Saturday, 19 November, 2016 – Round 16
It was great to see the National Team register another clean sheet victory even if it was only against Andorra. And even though some of the stars like Balázs Dzsudzsák, Krisztián Németh, and László Kleinheisler will return to their celestial places, it’s good to know that some of the national treasures will be playing in Hungary this weekend. Players like Zoltán Gera, who picked up his 96th cap and 26th goal in a memorable night in the capital on Sunday, and his club teammate Daniel Böde, who came on late to replace him, are Magyar masterpieces that should be appreciated.
Now, with the international break in the rearview mirror, NBI picks up where it left off with a packed table and plenty of teams lurking about to pick up the scraps off of Ferencváros’ untidy title defense thus far. This week, however, the champions have a second chance to show upstart Vasas who’s boss. Also this week, Videoton have a tricky away tie against Mezőkövesd and giant-killers Paksi will look to win consecutive matches for the first time this season. Welcome back to top flight domestic football! Hop on the Hungarian stadium merry-go-round and join us as we watch the drama unfold.
Vasas SC (1st) vs. Ferencváros TC (3rd)
at: Bozsik József Stadion (9,500 cap. – 3,848 avg.)
Preview: Is there trouble in paradise at Ferencváros? Manager Thomas Doll has made some rumblings about support at home, wishing that the atmosphere was better despite their inconsistent form. There are also rumors he might be on his way out as greener pastures might be more appealing than the stress of repeating as champions in a league that has seen far more parity this season. No matter what’s happening off the pitch, Herr Doll has a chance to silence the critics and close the gap at the top on Saturday as his side face unlikely leaders Vasas on the pitch. The champions lost their second home game of the season last round to Paks. Vasas beat them at Groupama back in August so this game will have an air of ‘payback’ surrounding it. It will be a chance for some players to step up defensively as Fradi’s defense has been dreadful of late, conceding 11 goals in their last five matches. Ecuadorian left back Cristian Ramirez is hotly rumored to be a target for Spurs in January – perhaps his mind is already there?
Vasas continue to show that they’re the real deal, taking advantage of Újpest’s inability to close out a game, they came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw in Kecskemét a fortnight ago. The draw extended their unbeaten run to five games and has them atop the table by three points. Michael Oenning has Mahir Saglik to thank for much of their recent success. The Turkish striker has scored four goals in Vasas’ last four games. The league leaders have found home to be a true advantage for them, securing 16 of a possible 21 points at Illovszky Rudolf, but this “home” match will be played at Bozsik József Stadion – a place where Ferencváros have already been victorious this season. This could be a defining moment in Vasas’ season. A win would put them at 33 points, one more than they accumulated all of last season. The lion’s share of the pressure will be on their opponents and Oenning’s squad can play with the confidence of a team that has already beaten the champions this season.
Prediction: Vasas SC 1-1 Ferencváros TC – Fradi play more disciplined away, but Vasas are good enough to get a point.
Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE (6th) vs. Videoton FC (2nd)
at: Városi Stadion (5,000 cap. – 2,064 avg.)
Preview: Next month will be one year since Attila Pintér took over at Mezőkövesd and it’s safe to say that he’s been a success at the club. Taking the reins of a team halfway through the season and guiding them to promotion was a triumph. Now Mezo are mid-table and riding a four-match unbeaten run restoring confidence within the club. He built his current squad this summer around captain Dávid Hegedűs who is the longest-tenured player on the team. The acquisition of Marko Streštik (3 goals, 3 assists), Ulysse Diallo (3 goals, 1 assist) and the spine of their defense and midfield were added over the summer and after. Serbian centre back Mihailo Milutinovic is Pintér’s latest addition to his squad. The 21 year-old last played for Braga in Portugal and was just signed this week.
Recently Mezőkövesd have been solid in defense and the addition of Milutinovic adds depth. They’ve kept four clean sheets in a row, but that will be put under a stern test this weekend as they face the league’s most potent offense.
Videoton lead the league in scoring with 34 goals this season. They’ve led away scoring with 12 goals on the road as well. Róbert Feczesin returned to form with two goals in a 4-0 dismantling of Gyirmót last round and he leads his team (and the league) with 8 goals. Vidi have lost just once in their last nine matches and have only been held off the score sheet just twice this season (both away). Henning Berg was happy to announce the contract extension of left-back Stopira over the international break. The Cape Verde international is now secured through 2018 and is an important part of a defense that is third best in the league with just 16 goals conceded in 15 matches.
Prediction: Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE 1-2 Videoton FC – both teams are in good form, but Vidi’s array of attacking options gives them the edge.
Paksi FC (10th) vs. Budapest Honvéd (4th)
at: Fehérvári úti Stadion (3,000 cap. – 1,586 avg.)
Preview: Paksi ended a run of four matches without a win by defeating champions Ferencváros 2-1 in Budapest before the break. In a match that the hosts dominated, Aurél Csertői’s men held on resolutely, scoring twice on the counterattack to earn just their third victory of the season. Paks managed to win without defensive mainstay Zsolt Gévay who was suspended. Gévay is certain to be back in the side this week as Paks look to remain the only unbeaten team at home.
Honvéd are on a run of consecutive victories for the third time this season. They have recently ridden the wave of Italian super striker Davide Lanzafame, who has now scored in seven consecutive matches, but they haven’t yet been able to win three in a row. Paks will be no pushover, however, and Marco Rossi’s side will need to be at their best. Honvéd have been awarded a league-high 8 penalties so far this campaign, but they can’t count on charity this week because no away team has been awarded a spot kick yet in Paks. However, the referee assigned to this match, