Written by Tomasz Mortimer for False10 in March 2011
These last few months for Hungarian football have been brilliant by our standards. We currently sit 36th in the FIFA rankings, 2nd in our Euro 2012 qualifying group and Debrecen achieved their first win in Europe (excluding qualifying) with a 2-0 win over Sampdoria back in December. You would think that’s enough to make the World’s most pessimistic nation feel at least a little bit positive.
But the joy doesn’t stop there. Hungary also have a lot of talent coming through the ranks with Balazs Dzsudzsak and Vladimir Koman impressing for club and country, and at the age of 24 and 22 respectively it bodes well for the Magyars. The only blemish – the horrific knee injury that Adam Szalai suffered last month which will see him out till the end of 2011.
And recently there’s been even more Hungarian youngsters starting to creep into the top leagues and feature semi-regularly from a young age. 23 year old Adam Bogdan is definitely one to look out for in the future, making six first team appearances this season for Bolton, and keeping three clean sheets. Other Hungarian youngsters to keep an eye on are; Adam Vass (Brescia), Adam Pinter (Zaragoza), Peter Gulacsi (Liverpool), Adam Szalai (Mainz), Krisztian Nemeth (Olympiakos Volos) and Tamas Kadar (Newcastle). All of these players, except Peter Gulacsi, have featured for their first team this season, all of them are 23 or younger and all of them have some real talent.
With back-to-back games against Holland coming up at the end of March these players will really have to prove their mettle, along with the more experienced players like Gera and Hajnal, as these games could decide whether Hungary qualify for Poland and Ukraine.
Moving away from the national team, the Hungarian league hasn’t been a spectacular one. Videoton currently have a 9 point lead over the rest of the pack, and are really starting to hit their stride achieving 13 points out of a possible 15 including an absolute mauling of 2nd place Ferencvaros, beating them 5-0 away from home. The bottom of the table doesn’t get any closer either. Szolnoki are currently propping up the table reaching just 12 points from 19 games, and fellow promoted side, Siofok, are 6 points above them, 5 points from safety.
Probably the most exciting battle this season will be the push for the two Europa League spots. Currently Ferencvaros and ZTE occupy the two spaces on 34 points and 33 points respectively, but anyone down to Papa in 7th place have a chance of making that push for Europe. Debrecen currently sit in 4th place, one point behind ZTE, after their poor first half of the season. Many pundits expected “Loki” to struggle this year with having Europa League games and league games to contend with, but no-one expected them to be 11 points off Videoton at this stage of the season. I do expect the champions to pick up this term though, and I predict they’ll finish 2nd.
Kaposvar are currently in 5th place, and they’ve been the surprise package this year but with two losses on the bounce, I can see them sliding down the table at an alarming rate. Paks below them have had a solid year too but I think their squad isn’t prepared to mount a challenge for the Europa league, neither are Papa in 7th place who quite simply, don’t score enough goals.
With just 11 points separating 2nd to 14th, the middle of the table is definitely the tight area of Nb1. Ujpest down in 11th have been the main disappointment this year, with such a talented squad, they’ve been unable to live up to the hype and found themselves near the bottom two just before the winter break. But after a couple of superb performances from youngster Bence Lazar, they now sit 5 points above the relegation zone, and should start to make movements up the table.
Haladas have been the form team in 2011 however and have surprised everyone by how they’ve started the New Year. Achieving 4 wins from 5 games since the end of February, they’ve moved 5 points clear of relegation zone, and with ex-Hull City winger, Peter Halmosi starting to hit a bit of form, this team could really be going places.
The most entertaining team to watch this year is definitely Kecskemeti. Every game involving them this year has been a spectacle and you predict to see at least 3 goals in their matches. They’ve scored 35 goals this year, conceded 39 and not been involved in a single draw in the league. They currently sit in 9th place, and if they can sort out their defence next year, they could even mount a title challenge. Great free, attacking side who really have lit up NB1 this year.
Even though the league hasn’t exactly been great watching this year, and is unlikely to have the last day drama like last season, the national team have certainly delivered. They’ve moved up to a 20 year high in the FIFA rankings, are currently on a 5 game winning streak and have a really young and exciting squad which is definitely going places. I can’t see Hungary qualifying for Euro 2012, but by the time the World Cup in Brazil comes around, I expect to see Hungary making an appearance for the first time since 1986.