NB1 Round 23 preview

Another round of the Magyar Kupa is behind us and more teams are focusing on the league as only half of the NB1 clubs remain in the competition at this stage.  Read on for the latest news of each team as we head into Round 23.  Chris and Paul give you their predictions and bring you up to date on what’s unfolding throughout the league. 

Paul: Chris, we had a total of 20 goals scored in round 22.  I’m not sure the last time so many goals scored,  but unfortunately nine of those goals came in two matches.  Goal of the week goes to Obinna Nwobodo of Újpest . For me it was a very vanilla week.   I watched the Hungarian show “Gol!” to catch the highlights of the matches but couldn’t make it through all six matches.   Is it time for a break yet? Whoops we just came off winter break and another break won’t come until round 25.  Oh well and here’s hoping for a better round 23 at least in my eyes in California!

Chris: I have to say it was satisfying watching Lilák’s offense explode against Diósgyőr last week.  It’s been a long time coming and it served to cast a shadow on another result that was seemingly overlooked - Fradi’s dismantling of Puskás.   Rebrov’s side exhibited their depth as they aggressively set the pace with some dominant football.  Both ends of the table are getting interesting.  Let’s see what’s in front of us this week.

Saturday, 2 March

Puskás Akadémia vs Debrecen

at Pancho Arena, Felcsút

Paul: János Radoki has to be wondering what he has gotten himself into as the manager of Puskás  Akadémia.   They now find themselves in the relegation battle and with a real change of falling down a division.  Will their home field dominance continue?  I think not.

Debrecen came back to earth with an away loss against Paks.  Consistency is a concern with this young squad.  Speaking of consistency, they will come up with a good performance here and take the three points home back to Debrecen.

Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Debrecen

Chris: Puskás staged an unlikely comeback at Paks to overturn their first leg deficit in the cup and advanced thanks to a midweek hat trick from Liridon Latifi on Tuesday.  Puskás have been dismal in the league, however and, with János Hegedus out of the lineup this week (concussion), we had a peek at how poorly they played without their defensive anchor as they fell apart against Ferencváros.

Debrecen lost at Paks last week and followed that with an aggregate win in the cup against Ajka midweek.  They suffered another blow with winger Bódi out with an ankle injury, however, and are likely scrambling for a healthy eleven this week.

This will be a tough game for the hosts but their momentum from the cup and a return to home comforts should allow them to avoid defeat. 

Prediction: Puskás 2-2 Debrecen

Újpest vs MTK

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: Újpest trounced Diósgyor by five goals and now the question is was this a fluke or sign of things to come?  We shall see.   I see the squad coming together and making a run to safety secure the third spot in NB1.  There is a lot of competition for the starting 11 and with the signing of Lacina Traoré it should be an exciting spring for the club from the fourth district.

Will MTK get up for this match?  It’s another Budapest derby but at least this time the match will be in Budapest.  Not a good sign when your starting forward, Sándor Torghelle, is 36 years old. I like him much better playing in the last 15 minutes of a match.  MTK has lost their lost two matches and four of their last five away matches.

Prediction: Újpest 2-0 MTK

Chris:  Újpest showed what they’re capable of last week in their 5-0 demolition of Diósgyőr.  Without the cup to alter their focus they are fresh and ready to keep up their good momentum.  The signing of giant forward Lacina Traoré was a bit of a surprise this week.  The former Monaco striker turned down a few clubs to join Újpest and get his career on the right track.  If he can find form this could be a game-changer for Nebosja Vignjevic’s side.   Kire Ristevski’s injury isn’t ideal for Újpest but Bojovic is a natural replacement and will likely fill in nicely without them missing a beat at the back.

MTK are also without the distraction of the cup but are coming off consecutive defeats.  They had their chances to get something out of the game against Honvéd but were dismal in front of goal including a missed pen.   Starting center back Eugene Selin left the game last week with an injury and it’s likely he will miss out this week. 

Újpest haven’t lost at home all season and have only conceded once since the winter break.  They’ll come back down to earth but still have enough to see off MTK.

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 MTK

Honvéd vs Haladás  

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: I must admit I still bear a grudge against Honvéd for their loss against a Luxembourg club in European football.  Perhaps, after seeing how well those teams played in Europe maybe I should temper my stance.   I do like their new signing, Anis Ben-Haira and with Danilo returning they should keep the three points at home.

Haladás are now out of the Hungarian Cup and the question is now what to do?  Will their manager, Ferenc Horváth, make it to the end of the season?  Even he seems at a loss for what to do?   Maybe it’s time to play their young Hungarian players in preparation for the NB2 where foreigners cannot play?

Prediction: Honvéd 3-1 Haladás

Chris: Things went from bad to worse for Haladás after last week’s narrow defeat at Vidi, they crashed out of the cup on an injury time winner for Mezőkövesd and are now truly without anything to play for.  Honvéd won last week but their play (other than goalkeeper Dávid Gróf) wouldn’t have inspired anyone.  They played to a meek 1-1 draw against lower league Duna Aszfalt in the cup to barely advance to the next round.  

Danilo is set for a return to the lineup, having played in the cup and scoring the only goal on the night.  Haladás are playing for pride here and will sneak a point … because this is NB1.

Prediction: Honvéd 0-0 Haladás

MOL Vidi vs Kisvárda 

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár   

Paul: MOL Vidi once again looked listless in defeating Haladás.  They very nearly once again lost points to the league leaders, Ferencváros.  Mol Vidi were not tested in their midweek Cup clash and should do just enough to gain the three points in another tough match in what has become Vidi’s modus of operandi. 

Kisvárda did well to keep their unbeaten streak alive against Mezőkövesd. They have become that team that no one wants to face.  They could do anything here and even an upset victory would not surprise me.  They have become a very interesting squad in the new year.

Prediction: Vidi 1-0 Kisvárda

Chris: Vidi kept the good times rolling with a fourth consecutive win midweek against minnows Taksony in the cup.  They were less than impressive against basement dwellers Haladás last week at home with a narrow 1-0 win, however, and certain players still seem to be settling into Nikolic’s system.  Even so they are playing attacking football and finding ways to win.

Kisvárda remain unbeaten in the league (7 games) and managed a 1-1 draw against Ferencváros in the cup this week despite crashing out on aggregate.  Laszlo Dajka’s men have impressed of late and they’ve risen above their initial “ league whipping boy” status.    Stavros Tsoukalas has been a revelation and Gheorghe Grozav has brought some quality on the wing making them a formidable offensive threat. 

