NB1 Round 1 preview

Hello everyone!  We're back!

After what seemed like a short summer break, we welcome back the teams of NB1 on Saturday as they raise the curtain on another season. No longer will we see the likes of Gyirmót and MTK as they’ve slipped into the murky waters of NBII. Instead Puskás Akadémia and Balmazújváros have climbed into the fray and will begin testing their mettle against the top teams in the country to see if they have what it take to remain in the top tier.

The start of the season has come early for some with Champions League and Europa League qualifiers already underway, but for the rest - competitive football begins this weekend. Read on for a quick summary of each club’s summer moves and a preview to their opening games.

I also welcome Gaby Kovács who will join me this season in making predictions for each week’s NB1 matches. I’m guessing he’ll have me buried by midseason.

Saturday, 15 July


Paks vs Újpest
at Paksi Stadion, Paks

Paks: Last season Paks equaled their second highest finish as they reached 5th place with their third highest points haul in the top flight (45). At home they only lost once in 16 games while conceding just 9 goals - a veritable fortress. Over the summer Paks have made very little change to their club. They did bring on left back Ádám Hajdú as a permanent signing from Honvéd despite being seldom used on loan last season. They also added forward Bence Daru from Zalaegerszeg for depth up front. Their main threat on attack last season was winger László Bartha who scored 11 goals in 27 appearances. Lajos Bertus was another catalyst in attack with 2 goals and 8 assists, but attack was not their forte. Paks shone on defense and veterans Dávid Kulcsar and Zsolt Gévay were instrumental in keeping them close in most games.

Újpest: After finishing a seventh straight season without qualifying for Europe, Újpest are looking to turn things around in Nebosja Vignjević’s third season with the club. Now off the UEFA naughty list they were able to dip into the transfer market this summer and they made a headfirst dive! After conceding more goals at home than any team in the league they had to make some wholesale changes to their back line and they look to have addressed that issue. They started by releasing veteran goalkeeper Szabolcs Balajcza and bringing on 23 year-old Filip Pajovic from Cukarički into their ranks. Defender Jonathan Heris departed to make way for Cracovia defender Róbert Litauszki. They also picked up Mijusko Bojovic from relegated Gyirmót.
On attack they dumped wingers Nemanja Andric and Souleymane Diarra and in their place they brought on Donát Zsóter (Sint-Truiden) and Branko Pauljevic (Mesokövesd). Winger Krisztián Simon returned to the club after an injury-riddled season at 1860 Munich. They also signed Soma Novothny who played on loan for DVTK last season - a physical forward who chimed in with 4 goals in 23 appearances to help Diósgyor escape relegation. Újpest’s best transfer business to date, however, has been who they haven’t sold - Enis Bardhi. The fantastic Macedonian showcased his talent at the U21 European Championship this summer and so far has not been claimed by a larger club. It’s unlikely he’ll be with the club come September but for now Vignjević can start the season with his midfield engine intact.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Újpest
If Paks can continue their solid defensive play at home then they’ll be a formidable opponent. It’s too soon for Lilák to be ‘world-beaters’ and they’ll be happy with a point at Fehérvári úti stadion.

Gaby's prediction: Paks 1-1 Újpest


Debrecen vs Mezokövesd
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Debrecen: An 8th place finish was the club’s worst in 16 years as they suffered through managerial turnover and substandard performances on the pitch last season. Loki tried to keep the faith with Portuguese boss Leonel Pontes but in the end couldn’t justify near relegation as Director of Sport András Herczeg took over the reins for a second stint to push the team over the finish line last term.
Debrecen have seen most of their summer movement between the posts as their number one, Branislav Danilovic returned to Puskás and they shipped backup István Verpecz to Paks. In return they plucked Oleksander Nad from Gyirmót and Ján Novotna from Rapid Vienna. The one area they haven’t bolstered yet was their biggest weakness last season - forward. They employed 10 forwards last season. As a group they scored 10 goals with none scoring more than two goals. Attacking midfielder Dávid Holman led the way with 7 goals, and winger Norbert Könyves turned it up toward the end of the season scoring 4 goals in 17 games.
It looks as if Herczeg is going to bring some homegrown players through and give them a shot as the team rebuilds which could mean another long season for Loki.

Mezokovesd: In their first season back in NB1 they had a great start under manager Attila Pintér reaching 5th place by December. Pintér left for Puskás over the mid-season break and they fell off greatly in the second half of the season under replacement Tomislav Sivić. Under Sivić’s leadership their solid defense began to collapse and Mikuláš Radványi was brought in at the end to secure safety from the drop in the final few weeks of the season. With only two wins in their final 13 games and leaking goals at over a 2 goal per game average they needed to work on shoring up their defense. Mezo made a number of changes this summer bringing in no less than ten players including MTK left back Dániel Vadnai and Rapid Vienna centre back Attila Szalai.
Mezokovesd were another team that lacked a singular target man. Ulysse Diallo was probably their closest player to fit that role but he was inconsistent at best and switched to Puskás over the summer. 22 year-old Csanád Novak was brought in from Vasas as well as attacking midfielder Jakub Brasen from Dunajska Streda to hopefully bring some help to Gábor Molnár who led the team with 8 goals and 7 assists last season.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-1 Mezokövesd
I’m predicting a low scoring affair where both sides will probably cancel each other out.

Gaby's prediction: Debrecen 2-0 Mezokövesd


Budapest Honvéd vs Haladas
at Bozsik Jószef Stadion, Budapest

Honvéd: The champions will kick of their title defense against Haladás who they beat twice and drew once last season. Since Honvéd won the league they have already seen a change in manager as Marco Rossi didn’t even wait for the bubbles on the champagne to clear before announcing his departure. Dutch manager Erik van der Meer took the reins this summer and has made very few changes to his inherited squad. He added veteran Brazilian forward Danilo on a free as his only impact signing which may show some respect for the squad that delivered Kispest’s first title in 24 years.
They made a solid start to their Champions League campaign this week with a narrow defeat in Beer Sheva where Davide Lanzafame scored an important away goal against the Israeli side. With that result behind them and the confidence of being champions, Honvéd will have some momentum heading into their first game of the season.

