Champions League Qualifier Preview - Ferencváros vs Ludogorets

Less than forty days ago we all saw Liverpool lift the European Cup for the 6th time in their history, ending another epic UEFA Champions League season.  Ten days ago the Preliminary Round for this season’s Champions League was completed in Kosovo, sending us on another voyage of continental football that will end with the final in Istanbul next May.

For now, hope abounds in teams across Europe who enter the brutal struggle of qualification - 3 rounds of qualifying and then a playoff round - which will wrap up at the end of August to complete the final six spots in the Group Stage draw.  

The First Qualifying Round starts this week and Ferencváros will be Hungary’s representative in the Europe’s top club competition after winning their 30th NB1 title this spring and first in three years.  They were drawn against Bulgarian champions Ludogorets who are looking for a measure of revenge as they fell to Hungarian opposition last year. 

Have won the last 8 Bulgarian League titles


Since returning to the top flight of Bulgarian football in 2012, Ludogorets have become a fixture at the top of the Parva Liga.  According to Bulgarian football expert Metodi Shumanov, “after winning 8 league titles in a row, Ludogorets are fully focused on their European campaign.”  Since the 2013-14 season, the Bulgarian giants have failed to make the group stage of either European competition just once (2015-16). They have twice played in the Champions League group stage.  They’ve reached the Europa League group stage three times, advancing to the last 16 in 2014 where they lost to semifinalists Valencia 5-0 on aggregate. 

Shumanov - “after last season’s early Champions League exit the hand of another Hungarian team (MOL Vidi), Ludogorets have no room for error this time; the club bosses have invested heavily into rebuilding the team. Champions League group stage participation is a top priority; if not, then a Europa League group stage campaign is the bare minimum.”

Manager - Stoycho Stoev: The architect of their 2013-14 season which saw them reach the last 16 in the Europa League, Stoev is back after a five-year hiatus.  The 56 year-old native of Razgrad has returned to guide the Eagles back into the knockout rounds. 

Players: Part of their €2.5M spending spree this summer includes winger Mavis Tchibota from Israeli League side Bnei Yehuda.  There are high hopes for the 23 year-old who scored a goal and an assist in his debut as Ludogorets beat Cup holders Lokomotiv Plovdiv 2-0 in last week’s Bulgarian Super Cup clash.

MOL Vidi defeated Ludogorets in the Second Qualifying Round of the Champions League last August

Ludogorets are an experienced continental side and have legitimate attacking threats in Brazilian midfielder Marcelinho (14 goals and 16 assists in 68 UCL/UEL appearances), and Romanian striker Claudiu Keseru (14 goals and 8 assists in 44 UCL/UEL appearances).

Midfielder Svetoslav Dyakov is cautiously optimistic according to Shumanov.  The 35 year-old captain was quoted saying, “We have to make sure we don’t lose the first leg in Hungary.  Then we’ll beat them in the 2nd leg.”

Ferencváros won their 30th league title last season


It’s been almost 25 years since Ferencváros qualified for the group stage of the Champions League.  They have not won more than one round in continental competition in any year since that season.  It's been three years since Fradi last won the Hungarian championship, but they're now back in the top European competition with high hopes.  Ludogorets aren’t the only team entering this season with a chip on their shoulder.  The previous season’s runners-up were knocked out of the Europa League at the first hurdle last summer under Thomas Doll and supporter criticism started before the domestic season began.  Now, after some significant additions the the squad and domestic title under their belt they can enter this summer’s qualifiers with some confidence.  Pressure will be mounting, however, as Fradi supporters have voiced their displeasure over their team’s inability to progress in Europe.

Rebrov brings Champions League experience to Fradi

Manager: Sergei Rebrov:  The Ukrainian supremo joined the champions after the aforementioned Doll “stepped down” at the end of August despite starting the season unbeaten and at the top of the table.  Rebrov came in and had them 7 points clear by the end of September and, despite a few hiccups along the way, the rest (as they say) is history.  Rebrov is ambitious and has guided Dynamo Kiev to the quarterfinals of the Europa League in 2015 and then through consecutive Champions League group stages in the following seasons.  Dynamo reached the Round of 16 in 2016, losing to Manchester City. 

Players: In contrast to Ludogorets, Ferencváros have been a bit more thrifty this summer. They are working with a surplus after pulling in over £2M for midfield maestro Fernando Gorriarán who left for Liga MX side Santos Laguna.  After stealing Honvéd's Dávid Gróf on a free transfer, they now have two of the best goalkeepers in the league.  Rebrov plundered the Ukrainian loan market and picked up two more Shakhtar Donetsk castoffs while shelling out some cash for Bosnian left back Eldar Civic from Sparta Prague.  Leading goal-scorer and media “darling” Davide Lanzafame has struggled with a knee injury and, despite being named to the 22-man squad, will realistically be available for the second leg only.  Rui Pedro had a successful loan at Haladás in the spring and looks set to replace Gorriarán in midfield - a position he's no stranger to.


Rebrov has brought discipline and a strong work ethic to Ferencváros and the current squad has responded well.  They expect to win and have typically found a way, especially at home.  They’ve won eight of nine pre-season friendlies, conceding just three goals.  Against a team like Ludogorets they will need to score at home and the absence of Gorriarán and Lanzafame will make it much more difficult for them. 

The experience that Ludogorets carries into this tie is important as the pressure to succeed will be sky high.  There is no doubt that they have the ability to score, but there are concerns that their defense could be an issue. 

First leg: at Groupama Aréna in Budapest ( 10 July - 20:00 CET)

Ferencváros 2-0 Ludogorets

Second leg: at Ludogorets Arena in Razgrad (17 July - 19:30 CET)

Ludogorets 2-1 Ferencváros

(Ferencváros advance 3-2 on aggregate)

Special thanks to Metodi Shumanov for his input on Ludogorets - check out his blog "The Football Methods" Incidentally he thinks Ludogorets will win the second leg after a first leg draw. I respectfully disagree :)

NB1 Round 33 Preview

Spring rains will be falling throughout Hungary on Sunday (ironically) providing a little extra level of drama to an already tension-filled final round.  The rains will also reflect the sadness of a country who will bid adieu to the NB1 for 8 weeks.  Buckle up!  Chris and Paul have all the news and previews of the final round of the NB1 2018-19 season!

Paul: Chris, the last match day of the season.  Can you believe it?  This week all the matches start at the same time.  We had a total of 20 goals scored in round 32, which included 8 goals in the wild Honvéd and Diósgyor match.   We know that Ferencváros are the champions and will attempt to qualify for the Champion League.  MOL Vidi are in the Europa Liga and Haladás are relegated.  Outside of that everything is up in the air.  With these few knowns let's get to the unknowns and see what unfolds in the final match day of the NB1 season.

