Hungarian NBI – Season Preview

NBI Season Preview

This Friday sees the start of the NBI season after less than two months away.

Unlike other major European leagues, NBI will start at the beginning of July to accommodate the long winter break that Hungarian fans have to suffer, and also to finish in time for Euro 2012.

There have been some major shocks in the transfer window, not least the appointment of Paulo Sousa at champions Videoton – and Vidi remain strong favourites to retain their title after improving their squad considerably over the summer.

After failing in their audacious attempts to bring in Hernan Crespo and Ze Roberto, Vidi’s biggest signing this summer has been Walter Fernandez from Spanish club Gimnastic. The 21 year old is tipped for big things this season as his pace and tricky wing play are likely to cause numerous problems for opposition defenders. It will definitely be an exciting time for Vidi this season who have also managed to hang on to Andre Alves up front – who notched 24 goals in 28 starts last term.

Among the other title contenders are Debrecen who again have a new manager in Elemér Kondás after Zdeněk Ščasný’s 6 month stint at Loki failed dramatically. Debrecen haven’t made any significant additions to the squad as of yet, and that is troubling Loki fans who see another poor season ahead if singings aren’t made. However Chairman Gabor Szima has come out and said that signings will be made in due course, so maybe a title challenge could potentially be on the cards for Loki this season.

One of the league’s most interesting stories last season came from lowly Paks who achieved their first ever runners-up spot in Hungary’s top tier and it will be fascinating to see how they fair this year. Paks’ squad is completely made up of Hungarians (a club rule) which shows clubs like Ferencváros, that you don’t have to look abroad to find talent. Paks have also been able to keep Daniel Bode at the club. The striker scored 15 goals in 19 starts last season, and was an instrumental part of Paks’ success. Another season like that, and the 24 year old could have an offer from a major European league on the table.

From Budapest we have the ‘big boys’ in Újpest and Ferencváros who will be wanting to improve on their 6th and 3rd place by mounting a title challenge this season. Both sides have fantastic young talent in their squad, which are full of flair, but the problems lie at the back for both teams. Újpest and Ferencváros will be full of goals this year, and if they can keep things tight in defence, maybe there could be a chance of upsetting the odds and prizing the title from Vidi.

The two promoted clubs will definitely have a hard time of it this year. It’s always hard for clubs coming from the second tier to be able to compete in NBI and that will be no different this year and Pecs especially have been on a run of signing player after player to make sure they survive the drop. DVTK have also made some signings and have been linked with Hungarian international Tibor Tisza who will definitely be a coup for a side like DVTK, and with Tisza having already played for DVTK, the transfer could just about go ahead. The Diósgyőr fans will definitely be passionate, and it’s great to see them back in the big time.

Haladás, Siofok, Vasas and Papa are all tipped to struggle this season too, but with Hali having brought in Peter Halmosi last January they should survive, even though they have lost their ticking clock in Adam Simon. Simon was instrumental for Hali last season, and he’ll be sorely missed in Szombathely.

Siofok barely survived last season, and even though they have signed Hungarian international Thomas Sowumni, it looks like it will be another difficult season ahead for the side from Balaton, along with Vasas and Papa who haven’t made any marquee signings as of yet.

The teams tipped for a boring but safe mid table finish are ZTE, KTE, Gyor, Honvéd, and Kaposvár. ZTE and KTE both had good seasons last year with ZTE overachieving and claiming fourth place, but after being in second and third for so long, they must be unhappy that they missed out on European football.

High-scoring KTE claimed the Magyar Kupa last year, but as they’ve got so many problems in defence, it’ll be highly unlikely that they’ll mount a title challenge or even claim a place in Europe. Unfortunately for Gyor, Honvéd and Kaposvár it’s same old, same old. No real changes, and most likely another mediocre season.

But by the time we kick off on Friday, all predictions and opinions will be thrown out the window as Europe’s most unpredictable league gets underway!