Haladás: In his second full season with the club Géza Mészöly led Haladás to an expected mid-table position last term. Haladás had bursts of good form but finished the season with just one point in their last four matches dropping them into sixth place. Forward Bálint Gaál started the season with them and looked to be on course for a career season with 7 goals in 14 games but was transferred to Vasas over the winter break where he became a rotation player. David Williams found his form in the second half and picked up the offensive workload with 11 goals and four assists to lead the team. Defensive midfielder Bence Iszlai was another player who had a standout season for the club with six goals and five assists but has since has been released from the club.
41 year old goalkeeper Gábor Király will continue to don the gloves for Hali this season which is a positive in terms of leadership on the pitch but the question will remain if he’s up for it physically throughout the season. Mészöly has brought in some defensive help in right back Dávid Tóth and left back Milán Németh, both from Sopron. He’s also unloaded seldom used central midfielder Sjoerd Overgoor to Go Ahead Eagles in the Dutch second tier, and forward Zsolt Gaidos who transferred to Nyíregyháza.
Haladás have bolstered their attack by bringing on veteran forward Miroslav Grumic from Kozármisleny and 20 year-old Patrik Pinte from Slovan Bratislava.

Prediction: Honvéd 2-1 Haladás
With one eye on next week’s Champions League second leg against Hapoel Beer Sheva, Honvéd might be a bit distracted but not enough to miss out on maximum points here.

Gaby's prediction: Honvéd 3-0 Haladás


Sunday, 16 July

Ferencváros vs Puskás
at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

Ferencváros: In what can only be considered a season of disappointment, Ferencváros ended their title defense finishing out of the European spots in fourth place. They did win the Magyar Kupa which put them in the Europa League and they have already advanced past the first qualifying round with a 3-0 aggregate win over Latvian side Jelgava.
Manager Thomas Doll has the giant task of reclaiming the club’s unbeatable status and in typical “Doll-like” fashion he’s made numerous changes to jettison dead weight and add talent. The most notable departure was midfielder László Kleinheilser who was on loan from Werder Bremen. No offer was made to extend his stay and he moved to Kazakhstan side FC Astana.
Doll also let 8 goal scorer Marco Djuricin return to parent club Red Bull Salzburg and unloaded midfielder Florian Trinks and defender Oliver Hüsing as well.
In return Fradi welcomed aboard forwards Tamás Priskin (Slovan Bratislava) and Lukács Bole (Iasi) who have already paid dividends as they’ve both contributed to their first round win over Jelgava in the Europa League. Uruguayan midfielder Fernando Gorriarán and Portuguese attacking midfielder Rui Pedro are exciting additions to the club as well, but last season’s uncovered gem Roland Varga is set to have breakout campaign. After coming on strong toward the end of last season, Varga has looked solid with 3 goals in Europe already.

Puskás Akadémia: Puskás won the NBII last season bouncing right back into the top flight after just a season away. Manager Attila Pintér left Mezokóvesd to take over in late December and guided them the rest of the way. Unsurprisingly they have seen a lot of turnover since promotion and have added a number of players. Starting from the back they will have talented and experienced stopper Branislav Danilovic (returning on loan from DVTK) between the sticks. Former Újpest duo Jonathan Heris and Balázs Balogh should strengthen their spine while midfielder Patrick Mevoungou (Diósgyor) and Ulysse Diallo (Mezokövesd) will attempt to give them enough quality in attack to keep them in games. They also picked up Ferencváros forward András Radó who will give them some depth up top.
They seem to be a team building for the future and will be aiming to stay up this season.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Puskás
Fradi were cruising against Midtjylland in the Champions League this week before a late first half red card and penalty turned the tide and tipped the scales for the Danish side who ran out 4-2 winners in Budapest. That result and the ensuing second leg in Denmark will surely be on the minds of Ferencváros but it shouldn’t stop them from making a positive start to the season.

Gaby's prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Puskás


Vasas vs Diósgyor
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Vasas: A surprisingly positive start to last season allowed Vasas to finish among the top sides one season removed from a relegation battle. Michael Oenning has put together a squad that can beat any team in the NB1, but their first foray into continental football in 12 years was one to forget. Vasas were cruising with a 3-1 lead over Beitar Jerusalem in the first leg of their Europa League qualifier when they conceded 3 goals in the final few minutes to scupper their chances. The return leg in Budapest was a continuation of Beitar’s ascendancy as they put three past Oenning’s side to brush past them on the way to the 2nd qualifying round.
Vasas have been conservative in the transfer market again. With central defender Zsolt Korcsmár transferring to Midtjylland, Oenning looked to fill that hole with Czech defender Vit Benes who has signed from Dukla Prague but has yet to be cleared by the league to play because of the discovery that he had a kidney removed 15 years ago.
Vasas are also uncertain about the futures of defender and Canadian national Manjrekar James as well as secondary striker Mahir Saglik (contract). Rumors have them linked with Ferencváros attacking midfielder István Bognár and Honvéd’s Patrik Hidi but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

Diósgyor: DVTK were headed for relegation until the appointed Brøndby assistant Tamás Bódog in March. From the point of his arrival, Diósgyor lost just two of their last ten matches and the club escaped relegation because, level on points, they had two more victories than MTK in the end.
Bódog looks to be keeping the core of his squad and mainly adding young, home-grown players to his squad. He did sign useful forward Nikolaos Ioannidis from Asteras Tripoli who isn’t expected to light up Christmas trees with his numbers but should add some depth to his attacking corps. Diósgyor didn’t have a target man last season with six players scoring 4 or more goals and that’s something they’ll need to address at some point this summer.
There’s really only one direction for DVTK to go - anything else will mean utter disappointment and relegation this season.

Prediction: Vasas 2-2 Diósgyor
This is my surprise pick as DVTK ended the season on a high and have had a good preseason. Vasas have played in two competitive games already but it may have done more harm than good as their defensive deficiencies have been exposed.

Gaby's prediction: Vasas 2-1 Diósgyor


Videoton vs Balmazújváros
at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Videoton: Marko Nikolic took over from Henning Berg after the final game of the season that denied Videoton their second title in three years. Nikolic’s summer has been rather bright with his new club as they’ve successfully navigated past Maltese side Balzan in the first qualifying round and then got off to a good start against Kalju with a 3-0 first leg win in Estonia earlier this week in the second qualifying round.
In the transfer market Nikolic has been quiet, bringing in only one player - young left back Krisztián Tamás from relegated Gyirmót. They have a solid team with an experienced attack force led by Serbian duo Mark Scepovic and Danko Lazovic who scored 23 goals between them. Young forward Krisztián Géresi is set to have a solid season as well if he can break into the squad on a more regular basis.
Vidi’s defense is very good as well conceding the least goals (28) over the season with captain Roland Juhász leading the back line. Vinícius and Maté Pátkai also add to a strong a deep defense that should be just as solid this season.