Chris: It seems as if this league continues to produce drama until the end each season. The battle for safety rolls into the final day with three teams still in the race.  There’s also the small matter of third place with three teams in with a chance for that final Europa League spot.  Still much to fight for here.  On to the previews!

Sunday, 19 May

Puskás Akadémia vs Ferencváros 

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul: A rare road win for Puskás last week against Újpest.  They are safe once again and will remain in the first division.  They have been a thorn in Ferencváros’ side so this match is anyone’s guess.   Since the match is at home, let’s go for an “upset of the week.”  The only thing I can say for sure is that I don’t see a goal coming from half field.

Ferencváros ended their home season in style winning 14 out of 17 matches with no losses. Like many teams, they will be here physically but I am not sure if they will give more.  I am curious if Dániel Böde starts the match in what could be his final match in his Ferencváros career.

Prediction: Puskás 1-0 Ferencváros

Can Davide Lanzafame secure his second consecutive NB1 scoring title?

Chris: It was ‘mission accomplished’ for András Komjáti last week.  He took over at Puskás and steered them to safety with an unlikely unbeaten run in his five games at the helm.  The squad have responded well and are playing with confidence, but will be without the suspended Patrik Poór at right back.  Playing at home has also been key for them this season - they beat Ferencváros 1-0 at Pancho in their first meeting this season.  The winning goal in that one was launched by none other than Janos Hegedus who happens to be returning from suspension this week.

Ferencváros will want to end the season strong and the scoring title is still up for grabs which Davide Lanzafame will no doubt like to settle.  A big miss for them will be the ever-present Gergo Lovrencsics who is suspended for this one.

Prediction: Puskás 2-2 Ferencváros

Kisvárda vs Mezőkövesd

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda  

Paul: Kisvárda can stay up in the first division with an MTK loss but why depend on other clubs when you have your fate in your own hands.  They have not won in their last five home matches and now is the time to change that and stay up in the first division!

Mezőkövesd are safely staying up in the  first division next season.  They have been weak away from home despite their away win at MTK.  I don’t seem them putting much effort into this match against a club in a “do or die” situation.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Kisvárda have it all to play for this week. I honestly thought they’d be free and clear by now but they’ve stumbled with two defeats in their last three against bottom half of the table teams.  No doubt this has been a heroic effort for them to remain in the NB1 and with Mezőkövesd already safe, this is their match to win and secure another NB1 season in front of their home fans.

Mezőkövesd blitzed their way to mid-table safety with three straight wins without one of the their best attackers in Gábor Molnár.  They’ll be tough to beat.

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Haladás vs MOL Vidi  

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely   

Paul: We bid goodbye to a Haladás squad that never gave up and made things interesting in the relegation battle.  They will go out in style and we hope to see them back up the following season as they belong in the first division.  

MOL Vidi has lost their last two away matches.  I see them looking ahead to the Magyar Kupa final match and not giving it their all in this match.  They have the second spot secured so their aim is coming out of this match with no significant injuries.

Prediction: Haladás 2-1 Vidi

Brave spring effort from Haladás fell short of NB1 survival last week.

Chris: Neither team has anything to play for here. Haladas want to finish strong in front of their home fans in their last NB1 match for a while.  With Gábor Király unavailable the goalkeeper duties go to Dániel Rózsa who has been adequate.  

Vidi’s intentions will be revealed with their starting eleven. Vidi will want to keep their team healthy for the cup final next week.  They have a history of fielding subpar sides in games that matter little.  I wouldn’t rule out a Haladás result here.

Prediction: Haladás 2-2 Vidi

MTK vs Honvéd

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest   

Paul: MTK is in a must win situation and must hope to gain more points than Diósgyor or Kisvárda.  Quite simply, a loss and they are down to the second division regardless of any other results.  The situation has been bad for MTK for some time and I can’t see them rallying here unfortunately.  They will come very close in this derby match.

What a strange match for Honvéd last week.   The whistle from the stands cost them a penalty but in their defense they did show some mettle in coming back to tie Diósgyor.  This is their final tune up before their Hungarian Cup final match against Mol Vidi.  I see them rallying in the final minutes to prevent MTK from staying up in the first division.

Prediction: MTK 1-1 Honvéd

Chris: This is an interesting match for both sides.  MTK are currently in the drop zone and need a win in the worst way.  They finally scored last week after a four consecutive 1-0 defeats but they still haven’t earned a point in their last six matches. There should be a lot of changes to the side with injuries and players returning from suspension.  It was good to see Ákos Baki finally return to the MTK lineup last week, but a red card prevents him in being a part of staying up this week.

Honvéd would need a lot to happen to claim 3rd place.  Claiming fourth, however, is a much more realistic possibility and it would lift the pressure off of them in the cup.  A defeat for either Debrecen or Újpest and win for Kispest would secure fourth place. With Filip Holender battling former teammate Lanzafame for the scoring title this could be another interesting side show.  Central defender Bence Batik is suspended for Honvéd. 

Prediction: MTK 1-2 Honvéd

Diósgyőr vs Újpest 

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc 

Paul: Diósgyor scored four away goals in Budapest so you would think they won, but unfortunately they also allowed four goals as well.  A point was well earned despite a gift goal from the referee.  This is probably the most difficult match of the week to predict but I will go with the home side.

Újpest has not won in their last three matches and those lost points may cost them a spot in the Europa League.  Their attack has been poor and the addition of Lacina Traore has not paid off at all.  Újpest will root for a MOL Vidi cup win which could possibly get them into Europe depending on Honvéd’s results.  I see a lot of changes coming for this squad next season on the offensive side of the ball.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Újpest

Újpest captain Róbert Litauszki will miss final game with injury.

Chris: Diósgyőr are above the line but must treat this one as an elimination game.  A win is all they need to assure safety and they have played very good football lately.  Fernando has his team fully fit and ready to go.  Újpest are suffering in attack, and last week their fabled defense had a lapse of communication with backup keeper David Banai that led to an unlikely home defeat. To add to their misery, Lilák captain Róbert Litauszki will sit the final match due to injury.  Újpest just look tired and slow and will need something special here to get a result.  It pains me to predict this but … 

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Újpest

Debrecen vs Paks

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen   

Paul:  A big match for Debrecen at home.  They win and they have third place in the league and Europa League spot.   A loss and they will need some help.  I can’t see them losing two matches in a row at home.  With some striker help next season, this could be one very exciting team next season.

Paks are safely secure for a spot in the first division next season so they are just playing this match out.  Their heads will be on their summer vacation and will not provide much of a challenge for the home squad.  They had a nice celebration in the locker room after last weeks big win so this match is meaningless for them.  

Prediction: Debrecen 3-1 Paks

Sandor Nagy out injured in crucial league finale.

Chris:  Debrecen will be without starting goalkeeper Sandor Nagy who injured his thigh last week.  He’ll be replaced by Tomas Kosicky who doesn’t inspire confidence in the Loki squad.  

