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!


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.

NBI Round 15 review: Fradi fall, Vidi roll

Ferencváros suffered their second home defeat of the season dropping into third place in NBI, five points adrift from league leaders Vasas, while Videoton demolished Gyirmót at home to regain second place and draw to within three of the summit.

Eagles shot down
Fradi’s 2-1 defeat to Paks on Saturday gives them four losses already this season. In comparison to last season, they were still undefeated at this point of the campaign and didn’t record their first defeat until round 16. They didn’t experience defeat in front of their home support until December and only lost five games all season. They started quickly out of the blocks and left the peloton behind early, winning the league by 21 points leaving no doubt of their dominance in Hungarian football.
Five points adrift at this point of the season can only be seen as disappointing considering the embarrassment of riches Thomas Doll has at his disposal. The loss to Paksi FC on Saturday could be considered a shock, but the writing has been on the wall all season as their back line have been leaking goals like crazy. A week ago the champions' defense allowed lowly DVTK back into the game, conceding goals on either side of the break. Fradi got a second half winner and managed to hold off Diósgyor, but this week their luck ran out against Paks and a late goal offered no consolation against a team they hadn’t lost at home to in 6 years. For Aurél Csertoi’s side it gives them a three-point cushion from the relegation zone.

Vidi climbing
There may not have been much doubt as to who was going to win this one, but Videoton’s 4-0 thrashing of Gyirmót FC Győr signaled that they’re back in this title race despite a disappointing start to the season. A resurgent Róbert Feczesin roared back to life in attack as he fired home his second brace of the season to take his league leading total to 8. They were his first goals since early September, and he assisted on both of Marko Scepovic’s goals as well to reclaim his role as Henning Berg’s go-to player. It was Videoton’s first clean sheet in 7 matches. I’m sure it helped that Győr had only scored one away goal in their last four.

Lanzafame on a roll
Italian roll anyone? Davide Lanzafame scored his seventh goal of the season to lead Honvéd to a 2-0 victory over a resilient Diósgyor. Remarkably, it was the seventh consecutive match the Italian has found the back of the net making him just the 7th player to manufacture that kind of production in the club’s history within the top flight (thanks for @emgergo for that bit of history). It was the first time Honvéd have won consecutive home games this season and it kept them on pace with the pack in the title race. Critics of Marco Rossi will ask why Márton Eppel wasn’t inserted into the game earlier, as the game seemed to be headed for disappointment for the home support until his arrival in the later stages.

Déjà vu for Vignjevic, Lilak
It would be ridiculous if it wasn’t true, but Újpest have not only drawn their last five matches, but they’ve taken a lead into the last 30 minutes and have conceded the equalizer in each during that stage of the game. Saturday’s game against Vasas was no different as Enis Bardhi came off the bench to put the hosts ahead on the hour. Lightning struck for a sixth time, however, as Zsolt Korcsmár slotted home for the league leaders 14 minutes from time to give them a share of the spoils. For Vasas it extended their unbeaten run to five matches, but for Nebojša Vignjevic’s squad it’s back to the drawing board as they drift 11 points off the pace.

Showdown in Debrecen ends in bore draw
Looking for consecutive wins for the first time since, well … the last time they played Mezőkövesd this season, Debreceni VSC took the game to their guests but were unable to make the breakthrough and had to settle for a goalless draw at Nagyerdei Stadion. Leonel Pontes’ men controlled the game throughout in terms of possession and chances, but couldn’t grab a winner. For newly-promoted Mezőkövesd this extends their unbeaten run to four increasing their cushion from the drop zone to seven points. It also makes four consecutive clean sheets for Attila Pintér’s boys.

Torghelle heads his way to a point
If you missed the first fifteen minutes of Haladás vs. MTK Budapest you missed the best part. Bálint Gaál scored in his second consecutive game to give the hosts the lead on 11 minutes, but MTK responded just three minutes later as Sándor Torghelle headed home his third in four matches. It was MTK’s first point away from home since a goalless draw against Újpest in late August.