Balmazújváros: Winning promotion on the last match day of the season was quite a feat for this small town club who are making their first appearance in the NB1. Ferenc Horváth replaced the title-winning manager Tamás Feczkó soon after the team won promotion and Horváth returns to NB1 after piloting DVTK to the relegation zone last season.
With plenty of hope at the start of the season Balmaz will have to know that they are in for a tough season and should be preparing for a quick trip back down.
Horváth did well to bring in winger Nemanja Andric from Újpest and defensive midfielder Attila Haris from Ferencváros. Hard work does pay off in this league, however, and if they can put together some good results and create a positive atmosphere in the dressing room anything can happen.

Prediction: Videoton 3-0 Balmazújváros
Videoton are in the middle of Europa League qualifying and they are in high gear in terms of form, but they may take it easy on Sunday to make sure they have enough to put Kalju to the sword later in the week. Balmaz will be looking to keep the score respectable here.

Gaby's prediction: Videoton 4-0 Blamazújváros


FC Cincinnati v Chicago Fire - US Open Cup

A Pleasant Diversion

In our ongoing to attempt to keep you abreast of everything Hungarian in the world of football I ran across an anomaly - a delightful oasis of passion and energetic enthusiasm for the beautiful game on the banks of the Ohio River.

It was a perfect confluence of interest and proximity that brought me to Cincinnati, Ohio for a US Open Cup match between MLS’s Chicago Fire and second-tier side FC Cincinnati. The lure of watching former Videoton pair Nemanja Nikolić and Arturo Álvarez on the same pitch again was intriguing so I loaded up the car and traveled the 7 and a half short hours to the Queen City.

Packed crowd at FC Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium

I was surprised that Niko would be making the trip. MLS’s leading scorer didn’t travel with the club to St. Louis in the previous round of the Cup, and with league matches on either side of a game against another USL side it seemed unlikely that the Hungarian international would grace the pitch in what was likely to be another rubber stamp on their way to the quarter finals. However, with Ghanian winger David Accam and influential US midfielder Dax McCarty both on international duty, Chicago was forced to use their depth to fill in the holes and they came to Cincinnati with the strength of some very recognizable names.
Nikolić, who has been “spared” international duty recently by Bernd Storck, had tweeted “Cincinnati here we come” from the tarmac at O’Hare International airport in Chicago. Bastian Schweinsteiger also got into the mood with a tweet picturing himself, arms wide, in front of the Cincinnati skyline across the river.

 

Electric Atmosphere
This wasn’t going to be a walkover and the match’s mood promised to be intense. FC Cincinnati are a club in just their second season of existence but are averaging over 18,000 fans per match at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. They attracted a phenomenal 35,061 fans for a friendly match against Crystal Palace last summer, and their previous US Open Cup match against in-State rivals Columbus Crew drew 30,160. Those are insane numbers for a team with no real history or pedigree.

What they do have is a strong German heritage which, no doubt, was a large part of the embryonic stages of this movement. Supporter groups such as Die Innenstadt, who represent the “inner city” neighborhoods of Cincinnati, have their base of operations at Mecklenburg Gardens. This 150 year-old Bier Garten with thick German roots in Corryville is where hundreds of supporters begin a march to Nippert Stadium on game days.

I had to check it out.

Mecklenburg Gardens

I drove in to what appeared to be a run down neighborhood and parked on the street across from the pub about 5 hours before game time to grab a bite to eat and take a look around. It was pretty quiet when I got there but the

place was busily preparing for a big night. The block-long outdoor garden with its canopy of sunlit, leafy vines was set and ready for the party. It didn’t take long before people started filtering in. Local news crews were setting up to talk to supporters and by 6pm the singing had begun and each round of songs carried across the local streets as the place began to fill to standing room only. I joined in with some of the singing and talked to a few fans before I ducked out and made my way to the stadium.

No Djiby, no problem
I got to Nippert around 6:30 and made my way to the press box, five stories above the 3G pitch. The view was exhilarating but the soundproof windows were enough of a deterrent for me so I made my way back down to pitch level to get a feel for the venue. Walking along the far touchline I could already see the flecks of orange and blue starting to dot the seats as I headed toward the North end - The Bailey - the place of thunderous singing, blue and orange smoke bombs, flags and tifos. I was too early, just a few scattered fans had taken their places there.
I went inside the post-match press room underneath the north stand for a water and saw FCC’s Senegalese striker Djiby Fall in white dress shirt mixing a cup of cocoa.

Pre match cuppa?” I asked.
He smiled.
Not in for this one?” I continued.
Nah, got something with my ankle,” he began.

Djiby was the team’s leading scorer and the hero who scored the goal against Columbus in the last round that saw them through to this game. This wasn’t good news for Cincinnati and it felt as if it might be an indication of where this game was heading.
Either way, I was still looking forward to a good game and relished the chance of seeing Niko, Basti, and Arturo lining up for the Fire.
After a short conversation with Djiby about his season and his chances of playing by the weekend, I walked back out of the press room to an explosion of color and sound. The Bailey was filling in and the Chicago supporters were in place with just a causeway gap separating the two groups. Both were in full voice and the overwhelmed Chicago fans punctuated some of their songs with universally recognizable hand signals.

Ah, football. What else brings the diametrically opposed together in such peaceful exchanges of pleasantry?

Niko and Basti

The game
The Chicago squad began filing past me in their red kit and the first player I saw was Arturo, celebrating his 32nd birthday on the day and looking focused as he strode past. Nikolić and Schweinsteiger brought up the rear and, as the line was held up for a couple of minutes, there they waited anxiously to get onto the pitch.
Two stars for club and their respective countries were ready to do battle not only against their opponents on the field, but the 32,000 in the stands as well. Yes, you heard it right the first time. Over 32,000 thunderous supporters in what felt like a cup final rather than a run-of-the-mill, obligatory midweek run out.