Paks haven’t won in their last five games away from home and have only scored one goal in that span.  I’m not looking for fireworks here from Paks, but the slick surface should help Paks with their style of play.  Aurel Csertői will look for a low scoring win if possible, but I don’t think Debrecen will allow it.

Prediction:  Debrecen 1-1 Paks

NB1 Round 32 Preview

The final two weeks of the season are upon us and, as always, Chris and Paul are on top of things. Here they will bring you all the team news and their predictions ahead of each match this weekend.  Read on, follow us on Twitter, and open yourself to the burgeoning global world of the NB1 football community.

Paul: Chris, it was another crazy week in NB1 which is what we have come to expect.   A total of 17 goals were scored which is about normal for NB1, where the average for the season is 2.5 goals per match.  Three of the top four squads lost so the battle for Europe is still on.  The relegation battle may be between five squads for the final ticket to NB2.  Mathematically, Haladás is still alive but it will take two wins from them along with a lot (I mean a lot) of help from the other clubs.   My picks for the two sides to leave us next year are Haladás and MTK.  Two past first division clubs will be joining us next year in Zalaegerszeg and Kaposvár .  Not to get ahead of myself, we have two match days left and still a lot to be decided.

Chris: There’s alway’s that little extra measure of excitement in the final few weeks of the season and we’ve been feeling that with the relegation battle mostly.  Who would have thought MTK would have fallen so drastically this spring? But here they are - on the verge of slipping through the trap door just one season after returning to the top flight.  This is the week that should bring the league into focus but, let’s be honest, besides Ferencváros claiming the title very little has held true to the script this season.  

Saturday, 11 May

Újpest vs Puskás Akadémia 

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Újpest played an entertaining match in a great derby atmosphere against Ferencváros. They are back home where usually they have been very good.  Surprisingly, you have to go back five matches against Mezőkövesd for their last home win.  I think they will be motivated here for a spot in Europe and that will be the difference.

Puskás have been a totally different club since changing managers.  They have drawn three of their last four matches which has kept them within distance of a relegation spot.  They will give the Lilak all they can handle but lose by a late goal.

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Puskás

Dániel Nagy scored his first goal since February last week

Chris: Újpest were unable to hold on to an important point at Ferencváros last week in the derby despite a strong showing against the champions.  Lilák are sweating on the fitness of Obinna Nwobodo who will be a massive addition (or absence) in this one as Újpest have missed his creativity in attack over the last few weeks.  Lone striker Lacina Traoré seems to be getting worse up front for Újpest despite having all the tools to be an impact player. 

It’s difficult to tell if Puskás should be glad they kept their unbeaten run alive against Honvéd last week or mad that they let up a two-goal lead.  Either way, they’re virtually safe and would require a major meltdown to end up on the wrong side of the line when all is said and done.  The loss of János Hegedus in defense will be a major blow to András Komjáti’s defense which  has had their struggles away from Pancho Arena this season.

Prediction: Újpest 1-0 Puskás

Honvéd vs Diósgyőr

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest  

Paul: Honvéd came back twice to draw away against Puskás and keep their slim European hopes alive.  With that motivation, I see them coming up big in this match and win comfortably against the club from Eastern Hungary.  My crystal ball sees a few goals from Filip Holender here before he leaves for Switzerland. 

Diósgyor was one of my shining moments last week in coming through as my upset of the week.  They are away from Miskolc this week which has not been good for the club.  They have only gained a point in their last five away matches.  In addition, this match is in Budapest where Diósgyor tends to leave with massive defeats.  These two facts will continue the trend and make next week’s home battle against Paks a win or die situation.

Prediction: Honvéd 3-0 Diósgyőr

Chris: Honvéd battled back to grab a point at Pancho Aréna last week with Filip Holender scoring his 15th goal of the season and Ivan Lovric being rewarded with some solid play over the last two months with his first goal of the season.  Three points off of third place with two games to go and cup final to consider, Attila Supka has some decisions to make in his route to Europe this summer.  Is it worth pushing for third or conserving energy for what will prove to be a hotly-contested Magyar Kupa final.

Diósgyőr grabbed an unexpected three points against Vidi last week to keep their survival hopes alive.  They are in desperation mode and need at least a point to realistically keep them afloat until the final round. Bence Szabó’s ban isn’t disastrous, but coupled with Sergei Shestakov’s injury could create some problems in generating attacking opportunities if both are absent.  I think DVTK will grind out a heroic result here.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Diósgyőr

MOL Vidi vs MTK  

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár   

Paul: Who knows how MOL Vidi will play in this match?  I have to think they will give a decent effort in front of their home fans.  They have to right the ship and gain some momentum before their Hungarian Cup final match against Honvéd.  It does help that they play MTK or at least it should, no?

The situation is difficult for MTK with this match and next week's final match against Honvéd.  It has been a tale of two seasons for MTK.   Remember when they started the season off so well and they looked to reclaim their place in the first division?  The hole is getting bigger and bigger and I can’t see them climbing out of it.

Prediction: Vidi 2-1 MTK

László Lencse (left) is unavailable for MTK this week.
Torghelle scored their last team goal on 6 April.

Chris: Vidi dropped their obligatory game to Diósgyőr in what has become an annual charity event for the strugglers from Miskolc.  With that out of the way they should resume normal service against MTK at home this week but will likely be without captain and defensive stalwart Roland Juhasz who has been struggling with an illness this week.  Vinícius returns to the side after serving his ban last week which is a boost.  It’ll be interesting to see if Marko Nikolic uses Ákos Elek in center back again.  The former Hungarian international looked very comfortable in Vidi’s back line where he’s played only sparingly since joining from Kairat over the winter break.

What can I say about MTK anymore?  How many times can a team lose 1-0 consecutively? So far it’s four times for MTK.  I keep holding out hope that Tamás Lucsánszky’s side will finally find their scoring boots and save their season, but with injuries and suspensions adding up it looks unlikely.  Foward László Lensce is suspended as well as right back Máté Katona which is not good news for Lucsánszky who is running out of time. 

Prediction: Vidi 1-0 MTK

Mezőkövesd vs Haladás

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd   

Paul: Mezőkövesd have assured themselves a spot in the first division next year.  They are the definition of a mid-table first division squad who are content on coming back to the NB1 year after year.  With that said, I see a let down here and an opportunity for a club playing for their lives.

They came oh so close last week.   Haladás lost on a corner kick goal which is indeed a rare thing.  What a goal and in the final seconds to boot.  Look it up!   Nonetheless, they will come up with a big win here and makes us all wonder what if… My question is where will manager Ferenc Horváth end up to start next season?

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-2 Haladás

Chris: With consecutive wins in the last two weeks Mezőkövesd are sitting pretty and they’ve done it without the services of striker Gábor Molnár who has been out with an injured shoulder for the past few weeks.   Mezo have been winning with defense and I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the job Róbert Pillár has done marshaling Kuttor’s back line to two consecutive clean sheets.