Vidi’s defense is good but they have been exposed this spring on occasion.  Only Loic Nego was rested in their back line this week and that might cause a problem or two.

Prediction: Vidi 2-2 Kisvárda

Mezőkövesd vs Paks

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul: Mezőkövesd now find themselves five points above the relegation zone and rather than moving up the table are moving down it.  They have not been a strong home club and haven’t won since defeating Mol Vidi at home.  This will be an entertaining match and feature some goals and attacking football.

Thank you Paks for finally proving an “upset of the week” prediction correct.  They took care of business at home against Debrecen.  They have not lost in the new year and I see that continuing this week as well. 

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-2 Paks

Chris: Mezőkövesd got a late winner in the second leg of the cup this week sending them through in spectacular fashion over Haladás.  They will truly miss the presence of Vadnai in both defense and attack, but Lajos Bertus will be motivated to play well against his former club at his new home.

Paks are getting back Kulcsar from suspension but will be missing two other defensive stalwarts in János Szabó (injury) and Zsolt Gevay (suspension).  They also fell apart in their midweek cup match at home allowing Puskás to come back and overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit.  Look for the hosts to exact some revenge from their defeat at Paks in late October.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-1 Paks

Ferencváros vs Diósgyőr

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest 

Paul:  Ferencváros finally scored some goals in their demolition of Puskás Akadémia.  They have not lost at home all season with three ties in eleven matches.  Victory here is assured the question is in a low or high scoring match.  I’ll side with the over.

Diósgyor lost their eight match non-losing streak by allowed an astonishing five goals to Újpest.  I’m not sure if they will allow five here but they will come very close.  Remember when they defeated Ferencváros at home?  

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Diósgyőr

Chris:  Last week’s 4-0 thrashing of Puskás showed just how dangerous Ferencváros’ assimilation of talent really is.  They have skill, depth, and understanding but the fans are still unhappy as they only managed a 1-1 draw midweek against Kisvárda.  They’ve won their last two home matches with a combined score of 6-0 and should be able to keep things going this week at home.  Has anyone noticed the peculiar absence of Davide Lanzafame? The mercurial target man still leads the club in scoring but doesn’t seem to be among Rebrovs favorites?

Diósgyőr manager Fernando admitted his players were playing off past results and had a letdown last week.  It remains to be seen if they’ll turn things around this week.  They’ve had a whole week off as they didn’t have a cup match this week but I think Fradi are still too strong for them at home.

Prediction:  Ferencváros 2-0 Diósgyőr

NB1 Round 22 Preview

Welcome to Round 22 of the 2018-19 NB1 season.  This is the round that complete’s each team playing one home and one away game against every other team.  The margins at both ends of the table were reduced last week and there is a full plate of tasty morsels this week so read on and get caught up on what’s happening. 

Paul: Chris, nice work on correctly picking the final score of the Debrecen/Ferencváros match. A total of 17 goals were scored this week which included a scoreless draw between Kisvárda and Paks.  The goal of the season may have been scored by Dániel Zsóri on a spectacular bicycle kick to defeat Ferencváros.  Interestingly in Hungary, they call them “scissor kicks.” Nine of the twelve first division clubs played midweek Cup matches, so we will soon know what type of effect, if any, this has on them.  On to round 22, we go!

Chris: Paul, I pay no attention to what happened last week!  Only looking forward! ;) These rounds after a mid-week cup game tend to spring a few surprises and I’m sure the NB1 will be happy to oblige.  The recent successes of Kisvárda and Diósgyőr have sent alarm bells going at the bottom of the table as Puskás and even Paks have been drawn into the relegation vortex.

Saturday, 23 February

Ferencváros vs Puskás Akadémia

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

Paul: Ferencváros controlled the match against Debrecen but fell apart in the final ten minutes to lose in demoralizing fashion.  Fortunately they are back home where they have been very good.  They hope to exact some revenge on Puskás who defeated them on a memorable goal scored in miraculous fashion near half field by Janos Hegedus.

Puskás are terrible on the road if you take away their surprising defeat of Mol Vidi to start the second half of the season.  They are back to earth after that win and manager János Radoki has to be scratching his head after the crazy goal his team conceded to lose to Újpest.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Puskás

Chris: Fradi boss Sergei Rebrov has to be at his wits end after a late collapse in Debrecen as well as a tepid performance in the cup on Wednesday.  With Frimpong likely out injured, Rebrov will hope to re-insert Miha Blazic back in the heart of his defense as the Slovenian center back was seen on the bench against Kisvárda.  If this collection of talent ever clicks it looks to be unstoppable, but it will have to include scoring more than one goal in a league match - something Ferencváros hasn’t done yet after the winter break.

Puskás lost their first leg cup match at home this week and are coming off consecutive league defeats.  They have been known to surprise teams this season but that might be too big an ask at Groupama this week.  Rebrov’s public criticism of his team’s mentality should spur them on to new heights.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Puskás

Mezőkövesd vs Kisvárda

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd 

Paul: In a continuing theme from last week, Mezőkövesd were lucky to defeat Haladás by a score of 2-1.  Outside of forward Stefan Drazic, the squad has not looked very good in recent weeks.  With their poor home form and a rejuvenated Kisvárda club entering Mezőkövesd, they will be lucky to earn  a draw.

Kisvárda played an ugly scoreless draw against Paks but still haven’t lost in a good many matches.  Their defense and goalkeeping is solid as they have not allowed a goal in four matches. They should keep their streak alive in not losing but a goal here will leave both sides content with a tie.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-1 Kisvárda

Chris:  I’d like to think that Kisvárda’s dream start to the spring will continue, but they were held to a goalless draw at home last week and will be without their top goal-scorer Zoltán Horváth (suspended) this week.  It is notable that Kisvárda ‘keeper Felipe has yet to concede in the league for four straight game but you can count on that changing this week.  Teams aren’t approaching László Dajka’s side with the same bravado as before and now that the relegation zone is creeping closer for more teams are going to have to adjust.

Mezőkövesd are a team that can win big with attacker like Gábor Molnar and Stefan Drazic in the squad.  Both were essentially rested in the cup this week and should be raring to go.  First home win should be on the cards for them.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-0 Kisvárda

MOL Vidi vs Haladás  

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár 

Paul: MOL Vidi stepped back into the title chase by defeating MTK and gaining a valuable three points to climb within six points of league leaders Ferencváros.  They were unspectacular in their midweek cup match in a one goal win against third division Taksony.  They should win here and earn another three points keeping their championship hopes alive.