The Fire’s talent showed early on as they bossed the play, hemming Cincinnati into their own end. Álvarez fed a slick ball in for Schweinsteiger on 16 minutes that just missed the German’s outstretched leg inside the six yard box. It was the best chance of the half for the visitors and they continued to pour on the pressure.
Cincinnati spurned a gilt-edged opportunity when Danni König took advantage of a defender’s miscue and burst in from the left only to have his shot saved by Chicago keeper Matt Lampson.
Álvarez had a tremendous, left-footed effort flash just wide of Cincinnati ‘keeper Mitch Hildebrandt’s left hand post just before half time.

It was Álvarez again in the second half who drifted from the right into a dangerous position inside the area. The ball was nicked away and fell to Nikolić after a collision between Hildebrandt and Chicago forward Luis Solignac, but the former Videoton and Legia man couldn’t finish from close range.
Shortly after it was Álvarez again surging down the right and crossing for Solignac who teed up a wide-open Niko but his low drive was denied by Hildebrandt.
Nikolić broke through again on 67 minutes but hit a tame drive into the waiting arms of the keeper from the edge of the area. Perhaps his legs were feeling the effects of the short rest, but his accuracy (or lack thereof) wouldn’t have tipped off the casual observer that he was MLS’s leading scorer.
Spurred on by the crowd, the hosts were the better side in the final 10 minutes of regulation as they exploited the vast spaces behind the pushed-up Chicago defense but were unable to fashion a winner.
Álvarez and Nikolić continued to link up in overtime and the former played a nice ball in for the latter in the 105th minute but Niko was denied once again by the confident Hildebrandt.

Penalties
The best part of the night was the tension and the crowd during the penalty shootout. After 120 minutes of excitement, drama, and a late disallowed goal for Cincinnati, the fans were hoping for some retribution in the spot kick lottery.

It was a horrible start for the hosts as Aodhan Quinn fired their first shot well over the bar.
Next it was Nemanja Nikolič for Chicago, but his shot was plucked from the air by Hildebrandt. It as almost poetic as the Cincy keeper seemed to have Niko’s number all night long.
Cincinnati’s next shooter found his mark and then up stepped the birthday boy. Álvarez, whose lively play created so many chances, had a chance to make a direct impact from the spot, but his effort was also turned aside by the enigmatic Hildebrandt.
With FCC up 2-0, Bastian Schweinsteiger cooly slotted home to give the visitors a whisper of hope, but with Jimmy McLaughlin scoring a third for the hosts it came down to Juninho for Chicago.
The Brazilian stepped up but Hildebrandt guessed right again and tipped the ball around his left hand post.

Bedlam.

Within the eruption of the crowd, the lights, the colored smoke from the Bailey, and the Cincinnati players and staff flooding the pitch to celebrate I saw the exhausted, static forms of Niko, Arturo and Basti with their heads hung low, accepting their fate.
Post match press comments from Chicago coach Veljko Paunović gave Cincinnati a lot of credit for a good game plan, but it was their goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt that had saved the day and everyone knew it.

Arturo Álvarez

Post game with Arti
Long after the game was over I had waited to chat with Arturo Álvarez. As he came out of the locker room he smiled and came over to me for a brief interview. He was gracious in defeat and also gave the hosts a lot of credit for a great performance.

After suggesting that losing a game such as this on his birthday might have stung a bit he said he was “blessed and happy” to be playing. “What a better way to spend your birthday than to be on a soccer field,” he exclaimed.
He smiled warmly again when I brought up his time in Hungary with Videoton and he recalled fond memories of playing there with Niko and winning the championship. His communication and instinctive link up play with his former teammate was a pleasure to watch.
As he was talking I recognized the obvious joy this relatively seasoned veteran emitted when talking about the game he loves. He’s happy and playing well for a team that’s in-form and playing well in the league. I wished him luck as he headed for the team bus.

It was a great night; surreal in so many ways. I traveled north on a whim hoping to catch a good game and see some familiar faces on the pitch, but left there feeling like I experienced much more.
Something special is happening in Cincinnati and some of the greats of the game came to bear witness while perhaps another emerged. It was a magical moment for the Queen City and I felt privileged to be a part of it all.

 

Special thanks goes out to FC Cincinnati Director of Public Relations Fumi Kimura who was gracious enough to provide access so we could cover the game and the players in depth. 


Europa League preview - Ferencváros vs FK Jelgava

Europa League preview - Ferencváros vs Jelgava

This is the final installment of a 3-part preview on Hungary's representatives in the UEFA Europa League this season.  The clubs that qualified out of Hungary’s top flight will start in the First Qualifying Round of the Europa League and will face other domestic top finishers or cup winners from around Europe starting on 29 June with the first leg. The second leg will be played the following week on 6 July and the team with the highest aggregate score will advance to the Second Qualifying Round. The losers will be eliminated from the competition.

Ferencváros qualified by winning the Magyar Kupa and on Monday, 19 June, the draw for the Europa League was held at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland where they were drawn against Latvian side Jelgava.

 


Ferencváros vs FK Jelgava

First leg: at Groupama Aréna, Budapest, Hungary (cap. 22,000)
Date: Thursday, 29 June

Second leg: at Zemgale Olympic Center, Jelgava, Latvia (cap. 1,560)
Date: Tuesday, 6 July

Ferencváros (UEFA coefficient: 3.900, ranked 304)

Manager: Thomas Doll (since 18 December, 2013)

Last season:
This past campaign can only be seen as a disappointment by the club after finishing as runaway champions the year before.  Ferencváros finished fourth this season, 13 points off the pace, and never seemed settled throughout the campaign.  After a slow start to the season they brought in a number of signings during the winter break including Hungarian international László Kleinheisler but despite the talent at Thomas Doll's disposal they weren't able to put together a strong run to challenge for the title.

Ferencváros experienced just as much disappointment in Europe as they crashed out to Albanian side Partizan Tirana on penalties after a 2-2 aggregate score in the Second Qualifying Round of the Champions League.  Fradi were only able to convert one of four spot kicks at home and saw the end of the their European season finish before it started, much to the dismay of 8,700 fans.

They did manage a silver lining to their season, however, winning the Magyar Kupa for a third consecutive season.

Players:
Thomas Doll had plenty of talent at his disposal last season with forward Daniel Böde leading the way with 16 goals in all competitions.  Another exciting attacking player was winger Moutari Amadou who joined the club in February and scored 7 goals in 21 games.  Roland Varga was another player that improved as the season went on, amassing 5 goals and 13 assists in 25 games. With a number of players and coming and going this summer, including Kleinheisler, Doll will be fortunate to have veteran Zoltán Gera in his side to provide experience and leadership.  Add veteran forward Tamás Priskin and Uruguayan midfielder Fernando Gorriarán to the mix and Fradi are looking good in terms of depth.

