PREVIEW – NBI Round 15

Saturday, 5 November, 2016 – Round 15
We’re ready for another exciting round of Hungarian top-flight football this weekend as a the packs begin to separate within the table. Vasas hold a four point lead at the top despite last week’s draw against Videoton. Fradi took advantage of the their rivals’ stumble to launch themselves back into second place (a position they haven’t held since 21 September). Mezőkövesd are rising, Haladás are falling, and Újpest are treading water with the sharks circling. Will MTK win away from home this season? Can DVTK climb out of the basement? Will the destruction and construction of all these Hungarian stadiums ever end?? All of these questions will be answered … in time. Thanks to Tomasz and Gayle for their endless input on all things NBI. Enjoy the preview.

Debreceni VSC (7th) vs. Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE (6th)

at: Nagyerdei Stadion (20,340 cap. – 3,037 avg.)

Preview: Leonel Pontes took over at Debrecen on 8 August after the resignation of Elemér Kondás. His predecessor led the club to two league championships and European qualification for five consecutive seasons. Those are large shoes to fill. Pontes hasn’t set off any fireworks yet with just 3 wins in ten games, but his signing of 34 year-old forward Róbert Vittek has been inspirational as the Slovak has scored twice in 3 games since joining the club. Midfielder Dávid Holman has also been in good form with three goals in his last four matches, leading the club with 4 total on the season. Loki are unbeaten in three of their last four, losing only to league leaders Vasas 2-1 and drawing Paks 1-1 at the formidable Fehérvári úti Stadion. They put two past Gyirmót last week and are the first team to do that since Újpest scored three against them in mid-August. Pontes is working in his system and his players seem to be responding of late.

Mezőkövesd are another late blooming side this season. After just two victories in their first 11 matches, they have rattled off three consecutive wins to climb out of the relegation zone and into sixth place. Another early-season acquisition has triggered their rise in form. Malian forward Ulysse Diallo has made an immediate impact, scoring three goals in his first three appearances since joining the club in early October. In their first appearance in NBI after a two-season regroup in NBII, Attila Pintér has seemingly found the right equation with his squad. Not only have Mező chalked up three consecutive victories, each have been clean sheets as well.
Who can stop Mezőkövesd? Well, Debrecen’s home form has been poor, losing three of their last four at Nagyerdei. Mezőkövesd are unbeaten in three of their last four away games, including a brave 2-2 draw against the champions at Groupama Aréna as well as a solid 1-0 win over stingy Győr.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-2 Mezőkövesd – look for Diallo to stay hot and add to his current haul.

Budapest Honvéd (4th) vs. Diósgyőri VTK (12th)

at: Bozsik Stadion (9,500 cap. – 2,012 avg.)

Preview: One can’t speak of Honvéd these days without mentioning Davide Lanzafame. The former Juventus prospect has been enjoying a purple patch at the club scoring six goals in his first seven games since moving from Serie B side Novara in late August. Marco Rossi has come under fire for his lack of tactical nous in recent weeks, but in their last six they’ve won three and lost to Ferencváros (away) and Videoton (home) while drawing 1-1 against Újpest. A home match against bottom-side DVTK could be just what they need to build on their narrow 2-1 win over Haladás. Kispest defeated Diósgyőr 3-0 away in their last meeting – and that was before Lanzafame joined the club.

Ferenc Horváth made an impressive start to his first season at Diósgyőr with consecutive victories over Videoton and Újpest, but Fradi tapped them on the shoulder and reminded them they were punching above their weight by handing them a “wake-up” 6-2 defeat in the capital. Since then they picked up 2 points in their next 9 and have only won once in their last twelve matches. Recent performances have been encouraging, however. Latvian defender Vitalijs Jagodinskis scored an injury time leveler to earn their first away point at Újpest after he came on for the injured Marcela Mahalek early in the first half. In their last match Jagodisnkis was on the score sheet once more, but it was an own goal against Ferencváros as DVTK spotted the champions a two-goal lead before battling back. Soma Novothny scored his fourth of the season and Nono equalized for Diósgyőr before Fradi got the winner in front of a massive crowd of over 8,000 – the last match to be played at DVTK stadion before being demolished.
Despite their recent industriousness, Horváth’s men are dismal away from home, shipping a league high 18 goals in seven matches.

Prediction: Budapest Honvéd 3-1 Diósgyőri VTK – Lanzafame finds the target in his 7th consecutive game.

Ferencváros (2nd) vs. Paksi FC (11th)

at: Groupama Aréna (23,698 cap. – 6,927 avg.)

Preview: Paks have a league worst two wins this season, but they have a league high 7 draws (their total from last season). They’ve been formidable at home in terms of grinding out a result, but away from Fehérvári úti stadion they’re abysmal, losing five of their last six. In their first meeting with Ferencváros this season they played to a nil-nil draw with Paksi creating most of the chances in front of their largest home crowd of the campaign. The game was a physical affair with no less than 8 yellow cards being distributed by referee Sandór Andó-Szabó. It was only a point but it gave them confidence that they can match anyone at home. One can argue that Aurél Csertői has mastered the art of “not losing”, but will that be enough to keep them out of the drop zone? This week they’re facing the champions again but in a much less congenial atmosphere.

