Gulacsi Orban

The Hungarian Pair Leading RB Leipzig Back Into The Champions League

Few of the top leagues in Europe are as tightly contested as the Bundesliga is right now. The two top sides Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are engaged in an exciting title race but the teams just below them are in a battle of their own. The likes of Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Eintracht Frankfurt are engaged in a race for Champions League qualification but all three teams could be eclipsed by another club which features two of Hungary’s best players and potential Premier League targets.

It all seemed so easy for RB Leipzig just a few years ago. The club is still just a decade old but has experienced an incredible level of growth during that time. Four promotions in seven seasons saw Leipzig reach the promised land of the Bundesliga but they weren’t done yet. Under manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, Leipzig achieved a second-place finish in their debut season in the German top flight which allowed them passage into the UEFA Champions League.

What followed was a disappointing performance in Europe. A group stage exit from the Champions League was followed up by a quarter-final defeat in the UEFA Europa League. A sixth-place finish in the Bundesliga wasn’t enough and Hasenhüttl departed in the summer of 2018.

Since then, RB Leipzig have built towards another promising season. Under new manager Ralf Rangnick, The Bulls have put in a string of fine performances which have helped the club climb back towards the top of the Bundesliga. Leipzig currently sit in third place, five points clear of fifth in the pursuit of Champions League qualification. They’ve continued to grind out results in the league and a lot of that has to do with a pair of Hungarian internationals who make up an impressive defence.

It was Willi Orban who joined Leipzig first. The 26-year-old centre-back moved to the Red Bull Arena in the summer of 2015 in a controversial transfer from FC Kaiserslautern. Since then, Orban has gone from strength to strength. Standing over six feet, Orban possesses a surprising amount of pace as well as an ability to play with the ball at his feet.

He impressed so much so in his first two seasons that in August 2017, Orban was named as club captain and signed a new long-term deal just a few months later. He showed his quality in February when he scored the 89th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw against rivals Hoffenheim. His remarkable breakthrough success culminated when he made his debut for Hungary in October 2018. The centre-back grabbed his first international goal just one month later.

His performances have caught the eye so much so that in January, he was linked with a move to the Premier League. Orban was the subject of reported interest from Southampton, the club managed by his former Leipzig boss, Ralph Hasenhüttl.

But Orban isn’t the only RB Leipzig player catching the attention of Premier League clubs. His Hungary teammate, Peter Gulacsi is also attracting admirers after an excellent couple of seasons in goals. Gulacsi was a reported target for Arsenal last season before they moved for another Bundesliga target, Bernd Leno. At the time, Gulacsi was also considered by his former club, Liverpool.

It’s not something which would have surprised too many fans of Bundesliga football. Gulacsi has been one of the outstanding goalkeepers in the division for a number of years and was the subject of praise from his manager Ralph Rangnick several weeks ago after an impressive performance against rivals Wolfsburg.

Gulacsi and Leipzig will need to put in a few more quality performances before the season is over but it seems that some are comfortable they will do it. Leipzig face a potentially tricky match against Augsburg in their next fixture and are the clear 3/8 favourites on Betway as of 4 March to come out on top.

RB Leipzig could extend their grip on a top-four spot to eight points if results go their way this weekend. The club has come a long way in the last decade and it seems as if manager Ralph Rangnick has helped the side get over the disappointment of last season. Still, the manager doesn’t deserve all the credit given the impressively consistent performances of the club’s two Hungarian internationals. If they continue to play at this level on a weekly basis, it may not be long before Willi Orban and Peter Gulacsi move on to even bigger and better things.


Vidi

Vidi's Night At The Bridge

Not since 1985 have Vidi enjoyed such a magical and memorable night in European football. That year there were quite a few of them, a penalty win over Man United in the UEFA Cup quarter-final and a 1-0 victory in the Bernabeu were seen as minor miracles at the time, but football is a whole lot different and a whole lot harder in this late-capitalist world. Written by Tomasz Mortimer

Vidi are a rare commodity in 21st century Hungarian football - they're a club who have developed something of a pedigree in European competition.

Thinking of Vidi in Europe, minds will automatically remember that infamous Europa League campaign of 2012/13 under Paulo Sousa, coming through three qualifying rounds as underdogs to then beat Sporting and eventual semi-finalists Basel in the group stage. There'll also be clearer memories of last summer, when they knocked out France's sixth-best team Bordeaux in EL qualifying. This year they beat Dudelange, Ludogorets and Malmo in Champions League qualifying - all three of which ended up making it to the Europa League.

