortuitously back to Ugrai who swept it home easily with the second attempt.

Champs get job done to close in on leaders

Ferencváros 2-0 Gyirmót
my prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Gyirmót

After five consecutive defeats, Gyirmót manager István Urbányi decided to hand goalkeeper Edvárd Rusák his debut on Saturday at Groupama Aréna. That’s tantamount to throwing the 22 year-old to the wolves. Good thing for the young stopper Fradi weren’t that hungry. In fact, the visitors has the first real chance in this one. In the 17th minute Leandro made a poor back pass that was tracked down by Norbert Csiki who cut inside and forced Dénes Dibusz into making a spectacular save at full stretch. Fradi took over after getting settled and created chances but they needed time to adjust their sights as their attempts never troubled the Gyor keeper in the first half.
The champions finally took the lead when Seung-Woo Ryu got a touch to a ball in a goalmouth scramble and it deflected off the head of Ádám Présinger and back across goal leaving Rusák flat footed. 1-0. Dániel Böde almost doubled the lead just before the hour. A deep cross from Leandro found the Hungary international rising above a defender to head on target but Rusák was there to push it away. However, a few minutes later Marco Djuricin hit a skidding drive from distance that somehow beat Rusák at the far post. All in all it was good win for Ferencváros as they kept their first clean sheet at home this season. However, moving forward, an own goal and a deflected long shot shouldn't be their main staple in terms of offense against a team like Gyirmót at home.


PREVIEW: NBI round 17

Even though it’s Thanksgiving week here in the US, I’ve still managed to find the time for a ‘quick’ preview of Saturday’s games. Enjoy!

Unless you’ve been living in a hole somewhere recently you must have noticed the Hungarian NBI season this year. Last week alone had enough shining moments to attract even the most passive football aficionado. This season has everything - a packed table, a legitimate underdog, and some amazing individual feats occurring on a weekly basis.
This week there are battles at both the top and bottom of the table, key players (and a manager) banned, and plenty of anticipation for the spectacular to occur. Read on for a preview of each of the six game slated for Saturday

Kispest look to close gap on leaders

Budapest Honvéd (4th) vs Vasas SC (1st)
at Bozsik József Stadion, Kispest

Honvéd came from behind to draw against Paksi last week. As disappointing as it was to drop points, Marco Rossi’s side will pay for their lack of discipline. Skipper Patrik Hidi and right back Endre Botka are banned after amassing 5 yellow cards. Botka’s absence will be felt as both games he hasn’t featured in this season were defeats. Honvéd are unbeaten in their last three but they haven’t done well against the top sides this season. Their last meeting with league-leaders Vasas ended in a 2-0 defeat. Other recent defeats have been against Ferencváros (3rd), Videoton (2nd) and Mezőkövesd (5th) - not a good omen as they prepare to host the pacesetters.
Vasas got their own bad news this week as forward Mahir Saglik was handed a three-match ban for his dismissal against Ferencváros at the weekend. The Turkish forward has been in good form with four goals in his last five matches. However, Vasas have won five of eight without Saglik starting and he wasn’t in the squad when they beat Honvéd in their last meeting.
Vasas are unbeaten in their last six, on a run of 3 draws, and have scored 14 goals in last 6 games. István Ferenczi scored two goals in 12 minutes in his first appearance last week. The 39-year old ex-Ferencváros forward led the way in an inspiring performance that led Vasas to an important 2-2 draw against the champions.

Prediction: Budapest Honvéd 1-2 Vasas - Zsombor Berecz and Mohamed Remeli to carve open a depleted Honvéd back line.

Teams desperate for victory in relegation six-pointer

Diósgyori VTK (11th) vs Paksi FC (10th)
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

DVTK move from one temporary home to another this week as they shift to Mezőkövesd for this week’s match. Their excursion to Debrecen last week proved favorable as they ended a three-game skid with a victory that pulled them off the bottom of the table. It was the first time they weren’t propping up the table since 20 September. Ferenc Horváth looks to be getting some of his troops back as Márk Tamás was back in training this week. Tamás has been out with injury since late September. István Bognár came off the bench last game with a cast on his broken hand and looked great last week. Look for him to start on Saturday. Diósgyor are a better team than their record reflects. They have scored 10 goals in their last 5 matches and should continue improving defensively as players return from injury. In their last match against Paks they disappointingly conceded two late goals to fall 2-1. They’ll want to set the record straight this week.