Fradi return home this week and, despite conceding a league high 13 goals there, they’ve also scored a league high 21 as well. The free-flowing goal atmosphere of Groupama Aréna has been exciting this season, none more so than their thrilling derby against Újpest that ended 3-3, and this week’s opposition could provide more vim to the campaign. Thomas Doll’s season hasn’t gone as planned, and with the talent he has at his disposal Fradi should be well on top of the league. The champs have won consecutive games in the last two weeks – the first time they’ve accomplished that since their perfect 3-win start to the season – but it wasn’t pretty as they had to hold off Honvéd’s late rally at home two weeks ago.  Then they needed a second-half winner from Michal Nalepa to see off table-proppers Diósgyőr in Round 14. The team that ended their perfect start to the season, Paksi, is appearing again, just when Doll’s squad need to build momentum. Former Paksi forward Dániel Böde looks to be coming back into form, scoring his 7th and league-leading goal against Honvéd after three games without finding the net, but he didn’t play last week and (understandably) didn’t feature in their 9-0 romp against Koroncó mid-week in the Cup. Marco Djuricin, who usually plays on the left when Böde is in the lineup, plays as the striker when he’s out and he’s more than capable to lead the attack with 6 goals and 5 assists so far.
Defensively Ferencváros have been disastrous, conceding 9 in their last four and without a clean sheet in eight matches. Paksi have scored in four of their last five away matches against teams with better defense than Doll’s struggling back four.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-1 Paksi FC – Fradi keep the pressure on Vasas at the top.

Szombathelyi Haladás (5th) vs. MTK Budapest (9th)

at: Soproni Városi Stadion (5,800 cap. – 1,892 avg.)

Preview: Haladás return to their temporary home in Sopron licking their wounds from consecutive away defeats to Mezőkövesd and Honvéd. They have done very well recently at Káposztás utcai stadion, winning four of their last five including victories over Ferencváros and Vasas. They’ve slowed down a bit since winning four straight put them third top after 7 games. They had risen as high as 2nd after their win over Fradi, but their last two week’s results have seen them fall out of the top four. Hali are still without starting goalkeeper Gábor Király, but Dániel Rózsa has played well as his replacement, especially keeping a clean sheet in their 2-0 win against the champions three weeks ago. Géza Mészöly’s offense has shifted from relying upon David Williams (who hasn’t scored since round 7) to Bálint Gaál who has found the net twice in their last three games. They need more consistent scoring and Bence Iszlai seems to be chipping in lately as well with a goal and an assist in his last two appearances.

MTK come into this one as the only team without a win away this season. In fact, they’ve only scored three goals in seven matches away – another league worst. For a team that finished third and fourth respectively over the last two seasons, MTK have battled hard to overcome a disastrous start. Iconic forward Sándor Torghelle is the club’s only real threat up front so it’s not a surprise that MTK scored zero goals in their first four games as ‘Sanyi’ was unavailable. He’s scored just one of his four goals away from home. MTK have conceded 9 goals in their last four away matches.

Prediction: Szombathelyi Haladás 1-0 MTK Budapest – No Torghelle magic in this one.

Videoton (3rd) vs. Gyirmót Győr (10th)

at: Pancho Arena (3,500 cap. – 1,953 avg)

Preview: Henning Berg’s start with Videoton grabbed people’s attention for the wrong reasons. No wins in their first three league games and an early exit in the Europa League had supporters questioning his appointment as the club’s new supremo. However, five victories in their next six quieted most of the doubters. Now third on the table, boasting the most productive attack and fresh off a last gasp Danko Lazovic equalizer at Vasas, Videoton return home where they last experienced defeat in late July to, ironically, Vasas. Róbert Feczesin leads Vidi with six goals but hasn’t scored since mid-July. Lazovic has been the in-form striker with a goal in each of his last two games. Marko Scepovic has also netted three times since his transfer deadline day move from Olympiakos, bagging a brace two weeks ago against Honvéd.

At the other end of the offensive spectrum is Gyirmót who have scored a league worst seven goals. The only player that has scored more than one goal this season is on-loan striker Dániel Sallói with two. Gyirmót had been on a run of eight matches where there was one or no goals scored between the two sides. That streak was blown out of the water when Debrecen defeated them 2-1 last week. In fact, Gyirmót are on a three-match losing run, scoring just one goal in that span.
In their previous encounter, Videoton crushed Gyirmót 4-0 in Győr thanks to four second half goals (including Feczesin’s last goal).

Prediciton: Videoton 3-0 Gyirmót Győr – Look for Feczesin to score off the bench.

Újpest FC (8th) vs. Vasas SC (1st)

at: Szusza Ferenc Stadium (14,817 cap. – 2, 242 avg)

Preview: Újpset FC must feel like they’re the most unlucky team in the world. Currently on a run of five draws, (that’s right, five scoring draws!) Lilak have fallen steadily down the table. In each of those games Újpest have been leading but have let up the equalizer in the 61st minute or later. The last two were the hardest to swallow as they arrived at the death. Nebojša Vignjevic must sort out a defense that has shipped 16 goals in their last seven. Dávid Mohl and Ákos Kecskés have been the only two who have been consistent in Lilak’s back line, but Kecskés is out this week due to his late second yellow card against Paksi at the weekend. On a positive note, they’ve scored 14 over that span. Forward János Lázok finally opened his account this season, scoring two in his last three games, while the impressive young Macedonian midfielder Enis Bardhi leads the club in scoring with 5 goals and two assists.

Vasas – what a difference a year makes. The team that survived a relegation scare into the last week of last season, is now atop the league with a four-point cushion after 14 games. Michael Oenning has done wonders in his first full season with Budapest’s 13th district side. They matched last season’s total of 9 wins two weeks ago in a 2-1 win over Debrecen. They’ve conceded a league-lowest 6 away goals and have the most away victories (4). Leading scorer Martin Ádám has missed the last two games with a training ground injury and faces a late fitness test for this match.

Prediction: Újpest 2-2 Vasas – The run continues until Vignjevic adjusts his end-game strategy.


-Chris Barrett (@crusader120)