Haladás hearts were broken in the dying embers of last week’s gut-wrenching draw against Paks.  Now, with a 352km trek across Hungary to a place they haven’t won since 2013 ahead of them, they must win at all costs.  With center back Milán Németh banned and midfielder Oleh Holodiuk a question mark after a nasty collision last week it looks grim for the miracle boys of Szombathely.  However, with Mezo already safe this could get interesting. Rui Pedro and Galin Ivanov are still creating and Tamas Priskin showed he can still find the back of the net when given an unobstructed chance from 12 yards.  

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-2 Haladás

Paks vs Kisvárda 

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks 

Paul: A true relegation match here folks.  Paks left Szombathely with an important point and find themselves in a must win situation heading into next week’s clash at Debrecen.  I think they will come up big here with a late score breaking a scoreless match.

Kisvárda is the wild card this season in the NB1.  They are so terribly inconsistent.  One week I see them look horrible and then last week they travel to Debrecen and demolish the home side’s unbeaten home streak.   Two weeks in a row would be magical but I can’t see them doing it again. 

Prediction: Paks 1-0 Kisvárda

Chris: Paks are backpedaling their way to safety by staying close in games and getting just enough to stay above the line.  Last week’s miracle goal by Mohamed Remili kept them ahead of Kisvárda in 8th place but they’re still only two points clear of the drop. 
Kisvárda are making their move to stay up and looking good in doing so.  They created chances while absorbing a lot of pressure last week en route to a big 3-1 win over Debrecen.  They are away from home again this week where they’ve won their last three by a combined score of 8-1.

Prediction: Paks 0-2 Kisvárda

Priskin had Haladás hoping

Ferencváros vs Debrecen

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest   

Paul:  What an atmosphere at Groupama Arena  last week in the derby against Újpest!  I knew they would not have a let down in this big match.  It was quite a sight to see a full arena with all the various colored smoke.  On a side note, it was quite a surprise to see them lose Ivan Petryak to Mol Vidi.  It was Paintsil all over again unfortunately.   Who knows what really happens in these dealings?

Debrecen shocked me in losing by two goals at home last week where they are usually very strong.  Their last match against Fradi was one of the most entertaining of the year but that was in Debrecen.  I think they make this a fun match and will come to play this Saturday.  

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-2 Debrecen

Chris:  With the title in the bag and the derby behind them, Ferencváros have little to play for and that likely will show this week as they come down from the mountain. Davide Lanzafame and Fernando Gorriaran are suspended, and Gergo Lovrencsics needed stitches after his face was carved open by a hard shot last week, so his place in the side is in some doubt.

Debrecen spurned a chance to pick up points in the race for the final spot on the podium last week.  Despite an honest effort and plenty of chances, they weren’t able to take advantage and fell to Kisvárda.  I’m banking on a response from Loki who should be throwing caution at the wind.

Prediction:  Ferencváros 1-2 Debrecen

NB1 Round 31 Preview

It's derby week! What can be better than that? With only three rounds remaining in the season, the battles for relegation and the final spot on the podium are still in full frenzy.  There are plenty of intriguing matches this week (including Fradi vs Újpest) and we have Paul and Chris to update you on team news and give you their previews and predictions of each game.  

Paul: Chris, we had a total of 16 goals scored which is about average for NB1 matches.  A big congratulations for Ferencváros on winning their 30th Hungarian football title.   With three matches left in the season, anything can and will happen.  I cannot remember a more exciting relegation battle to stay up in NB1.  Only seven points separate six squads for the right to remain in NB1 next season.   Let’s see if Chris and I can unravel some of this confusion that is inherent in Hungarian Football.

Chris: Battle stations!  We are down to the wire and this is the time for crazy results in the league.  With teams that have already achieved their goals it will be a question of motivation, and with teams who are still fighting it will be a matter of concentration.  This is a difficult time of the season to predict anything as mindsets control outcomes more often than not.  Just ask Ferencváros after last week’s defeat. 

Saturday, 4 May

Puskás Akadémia vs Honvéd 

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul: Wonderful a match at the beautiful, but often empty, Pancho Arena.  Puskás took a point from MOL Vidi away and have been a thorn in side of last year’s champions.  Puskás are back home which usually is a good thing for them.  I have recently lost confidence in their home form so I can’t see them taking the three points here.

Honvéd showed some life in an entertaining win against Ferencváros.  Änis Ben-Hatira looked very good last week against Fradi and will need to continue his good form for Honvéd whether it be in the league or Hungarian Cup final.  I will pick a Honvéd away win put please be advised that my record on Honvéd predictions is quite poor.

Prediction: Puskás 0-1 Honvéd

Chris: Puskas haven’t lost since replacing former manager János Radoki with Director of Sport András Komjáti.  Playing at home has been their forte and a result here will ensure their place in NB1 next season.  Puskás’ draw at Vidi last week means they were undefeated this season against last season’s champions.  Komjáti has them playing better football.  

Honvéd pulled themselves back into the podium equation with win over newly-crowned champions Ferencváros last week.  However, Honvéd hero Änis Ben-Hatira exited late in the game with an injury after scoring two second-half goals and the jury is still out on his availability for this one.

Prediction: Puskás 2-1 Honvéd

Haladás' Tamás Priskin scored last week against Kisvárda - his first since September.

Haladás vs Paks

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely  

Paul: There is still life in the club from Szombathely.   Haladás is still alive after a nice away victory against fellow relegation strugglers Kisvárda.   I love an underdog as everyone knows, so I will go with Haladás to continue their fairytale ride to first division football.

Paks took care of business with a home win against MTK.  Away from Paks is a different story as they have lost four away matches in a row.  Make that five now against a squad that could just be on the cusp of writing a miracle ending to their season.

Prediction: Haladás 1-0 Paks

Chris: Haladás are playing with the form of champions.  After a stunning 2-1 win at Kisvárda last week they are well and truly in a fight for survival after being written off a month ago.  Rui Pedro has been the spark in this revival as he’s brought some creativity and industry to their attack.  The Portuguese attacking midfielder has 5 goals and 2 assists in twelve games since joining from Ferencváros on loan in the winter.  Despite limping off at the end of the game against Kisváda, left back Dávid Mohl looks to have recovered in time to play this week.  He’s been solid since taking over that position three weeks ago.

Paks won unconvincingly last week.  It was their first win since February and it came even though MTK bossed the play and got the better chances.  It had to be encouraging for Aurél Csertői to see his defense (ravaged by injuries) keep a clean sheet, but MTK haven’t been lighting up the attacking end recently. Paks have lost their last four away games without scoring a goal. 

Prediction: Haladás 1-0 Paks

MTK vs Mezőkövesd  

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest  

Paul: MTK has now lost four matches in a row to become a member of the relegation fight. Fortunately they face a poor away squad so despite their poor form, I will take the easy route and call for a draw here.  This match could be difficult to watch.