Aurél Csertoi has done wonders with Paksi this season. With just one defeat in their last 8 matches they have stayed above the drop zone by grinding out results. They’re currently on an impressive unbeaten run in which they picked up points against Újpest and Honvéd at home while defeating Ferencváros away. They are undefeated at home, but their 7 draws and 6 goals scored in eight matches conveys a conservative style. However, they play a much more open game on the road. Their recent results have only increased their confidence and that should serve them well in the weeks to come.
Forward János Hahn has scored twice in Paks’ last four matches to level László Bartha as the team’s leading scorer with 4 goals, but Bartha hasn’t found the net since mid-October.

Prediction: Diósgyori VTK 1-1 Paksi FC

Limping Fradi look to return to winning ways

Ferencváros (3rd) vs Gyirmót FC Gyor (12th)
at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

One might think that returning home would be a comfort to most clubs, but Ferencváros have conceded more goals on their own pitch (15) than any other club in the league. To add to their recent misery, left back Cristian Ramirez has been banned for 3 matches for stamping on an opponent in last week’s sensational derby against Vasas. Thomas Doll also received a two-match ban for his antics on the touchline and will watch Saturday’s game from the stands. Despite their defensive woes they have scored 9 goals in their last four games. They did defeat Gyirmót 1-0 away last time they met but it wasn’t anything to write home about. Doll has a strong rotation in his back line and should be able to cope without Ramirez in theory, but implementing a “fortress mentality” will get harder unless they can stop the flow of goals at home - especially against the likes of Gyor.

Gyirmót have reached the bottom with a thud because, well, they’ve been playing like a bottom team. Their last minute defeat to Újpest last week had made it five on the trot, ending Lilák’s run of six draws. They’ve conceded 8 goals in their last three and have scored just 2 in their last 5. They’re even worse on the road, scoring just 1 in their last 5 away matches.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Gyirmót - Fradi claim their first clean sheet at home.

Haladás seeking safe harbor to patch sinking ship

Szombathelyi Haladás (7th) vs Debreceni VSC (8th)
at Soproni Városi Stadion, Sopron

Haladás are having a bit of an identity crisis. Since their four-match winning run in the early stages of the campaign they’ve been somewhat inconsistent. They’re a team that could be kept off the score sheet and lose to Gyirmót at home one week, and then defeat Ferencváros the next. Most recently they’re without a victory in four, scoring just 3 goals and conceding 8 in that span. Bálint Gaál continued his purple patch in front of goal last week in a losing effort. He scored his fourth goal in his last five games. Haladás have only lost once at home, but Debrecen are hot on their heels and will be hoping to leapfrog them this week.

Leonel Pontes’ side come into this one as road warriors - undefeated away from home in their last four. They’ve scored 5 and conceded 5 in their last five matches. Dávid Holman continued his torrid form with stunning late leveler against MTK last week. He’s now scored four goals in his last six.

Prediction: Haladás 2-1 Debrecen - everything points to another draw here but I think Debrecen are on borrowed time away from home. Their luck runs out and Hali get the points.

Windecker goal wakes sleeping giant

Újpest FC (6th) vs Mezőkövesd-Zsory SE (5th)
at Széktói Stadion, Kecskemét

Nebojša Vignjevic’s side returns home this week with their first 3-point haul since mid-August. Jozsef Windecker’s injury time strike assured Újpest of the victory in a dramatic finish in Gyor, and should give them the spark they need to finally start reaching their potential. Újpest haven't won at home since a 3-1 win over Gyirmót on 13 August, and Vignjevic will he looking to keep the good times rolling against Mezőkövesd on Saturday. Enis Bardhi had two assists last week, adding to his impressive offensive contribution this season. Windecker’s winner was his second goal in as many games, and it had to be encouraging for János Lázok to get back on the score sheet - his first in three games.

Mezőkövesd will be tough opposition for their hosts this week. Impressively, they have conceded just 1 goal in their last five matches. They’re also unbeaten and not scored upon in their last two away matches. Currently fifth on the table, after being as low as 11th in late September, Attila Pintér can be buoyed by his squad’s impressive recent form - a lot of which can be attributed to goalkeeper Tomáš Tujvel’s form. Since replacing Dávid Dombó at the club’s low point, Tujvel had gone 387 minutes before conceding Marko Scepovic’s equalizer against Videoton last week.
Marek Streštik’s late winner against Videoton was the forward’s first goal since 10 September but it ensured Mezőkövesd’s fourth victory in their last five.
Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Mezőkövesd - Lilák end Mezőkövesd renaissance

Vidi looking for revenge against MTK

Videoton FC (2nd) vs MTK Budapest (9th)
at Puskás Akadémia Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Henning Berg has to be in a foul mood after watching his side fall to Mezőkövesd despite outplaying them for long stretches. Videoton are also looking to make amends for a similar kind of defeat the last time they played MTK which ended 1-0 thanks to a Sándor Torghelle header midway through the second half in mid-August.