With the international break coming up here’s who’s hot and who’s not:
Mezőkövesd - unbeaten in four, 10 points, and four clean sheets in a row
Vasas - just two defeats in last 11, unbeaten in last 5
Videoton - one loss in last nine, unbeaten in last 3, 10 goals in last three matches

Diósgyor VTK - 6 points in last 13 rounds (39 possible)
Gyirmót - 4 consecutive defeats

Davide Lanzafame (Budapest Honvéd) - 7 goals and 1 assist in last seven matches
Marco Scepovic (Videoton) - 4 goals and 2 assists in last four matches
Mahir Saglik (Vasas) - 4 goals in last four matches

Daniel Böde (Ferencváros) - one goal in last six matches
Dorde Kamber (Honvéd) - one goal all season

Honorable mention: Újpest’s Enis Bardhi scored 6 goals in 29 appearances last season. So far this season he’s already reached six goals after just 14 appearances.

Other interesting facts:

  • There have been no hat-tricks this season (only one was accomplished during last season).
  • 23 penalties have been awarded in the league this season - 8 have been awarded to Honvéd, 5 have been awarded against Ferencváros.
  • Only 3 penalties have been missed (each were saved by the opposing goalkeeper)
  • Honvéd’s Márton Eppel and Davide Lanzafame are level in most penalties converted (4 each)
  • Haladás have allowed the most own-goals (2)
  • Honvéd, Gyirmót, and MTK lead the league with 6 clean sheets apiece.

PREVIEW - NBI Round 15

Saturday, 5 November, 2016 - Round 15
We’re ready for another exciting round of Hungarian top-flight football this weekend as a the packs begin to separate within the table. Vasas hold a four point lead at the top despite last week’s draw against Videoton. Fradi took advantage of the their rivals' stumble to launch themselves back into second place (a position they haven’t held since 21 September). Mezőkövesd are rising, Haladás are falling, and Újpest are treading water with the sharks circling. Will MTK win away from home this season? Can DVTK climb out of the basement? Will the destruction and construction of all these Hungarian stadiums ever end?? All of these questions will be answered … in time. Thanks to Tomasz and Gayle for their endless input on all things NBI. Enjoy the preview.

Debreceni VSC (7th) vs. Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE (6th)

at: Nagyerdei Stadion (20,340 cap. - 3,037 avg.)

Preview: Leonel Pontes took over at Debrecen on 8 August after the resignation of Elemér Kondás. His predecessor led the club to two league championships and European qualification for five consecutive seasons. Those are large shoes to fill. Pontes hasn’t set off any fireworks yet with just 3 wins in ten games, but his signing of 34 year-old forward Róbert Vittek has been inspirational as the Slovak has scored twice in 3 games since joining the club. Midfielder Dávid Holman has also been in good form with three goals in his last four matches, leading the club with 4 total on the season. Loki are unbeaten in three of their last four, losing only to league leaders Vasas 2-1 and drawing Paks 1-1 at the formidable Fehérvári úti Stadion. They put two past Gyirmót last week and are the first team to do that since Újpest scored three against them in mid-August. Pontes is working in his system and his players seem to be responding of late.

Mezőkövesd are another late blooming side this season. After just two victories in their first 11 matches, they have rattled off three consecutive wins to climb out of the relegation zone and into sixth place. Another early-season acquisition has triggered their rise in form. Malian forward Ulysse Diallo has made an immediate impact, scoring three goals in his first three appearances since joining the club in early October. In their first appearance in NBI after a two-season regroup in NBII, Attila Pintér has seemingly found the right equation with his squad. Not only have Mező chalked up three consecutive victories, each have been clean sheets as well.
Who can stop Mezőkövesd? Well, Debrecen’s home form has been poor, losing three of their last four at Nagyerdei. Mezőkövesd are unbeaten in three of their last four away games, including a brave 2-2 draw against the champions at Groupama Aréna as well as a solid 1-0 win over stingy Győr.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-2 Mezőkövesd - look for Diallo to stay hot and add to his current haul.

Budapest Honvéd (4th) vs. Diósgyőri VTK (12th)

at: Bozsik Stadion (9,500 cap. - 2,012 avg.)