But last night felt a whole lot different, the anticipation was just at a different level to anything that's gone before. This wasn't a qualifier, this wasn't a mediocre Sporting, this wasn't a Swiss club. This was a genuine top 10 European side, one that was riding high in the 'Best League in the World'™. Head coach Marko Nikolic didn't have the highest of hopes, "We will try our best on Thursday evening and I am curious how we will cope in the end." Not the most optimistic of sentences.

And for the first 20 minutes last night it did look like Vidi wouldn't be able to cope. Morata, Emerson and Willian all screwed good chances wide and Vidi appeared flustered and dumbfounded as to how to get out.

But Vidi have a team packed full of experience, and though they're European minnows, the only outfield player who wasn't an international last night was Loic Nego, and even he'd played in a U20 World Cup semi-final alongside Griezmann, Lacazette and Coquelin. But Chelsea's starting XI cost nearly €300m to assemble. Vidi's cost less than €2m. That's why they were priced as high as 40/1 to win. Yet towards the second half, it was Vidi who could easily have taken the lead on two or three occasions; first when Milanov appeared to have been hauled down from Gary Cahill inside the box, and second through Loic Nego who's shot from 10 yards out was scuffed harmlessly into Kepa's hands, while Nego also poked an effort wide after a mix up at the back between Christenson and Kepa.

The pre-match predictions of 7/8-0 from some quarters were pretty much crushed by halftime, and though Chelsea had more to give with the imperious Eden Hazard waiting on the bench, Vidi had given the home side a pretty decent scare in the first half and came out in the second half playing with a new-found confidence.

Hazard was eventually introduced for Pedro after 54 minutes, just after Nego tested Kepa with a stinging left-footed effort, but strangely it gave Vidi the impetus as Hazard didn't really care to track Attila Fiola who bombed on and on in the second half.

Though it was Chelsea who struck, without Hazard's involvement, in the 70th minute through an increasingly frustrated Alvaro Morata who shed tears in celebration - a fine compliment to Vidi and especially Juhasz who'd given the Spaniard a mightily tough time.

Indeed, it was Juhasz who was probably Vidi's star man of the night. At 35, the wily old veteran still proved he could do it on the big stage and Marco Rossi must surely be considering giving the big man a call to tempt him out of international retirement. Since coming back to Vidi, Juhasz has rarely dropped in form and throughout this and last year's European campaign, he's been immense.

Nego also shone bright for Vidi. The Frenchman never tired and would surely have alerted scouts across Europe with that performance, and his performances this season. Istvan Kovacs' moment almost came too, forcing a magnificent save from Kepa late on. In fact, it's hard to pick anyone out who didn't play well. Vinicius was back to his best, Stopira excellent, Fiola non-stop, Milanov a threat on the break, Hadzic and Huszti strong in midfield, and Scepovic a hassle and a focal point up top. Even the second-choice Tujvel in goal was solid.

Marko Nikolic commented after the game that he had mixed feelings inside of him, but pre-game he couldn't have seriously hoped for much more than what Vidi did show. The 1,400 travelling support from Hungarian would've warmed his heart too; throughout the game they were non-stop, and were even applauded by the Chelsea fans at full time. It could've been for the players' performance or for the fans' performance, both would've been apt.

In 2018, it was an increasingly rare, proud night for Hungarian football.


NB I Week 7 Results & Highlights with … @Jon_Mackenzie

Tomasz Mortimer predicts the weekend's Hungarian NB I games against a football expert on Twitter who knows little to nothing about the Hungarian league. For week 7we welcome Real Sport 101 football editor Jon Mackenzie. The person with the most points at the end of the season will receive £50 for their chosen charity.