Vidi have been spectacular at home, scoring 22 goals and picking up 16 points in 8 games. They’ve outscored their opponents 9-1 in their last two home games. Marko Scepovic has been magnificent, scoring 5 goals in his last five. They have so many weapons it’s no wonder they’ve only been kept off the score sheet just once this season.

MTK seemed to be heading toward their fifth consecutive home win last week when a late Dávid Holman strike left them with a subdued point at the New Hidegkuti Nándor Stadium. They were without striker Sándor Torghelle who was serving a one-match ban for accumulating 5 yellow cards. They needed the points at home because away days have been as dry as the Sahara Desert for them. MTK have only scored four goals are the only team without a victory away from home.

Prediction: Videoton 4-1 MTK Budapest - Berg’s boys bounce back!


Late drama distinguishes NBI round 16

The Hungarian top flight is truly one of the most competitive, entertaining leagues in Europe this season and this weekend’s late drama in five of the six matches only confirmed that perception. Round 16 had it all and, when each game was coming to a close, the thrills just got started in four separate venues.

Marek Streštik got the fireworks started on 86 minutes at Városi Stadion when he nosed Mezőkövesd past Videoton - that was the earliest decider. The rest came in injury time. Roland Ugrai netted his first of the season at Nagyerdei to give DVTK the win on 92 minutes. A minute later József Windecker ended Újpest’s frustrating run of draws with a late winner over Gyirmót, and Dávid Holman’s deflected free kick at the death found it’s way into the far corner of the net to cap a deserved draw for Debrecen at MTK’s Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion in the 96th minute.
And if the final five minutes of four of the afternoon matches weren’t dramatic enough, they wouldn’t overshadow the late theatrics in the Vasas and Ferencváros derby.   Here's a full recap of all the action:

Mezőkövesd 2-1 Videoton
A fabulous floating cross from Gábor Molnár was neatly headed home at the far post by Tarmo Kink to draw first blood after just 9 minutes in Mezőkövesd. Videoton were level before the half hour when Marko Scepovic took advantage of Tamás Szeles’ slip and collected a through pass from Danko Lazovic before cooly slotting past the onrushing keeper for his sixth of the season.
Chances came fast and furious in the second half at both ends, but it was a quick free kick by Stipe Bacelic-Grgic that caught the Vidi defense on their heels. The ball was controlled by Marek Streštik and easily fired past Ádám Kovácsik for the winner. Shocking.

DVTK 2-1 Haladás
Red-hot Bálint Gaál scored his fourth goal in five games to put Haladás ahead early, volleying home a poorly-cleared ball from inside the six yard box. However, István Bognár came off the bench for DVTK on 65 minutes and changed the game. The equalizer came off a Bognár corner as Zoltán Lipták took advantage poor Haladás clearing and slammed home a loose ball from ten yards. Bognár had a shot from the edge of the area come back off the post on 78 and created panic with a cross that was fired over the bar minutes later. Pandemonium ensued when Diego Vela fell in the area but all appeals for a penalty were given a deaf ear by referee József Erdös. All this only set the stage for Roland Ugrai who somehow managed to squeeze a shot through four defenders and inside the near post for this first of the season. Unbelievable.

Gyirmót 1-2 Újpest
It couldn’t be any sweeter for Lilák as they battled from behind with just 12 minutes remaining. Gyirmót held off a Újpest assault for most of the game that included Enis Bardhi rattling the crossbar on two occasions on either side of the break. The hosts had gone ahead after a Patrik Vass cross was sublimely finished at the back post by defender Mijusko Bojovic for his first of the season. The visitors were level six minutes later when a deflected János Lázok shot looped over the keeper and in for his fourth. The killer blow came in injury time when a deep Bardhi corner found József Windecker who cushioned a header back across goal and into the far corner. Bedlam.