Preview: One can’t speak of Honvéd these days without mentioning Davide Lanzafame. The former Juventus prospect has been enjoying a purple patch at the club scoring six goals in his first seven games since moving from Serie B side Novara in late August. Marco Rossi has come under fire for his lack of tactical nous in recent weeks, but in their last six they’ve won three and lost to Ferencváros (away) and Videoton (home) while drawing 1-1 against Újpest. A home match against bottom-side DVTK could be just what they need to build on their narrow 2-1 win over Haladás. Kispest defeated Diósgyőr 3-0 away in their last meeting - and that was before Lanzafame joined the club.

Ferenc Horváth made an impressive start to his first season at Diósgyőr with consecutive victories over Videoton and Újpest, but Fradi tapped them on the shoulder and reminded them they were punching above their weight by handing them a “wake-up” 6-2 defeat in the capital. Since then they picked up 2 points in their next 9 and have only won once in their last twelve matches. Recent performances have been encouraging, however. Latvian defender Vitalijs Jagodinskis scored an injury time leveler to earn their first away point at Újpest after he came on for the injured Marcela Mahalek early in the first half. In their last match Jagodisnkis was on the score sheet once more, but it was an own goal against Ferencváros as DVTK spotted the champions a two-goal lead before battling back. Soma Novothny scored his fourth of the season and Nono equalized for Diósgyőr before Fradi got the winner in front of a massive crowd of over 8,000 - the last match to be played at DVTK stadion before being demolished.
Despite their recent industriousness, Horváth’s men are dismal away from home, shipping a league high 18 goals in seven matches.

Prediction: Budapest Honvéd 3-1 Diósgyőri VTK - Lanzafame finds the target in his 7th consecutive game.

Ferencváros (2nd) vs. Paksi FC (11th)

at: Groupama Aréna (23,698 cap. - 6,927 avg.)

Preview: Paks have a league worst two wins this season, but they have a league high 7 draws (their total from last season). They’ve been formidable at home in terms of grinding out a result, but away from Fehérvári úti stadion they’re abysmal, losing five of their last six. In their first meeting with Ferencváros this season they played to a nil-nil draw with Paksi creating most of the chances in front of their largest home crowd of the campaign. The game was a physical affair with no less than 8 yellow cards being distributed by referee Sandór Andó-Szabó. It was only a point but it gave them confidence that they can match anyone at home. One can argue that Aurél Csertői has mastered the art of “not losing”, but will that be enough to keep them out of the drop zone? This week they’re facing the champions again but in a much less congenial atmosphere.

Fradi return home this week and, despite conceding a league high 13 goals there, they’ve also scored a league high 21 as well. The free-flowing goal atmosphere of Groupama Aréna has been exciting this season, none more so than their thrilling derby against Újpest that ended 3-3, and this week’s opposition could provide more vim to the campaign. Thomas Doll’s season hasn’t gone as planned, and with the talent he has at his disposal Fradi should be well on top of the league. The champs have won consecutive games in the last two weeks - the first time they’ve accomplished that since their perfect 3-win start to the season - but it wasn’t pretty as they had to hold off Honvéd’s late rally at home two weeks ago.  Then they needed a second-half winner from Michal Nalepa to see off table-proppers Diósgyőr in Round 14. The team that ended their perfect start to the season, Paksi, is appearing again, just when Doll’s squad need to build momentum. Former Paksi forward Dániel Böde looks to be coming back into form, scoring his 7th and league-leading goal against Honvéd after three games without finding the net, but he didn’t play last week and (understandably) didn’t feature in their 9-0 romp against Koroncó mid-week in the Cup. Marco Djuricin, who usually plays on the left when Böde is in the lineup, plays as the striker when he’s out and he’s more than capable to lead the attack with 6 goals and 5 assists so far.
Defensively Ferencváros have been disastrous, conceding 9 in their last four and without a clean sheet in eight matches. Paksi have scored in four of their last five away matches against teams with better defense than Doll’s struggling back four.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-1 Paksi FC - Fradi keep the pressure on Vasas at the top.

Szombathelyi Haladás (5th) vs. MTK Budapest (9th)

at: Soproni Városi Stadion (5,800 cap. - 1,892 avg.)