Mezőkövesd did what they were supposed to in defeating Diósgyor although by a surprising three goals.  I so want to predict an away win for this club but can’t bring myself to do it based on the fact that they have lost their last four away matches.

Prediction: MTK 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: MTK are up against the wall, slipping to within 3 points of the drop zone after a fourth consecutive defeat last week at Paks.  They have only scored one goal in that span and under new coach Tamás Lucsánszky they look to be in trouble.  MTK have collected just four points in their last ten league matches. 

Mezőkövesd ended a run a string of four consecutive defeats with a comprehensive 3-0 win over relegation battlers Diósgyőr last week.  The win puts them seven points clear of the drop with three games to go so a draw here would be just as good as a win to clinch another season in NB1 for Atilla Kuttor’s side. 

Prediction: MTK 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Kosovan Florent Hasani leads DVTK with 5 goals this season

Diósgyőr vs MOL Vidi

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc   

Paul: Diósgyor need this game desperately and must win to have any chance of survival in the first division.    They have been a decent home club with three wins in their last four matches.  I will call for an effort reminiscent of their surprise defeat of Fradi some time ago. In the words of Elvis, “It’s now or never.”   My “upset of the week” but don’t take it to the bank.

It’s difficult to assess the mindset of the MOL Vidi squad in this match.  They are visiting Miskolc to play a club who should be in desperation mode.  Vidi will show up to play their Hungarian Cup Final match but their final three league match results will be anyone’s guess?

Prediction: Diósgyőr 2-1 Vidi

Chris: This matchup has some recent history.  I’ll set the scene. It was 2 June, 2018 and Diósgyőr needed a win against newly-crowned champions Vidi to stay up. In the 88th minute Gábor Makrai scored the winner for DVTK against a youthful and inexperienced defense in what was a poor decision by the champs with Balmazújváros paying the price. Rant over.

Last week’s loss left Diósgyőr under the relegation line and in need of strong final push in their final three games.  They defeated Vidi at the start of the spring season at Sóstói Stadion back in February and will be hoping to mirror that success at home this week.

Vidi’s only hope of a successful season now lies solely in the Magyar Kupa.  A tepid draw at home against Puksás was a reflection of their side’s motivation now that the title race is over.  Center back Vinícius gets a rest this week as he’s suspended for Marko Nikolic’s side.  On paper this should be a win for Vidi, but it will come down to who wants it more and right now, that team will be Diósgyőr. Hopefully Vidi realize there’s still a lot at stake at the other end of the table this year. 

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-1 Vidi

Debrecen vs Kisvárda 

at Nagyerdei Stadium, Debrecen 

Paul: Debrecen played well against Újpest and were unfortunate not to take home the three points. Now that they are back in Debrecen all should be well.  They are very strong at home and have won five matches in a row there.  I don’t see that trend stopping against Kisvárda.

Kisvárda suffered a big blow in losing at home to Haladás.  They are not taking the three points in home matches that are crucial in their effort to remain in the first division.  Oddly, they have won their last two away matches but I can’t see them pulling off an upset in Debrecen this week. 

Prediction: Debrecen 2-0 Kisvárda

Chris: Debrecen got an important point at Újpest to stay in third place despite being outplayed for the vast majority of the game.  They can really put the pressure on Újpest with a home win on Saturday.  They’ve won their last five league home games and have every reason to claim full points here.

Kisvárda lost a biggie last week and they have fallen back into the relegation mire now just a point clear of the drop.  The absence of their suspended captain, Lucas, might have been part of their breakdown after taking lead against Haladás last week, but he is back and they’ll be desperate for points.  As Paul mentioned, they’ve seemed much better away from home and I’ll look for that trend to continue in what I’m claiming as my “upset of the week”. 

Prediction: Debrecen 1-2 Kisvárda

Krisztián Simon's dramatic late strike earned a point for Újpest in February

Ferencváros vs Újpest

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest   

Paul:  Match Day 31 ends with the big derby between Ferencváros and Újpest.  With the championship decided a let down would be natural for Fradi.   But this is the derby and with a full house at Groupama Arena this will be a hard fought match as always. Ferencváros is always strong at home and with Lanzafame possibly auditioning for a new team next season, it should be business as usual for the champions.

Újpest were fortunate to draw last week against Debrecen.  The offense is still a concern and should pose no problems for Ferencváros.   Lacina Traoré has not been the big signing the club hoped for and he has added little to the Újpest attack.   This should be a high scoring match but I can’t see the Lilák scoring more than a goal, if that.  

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Újpest

Chris:  It’s tempting to think that after having already won the league, Fradi might have a letdown here.  However, their letdown came last week in a disappointing defeat to Honvéd.  Beside’s, they won’t need much more motivation as this is THE derby and Újpest’s late goal in the last installment deprived Ferencváros of bragging rights.

For Újpest this derby means a bit more as they’re in need of points to overcome Debrecen in third place.  If Debrecen lose or draw in the earlier game they may feel a draw is suffice here, but if Debrecen win then this will be a must-win game for them.  Injuries in the midfield have hampered Nebojša Vignjević's side recently and it’s unclear whether Obinna, Bojan Sankovic, or Lorant Kovács will be available against Fradi.  Lilák haven’t won since 2015. Unfortunately for them, the run continues. 

Prediction:  Ferencváros 2-1 Újpest

NB1 Round 30 Preview

Round 30 of the NB1 happens on Saturday.  Check in with Chris and Paul as they update you with all the teams news as well as match previews and predictions for each game.  There’s a lot still on the line for each team so dive in and get caught up. 

Also, while you're here, why not check out our latest podcast on Soundcloud and iTunes.

Paul: Chris, not a lot of goals scored in Match Day 29.   A total of only 11 with five of the goals coming in Ferencváros’ trouncing of MOL Vidi.    On that note, Ferencváros looks unstoppable and now it’s all but a foregone conclusion that they will be the champions of the 2018-2019 season.  I would have to ask when the last time that Vidi were such soundly defeated by any club?  The race for Europe and NB1 survival is still on and who knows what will happen there so off to round 30 we go and what will happens no one knows!

Chris: To answer your question Paul, Vidi were hammered at their new home by Puskás Akadémia 3-0 in their first game back from the winter beak this season. And it just so happens that the two of them are at it again this week at the same venue.  The match of the round for me is going to be Kisvárda against Haladás.  It’s a desperation match for Ferenc Horváth and his squad and it should be quite a game.  Let’s get to the previews!

Saturday, 27April

Újpest vs Debrecen 

at Szusza Ferenc Aréna, Budapest

Paul: Újpest lacked any offensive punch in their scoreless draw against Honvéd.   Admittedly they have one of the best if not the best defenses in Hungary.  It has been their offense that has let them down.    I am very much looking forward to this match and based on the fact that the match is in Budapest and not Debrecen, I will take the home side.