MTK Budapest 1-1 Debreceni VSC
Debrecen goalkeeper Branislav Danilovic came close to being sent off for arguing a penalty call by referee Sandor Andó-Szabó early in the second half. Danilovic was adjudged to have brought down Bálint Vogiycska in the area and was booked for the challenge. MTK skipper József Kanta converted the penalty to give the hosts the lead before the hour.
Debrecen defender Dusan Brkovic made a marvelous sliding tackle inside the penalty area on Szabolcs Varga later in the half to give them a chance. Then, after it seemed MTK would hold off a period of late, intense pressure by the visitors, Holman curled a free kick from the edge of the box that beat Danijel Petkovic and handed Debrecen a share of the points. Amazing.

Vasas 2-2 Ferencváros
Then, in the second half of the day’s double feature, the Budapest Derby - it had everything. Fradi struck first when Marco Djuricin latched onto a quickly-taken free kick by Seung-Woo Ryu and surged down the left flank before firing past Gergely Nagy on 9 minutes. Minutes later referee Viktor Kassai awarded the first of four penalties on the day when Gergo Lovrencsics knocked down Mohamed Remeli as he received a pass inside the area. However, Dénes Dibusz got a strong hand to Martin Ádám’s spot kick to deny the host’s equalizer.
Early in the second half Ferencváros were reduced to ten men. Left back Cristian Ramirez was shown a straight red card when he stamped Vasas defender Tamás Vasko after a collision.
It was déjà vu on 72 minutes when Lovrencsics brought down Remeli inside the area again. This time it was Mahir Saglik who would take the spot kick, but Dibusz came to the rescue again - tipping the shot onto the bar and then slapping the rebound away from danger.
The plot was just getting interesting.
Saglik was fouled by Dibusz in the 85th minute as they both went for loose ball inside the box and Mr. Kassai awarded a third penalty to the hosts. Before the kick was taken, though, more drama ensued as Saglik was dismissed for head butting a Fradi player, but replays showed there was nothing to it. The third time was the charm for Vasas as István Ferenczi converted the penalty to draw the sides level at 1-1.
Next, it was the champions turn to receive some Kassai love as Dániel Böde was grabbed by Kire Ritevski as he was running into the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Masked-man Zoltán Gera beat Nagy from the spot and Vasas looked vanquished. But this day wouldn’t end so easily for the champions. A day with this much drama, sudden brilliance, and luck could only end with something special. With time running out, Ritevski redeemed himself by picking up a pass from Remeli and flicked a quick, left-footed cross to the top of the six yard box where Ferenczi glanced home the leveler to the raptures of the home crowd. Vasas have truly been a miraculous story this season and this could be the defining game in what is sure to be a memorable season.

Oh, I almost forgot ... somewhere along the way Paks drew 1-1 with Honvéd to stay unbeaten at home.  See you next week!


PREVIEW: NBI Round 16

Saturday, 19 November, 2016 - Round 16
It was great to see the National Team register another clean sheet victory even if it was only against Andorra. And even though some of the stars like Balázs Dzsudzsák, Krisztián Németh, and László Kleinheisler will return to their celestial places, it’s good to know that some of the national treasures will be playing in Hungary this weekend. Players like Zoltán Gera, who picked up his 96th cap and 26th goal in a memorable night in the capital on Sunday, and his club teammate Daniel Böde, who came on late to replace him, are Magyar masterpieces that should be appreciated.

Now, with the international break in the rearview mirror, NBI picks up where it left off with a packed table and plenty of teams lurking about to pick up the scraps off of Ferencváros’ untidy title defense thus far. This week, however, the champions have a second chance to show upstart Vasas who’s boss. Also this week, Videoton have a tricky away tie against Mezőkövesd and giant-killers Paksi will look to win consecutive matches for the first time this season. Welcome back to top flight domestic football! Hop on the Hungarian stadium merry-go-round and join us as we watch the drama unfold.

Vasas SC (1st) vs. Ferencváros TC (3rd)

at: Bozsik József Stadion (9,500 cap. - 3,848 avg.)

Preview: Is there trouble in paradise at Ferencváros? Manager Thomas Doll has made some rumblings about support at home, wishing that the atmosphere was better despite their inconsistent form. There are also rumors he might be on his way out as greener pastures might be more appealing than the stress of repeating as champions in a league that has seen far more parity this season. No matter what’s happening off the pitch, Herr Doll has a chance to silence the critics and close the gap at the top on Saturday as his side face unlikely leaders Vasas on the pitch. The champions lost their second home game of the season last round to Paks. Vasas beat them at Groupama back in August so this game will have an air of ‘payback’ surrounding it. It will be a chance for some players to step up defensively as Fradi’s defense has been dreadful of late, conceding 11 goals in their last five matches. Ecuadorian left back Cristian Ramirez is hotly rumored to be a target for Spurs in January - perhaps his mind is already there?