Preview: Haladás return to their temporary home in Sopron licking their wounds from consecutive away defeats to Mezőkövesd and Honvéd. They have done very well recently at Káposztás utcai stadion, winning four of their last five including victories over Ferencváros and Vasas. They’ve slowed down a bit since winning four straight put them third top after 7 games. They had risen as high as 2nd after their win over Fradi, but their last two week’s results have seen them fall out of the top four. Hali are still without starting goalkeeper Gábor Király, but Dániel Rózsa has played well as his replacement, especially keeping a clean sheet in their 2-0 win against the champions three weeks ago. Géza Mészöly’s offense has shifted from relying upon David Williams (who hasn’t scored since round 7) to Bálint Gaál who has found the net twice in their last three games. They need more consistent scoring and Bence Iszlai seems to be chipping in lately as well with a goal and an assist in his last two appearances.

MTK come into this one as the only team without a win away this season. In fact, they’ve only scored three goals in seven matches away - another league worst. For a team that finished third and fourth respectively over the last two seasons, MTK have battled hard to overcome a disastrous start. Iconic forward Sándor Torghelle is the club’s only real threat up front so it’s not a surprise that MTK scored zero goals in their first four games as 'Sanyi' was unavailable. He’s scored just one of his four goals away from home. MTK have conceded 9 goals in their last four away matches.

Prediction: Szombathelyi Haladás 1-0 MTK Budapest - No Torghelle magic in this one.

Videoton (3rd) vs. Gyirmót Győr (10th)

at: Pancho Arena (3,500 cap. - 1,953 avg)

Preview: Henning Berg’s start with Videoton grabbed people’s attention for the wrong reasons. No wins in their first three league games and an early exit in the Europa League had supporters questioning his appointment as the club’s new supremo. However, five victories in their next six quieted most of the doubters. Now third on the table, boasting the most productive attack and fresh off a last gasp Danko Lazovic equalizer at Vasas, Videoton return home where they last experienced defeat in late July to, ironically, Vasas. Róbert Feczesin leads Vidi with six goals but hasn’t scored since mid-July. Lazovic has been the in-form striker with a goal in each of his last two games. Marko Scepovic has also netted three times since his transfer deadline day move from Olympiakos, bagging a brace two weeks ago against Honvéd.

At the other end of the offensive spectrum is Gyirmót who have scored a league worst seven goals. The only player that has scored more than one goal this season is on-loan striker Dániel Sallói with two. Gyirmót had been on a run of eight matches where there was one or no goals scored between the two sides. That streak was blown out of the water when Debrecen defeated them 2-1 last week. In fact, Gyirmót are on a three-match losing run, scoring just one goal in that span.
In their previous encounter, Videoton crushed Gyirmót 4-0 in Győr thanks to four second half goals (including Feczesin’s last goal).

Prediciton: Videoton 3-0 Gyirmót Győr - Look for Feczesin to score off the bench.

Újpest FC (8th) vs. Vasas SC (1st)

at: Szusza Ferenc Stadium (14,817 cap. - 2, 242 avg)

Preview: Újpset FC must feel like they’re the most unlucky team in the world. Currently on a run of five draws, (that’s right, five scoring draws!) Lilak have fallen steadily down the table. In each of those games Újpest have been leading but have let up the equalizer in the 61st minute or later. The last two were the hardest to swallow as they arrived at the death. Nebojša Vignjevic must sort out a defense that has shipped 16 goals in their last seven. Dávid Mohl and Ákos Kecskés have been the only two who have been consistent in Lilak’s back line, but Kecskés is out this week due to his late second yellow card against Paksi at the weekend. On a positive note, they’ve scored 14 over that span. Forward János Lázok finally opened his account this season, scoring two in his last three games, while the impressive young Macedonian midfielder Enis Bardhi leads the club in scoring with 5 goals and two assists.

Vasas - what a difference a year makes. The team that survived a relegation scare into the last week of last season, is now atop the league with a four-point cushion after 14 games. Michael Oenning has done wonders in his first full season with Budapest’s 13th district side. They matched last season’s total of 9 wins two weeks ago in a 2-1 win over Debrecen. They’ve conceded a league-lowest 6 away goals and have the most away victories (4). Leading scorer Martin Ádám has missed the last two games with a training ground injury and faces a late fitness test for this match.

Prediction: Újpest 2-2 Vasas - The run continues until Vignjevic adjusts his end-game strategy.


-Chris Barrett (@crusader120)