Debrecen did what very few clubs have been able to do lately and that is defeat Haladás.  They really did take care of business.  But that was a home match and away this young side is an entirely different squad.  They have not won in their last five away matches and that pattern should continue here but not without a fight.

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Debrecen - 8/1 with Unibet (Újpest win 10/11)

Chris: This is a massive fixture in terms of third place and a spot in  Europa League qualification.  Újpest left back Dzenan Burekovic returns from suspension but it looks like Bojan Sankovic (arguably their best defensive midfielder) will be out due to injury.  With Obinna already out, Újpest will be piecing together their midfield once again.  Up front they’ve had to deal with a worryingly ineffective Lacina Traoré as their target man and have found little to be happy with in their attack in recent weeks.

Debrecen will be tired as they went all out in their attempt to reach the Magyar Kupa final but fell well short.  Their inability to score at home with rested top players was a mystery and they’ll be playing Újpest who have the second best home record in the league.  However, they’ll be keen to hold on to third place and would be happy to hold out for a draw here. 

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Debrecen - 11/5 with Unibet (Újpest win 27/5)

Nego and company aim to delay Fradi celebrations

MOL Vidi vs Puskás Akadémia

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár  

Paul: MOL Vidi can now concentrate on winning the Hungarian Cup after their three-goal loss to Ferencváros. Vidi need to stay sharp in order to accomplish that goal.  They saw just how difficult it is to win back to back titles in Hungary especially after so many European matches.  I don’t see them hanging their heads especially at home where they have been very good.  

Puskás have four points since their new manager took over and for the moment are three points clear of the second relegation side.  The bad news is that they play away this week where they have been horrendous.   They did draw at Paks, but these days that is no big feat. 

A hard-fought loss all the same this Saturday.

Prediction: Vidi 2-0 Puskás - 7/1 with 888 Sport (Vidi win 8/13)

Chris: Vidi got through to the Magyar Kupa with surprising ease over Debrecen this week.  After their disappointing 4-1 reverse at Ferencváros, the likelihood of retaining the title is all but gone for them.  They’ll be playing this one at a high level to put pressure on Fradi in the late game, but in the back of their minds they are dealing with the reality of being league runners-up.  Marko Scepovic returned to the side in the cup match albeit off the bench as a late substitute, but he’s still available despite reports that he would be out the rest of the season after his concussion against Fradi in the cup a couple of weeks ago.  Vidi have played well this spring and a win here is expected of them.  Last week’s defeat was their first defeat in all competitions since early February. 

András Komjáti has steered Puskás to a mini-turnaround since taking over as interim manager two weeks ago.  Puskás have looked pretty solid in their last two but their away record is the worst in the league.  They’ve only won once away from home this season but that was against Vidi - they’ve beaten them both times they’ve faced them this season.  

Still, I think Vidi should be strong favorites at home.

Prediction: Vidi 2-1 Puskás - 7/1 with 888 Sport (Vidi win 8/13)

Mezőkövesd vs Diósgyőr  

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd  

Paul: One of our rare eastern Hungarian battles which is always a treat.  Mezőkövesd have now lost three matches in a row and are not looking good at all.  Despite being in the sixth spot on the table they are only four points clear of Diósgyor.   This will be an up-and-down  match with a tie doing the home side more good than the away club.

Diósgyor kept their hopes alive with a home victory against Paks.  They must win their home games and hope for some points on the road.   Their fans will travel well to support their club this week and that will make the difference in an away draw for the second straight time.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-2 Diósgyőr - 9/1 with Betfair (Draw 21/20)

Chris: Mezőkövesd have lost three in a row and manager Attila Kuttor has called out his squad’s spirit and drive heading into the final few games. Attacking catalyst Gábor Molnár wasn’t in the squad and his absence will be noted once again if he’s not in the team this week.  Former Diósgyőr prospect Gábor Eperjesi will face his old side for the first time in this one - the 25 year-old right back has played in three of the last four games for Kuttor and has fit in nicely.

Diósgyőr won last week and are now within touching distance of safety.  Their defense has kept them in games but they are still struggling for goals.  If Mezo wakes up and plays as well as they did against Ferencvaros two weeks ago they’ll end their losing streak. 

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-1 Diósgyőr - 9/2 with Betfair (Draw 21/20)

Can János Hahn find his scoring boots in time to save Paks?

Paks vs MTK

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks   

Paul: Paks are falling apart at the wrong time.  They have lost four of their last five matches and now are only one point clear of Diósgyor.  I would not have guessed that this club would be in serious relegation trouble this season.  It’s time for them to take a stand and this week they will at home.

Where is the MTK club that started the season off so well?  That is a distant memory as the club is in the ever growing relegation battle.   Three loses now in a row and the hope now is to somehow gather enough points to stay up in the first division.   They have a win and a draw in their last 10 matches and the trend continues.

Prediction: Paks 1-0 MTK - 13/2 with Royal Panda (Paks win 5/6)

Chris: This one is painful to even consider.  Both teams have been awful in recent weeks.  Paks are still reeling from multiple injuries and suspensions and will be without winger Norbert Könyves who is suspended (again) for this one.  Paks have fallen to the precipice of relegation, mainly because they’ve failed to score a goal in their last five league games.  Mo Remili didn't start last week and János Hahn has been deprived of service lately.  Hahn's last last goal came agains Vidi back in early March and he still leads Paks in scoring.  It’s difficult to see where their next goal will come from.

MTK are just as bad - losing to relegation fodder Kisvárda and Haladás without scoring in the last two weeks.  Sándor Torghelle hasn’t played in the last two games and it’s unlikely he’ll make this one as well.  Neither side want to lose this game but neither can score.  As much as I’d like to think this will be a goalless draw I’m banking on Kanta, Gera, or Bognár to get a winner for MTK here as Paks seemingly have no teeth in their squad. 

Prediction: Paks 0-1 MTK - 10/1 with Royal Panda (MTK win 57/20)

Kisvárda's Dajka and Co. appealing to a higher power?

Kisvárda vs Haladás 

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda 

Paul: Kisvárda had a nice away win at MTK and gave me a rare correct “upset of the week” pick.  This may be the most difficult match to pick this week with any result possible.  They have been better at home so I will go with the home side.

Has the fairy tale come to an end for  Haladás?  They gave Debrecen everything they could handle in losing by a goal.   I love the underdog as noted by my love of Hungarian football.   I see the end near for this spirited club as their away form is lacking.  They have nothing to be ashamed of no matter what the result. 

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-1 Haladás - 8/1 with 888 Sport (Kisvárda win 6/5)

Chris: This is the game to watch this week.  Kisvárda are out of the relegation zone by one point after last week’s win over MTK.  They’ve only conceded one goal in their last three games and have scored six.  László Dajka’s squad are coming together and have weathered the storm, so it seems.  They look very likely to finish strong, but they haven’t won at home in their last four tries.

Reports from Haladás claim that they've paid their debtors and their players which is good news for a club looking like they were slipping into insolvency. On the pitch, Haladás were unlucky to fall to Debrecen last week as they bossed the play - especially in the second half - and came agonizingly close to an equalizer on a couple of occasions but were denied a favorable outcome.  Like Kisvárda, Haladás are a different team than the one that started the season and the likes of Rui Pedro and Galin Ivanov have given them a legitimate threat on attack, while Oleh Holodiuk has provided much-needed stability in midfield.

It’s a long trip for Haladás and it’s been a brave fight but I think their run ends here.

Prediction: Kisvárda 3-2 Haladás - 24/1 with 888 Sport (Kisvárda win 6/5)

Lanza family man celebrating his first goal last week against Vidi

Honvéd vs Ferencváros 

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest   

Paul:  Honvéd play another Budapest derby this week and hopefully it will not be as uninspiring as their last match.   Their hope now is to win the Hungarian Cup and play in Europe.  Goals have been hard to come by and I don’t see that changing this week either with another match without their manager.  

Ferencváros have had a great season and punctuated their success with a rousing annihilation over MOL Vidi.   We had a Lanzafame sighting with two goals scored by the temperamental Italian forward.   The Fradi express continues to roll  with no let down in sight  despite an away match.  

Prediction: Honvéd 0-2 Ferencváros - 8-1 with Unibet (Ferencváros win 10/13)

Chris:  I don’t think anything is stopping Ferencváros from clinching the title this week, and what a bittersweet opponent for David Lanzafame to do it against than the team he led to the title two seasons ago.  Honvéd advanced to the Magyar Kupa Final this week with an unconvincing display against second-tier side Soroskar.  They will get their captain, Djordje Kamber, back from suspension which is a bonus, but scoring continues to be an issue.  It’s one thing to put three past second-tier Soroksar, but after scoring just two goals in their last four league games doesn’t bode well ahead this week’s clash against the frontrunners.

Ferencváros have won their last eight in the league and are flying high with plenty of quality players vying for starting spots. Manager Sergei Rebrov’s main problem will be which of his talented players in each position to start.  Lanzafame made a statement to his manager with two goals in 30 minutes last week after sitting out the last three league games.  

Honvéd need a win to stay within sight of a top-three finish but they won’t get it here.

Prediction:  Honvéd 1-3 Ferencváros - 12-1 with Unibet (Ferencváros win 10/13)

NB1 Round 29 Preview

Welcome back to the most exciting league football league Europe has to offer!  Think we’re crazy?  Just stick around awhile.  The drama and season-long competitiveness of NB1’s smaller, 12-team league has produced some memorable games and and stoked some heated rivalries.  As we head into final act every team has their part to play.  With so much still up for grabs and a revived Haladás rising from the dead and climbing into the fray from the bottom of the muck - this week has all the tension of a Walking Dead finale.  Join us as we plunder the riches of this glorious league with six matches on Saturday - all the team news and predictions are below.  Enjoy! 

Paul: Chris, the season (like life) has gone by much too fast.  It’s hard to believe there are only five match days left in the season.  The excitement appears to be the in the relegation battle.    It could be two of any five clubs who could go down next year.   The battle for European spots is a bit crazy at the moment with the added element of the Hungarian Cup winner as yet to be determined.  The marquee matchup of the week, Ferencváros against Mol Vidi, has lost a bit of its luster but should feature some good quality football (we hope).  Round 29, let’s do this!.

Chris: Yeah Paul, I think we’re all feeling the tension of the stretch run but that’s what makes this time of the year so great.  Ferencváros are sizing up their crown as we speak, but a slip up on Saturday could create a frenetic last few weeks at both ends of the ladder.  There are three big games in the capital this week which should provide a festive atmosphere all around the city.  It looks like we are on the same wavelength for the majority of this week’s games. On to the matchups!

Saturday, 20 April

Puskás Akadémia vs Mezőkövesd 

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul: Puskás were once a very good home squad which made them a mid-table team and kept them out of the relegation zone.  That is no longer true and they are very much in the relegation battle.  I don’t often predict scoreless matches if at all, so a scoreless draw let it be.

Mezőkövesd gave Fradi a good battle before losing by a goal which could have rattled the standings a bit.  This week finds them away at Pancho Arena.  They have lost their last three away matches which makes it very difficult to predict a win here.   I will play it safe and call for a draw.

Prediction: Puskás 0-0 Mezőkövesd - 17-2 with Unibet (Draw 11/5)

Chris: András Komjáti’s first game in the dugout for Puskás was a measured success as they got a lucky away point at Paks without the serivces of three suspended players.  Winger Bence Sós, leading scorer Josip Knezevic, and team skipper Roland Szolnoki all return to the lineup this week.  Pancho Aréna is where they’ve found the lion’s share of their success and I’m certain Komjáti has made it clear that relegation is not an option.  Center back János Hegedus should be back to full fitness which will make things more difficult for the visitors.

Mezőkövesd played well last week but they were eventually overwhelmed by the talented front-runners.  They are one win away from realistically assuring another season in NB1, but their current form doesn’t inspire - they’ve lost their last three away, scoring just once in that span.  Attila Kuttor felt his team could have gotten more against Ferencváros last week but, quite frankly, they caught Rebrov’s side on a bad day and couldn’t secure a point at home. I can see Puskás doing what they do so well this time of year - confounding logic to secure safety.

Prediction: Puskás 2-1 Mezőkövesd - 7-1 with Unibet (Puskás win 17/20)

Kispest captain Kamber not available against Újpest

Újpest vs Honvéd

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: Újpest played a respectable match against Mol Vidi in losing by a goal. Now they are at home where they are very strong.  The only Budapest derby of the week should mean a great atmosphere as both clubs have strong followings.  A narrow win by a goal in a hard fought match for the Lilák. I see Újpest making it to Europe even with so many variables left in the season.

Honvéd lost a chance to gain some ground in their quest for European football.  They are nearing the point where they must win the Hungarian Cup for a Euro spot. Honvéd play another squad above them in the standings and a win is a must.  Unfortunately,  they are a club with quite poor recent away form which is putting it mildly as they have lost four of their last five matches away.

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Honvéd - 17/2 with 888 Sport (Újpest win 6/5)

Chris: Obinna Nwobodo’s absence hampered the Újpest offense last week and Lacina Traoré looked frustrated and slow in attack.  With starting left back Dzenan Burekovic suspended this week it weakens the normally watertight Újpest defense.  Against a better offensive threat that might be a problem, but Honvéd haven’t been prolific by any stretch.

Honvéd have problems of their own as manager Attila Supka continues his three-match ban while captain Djordje Kamber will sit this one out due to accumulated yellow cards.  They’re also currently in the semifinals of the Magyar Kupa and labored a to a 2-1 victory against second-tier side Soroksar at home in the first leg this week.  The second leg is scheduled for next week and they’re certain to have an eye on that match as it is probably their more realistic route to continental football in the summer.

These two played to draws in their first two meetings this season, but with Honvéd having to juggle their squad I think Újpest continues their unbeaten run at home.

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Honvéd - 17/2 with 888 Sport (Újpest win 6/5)

MTK vs Kisvárda  

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: Another match meant another loss for MTK last week which makes them losers of four of their last five matches.  They appear to be playing out the season with no focus or motivation.  I see that continuing this week as lately it appears to make no difference if their matches are home or away.

Kisvárda lost a big opportunity to put some distance between themselves and Diósgyor.  They are still only a point ahead of them to stay up in the NB1.  This match should come down to the team that is hungrier and more motivated so with that said, this is my “upset of the week.”

Prediction: MTK 1-2 Kisvárda - 11/1 with Betfair (Kisvárda win 7/2)

Chris: MTK had to play with a number of players recovering from a stomach illness last week and it showed as they ran out of gas quickly in a narrow defeat at Haladás.  They have narrowly lost both meetings this season against Kisvárda, and they have lost four of their last five and have won only one in their last eight.  

Kisvárda have picked up four points in their last two and they’re a much-improved side from the dire team that struggled through the autumn.  They’ll be without their only true left back Rados Protic who is suspended for this match.  They’re only other left back, Anderson Pico underwent surgery a couple of weeks ago and is back home in Brazil to recuperate.  László Dajka’s team is in survival mode right now and a point is important at this stage. 

Prediction: MTK 1-1 Kisvárda - 9/2 with Betfair (Draw 5/2)

Diósgyőr vs Paks

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc   

Paul: Diósgyor lost their last home match against the suddenly resurgent Haladás.  Taking three points at winnable home clashes such as this one are vital if they hope to stay up in NB1. I see Fernando rallying his squad to gain these vital three home points.

I am losing my faith in Paks after their scoreless draw against lowly Puskás last week.  I would never have guessed them to be in the relegation zone and yet here they are right in it.  They have lost their last three away matches and this next loss will make the final four weeks of the season something that Paks fans haven’t experienced in a while- the relegation battle.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Paks - 6/1 with Royal Panda ( Diósgyőr win 129/100)

Chris: Diósgyőr need a win in the worst way and this might be their best shot in a while.  They have lost just once at home in their last eight and should feel confident to break their four-game winless run.  Their main problem has been generating offense.  Leading scorer Florent Hasani hasn’t scored in four games and in that span they’ve only managed to find the back of the net twice.  Dusan Brkovic has been an ironman in Fernando’s back line logging almost 2300 minutes this season.  The Serbian has been a major factor in keeping the opposition shut down.

Paks are a team who have been riddled with injuries and suspensions and haven’t won since February.  They’ve lost their last three away from home and, despite having two players return to the side after suspension (Simon and Könyves), they will have to do without two center backs (Lenzsér and Fejes) weakening an already paper-thin defense with Dávid Kulcsár and Zsolt Gevay on the long-term injury list. 

Paks felt they should have won last week in Felcsút but a good goal was chalked off in what appeared to be wrong offside call. They’re spiraling and hoping for a point here.  They won’t get it.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Paks - 6/1 with Royal Panda (Diósgyőr win 129/100)

Bálint Gaál's late winner against MTK miraculously put Haladás back in the fight for survival.

Debrecen vs Haladás 

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen 

Paul: Debrecen did well to earn a draw against Honvéd in the continuing battle for Europe.  This may be one of the most wide open matches as any of the three possible results would not surprise me the least.  Debrecen have won their last four home matches but I can’t quite see them pulling off five in a row.

Quick, which squad is the playing the third best football right now in the NB1?  A month ago no one would have said Haladás.   I  have no idea what their manager Ferenc Horváth has told his team but every Hungarian squad should find out and bottle it!  I am now a believer in the squad from Szombathely! 

Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Haladás - 12/1 with SportNation (Draw 5/2)

Chris: Debrecen are still in the hunt for third place and are also in the midst of a semifinal against MOL Vidi in the Magyar Kupa.  They played a nearly full-strength side against Vidi in the first leg this week and will be looking ahead to next week’s second leg at home.  

I laughed out loud when I saw Haladás supporters wearing surgical masks in last week’s game against ill-stricken MTK.  The whole club seems to be in a good mood and it’s coming from the results on the pitch.  Because of Loki’s fixture congestion it’s a good time for Haladás to play them as Horváth’s side have been on fire, winning five of their last six games.  The rise of former Ferencváros midfielder Rui Pedro has given Haladás some real quality in attack and he’s actually improved the performances of fellow attackers Galin Ivanov and Reagy Ofusu in recent weeks.  I’m confident they can keep the good times rolling here despite the long trip.  My heart says a win for the basement dwellers but a draw seems more likely. 

Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Haladás - 12/1 with SportNation (Draw 5/2)

Marko Futács scores the winner against Lilák to keep Vidi's slim title hopes alive.

Ferencváros vs MOL Vidi 

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest   

Paul: Fradi came close to losing their match last week which would have made this match a bit more important.  Now with Ferencváros on top of the league by eight points this match does not quite have the luster I had hoped for back at the start of the second half of the season.  Ferencváros have been nearly unbeatable at home and I don't see that ending this week.

Mol Vidi played a match mid-week defeating Debrecen in the first leg of the semi-finals of the Hungarian Cup.  The points lost in the first half of the season during the European campaign proved to be too much to make up.  They have played very well against Fradi in the league and the Hungarian Cup but a loss here most assuredly stamps their spot in the Europa Liga next season which we hope is exciting as the last.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-1 Vidi - 7-1 with Unibet (Ferencváros win 17/20)

Chris:  This is the big one this week.  Ferencváros will be looking to exact revenge from their last meeting, a 2-1 bruising defeat in Székesfehérvár just before the winter break that left a few casualties on the pitch.  They will have a fresh and motivated Davide Lanzafame returning to the lineup this week after his internal suspension was served last week.  Sergei Rebrov appears to have his team cantering to the finish line and this would be the final nail in the coffin for their closest challengers.  They’re the only team that has remained undefeated at home this season and keeping that record intact against Vidi would put an exclamation point on an impressive domestic season.

Vidi have labored to keep pace with Fradi in the league and then struggled to hold onto a slim, first-leg victory over Debrecen in the cup this week.  The loss of Marko Scepovic has been felt, and attacking midfielder Georgi Milanov will likely join him on the injured list leaving this week Marko Nikolic with fewer attack options.  Marko Futács scored in the league and the cup this past week.  Perhaps his time has come to make an impact.  Nah.

Prediction:  Ferencváros 3-1 Vidi - 13-1 with Unibet (Ferencváros win 17/20)