History:
Ferencváros have a rich history as one of the most successful football clubs in Hungary.  They are easily one of the most commonly recognized Hungarian clubs outside of Hungary because of their size and pedigree.  Domestically they have won the league 29 times and the Magyar Kupa on 23 occasions .

In Europe Ferencváros were most successful in the 60's and 70's when they won the Inter-Cities Fair Cup (1965), runners up in the same competition 3 years later, and then runners-up in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1975.   The last time they were in the group stage of a major competition was the UEFA Cup in 2004-05 but didn't advance beyond that stage.  Since then they've failed to advance beyond the qualifying rounds in any European competition they've been in.

 

FK Jelgava (UEFA coefficient: 2.975, ranked 339)

Manager: Alexandru Curteian (since 21 December, 2016)

(Latvia football expert Graham Williams shares his insight on the Jelgava's players, history, and their chances in this tie. Graham is the academy leader at Riga United FC.)

Last season:
"Jelgava finished runners-up last season, level on points with FK Ventspils. This was the highest position the club has ever finished in the Virslīga."

"The Hungarian league is perceived as stronger than the Latvian league. This season the Virslīga started with 8 teams however due to match fixing allegations one team was disqualified. There have been a few Latvian players try their luck in the Hungarian league but none of them have achieved much."

Players:
"Jelgava have improved their squad over the past few years, currently their stand out players are defender Mārcis Ošs who has scored 6 goals in 13 games. Also goalkeeper Ikstens is a main stay in the 1st team."

History:
The club came to be know as FK Jelgava when FK Viola and RAF Jelgava merged to become one team back in 2004 and they were promoted to the Virslīga five years later.  Since then they've won four Latvian Cups and have qualified for European competition on five occasions.  This year will be the first year they did so based upon their league position.

Jelgava had their best European run last season when they got past Iceland's Breiðablik and Slovan Bratislava before falling to Beitar Jerusalem in Third Qualifying Round of the Europa League.

Predictions: 

Graham Williams - "A win for Ferencváros at home and a draw in Jelgava."

Chris Barrett - Boy it's difficult to predict what Ferencváros will do.  Their revolving door of players and lack of cohesion could make for an interesting tie.  Jelgava are in the middle of their season which gives them a slight advantage due to match fitness but they are currently six points off the pace after 11 games. I'm backing Fradi to win strong at home and travel to Latvia already looking to the next round.


Europa League preview - Videoton FC vs Balzan FC

Europa League Preview - Videoton vs Balzan FC

This is the second installment of a 3-part preview on Hungary's representatives in the UEFA Europa League this season.  The clubs that qualified out of Hungary’s top flight will start in the First Qualifying Round of the Europa League and will face other domestic top finishers or cup winners from around Europe starting on 29 June with the first leg. The second leg will be played the following week on either 4 or 6 July and the team with the highest aggregate score will advance to the Second Qualifying Round. The losers will be eliminated from the competition.

Videoton were runners up to Honvéd in the league and on Monday, 19 June, the draw for the Europa League was held at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland where they were drawn against Maltese side Balzan FC.

 


Videoton FC vs Balzan FC

First leg: at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút, Hungary (cap. 3,816)
Date: Thursday, 29 June

Second leg: at Hibernians Stadium, Paola, Malta (cap. 2,968)
Date: Tuesday, 4 July

Balzan FC (UEFA coefficient: 1.300, ranked 430)

Manager: Marko Micovic (since 24 May, 2017)

Last season:
Balzan jumped from finishing fourth the previous season to runners-up this past season.  They were seven points off the pace of eventual league-winners Hibernian who finished strong while Balzan picked up just one point in their final two league games.  Balzan averaged a league high 2.0 goals per game, but also conceded an average of 1.2 goals per game - highest in the top half of the table.

(Maltese football expert Paul Grech shares his insight on the Balzan's players, history, and their chances in this tie. Paul is the creator of blueprintforfootball.com which endeavors to share ideas that are (or should be) influencing football.)

Players:
"There is plenty of experience in this Balzan [team] with the likes of defender Steve Bezzina along with midfielders Ryan and Paul Fenech, all players who have played for Malta. Their strength however lies in attack with Nigerian born Maltese international striker Alfred Effiong holding up the line whilst Montenegrin Bojan Kaljevic finishes them. In fact, Kaljevic ended last season as the league's top scorer with twenty three goals."

History: "Last season was Balzan's best in their history. They finished second but were in the title race till the very end. What you have to remember is that Balzan FC is a small club from a very small village that historically played in the lower leagues of Maltese football. In fact it was only in 2003 that they played in the top flight for the first time and they have never won a major honour. They are however a very ambitious club backed financially by Anton Tagliaferro, a former player who moved to Australia where he made quite a mark as a funds manager. His money has helped Balzan win a place at the top table of Maltese football and he seems hungry to do more than that."

"I don't think that there are many people in Malta who follow Hungarian football and apart from historic clubs like Ferencvaros I wouldn't imagine that there is a lot of knowledge. The perception, however, is that Hungarian football is at a level that is higher than the Maltese league."

 

Videoton FC (UEFA coefficient: 8.650, ranked 175)

Manager: Marko Nikolic (since 6 June, 2017)

Last season:
It was a season of "almost, but not quite" for Videoton.  They challenged for the title throughout the league campaign only to fall at the final hurdle, losing the "winner take all" final game of the season to eventual champions Honvéd.  It was slight improvement over their previous season where they finished as distant runners up to Ferencváros.   The 2016-17 campaign was manager Henning Berg's first and only season with the club - their fifth club manager in the last four years, and the Norwegian came agonizingly close to helping Vidi retain the title after a year's hiatus.

They made it to the Third Qualifying Round of the Europa League last season, falling to Danish side Midtjylland 2-1 after extra time in Herning.  All hopes were on Videoton to represent Hungary in the group stages as they went the farthest but, again, fell just short.