Haladás were unfortunate not to at least earn a draw in their last match.  They are still alive in the Hungarian Cup which is something for them to play for as relegation is all but a foregone conclusion.  They have not won in their last seven matches with their last win surprisingly against  Ferencváros.  Another loss is inevitable but they will make a respectable showing.

Prediction: Vidi 2-0 Haladás

Chris: It was only a matter of time before Marko Nikolic’s team righted the ship.  After two defeats to start the spring season they shifted through the gears quickly against MTK and finished their chances in a solid win away from home.  They return home with the hopes of winning their first competitive game there since beating Ferencváros in December.

Ferenc Horváth looks out of idea and out of passion.  His reserved and muted approach oozes out during games.  Unfortunately for his side they face an awakened tiger this week.

Prediction: Vidi 3-0 Haladás

Újpest vs Diósgyőr 

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest  

Paul: Újpest were fortunate to defeat Puskás on a fluke goal but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.  In the most intriguing match of the week, I see a gritty match where goals are few and yellow cards plenty.

Diósgyor made it eight matches in a row without a loss.  What a turn around for a squad that looked like a certain relegation club.  Now who knows?  They have won their last two away matches but should be content with a draw here.

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Diósgyőr

Chris: This could be the match of the round.  Újpest are coming off a lucky win without their top scorer Soma Novothny last week.  They didn’t have a mid-week cup match and have Novothny back up front.  It might be too much to hope for Lilák supporters that Soma took the time off to rethink his mentality.  As the top defensive team in the league Újpest look to stop one of the hottest teams in Diósgyőr who keep being overlooked by “better” teams.  However, Nebojsa Vignjevic is too sly to let Fernando get one past him at home and I think Újpest have enough to end Diósgyőr’s  run. 

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Diósgyőr

Paks vs Debrecen

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: It was very difficult to watch Paks’ scoreless draw against Kisvárda, even if you were a fan of either side.  In their inconsistent form, I am guessing the home side will rise up to defeat a Debrecen side that may still be rejoicing against their win against the league leaders.

Debrecen played 82 minutes before scoring two late goals to knock off Ferencváros. Consistency has been a big problem for this club and I see them falling back to earth this week against a Paks club that has not lost in the new year. 

Prediction: Paks 2-1 Debrecen

Chris: Debrecen blew their wad with a fantastic late win over Ferencváros last week, coupled with another late winner in their mid-week cup match against Ajka.  Mounting suspensions and injuries as well as the longest trip to freezing Paks won’t be in their favor this week either.  Erik Kusynir and Bence Pavkovics are both suspended (yellow card accumulation) and will leave a big hole in András Herczeg’s back line.
Paks are undefeated this spring and are coming off a 2-1 away win against Puskás in the cup on Wednesday.   Paks haven’t been great this season but they can hang with a buoyed (but hampered) Debrecen.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Debrecen

Honvéd vs MTK

at Alcufer Stadion, Győr 

Paul:  Honvéd rightfully lost against Diósgyor on two goals scored by ex-players.  I try to avoid their matches if I can as they are a not a fun side to watch with their steady decline of quality. In an odd twist of turn the match is being played in Gyirmót and that makes this my “upset of the week.”

MTK were finished quite early in the first half by giving up three early goals at home against Mol Vidi.  This is the lone Budapest derby of the week though it won’t be played in Budapest but in a city outside of Győr.  Strange choice of location and I  wonder how many fans will show up?  

Prediction: Honvéd 1-2 MTK

Chris:  On the very week that Honvéd’s historic former home is being torn down, they will break free from their current landlords and play them at a neutral site in the hinterlands of Hungary.  Kispest will be sweating on Danilo’s fitness after he was removed from last week’s game with an injury.  That’s not good news for a team that has struggled to score for most of the season.

MTK have been back and forth all season.  They’ve conceded far too many goals in recent weeks and Feczko will have them drilled into submission this week.  Low scoring draw looks on the cards. 

Prediction:  Honvéd 1-1 MTK

Foto: Kovács, Peter

NB1 Round 21 Preview

The spring season has greeted us with some surprising results in the past two weeks and now that the Hungarian transfer window is closed we can expect the teams to settle into to their squad adjustments.  Kisvárda and Diósgyőr are playing like their NB1 lives are at stake (and they are), while Debrecen and Vidi have seemingly gotten off on the wrong foot.  There are six more tantalizing contests this week in the Hungarian top flight.  Paul and Chris are here again to lead you through each match with the hope of making sense of the nonsensical, unpredictable puzzle that is the NB1.   

Paul: Chris, another eventful week with a total of 21 goals scored.  It appears that Mol Vidi and Kisvárda have switched places due to their recent forms.    Relegation is down to a second club as Haladás look  certain to fall to NB 2.  The battle for places for Europe is a bit more wide open as any of six clubs are still alive for the top four spots.   Let’s move onto an uncertain round 21 in which I will pick a fair amount of upsets in a “spoiler alert.”

Chris: I don’t think I’ve predicted more than one correct result since we got back this spring which means I’ll be going full-on rogue this week as well (to some degree). There were some interesting developments and signings around the league this week.  I’ll take a look at how some of those will affect certain teams as we head into Round 21. 

Saturday, 16 February

Debrecen vs Ferencváros

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: Debrecen lost convincingly away to a suddenly dangerous Kisvárda club.  At home, they should be more motivated playing to a large crowd.   Debrecen always seem to get up for their matches against Ferencváros and this should be no different.  

Ferencváros lost the chance to gain a full three points in their lead against Mol Vidi.  Their goal scoring has not been too impressive since their return from the winter break either.  They will have another tough match here and will be fortunate to leave Debrecen with a point.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-1 Ferencváros

Chris: Debrecen need to bounce back after last week’s feeble performance.  The return of starting goalkeeper Sándor Nagy will be a boost to a Loki side who conceded more than two goals in a league game for the first time since August.  András Herczeg’s squad continues to thin out as midfielder Balazs Benyei joins the growing ranks of injured players.

Ferencváros suffered a let-down at the end of the derby last week as their mish-mash of new talent are still adjusting under pressure situations.  The positives for Rebrov’s side is that David Lanzafame and captain Leandro only played bit-part roles from the bench last week so they should be more than rested for this one.  

Debrecen haven’t lost to Fradi at home in their last five head-to-head contests, and they’ll be gunning for the front-runners at home after a disappointing reverse.  I’m looking for a response here.

Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Ferencváros

Diósgyőr vs Honvéd

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc

Paul: Diósgyor have not lost in their five matches and despite lacking talent they make it up with heart and tenacity.  No one could have seen their upset away victory last week against Mol Vidi.  In another going against the grain pick, the home side will find a way to earn another valuable three points.

Honvéd were gifted two goals to earn a home win against Puskás.  Perhaps their new signing in ex-Hertha Berlin player, Enisz Ben-Hatir will add some spice to the bland club.  For now, I see an uninspired club.   In a week of upsets, here we go again with an improbable win for the home side.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Honvéd

Chris:  Honvéd won for the first time since November and it was hardly in scintillating fashion.  Their first goal was off a defensive error and their second came on a set piece to give them an early lead against Puskás who subsequently dominated the rest of the game and were unfortunate not to have grabbed a share of the spoils in Budapest.  Honvéd haven’t scored in their last three league games away from home.

Diósgyőr made the NB1 stand up and notice with a “smash and grab” victory in Székesfehérvár.  Fernando’s men stood up against massive pressure throughout the game and left Sóstói Stadion with all the points, putting another dent in Vidi’s title aspirations.  Diósgyőr fought back from behind down early and credit is due to their manager who has remained composed during a tense season.  He now looks like he is reaping the rewards for his patient style and direction. 

Look for DVTK to keep up their unbeaten run against a team that have yet to prove they can score on a consistent basis.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-1 Honvéd

Kisvárda vs Paks  

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda 

Paul: Which Hungarian club has the best record in the last five matches?  If you guessed Kisvárda you are surprisingly correct.  Something has happened to this team and they are suddenly a very dangerous club.  They have won their last three home matches but making it four in a row will be very, very difficult.

Paks looked terrible against Haladás and failed to earn three home points.  In their odd fashion, look for Paks to come up with a big performance and upset the home in form club.  This should be the most exciting match of the week.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-3 Paks

Chris: Kisvárda’s recent good form started before the winter break and has continued in the spring with the addition of some key players. Hugo Seco, Gheorghe Grozav, and Stavros Tsoukalas have really bolstered Laszlo Dajka’s side as they’ve come in and provided some quality performances so far.  Add to this the inspirational form of goalkeeper Felipe and Kisvárda look like a team that could break into mid-table within a couple of weeks.  Forward Zoltán Horváth has also scored in each of the last two games and leads Kisvárda with six league goals.

Paks were just one of a few teams that collapsed after giving up an early lead last week.  They conceded late against lowly Haladás to finish 1-1.  Leading scorer Janos Hahn hasn’t found the back of the net since October.  These are the games you’d expect Paks to win but Dajka and Co. are on fire and it would be foolish to count them out at home, right?

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-1 Paks

Puskás Akadémia vs Újpest

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút  

Paul: Puskás has been a very good home club during the 2018 season.  Their defense looked almost comical in giving up two ridiculous goals in their match versus Honvéd.  I see a tough match this week and a rare home loss against Újpest.

Újpest somehow found a way to earn a hard fought point at home against Ferencváros,  For no rhyme or reason, I predict somewhat of an upset in this match despite the  strong home form of Puskás.  The Lilak will come out with an inspired, well-played match.

Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Újpest

Chris: Despite losing last week, Puskás had the lion’s share of possession against Honvéd and should have done better than they ultimately did.   They swarmed Kispest in the second half even after going a man down with twenty minutes left in the contest.  

Újpest’s defense has been best in the league all season (15 goals conceded in 20 games), and they put their back line on display once more last week against Fradi.  Scoring continues to be a problem for Lilák.  They did little to put Ferencváros under pressure at home and their late equalizer came more from poor communication from their visitors rather than any finely crafted attacking nous.

Vignjevic’s side have lost just once in the league since October but they’ve only won once as well.  They’re the king of draws and it won’t be a surprise when they play to another here. 

Prediction: Puskás 1-1 Újpest

Haladás vs Mezőkövesd

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely

Paul: Haladás are still playing hard and giving it effort.  I believe this will continue until the very last match.  They are still signing new players in the hope of somehow magically staying up in the first division.

Mezőkövesd made a great signing in getting Amadou Moutari from league-leaders Ferencváros.  I have always liked his play.  He may improve the club in a few weeks after he gets his bearings within the squad.  In the meantime, Mezőkövesd has not won in their last five matches and with this match, make that six! 

Prediction: Haladás 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Everything points to Mezőkövesd losing this game.  They haven’t defeated Haladás away from home - ever.  They are nursing their pride after a home collapse against MTK last week and they are floundering in a dismal run of form - the likes they haven’t experienced all season.  But I think they will win and win big.

Haladás are returning home after some late joy in Paks last week, but they’ve been marred with accusations and training ground bust-ups over the last few days.  Peter Halmosi has been suspended from training and won’t play this week due to an alleged incident with Funsho Bambgoye.  With leading scorer Tamás Priskin out for an extended absence, Ferenc Horváth brought in a late signing as Bulgarian international forward Galin Ivanov has been signed to give Hali some options up front.

This is a team that’s struggled all season long and I think Mezőkövesd will find their scoring boots at Haladás’ expense

Prediction: Haladás 1-3 Mezőkövesd

MTK vs MOL Vidi

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest 

Paul:  MTK showed some life and inspired play in their away win at Mezőkövesd,  They still don’t have me convinced that they can be a consistent upper level club.  I do like the fact that they are playing quite a few youngsters from their Academy.  These young players are not looking half bad so far.

Can Mol Vidi lose their first three matches of 2019?  Where is the club that looked so good last season? They squandered so many chances in their match last week against Diósgyor.  They must step forward this week, or the championship can be awarded to this early to Ferencváros.  

Prediction: MTK 0-2 Vidi

Chris:  Is it possible we’ve been wrong all along about Vidi this season?  Did they get into the UEFA group stages through blind luck and easy draws?  Are they about to fritter away any last bits of title hope with a third consecutive defeat?  Not on your life.  This is a team who managed to compete in two campaigns with a skeleton crew of a squad for most of the fall. Even without the additions of Marko Futács and Ákos Elek they should have kept the pressure on Fradi but despite playing some good football they’re not finding the target.  

It has to be all or nothing here for the champions.  MTK were inspired by captain Jozsef Kanta and Patrik Vass’ late goals last week, and they can feel confident after beating Vidi 3-0 earlier this season in Felcsút, but my money is on Vidi to turn things around in the capital. 

Prediction:  MTK 1-2 Vidi

NB1 Round 20 Preview

“Well, that didn’t go as planned.”  The first week back from the winter break was everything we should expect in Hungarian football - uncertainty.  Vidi’s crushing home defeat against Puskás was the highlight (or lowlight) of round 19 in which only one home team got a victory and several teams introduced their new signings in a topsy-turvy, but entertaining match day.  Read on for a full preview of this week’s action around the NB1. 

Paul: Chris, another predictably unpredictable Saturday!  Goals were hard to come by with only 10 goals scored in round 19.  Let’s hope for more goals in round 20.  Has the championship and one relegation team been decided?  One possibly for certain.  Let’s not mince words and move on to round 20.

Chris: There is still a lot to play for and although Ferencváros look really good, 8 points clear at the top, I’m not convinced Vidi are out of the title race and I expect they will slowly crawl back into it this spring.  There were a lot of young players given their debut last week as well.  Four or five teenagers made their full NB1debuts last week which is exciting but somewhat surprising at this stage of the season. 

Saturday, 9 February

Honvéd vs Puskás Akadémia

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Honvéd gave Ferencváros a tough match but showed no firepower on offense.  They have drawn their last two home matches and have not won since round 13 against Kisvárda.  Things don’t look to get much better this week against a revived  Puskás club.

Welcome to Hungary, János Radoki!  Puskás surprised and won convincingly against Mol Vidi.  The new manager has brought a new mentality to the club along with playing more younger Hungarian players.   Their away form had been poor until last week but a tie may be in the cards here.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Puskás

Chris: Puskás shrugged off their away form hoodoo in impressive fashion with a 3-0 win in Székesfehérvár last week.  The question is, “can they keep it up away from home?”  Puskas have looked dangerous at times this season but they’ve yet to win consecutive league games all season.  Dávid Gróf was impressive once again in goal for Honvéd and if it wasn’t for his heroics this season they would be much worse off.  Scoring goals continues to be an issue for them.  Supka didn’t introduce new signing Zakaria Beglarishvili last week and went with N’Gog up front instead.  When will they realize that N’Gog is past it and move on?  Honvéd’s predictable attack needs a spark.  Perhaps this is the week. Perhaps not.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-2 Puskás

Paks vs Haladás

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks earned a nice away win versus MTK.  While once a very strong home club, Paks has only won once in their last five home matches.  Haladás comes to Paks at the right time and should help Paks regain their usual good home form.

Has Haladás stamped their ticket to the second division?  With only 9 points and a rising 10 points from the safety zone, it sure looks like we may have a club that is eliminated after only 19 matches.  The situation does not improve with yet another loss.

Prediction: Paks 3-1 Haladás

Chris:  Haladás threw everything at Kisvárda but the kitchen sink and yet were unable to break through one of the worst defenses in the league.  The loss of Tamás Priskin to injury will be a blow to a feeble attack that’s only managed to score 13 goals all season.  Ferenc Horváth had to be disappointed to not get at least a point but he realizes his team doesn’t have the players it needs to finish chances and get on top of games.

Paks weren’t threatened much at MTK last week and managed an important away win by finishing their chances when it counted.  Jozsef Windecker returns to NB1 after his year-long exodus to the Greek Superliga with Levadiakos.  Paks picked up the former Újpest midfielder this week who will join fellow ex-Lilák midfielder Benjamin Cseke in midfield that now has plenty of depth in quality. 

Prediction: Paks 2-0 Haladás

MOL Vidi vs Diósgyőr  

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár 

Paul: MOL Vidi looked terrible against Puskás and squandered so many chances to score.  They better right the ship fast or their championship hopes will be gone soon.  They can’t possibly play that bad again, can they?

Diósgyor have not been a good away club despite winning their last home match against Paks.  A match against an angry MOL Vidi side is not a good combination for success and reality settles in again.

Prediction: Vidi 2-0 Diósgyőr

Chris: Fernando must be counting his lucky stars after last week’s late winner gave his side a share of the points at home against Mezőkövesd.  Diósgyőr are on a five-match unbeaten run but they will be up against it against MOL Vidi at Sóstói Stadion. 

Puskás made Marko Nikolic’s side look average last week as they defeated the title-holders for a second consecutive time this season.  New Vidi signings Ákos Elek and Marco Futács didn’t look up for the pace of the game against Puskás and their impact was minimal.  Look for the hosts to make some adjustments and take control of this one early.  If not, they could be looking at an insurmountable gap for the top spot.

Prediction: Vidi 3-0 Diósgyőr

Mezőkövesd vs MTK

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd  

Paul: Mezőkövesd have improved their home form and this should continue against MTK.  They should have secured the three points in Miskolc.  In a match that can go any of three ways, I will go out on a limb and predict a Mezőkövesd win.

MTK continued where they left off before the winter break with a loss at home against Paks.  They have now lost four of their last five matches.  MTK are settling into reality after a quick start to the season.  Their slide continues.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-0 MTK

Chris: There’s been only one win between these two teams in their last five games.  Mezőkövesd looked good enough to win last week but were punished for their late lapse in concentration at Diósgyőr.  Gábor Molnár continues to lead the way for Attila Kuttor’s side as he linked up nicely with Daniel Vadnai for his 8th goal of the season last week.

MTK have lost their last three away games as well as last week’s lacklustre effort against Paks at home and a trip to Mezőkövesd won’t be an easy task.  Jozsef Kanta seemed disinterested and Sándor Torghelle looked desperate while the supporting cast didn’t really wake up until midway through the second half. 

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-1 MTK

Kisvárda vs Debrecen

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda

Paul: Kisvárda have won their last two matches and are looking to separate themselves from the relegation zone.  Felipe has been great in goal and was the man of the match against Haladás.   They are coming on and this should be a good match and of course difficult to predict as always.

Debrecen had their chances to keep the three points at home versus Újpest.  They had so many opportunities to score but could not put the ball in the net.  They have won their last two away matches and I see them making it three in a row. 

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-2 Debrecen

Chris: Kisvárda goalkeeper Felipe continues to be one of the stories of the season as he inspired his team to another three points against Haladás last week.  Despite the three points, Laszlo Dajka couldn’t have been too impressed with the way his team played overall.  Haladás bossed the play for most of the game and were only denied a share of the points because of Felipe’s stellar goalkeeping.

Debrecen are team to look out for this spring.  Their goalless draw against Újpest showed encouraging signs as they hit the post twice in a back-and-forth affair.  Debrecen forwards shouldn’t have a hard time getting chances here as they picked apart Kisvárda earlier this season at home 3-1.  Kisvárda have been on a great run over their last four games but this will be their toughest test since November.

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-2 Debrecen

Újpest vs Ferencváros

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: This is one of the biggest rivalries in Hungarian football and should be a fun match.  Újpest did not look too good against Debrecen in earning a draw.  Goalie Dávid Banai was the player of the match for Lilák.  They always get up for this match and this should be no different.

Ferencváros did not impress against Honvéd but earned the three points which was their objective.  They’ve now opened an eight point lead on Vidi.  This is always a tough match and I see a competitive draw here.  

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Ferencváros

Chris:  The stars are aligning for this one folks.  A perfect storm is upon us.  Újpest are unbeaten at home except for the first game of the season - a string of eight games at Szusza Ferenc without defeat.  They have also failed to score at home only twice this season and have scored two goals in three of their past four in front of their home support.  Lilák found themselves in a number of good positions last week against Debrecen but were denied by an equally good Tomas Kosicky in the Loki goal.

Fradi know this can be a statement game for them if they win and open a larger chasm at the top of the table over Vidi.  They hammered Honvéd in terms of chances and if not for some superb custodian work by Gróf they could have won 3 or 4-nil.  This could be a cracker of a game.  Watch for fireworks both on and off the pitch. 

Prediction:  Újpest 2-2 Ferencváros

NB1 Round 19 Preview

Hungarian football is back after a long winter’s nap.  The world has remained awake waiting, with bated breath, for the frozen pitches across Hungary to return to life under the blinding floodlights and the backing of modest crowds with passionate supporters.  Join Paul and I as we continue previewing each match along the way.  Let the spring season commence!

Paul: We’re back! … Chris, it sure has been a long break but the cold, snowy Hungarian winter sure warranted a break.   Many of the squads were abroad training in such places as Spain, Turkey and even Egypt.  Some transfers were made but not quite as many as last season.   We will see if they turn out to be good decisions.  The race for the championship is between the two top squads as we all know, with the fight for Europa Liga and NB1 survival on as well. 

Here is to a good 2019 season!

Chris: Yeah Paul it’s been quite the break, hasn’t it?  Seems like last year since we’ve seen a game … There definitely has been some turnover throughout the league while some teams have been suspiciously inactive during the transfer window so far.  With half a season remaining there’s still a lot of room for teams to find some form and shake up the table.

Saturday, 2 February

Debrecen vs Újpest

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: For Debrecen their greatest additions may be good health as the team had quite a few injuries in the Fall.  They hope to continue their fine form which found them winning their last three matches of the year.  I look to them to have a good Spring and secure a Europa League spot.

Újpest made no additions to their squad, yes you read that right.  The question is which squad will step onto the pitch as the Lilak were a very inconsistent squad in the first half of the season.  A repeat of a European spot this season would be considered a success.

Prediction: Debrecen 2-0 Újpest

Chris: Debrecen have done well to remain near the top of the table despite being saddled with a few key injuries during the fall season.  Norbert Könyves will be Loki’s biggest subtraction as he shifted to Paks over the winter.  With the imminent return of Haris Tabakovic from injury as well as club captain Dániel Toszér they should in great shape for the start of the second half.

Lilák have sat quietly during the winter.  Their only moves were offloading part-timers like Dávid Mohl and Benjamin Cseke.  Their main question will be, “can Soma Novothny return to form as their lead striker?”  Újpest have a good supporting cast for him and the team is in a good position to make a run up the table if they can find a vein of good form.  I’m not convinced. 

Prediction: Debrecen 2-1 Újpest

Ferencváros vs Honvéd

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest

Paul: Ferencváros were very busy this Winter and have improved their club.  Their hope is to build a team NOW to win the championship and achieve “Mol Vidi-like” success in Europe.  I am excited to see the fruits of their labor.

The only Budapest derby to start the new year.  Honvéd has lost several key players and have a noticeably weakened squad.  This match will begin the fall and a European place is definitely in question now.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Honvéd

Chris:  I agree with you about Honvéd, Paul.  This is a team that seems to have lost their idenity.  With the departure of Lanzafame and Eppel in the summer and now clearing house with Botond Barath, Tomas Pilik, and Patrik Hidi all exiting the club - Kispest seem worse off right now than when the winter break started.   There’s also rumors of goalkeeper Dávid Gróf leaving the club before the end of the this transfer window.  One interesting signing will be Zakaria Beglashvili who is an experienced goal-scorer on loan from FC Flora.  The 28 year-old Georgian scored 30 goals and 24 assists in 36 games in the free-scoring Estonian Premier Liga last season.  This could be a stop-gap fix to their scoring woes if he can offer any semblance of spark up front.  However, the loss of three solid defensive players will be their downfall.

Ferencváros are at it again with another cycle of new players.  This time the top signings are coming from Sergei Rebrov’s sphere of influence as he brings on three players from Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia respectively.  With a glut of quality strikers at his disposal already, Rebrov brings in BATE striker Nikolai Signevich to muddy the waters even more.  I wonder what Lanzafame is thinking … Fradi’s biggest challenge will be keeping everyone happy and finding the right chemistry to keep ahead of Vidi the rest of the way.  Honvéd should be relatively easy for them at home. 

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Honvéd

MOL Vidi vs Puskás Akadémia 

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár 

Paul: Mol Vidi can now concentrate on the NB1 following their exit from the Europa League. They made two quality signings in Ákos Elek and Márkó Futács.  A nice opening match for the defending champions to get them started off on the right foot, pun intended.

Puskás has a new manager which should be interesting as he has Hungarian roots with a German background.  I think he will be a good addition for Puskás and Hungarian football.  We shall see…

Prediction: Vidi 2-0 Puskás

Chris: Unlike free-spending Ferencváros, MOL Vidi have taken a more conservative approach this winter as they selected two proven players to bolster their squad.  Marco Futács will give them the strike option they’ve missed since Danko Lazovic’s surprise retirement midway through the fall season.  Also, the return of Hungarian international Ákos Elek will be a welcome addition that will only improve the depth and quality of a team that is ready to make a serious push to retain their crown.