Vasas continue to show that they’re the real deal, taking advantage of Újpest’s inability to close out a game, they came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw in Kecskemét a fortnight ago. The draw extended their unbeaten run to five games and has them atop the table by three points. Michael Oenning has Mahir Saglik to thank for much of their recent success. The Turkish striker has scored four goals in Vasas’ last four games. The league leaders have found home to be a true advantage for them, securing 16 of a possible 21 points at Illovszky Rudolf, but this “home” match will be played at Bozsik József Stadion - a place where Ferencváros have already been victorious this season. This could be a defining moment in Vasas’ season. A win would put them at 33 points, one more than they accumulated all of last season. The lion’s share of the pressure will be on their opponents and Oenning’s squad can play with the confidence of a team that has already beaten the champions this season.

Prediction: Vasas SC 1-1 Ferencváros TC - Fradi play more disciplined away, but Vasas are good enough to get a point.

Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE (6th) vs. Videoton FC (2nd)

at: Városi Stadion (5,000 cap. - 2,064 avg.)

Preview: Next month will be one year since Attila Pintér took over at Mezőkövesd and it’s safe to say that he’s been a success at the club. Taking the reins of a team halfway through the season and guiding them to promotion was a triumph. Now Mezo are mid-table and riding a four-match unbeaten run restoring confidence within the club. He built his current squad this summer around captain Dávid Hegedűs who is the longest-tenured player on the team. The acquisition of Marko Streštik (3 goals, 3 assists), Ulysse Diallo (3 goals, 1 assist) and the spine of their defense and midfield were added over the summer and after. Serbian centre back Mihailo Milutinovic is Pintér’s latest addition to his squad. The 21 year-old last played for Braga in Portugal and was just signed this week.
Recently Mezőkövesd have been solid in defense and the addition of Milutinovic adds depth. They’ve kept four clean sheets in a row, but that will be put under a stern test this weekend as they face the league’s most potent offense.

Videoton lead the league in scoring with 34 goals this season. They’ve led away scoring with 12 goals on the road as well. Róbert Feczesin returned to form with two goals in a 4-0 dismantling of Gyirmót last round and he leads his team (and the league) with 8 goals. Vidi have lost just once in their last nine matches and have only been held off the score sheet just twice this season (both away). Henning Berg was happy to announce the contract extension of left-back Stopira over the international break. The Cape Verde international is now secured through 2018 and is an important part of a defense that is third best in the league with just 16 goals conceded in 15 matches.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE 1-2 Videoton FC - both teams are in good form, but Vidi’s array of attacking options gives them the edge.

Paksi FC (10th) vs. Budapest Honvéd (4th)

at: Fehérvári úti Stadion (3,000 cap. - 1,586 avg.)

Preview: Paksi ended a run of four matches without a win by defeating champions Ferencváros 2-1 in Budapest before the break. In a match that the hosts dominated, Aurél Csertői’s men held on resolutely, scoring twice on the counterattack to earn just their third victory of the season. Paks managed to win without defensive mainstay Zsolt Gévay who was suspended. Gévay is certain to be back in the side this week as Paks look to remain the only unbeaten team at home.

Honvéd are on a run of consecutive victories for the third time this season. They have recently ridden the wave of Italian super striker Davide Lanzafame, who has now scored in seven consecutive matches, but they haven’t yet been able to win three in a row. Paks will be no pushover, however, and Marco Rossi’s side will need to be at their best. Honvéd have been awarded a league-high 8 penalties so far this campaign, but they can’t count on charity this week because no away team has been awarded a spot kick yet in Paks. However, the referee assigned to this match, Zsolt Szabó, has awarded two penalties in the six matches he’s been in charge of, both of which were awarded to Honvéd away to DVTK! Kispest have had little success away from home since that game as they’ve lost three of their last four in recent travels.

Prediction: Paksi FC 1-0 Budapest Honvéd - Fehérvári úti Stadion has been a place where ambition goes to die - just ask Thomas Doll. Lanzafame’s fire snuffed out in this one.