Players:
Despite not winning the title Videoton arguably had the most talented team in the league. Their Serbian attack duo of Marko Scepovic (13 goals, 7 assists) and Danko Lazovic (10 goals, 10 assists) was tops in the league in terms of production.  Goalkeeper Ádám Kovácsik was solid, playing all 33 league games and finishing with less than a goal per game average conceded.  Brazilian-born centre back Vinícius is also worth a mention as he leads a strong defense that sometimes includes the pacy Loïc Nego on the right side.

History:
Videoton were founded in 1941 and based in Székesfehérvár, in the west of Hungary. The team changed its name to Videoton in 1968 due to a sponsorship agreement with an electronic goods manufacturer of the same name.  They are an experienced club in continental football with their first appearance in the 1974-75 edition of the UEFA Cup.  Videoton's greatest moment in Europe was reaching the 1985 UEFA Cup final against Real Madrid where they lost on 3-1 on aggregate but managed to win the away tie 1-0 at the Bernabéu thanks to a late Lajos Májer goal in front of 98,000 fans.

Since 2010 Videoton have qualified for continental football in all but one season (2014-15).  They reached the group stages in the 2012-13 season, finishing third in a group that included Sporting CP, Genk, and FC Basel.

Predictions: 

Paul Grech - "It is difficult to call not least because of the lack of knowledge about Videoton, a club who I know of largely because they once played Manchester United. There is also the factor that Balzan have just changed coach - with Serbian Marco Micovic replacing Maltese Oliver Spiteri - and have a number of new players in the side. Last year, after losing 2-0 at home to Azerbaijan side Neftchi Baku, Balzan almost pulled off an amazing comeback winning 2-1 away. They will be hoping to go one better this time round."

Chris Barrett - First, it will be difficult to keep the two managers straight as they're both new to their respective clubs and have similar names.  Balzan qualified for the First Qualifying Round in their last two seasons and played their home ties at Hibernians Stadium in Paola which isn't their usual home ground.  They have failed to score both times they've played there in the Europa League (losing 2-0 on both occasions). Videoton have named a strong side for their qualifiers.  Pancho Aréna was a good surrogate home for them last season and they should be able to avoid defeat at home.  If they can follow suit after Zeljeznicar (2015) and Neftchi Baku (2016) and win in Paola, they'll advance.


Europa League preview - Beitar Jerusalem vs Vasas SC

Europa League Preview - Beitar Jerusalem vs Vasas SC

Three NB1 teams will feature in this season’s edition of the UEFA Europa League. The clubs that qualified out of Hungary’s top flight will start in the First Qualifying Round of the Europa League and will face other domestic top finishers or cup winners from around Europe starting on 29 June with the first leg. The second leg will be played the following week on 6 July and the team with the highest aggregate score will advance to the Second Qualifying Round. The losers will be eliminated from the competition.

Vasas SC finished 3rd in NB1 and on Monday, 19 June, the draw for the Europa League was held at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland where they were drawn against Israeli side Beitar Jerusalem.

 


Beitar Jerusalem vs Vasas SC

First leg: at HaMoshava Stadium, Petah Tikvah, Israel (cap. 11,500)
Date: Thursday, 29 June. This match was originally to be played at Teddy Stadium -Beitar's home stadium in Jerusalem - but will now be played behind closed doors at an alternate site due to UEFA sanctions from disorderly conduct by supporters.

Second leg: at Szusza Ferenc stadion, Budapest (cap. 14,817)
Date: Thursday, 6 July

Beitar Jerusalem (UEFA coefficient: 5.875, ranked 251)

Manager: Sharon Mimer (since 6 February, 2017)

Last season:
Beitar qualified for the Europa League after finishing 3rd in the Israeli Premier League Championship round finishing unbeaten in their last six games with four victories. This will be their third consecutive season in Europa League qualification. Last season they went the distance through three qualifying rounds into the Europa League playoff round under Serbian manager Slobodan Drapić but eventually lost to Ligue 1 side St. Étienne 2-1 on aggregate. It was their best performance and deepest run in the competition in the club’s history.
Drapić left for his former club Maccabi Netanya after they were eliminated and Ran Ben Shimon took over only to be replaced by Sharon Mimer in February. Mimer led Beitar into the Championship round of Ligat Ha’al and overtook Maccabi Petah Tikvah for the third and final Europa League spot with an impressive final push in their last six games. Leading scorer Itay Shechter scored 19 goals for them last season - 5 of those were in his last 10 games during the Championship round to help lead them into a Europa League spot.

Players:
Itay Shechter led Beitar with 19 goals in all competitions last season, but only one of those came in Europa League qualifying. Attacking midfielder Idan Vered scored 13 goals and added 5 assists in an impressive first season with Beitar.
The recent announcement of veteran midfielder Yossi Benayoun’s arrival should be a boost to the club as well.

History:
Founded in 1936, Beitar Jerusalem is considered to be the most controversial team in the Israeli football league. They are the “people’s team” and have had successful periods in their history. Their most productive came between 2006 and 2009 when they won 2 league titles and two State Cups over three seasons.
Beitar’s most vocal supporters are the historically nationalistic La Familia group who have been labeled ‘racist’ for their strong stance on keeping Beitar as the only Israeli team that has never had an Arab player. They’ve had Muslim players in the past but the last time they signed two Chechen Muslim players under Russian owner Arcadi Gaydamak, supporters set fire to the club’s administrative offices in protest.
Teddy Stadium is nicknamed Gehinom or “Hell” by its supporters for the atmosphere they create for visiting fans and teams.

From the expert: Israeli foot ball analyst Ori Cooper reports that Beitar had a "nice season but the fans want more. They used to fight for the title in the past but today are just 3rd or 4th wheel of the league. However, since current coach Sharon Mimer took charge the team played happy football and showed great potential. Beitar lost this month 2 of their best players, Jesus Rueda and Dan Einbinder. They have great RB, former France u21 Antoine Conte. Best offensive player is AM Idan Vered and of course the two new signings, Georginho and Benayoun."

Ori went on to say, "In the past people considered Hungarian league as much better one than the Israeli but those days are the past. Now people believe the NB1 is not so strong. However, the national team got respect last summer during Euro 2016."

 

Vasas SC (UEFA coefficient: 1.900, unranked)

Manager: Michael Oenning (since 2 January, 2016)

Last season:
Vasas had a magical 2016-17 season as they secured their place in NB1 on the last match day of the previous season and then went on to challenge for the title for most of last season until fading in the final few weeks. It was a great accomplishment for Michael Oenning’s side who also made it to the final of the Magyar Kupa and lost to Ferencváros in a penalty shootout.
This will be their first foray into continental football in 12 years and their first appearance in the UEFA’s second tier competition since 2000.