Puskás' merry-go-round of players and managers has been an entertaining show this season.  They have had successes and are a formidable foe at home, to be fair, but away from home they’ve been all sorts of awful.  Vidi will want to avenge their mid-September defeat at the hands of Puskás when they were still tenants at Pancho Arena and Marco Scepovic missed a late penalty. Revenge should be sweet for Vidi in this one.

Prediction: Vidi 3-1 Puskás

Diósgyőr vs Mezőkövesd

at Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc 

Paul: Diósgyor made no signings during the Winter and appear set to try to stay up with their current team.  This is always a fun  battle between the two clubs from Eastern Hungary.   In a hard fought match, a draw is the safe selection.

Mezőkövesd find themselves in the 7th spot after placing last at the same time last year.  They made a few signings this Winter but nothing of any real significance.   A mid-table showing would be a success this year for them.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Mezőkövesd are a team that I can’t help admiring this season.  They have done a lot with a little and are firmly entrenched in mid-table mediocrity … a place they would have jumped for at the start of the season.  They brought on attacking midfielder Lajos Bertus from Paks this winter which will only improve them with another experienced veteran in the middle of the park. 

Diósgyőr looked down and out at the start of the season but have shown resilience and actually pulled things together heading into the break.  Fernando has been shown patience as manager and it looks like it’s beginning to pay off.  Miskolc ended the fall season on a five-match unbeaten run with home wins against Debrecen and MTK while ending 2018 on a high note with a 2-1 win at Paks.  However, a Gabor Molnar-led Mezo is always a dangerous side and my gut is telling me they’ll start the second half with a narrow win here. 

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-2 Mezőkövesd

MTK vs Paks

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest

Paul: MTK ended the first half of the season poorly and has slipped to the sixth spot after a promising start.  They were quiet during the winter transfer period with no noticeable improvements.  Your guess is as good as mine to how they will do this Spring.

Paks was more active in the transfer window with their most exciting signing, Norbert Könyves. Paks tend to play to the level of their opponent so in that case this should be a hard fought and low scoring match. 

Prediction: MTK 1-1 Paks

Chris: MTK did little to improve their club during the winter, especially after receiving 1M Euros from Genoa for 19 year-old wonderkid András Schäfer.  They have done well in their first season back in the top-flight to settle into a safe, mid-table position and I think they would have taken that at the start of the season.  Veterans Jozsef Kanta and Sandor Torghelle continue to provide leadership and production while István Bognár has shown some consistent quality for the first time in a long while.

Paks did add Könyves this winter but only after shipping off the ever-present Lajos Bertus to Mezőkövesd.  Bertus had started each league game and had chipped in a goal and 5 assists for Paks in the fall.  Not sure what’s going on at Paks but this match has draw written all over it.

Prediction: MTK 1-1 Paks

Haladás vs Kisvárda

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely 

Paul:  A real relegation battle between our two bottom clubs.  Haladás made some good signings in the winter that could help them stay up.  I see them starting off the new year on a positive note with a home victory.

You have to give some credit to Kisvárda.  Whether they stay up or not, it will not be for lack of signing players.  They were busy this winter.  Again as at the start of the season the question is:  will all these foreign players mesh into a squad that can stay up in the first division?  

Prediction: Haladás 1-0 Kisvárda

Chris:  Yes, this is an early must-win for Haladás who already find themselves in a precarious situation with half the season remaining.  No one expected fireworks from Hali this season, but I don’t anyone were seriously tipping them for the drop either.   34 year-old Kornél Saláta will hopefully shore up a woeful defense, while bringing on Rui Pedro on loan from Ferencváros could help Tamás Priskin with quality service up front.  Even so it’s going to be an uphill battle for Ferenc Horváth’s side.

Kisvárda were the laughing stock of the league in the early weeks of the season but they’ve somehow managed to right the ship and cling to the precipice of safety near the bottom of the league. Lázsló Dajka led his side to a three-match unbeaten run at the end of the fall season.  Interestingly enough, that run mirrored their first run of form - a four match unbeaten run against the same teams (Puskás, Diósgyőr, MTK, and Haladás).  I think they’re good enough for a point here. 

Prediction:  Haladás 1-1 Kisvárda

NB1 Round 18 Preview

The winds of winter have heralded the snow that is soon to fall across the frozen Danube and Tisza rivers.  Foolish worshippers of the beautiful game will layer themselves against the elements; wrapped in their tribal colors with a song at the ready to lift the hearts of their club’s representatives one last time before the end of the year.  Join with Paul and Chris as they dissect this week’s slate of slot games in the Hungarian NB1 with a preview of each match and their predictions of each result.  It’s Round 18 - the last game of the year for each club before they shut it all down.  Grab your favorite beverage and enjoy.

Paul: Chris, the last round of the year is coming at the right time with the cold Hungarian winter.  The scores have fallen along with the temperature.  Surprisingly, round 17 had 17 goals which is not bad.  Can we predict 18 goals for round 18?   In all seriousness, I enjoy writing this article with you and it sure makes it different watching the matches as I often cheer for my predictions rather than specific teams.  I wish everyone Happy Holidays and see you in 2019!

Chris: Same Paul.  It’s been another great year of throwing wayward darts at the target with you but I’m happy to do it!  It should be a very competitive match day as teams won’t want to be “under the line” for two months.  A lot of this will come down to mindset.  Players (or teams) who are already on holiday (mentally) will create chaos this week.  I’ll get the popcorn.   

Saturday, 15 December

Kisvárda vs MTK

at Várkert Sportpálya, Kisvárda

Paul: It has been some time since I’ve chosen an “upset of the week.”  So this is it!.  Kisvárda has shown some life the last two weeks and they will end the year on a positive note against an MTK team that can be very good or very bad, hardly playing in between.

MTK looked impressive in defeating a poor Haladás squad at home.   The squad will overlook Kisvárda and think a half hearted effort will be enough for a victory.   They will find themselves down early by two goals and by the time they starting really playing, it will be too late.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-1 MTK

Chris: Kisvárda will be missing one of their in-form players in right back Pavlo Lukyanchuk who was controversially sent off last week against Diósgyőr.  They’ve put together a couple of solid results recently and actually defeated MTK earlier this season in Budapest.  Goalkeeper Felipe put on a show last week with some massive saves in a 1-1 draw in Miskolc and they’ll be fired up at home this week.