(Click result for highlights)

 Tomasz  Jon Results
Debrecen vs Haladas  2-0  2-0  1-1
Ujpest vs Honved  1-1 (1 point)  1-2  0-0
MTK vs Kisvarda  2-0  3-0  0-1
Mezokovesd vs Puskas Akademia  2-1 (1 point)  1-0 (1 point)  2-0
DVTK vs Paks  1-1 (1 point)  1-1 (1 point)  0-0
Ferencvaros vs Vidi  1-1 (1 point)  2-1  2-2

Points: Correct result = 1 point, Correct margin of win = 2 points, Correct score = 3 points

Overall Table

Points Beat Tomasz?
Week 1 - @GregianJohnson 3 x
Week 2 - @JonnyGabriel 5 x
Week 3 - @sewadyllo 9 (+ game in hand)
Week 4 - @StephenScouted 9
Week 5 - @danielstorey85 1 x
Week 6 - @kdschlewitz 1 (+ game in hand) x
Week 7 - @Jon_Mackenzie 2 x

NB I Week 6 Results with … @kdschlewitz

Tomasz Mortimer predicts the weekend's Hungarian NB I games against a football expert on Twitter who knows little to nothing about the Hungarian league. For week 6 we welcome Unusual Efforts founder Kirsten Schlewitz. The person with the most points at the end of the season will receive £50 for their chosen charity.

 Tomasz  Kirsten Results
Honved vs Debrecen  1-1  1-2  3-0
Kisvarda vs DVTK  0-1  1-0  1-1
Mezokovesd vs Ferencvaros  1-2 (2 points)  0-2 (1 point)  0-1
Vidi vs Ujpest (Postponed)  2-0  3-0
Paks vs Puskas Akademia  2-0 (1 point)  1-1  3-2
Haladas vs MTK  0-1  1-1  1-2

Points: Correct result = 1 point, Correct margin of win = 2 points, Correct score = 3 points

Overall Table

 

Points Beat Tomasz?
Week 1 - @GregianJohnson 3 x
Week 2 - @JonnyGabriel 5 x
Week 3 - @sewadyllo 9 (+ game in hand)
Week 4 - @StephenScouted 9
Week 5 - @danielstorey85 1 x
Week 6 - @kdschlewitz 1 (+ game in hand) x

NB I Week 5 Results & Highlights with … @danielstorey85

Tomasz Mortimer predicts the weekend's Hungarian NB I games against a football expert on Twitter who knows little to nothing about the Hungarian league. For week 5 we welcome Football365 writer Daniel Storey. The person with the most points at the end of the season will receive £50 for their chosen charity.

(Click result for highlights)

 Tomasz  Daniel Results
Debrecen vs MTK  2-1  1-1 (1 point)  3-3
Ferencvaros vs Paks  2-0  3-0  1-1
DVTK vs Haladas  0-1  1-1  1-0
Honved vs Vidi  2-1  2-0  0-3
Puskas Akademia vs Kisvarda  2-0  2-1  1-1
Ujpest vs Mezokovesd  1-1 (3 points)  2-1  1-1

Points: Correct result = 1 point, Correct margin of win = 2 points, Correct score = 3 points

Overall Table

Points Beat Tomasz?
Week 1 - @GregianJohnson 3 x
Week 2 - @JonnyGabriel 5 x
Week 3 - @sewadyllo 9 (+ game in hand)
Week 4 - @StephenScouted 9
Week 5 -@danielstorey85 1 x

NB I Week 4 Results & Highlights with … @StephenScouted

Tomasz Mortimer predicts the weekend's Hungarian NB I games against a football expert on Twitter who knows little to nothing about the Hungarian league. For week 4 we welcome chief editor of ScoutedFootballStephen Ganavas. The person with the most points at the end of the season will receive £50 for their chosen charity.

 

steve

(Click result for highlights)

 Tomasz  Stephen Results
Vidi vs Debrecen   1-1 (3 points)  1-2  1-1
Haladas vs Puskas Akademia  1-1  3-1 (1 point)  2-1
Kisvarda vs Ferencvaros  0-2 (3 points)  0-4 (1 point)  0-2
MTK vs DVTK  2-0 (1 point)  3-0 (1 point)  1-0
Mezokovesd vs Honved  2-1  0-1 (3 points)  0-1
Paks vs Ujpest   2-1  1-1 (3 points)  1-1

Points: Correct result = 1 point, Correct margin of win = 2 points, Correct score = 3 points

Overall Table

Points Beat Tomasz?
Week 1 - @GregianJohnson 3 x
Week 2 - @JonnyGabriel 5 x
Week 3 - @sewadyllo 9 (+ game in hand)
Week 4 - @StephenScouted 9