Players:
There weren’t too many standout stars in their squad, but Vasas’ strength came from good team chemistry and the ability to call upon a number of contributors on offense. Forward Martin Ádám led the team with 7 goals and could have had more if a late-season injury didn’t keep him off the pitch. Midfielders Zsombor Berecz and Mohamed Remeli were the catalysts with 15 assists between them while young Szilveszter Hangya had a standout season at left back. Mahir Saglik is also another player that adds veteran leadership, experience and his fair share of goals (13 in all competitions last season).

History:
The last time Vasas played continental football was in 2005 against Slovakia’s ZTS Dubnica (currently MFK Dubnica) in the now discontinued Inter-Toto Cup. They were held goalless in their two games and didn’t make it out of the first round. Before that they played in the 2000-01 UEFA Cup defeating Ventspils in the qualifying round before falling to AEK Athens in the First Round.
Vasas made the latter stages of the European Cup in their glory days, falling to Real Madrid in the semifinals in 1958, and then to Benfica ten years later in the quarter finals. They’ve never played a competitive match against Israeli opposition, but surprisingly they did play a training match against Beitar Jerusalem before the Europa League draw and won 2-1. They played a similar match against Beitar 10 years ago and lost by the same scoreline.

Predictions: 

Ori Cooper - "The Vasas match is more equal (than Hapoel Beer Sheva vs Honvéd) and I think Beitar have small advantage."

Chris Barrett - The match behind close doors in Israel will lessen Beitar's advantage and Vasas will finish them off at home in the second leg.


NB1 Round 33 preview

This one is for all the marbles

The big day is here. Who would have thought that the title would not only come down to the final day of the season, but also pitting together the very two teams that are vying for honors? Honvéd will host Videoton at Bozsik Józef Stadion in the old ground’s final chapter of a 104-year story, and the ending is set to be a page turner. This match will overshadow even the final Budapest derby of the season between Újpest and Ferencváros, which is no small thing. The historic derby has lost some of its luster in recent meetings, but the clash at the end of Puskás Ferenc street will more than make up for it on Saturday.
There are four other matches on offer including an important relegation decider between Diósgyor and Debrecen. Read on for a full preview of all the final matchday games with some bonus stats for the title game.

Diósgyor (10th) vs Debrecen (9th)
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

We will start with the end and go up from there. Both Diósgyor and Debrecen have nothing to worry about if MTK loses today. But if MTK manages a result against Paks things will get cloudy at the bottom of the table.
Diósgyor have had their chances in recent weeks to distance themselves from this mess but they were unable to put away Gyirmót, Mezőkövesd, or MTK, drawing all three instead to end up needing a win in the final day of the season to assure their safety. Tamás Bódog’s team had to relocate their regular home location as it is the home of their opponent so the game will be played in Mezőkövesd instead. Gábor Makrai was held off the score sheet for the first time in 3 games last week, but DVTK are bound to get back into the goals as they’ve averaged two per game in their last 10 home games.
Debrecen have had an interesting week as they sacked manager Leonel Pontes and appointed Technical Director András Herczeg to take over the team for the final week of the season. The long time Loki manager will take his second interim stint hoping to finish above the line. DVSC need only to draw to achieve safety, but his side is coming off a 5-2 hammering against Honvéd last week and he will have to pull them up to get them ready mentally for this one.

Prediction: Diósgyor 2-1 Debrecen
Debrecen are coming off a run of very difficult opponents and have only lost two of their last five, but they will need a massive confidence boost to get a result in this one after last week. Diósgyor will need to take care of business as they had their chance to put MTK away last week and didn’t. I think the hosts will have just enough in what should be a great atmosphere in Mezőkövesd.

Current form:
Diósgyor - DDDWWL
Debrecen - LDWLWD

Vasas (3rd) vs Mezőkövesd (8th)
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Vasas jumped into third place last week thanks to a narrow win at Gyirmót and a draw here will ensure they finish above Ferencváros. It won’t matter in terms of European qualification as both Vasas and Fradi will enter the Europa League First Qualifying round due to their league position and the fact that they’re both in the Magyar Kupa final. So, no matter how 3rd and 4th position end up or who ends up winning the cup nothing will change. Michael Oenning will want to finish the season on a high note, though, and Mikulas Radvanyi’s Mezőkövesd are ripe for the picking. Mezőkövesd ensured their survival last week with a brave win over Paks that required an injury time winner from Gergö Gohér. They haven’t won away from home in 10 games and last week’s win was their first in six tries in the league. It’s been a disappointing spring for Mezo but I’m sure they’re happy to still be in the top flight

Prediction: Vasas 2-0 Mezőkövesd
Vasas have had a nomadic season rotating through four different venues as their permanent home is finished. That could explain their poor record of just one victory in their last six league “home” matches. Vasas have had good results against Mezőkövesd, winning their last six and not conceding a goal in their last four against them. I think Radvanyi’s charges will be outclassed in this one as Vasas finish with a flourish.

Current form:
Vasas - WDLLWW
Mezőkövesd - WDLLLD

Ferencváros (4th) vs Újpest (7th)
at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

At the beginning of the season this was one of the matches that many would have circled in red. The big Budapest derby to finish the season, a classic way to end a long campaign with passionate fans and city police all dancing to the beat of generations of hopes, dreams and tradition. But this season the might Fradi have toppled from the summit to fourth place and, up until last week, Újpest were still fighting for NB1 survival.
It is still the derby and there’s no doubt that both teams will be up for this one. Thomas Doll has a big match on Wednesday and will want to make sure his team brings in some silverware this season so there’s a possibility he might rotate a few players on Saturday.
Lilák can bring all their forces to bear on this one. Enis Bardhi looked vibrant last week and it’s not out of the question that this could be his last game for Újpest with interest in the young Macedonian growing from other clubs.
Újpest have only won once in their last nine meetings with Ferencváros, but a 3-3 draw back in September saw the derby’s largest goal haul since a 6-0 Újpest league win back in 2010. The Groupama has been stage to some high scoring games this season and their home goal total (score and conceded) is 54, second only to Videoton at 59, and conceding a fourth highest 21 goals at home.

Prediction: Ferencváros 1-5 Újpest
Just a hunch.