MTK stepped up big last week despite a couple of late scratches to their lineup.  They made mincemeat of directionless Haladás putting four past them without the services of veterans Jozsef Kanta and Ádám Pinter.   With a full squad at his disposal, I’m backing Tamás Feczkó’s team to do just enough to get the points in Kisvárda.

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-2 MTK

Paks vs Diósgyőr

at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paul: Paks came close to defeating Puskás last week but playing with ten men is difficult and it eventually was too much to overcome.  This week finds them at home against Diósgyor.  Despite the away team’s strong recent form, look for Paks to end the season with a strong home win.

Diósgyor has not lost in their last four matches and the cold weather seems to be working well for them.   With some good winter signings, they can stay up in the first division.   They will end the year with a loss but good things may happen for them in 2019.

Prediction: Paks 3-1 Diósgyőr

Chris:  Just as Paks are getting Zsolt Haraszti back, they’ll be without suspended Tamás Báló this week.  The influential left back was sent off after playing just 17 minutes last week in Felcsút.  Paks haven’t won in their last three home games but this could be the game that changes that trend for them.

Diósgyőr will miss the ever-present Richard Vernes (2 goals, 2 assists, 17 games) who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.  Fernando Fernández has his team playing much better in the last month or so but this will be a tough outing for them.

Paks will be smarting after letting points slip by so late last week and they’ll be encouraged playing at home in cold, snowy conditions - the best atmosphere for typical Paks win at Fehérvári úti.

Prediction: Paks 2-0 Diósgyőr

Puskás vs Mezőkövesd 

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút 

Paul: Puskás had their five week home win streak broken with a tie and that led to the firing of their manager, Miklós Benczés.  With that in mind, I think the squad will be a little disorganized in this match so I don’t see them winning against a tough Mezőkövesd squad.   Could the winter find ex-manager, Attila Pintér, back at the helm?

Mezőkövesd are playing Puskás at the right time and I would choose an away win if not for the recent strong home form of Puskás.  A win is possible but in the cold and away a draw is the safe pick in this match.

Prediction: Puskás 0-0 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Puskás surprisingly sacked manager Miklós Benczés on Saturday and have temporarily handed the reins over to Club Director András Komjáti.  Their run of home victories was stopped last week at five but they still managed a dramatic late equalizer against ten-man Paks.

Mezőkövesd will be without influential winger Tamás Cseri (2 goals, 3 assists, 17 games) as he sits out for yellow card accumulation. Attila Kuttor’s players staged a late comeback against Ferencváros last week but fell just short - their first defeat in their last seven competitive matches.  Mezőkövesd beat Puskás 2-0 at home in early September and will be looking to capitalize on the current unrest in Felcsút and should be happy with a point.

Prediction: Puskás 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Haladás vs Debrecen

at Szombathely Haladás Stadion, Szombathely 

Paul: Haladás were thumped by MTK by four goals last week so the end of the year can’t come soon enough.  Hopefully Santa Claus will find some new players for the squad who can inject some live and keep the club in the first division.  With improved home form, the a draw is possible here.

Debrecen has won their last two matches, including a win at Budapest versus MTK.  It is very tempting to make the easy choice which is a Debrecen win but something tells me the home teams will come out strong while the away team maybe a little flat and underperforming.

Prediction: Haladás 1-1 Debrecen

Chris: Haladás have to be pretty low after last week’s thrashing at MTK.  They return home where they’re unbeaten in their last two but they’ll be without two key figures in defender Márk Jagodics and leading scorer Tamás Priskin who are both out due to yellow card accumulation.  Manager Ferenc Horváth has looked increasingly frustrated with this team and another defeat could see him give up this reclamation project over the winter break.

Debrecen make the longest trek of the round but have to be boosted by clean sheet wins in their last two games against quality sides.  They’ll be without injured captain Dániel Toszér once again but they should be able handle this one without too much trouble. 

Prediction: Haladás 0-2 Debrecen

Honvéd vs Újpest

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Another Budapest derby to end the year.  Honvéd have lost their last two matches and hope to end the year strong.  They have fallen to the third spot now in the standings.  This will be a fun match and anything can happen making this one of the toughest matches to prognosticate this week.

Újpest looked brilliant in dispatching Mol Vidi with a nice home victory. They have not lost in their last five matches and have moved up to the fifth position.  Quite a good feat for a squad that has been out of form for most of the season.  Away matches have proved to be a problem but I see them ending the year on a positive note in a high scoring draw and an entertaining match 

Prediction: Honvéd 2-2 Újpest

Chris: Honvéd were limping along with three key players out last week, but Botond Barath and Tonci Kukoc’s returns from suspension should make them less susceptible on defense.  Leading scorer Danilo’s absence also hurt.  For a team that’s struggled to score all season they’ll be in trouble once again if he misses out.

Újpest are coming off a confidence-boosting win over high-flying Vidi last week.  They were able take advantage at home against a tired team who barely put up a fight.  With no suspensions or apparent injuries, Nebojsa Vignjevic has a full squad to call upon and if they can get an early goal they should be home free. It’ll be a close one here but I’m leaning toward a narrow Lilák win.

Prediction: Honvéd 0-1 Újpest

Sunday, 16 December

MOL Vidi vs Ferencváros

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár 

Paul:  What a fitting way to end the year in Hungarian football!  Mol Vidi exited European football with a well played match against Chelsea.  Without the pressure of European football, now is the time for them to make up ground in the league.  They should find a way to end the year in front of their home fans.

Ferencváros are up by eight points entering this match and could find themselves up by an overwhelming eleven points with a victory.  They have been up and down in recent times away from home.   This should be an exciting match and a fitting end to 2018.  

Prediction: Vidi 2-1 Ferencváros

Chris:  Vidi have had an exhausting fall season and it showed last week in a 2-0 defeat to Újpest.  They created precious few chances last round and are coming off a draining 2-2 draw against Chelsea this week.  They’ve won both games in their new home without conceding a goal but their opponents this week aren’t just a run-of-the-mill NB1 side. 

Ferencváros will be without injured starting winger Stefan Spirovski again as well veteran forward Daniel Böde who was suspended by the team this week.  Böde launched a verbal tirade against the bench after being subbed out last week and manager Sergei Rebrov has instructed him to take an early start to his winter break.  All this being said, Fradi are in great form and their squad depth should be able to help them increase their lead at the top heading into the break. 

Prediction:  Vidi 1-2 Ferencváros