Diósgyőri VTK (12th) vs. Szombathelyi Haladás (5th)

at: Nagyerdei Stadium (20,340 cap. - 4,454 avg.)

Preview: Another ‘neutral venue’ affair as both teams travel to Debrecen for this one. Diósgyőri will travel south and Haladás will have the longer trek east, but home advantage won’t be as great for the Miskolc-based side. Ferenc Horváth has bemoaned injuries and sickness within his squad for his club’s poor league position. His defense has taken a battering as they’ve shipped 32 goals so far this season, putting them on course to easily eclipse the 47 they conceded all of last year. They have put together some good results at home - drawing Vasas 1-1, defeating Videoton 2-0, and running it close with Fradi before conceding a second half winner. It’s hard to say which side will turn up, especially as this isn’t actually a game they’re playing at home. The absence of István Bognár (4 goals, 6 assists) was felt last round as DVTK didn’t record a shot on goal against Honvéd.

Haladás have certainly slowed down after climbing to the heights during a run of five victories in six games. Since then they’ve only managed one win in their last six. They ended a run of two defeats last round, drawing 1-1 against MTK. An early exchange of goals was all the action in that one. Bálint Gaál got the goal against MTK and he seems to be the in form attacker at the moment with 3 goals in his last four matches. However, the rest of Géza Mészöly’s squad has lost their nose for the net, scoring just six goals in their last eight matches.

Prediction: Diósgyőri VTK 0-2 Szombathelyi Haladás - DVTK have been disappointing and they look downright impotent without Bognár. More trouble this week.

Gyirmót Győr (11th) vs. Újpest FC (7th)

at: Alcufer Stadion (4,500 cap. - 1,873 avg)

Preview: Gyirmót are in a free fall at the moment. With four consecutive defeats and just one goal scored during that span, István Urbányi has seen his side drop from 9th place into the relegation zone. They are three points adrift from 10th place Paksi who are finding their way to safety. Before this dip in form Győr had been on a run of five without defeat including 3 wins, but now they can’t buy a goal. Their 4-0 reverse against Videoton before the break matched their worst defeat of the season. It’s the third time they were hammered for four goals this season. After a run of 8 games where they conceded just three goals, they’ve now conceded 6 in their last two. Left back Ádám Présinger was out against Vidi as well as Attila Filkor. Both were sorely missed and their continued absence might make it a long day for them on Saturday.

Unbelievably Újpest have played to six consecutive score draws - relinquishing the lead after the hour mark in every match. This must be a frustrating time for manager Nebojša Vignjevic who hasn’t yet been able to solve this mystery. Lilak have scored goals against every defense except for MTK’s so far this season. The problem looks to be psychological in nature and while success can breed success, ineptitude can be contagious as well. They could have easily won their last three games but couldn’t hold off their opponent for 15 minutes or less in each.
Enis Bardhi is coming off an international start for Macedonia against Spain and must be feeling pretty good despite the result. Bardhi gave a good account of himself and it will do nothing but boost his confidence to be starting for the senior squad in full, competitive internationals. He leads Újpest in goals this season with 6 and has two in his last three appearances.

Prediction: Gyirmót Győr 1-3 Újpest FC - Lilak break free and take advantage of a subdued Gyirmót side.

MTK Budapest (9th) vs. Debreceni VSC (8th)

at: Dunaferr Aréna (12,000 cap. - 681 avg)

Preview: MTK are the only team that haven’t registered a win on the road this season but they’ve been flawless at home recently. Four wins on the trot at home over Gyirmót, DVTK, Fradi, and Vidi have kept their noses above water. Sándor Torghelle has scored the winner three of those four games, but he won’t factor in this one as he’s suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card against Haladás last round. MTK are 0-3-1 without their talismanic striker. He’s the only player on the squad that has scored more than one goal. Who will step for Vaszilisz Teodoru this week?

Debrecen were held off the score sheet for the first time in five matches despite bossing the game against Mezőkövesd in Round 15. After defeating Gyirmót on the road, Leonel Pontes was confident his squad could return home and get consecutive victories for the first time since early August. Mezo ‘keeper Tomas Tujvel had other plans, however as Dávid Holman was denied his third goal in four games.
On a positive note, Debrecen kept a clean sheet for the first time in 11 matches. Their last clean sheet was against none other than Mezőkövesd.

Prediction: MTK Budapest 1-1 Debreceni VSC - No Torghelle, no magic, no win. MTK get first draw at home this season. Robert Vittek with an equalizer for the visitors.