Current form:
Ferencváros - LDWWWL
Ujpest - WLLLWD

Paks (5th) vs MTK Budapest (11th)
at Fehérvári úti stadion, Paks

Plain and simple, MTK must win this game. If they do they will survive the drop no matter what happens in other results. If they lose they are relegated. That’s a lot of pressure for a team that’s won just once in their last 7 games. Add to the equation that Paks have lost just once at home this season which makes this game a mountain to climb for Vaszilisz Teodoru’s side.
For Paks they have already surpassed last season’s points total and are currently in fifth place. A win will assure them fifth but a defeat could see them drop as low as seventh.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 MTK Budapest
Paks had little to play for and fell to a motivated Mezőkövesd side, but this week they will want to send their faithful supporters home with a solid result. MTK will have something to say about the matter, however, with the experience of Sándor Torghelle and József Kanta in the squad. It should be a close match, but I think the hosts will deny MTK in the end and they’ll go down.

Current form:
Paks - LWWLLL
MTK - DLLWDD

Haladás (6th) vs Gyirmót (12th)
at Soproni Városi Stadion, Sopron

The common theme between these two teams this season has been that the away team has triumphed both times. In fact, in four of their last five meetings the away team has been victorious.
Haladás are stumbling over the finish line with just one win in their last five. At home they’re a bit better, winning three of their last five. They will be without influential centre back Stef Wils who will be suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last week in their 2-1 defeat at Újpest. David Williams scored his 10th of the season for Haladás last week - his biggest goal haul since scoring a dozen for Melbourne City in the A-League’s 2013/14 season.
Gyirmót are on an eight match run without a victory. With the exception of a 3-0 reverse at the hands of Paks two weeks ago, Gyirmót have either drawn or lost by one. They gave Vasas quite a fight at home last week, eventually losing 2-1 to a 67th minute Zsombor Berecz goal. Young Gergo Szalánszki saw straight red last week meaning he won’t factor in this one.

Prediction: Haladás 2-0 Gyirmót
Haladás have won 3 of their last five home games, losing 1-0 to Honvéd and drawing Vasas 2-2 in their other two results in that span. That’s not bad for a mid-table team who knows where to pick up points. Gyirmót have struggled to score recently away from home, losing both of the their last two road games without scoring.

Current form:
Haladas - LDLWLW
Gyirmót - LLDLLD

Honvéd (1st) vs Videoton (2nd)
at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

Not only are the top teams playing to decide the title winner in this one, but they’re both in sizzling form which should make for a fantastic spectacle in Budapest. Whether you’re a local who’s walked a couple of blocks to the stadium, or one of those who flew in from out of the country to witness this clash, it has all the potential to be a game that’s talked about for seasons to come.
Let’s look at a few facts from this season:

- Only Paks (8) have conceded fewer goals at home than Honvéd (9) in the league this season.
- Honvéd have won 11 out of 15 games at home, second only to Videoton who have 12 home wins in 17 contests.
- Videoton have won just six of 15 away games this season, but they have only conceded a league-lowest 13 goals.
- Kispest had the longest winning streak (5) and home winning streak (9) this season.
- Videoton has the longest unbeaten run away from home, currently at 7 and going strong.
- Honvéd goalkeeper Dávid Gróf has 9 clean sheets in 24 starts, with 6 of those coming at home.
- Keeper Ádám Kovácsik has started all 32 games for Videoton this season and has 13 clean sheets with 6 of those away from home.
- Videoton have two players that have scored double digits in league goals: Marko Scepovic leads the way with 13 (4 penalties) and Danko Lazovic has 10.
- Honvéd’s leading scorer also tops the league with 15 (5 coming from the penalty spot). Davide Lanzafame has 11 goals and magnificently scored in 7 consecutive games this season.
- Honvéd have not scored an own-goal this season.
- Unsurprisingly, these two teams lead the charts in average goals scored per game and are also the two stingiest in terms of goals conceded.
- Honvéd have been awarded the most penalties in the league this season (11) and have scored 9 of them.

Head to Head
Henning Berg has a perfect record against Marco Rossi. The Videoton manager took over last summer, and the former Legia boss took the pair’s first meeting 2-1 at Bozsik Stadion thanks to a second half goal from Krisztián Géresi in late September.
Their second meeting was at Pancho Aréna on 4 March and Vidi took a first half lead through Danko Lazovic before Kispest’s Ivan Lovric was sent off on the hour. Marko Scepovic scored from the spot and Lazovic added another late on to seal the win that lifted Videoton into first and signaled the beginning of this title race.

Who's hot?
As a team Honvéd have scored 12 goals in their last 3 games. Márton Eppel has scored 3 goals in his last three games to take over the league scoring lead. He’s also chipped in two assists. Márk Koszta doubled his season’s offensive output with a hat trick against Debrecen last week. Also, goalkeeper Dávid Grof has put in some exceptional performances recently leading to his first ever national team call up. His penalty save on Dávid Holman last week was superb.
The visitors have kept pace with Kispest, scoring 12 goals in their last four games. Loïc Nego has been more effective in attack since he’s been moved into a more advanced position. His first two goals of the season over the last 3 games has been testimony to his proficiency in that role. Stopira also has two goals in his last two games showing just how dangerous they can be on set pieces. Danko Lazovic has also looked an inspired figure on their current run.

Referee
Tamás Bognár has been appointed to officiate this game. It will be his 15th assignment as the center and he’s right in the middle of the pack in terms of yellow (4.5 / gm) and red (0.29 / gm) card averages with just one penalty awarded.
In his 14 games officiated so far here is the breakdown of results: Home win: 8; Draw: 4; Visitor: 2. Incidentally, Tamás was the center official for Paks’ only home defeat so far this season.
He’s only officiated one contest with Honvéd - a 0-2 defeat at DVTK on 11 April, and one with Videoton - a 3-2 win over Debrecen a few weeks later.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-2 Videoton
Whatever happens in this match, Honvéd have already had their best season since their last title winning campaign in 1992-93. They know that a draw is all they need to lift the trophy but they’ll be foolish to sit back and wait for Videoton to attack. Videoton have already shown they can win at Bozsik, but this atmosphere will be entirely different than their first meeting in late September. This will come down to confidence, poise, concentration and experience and I think the visitors will just shade it come the final whistle.

Current Form:
Honvéd - WWWWLW
Videoton - WWWWDD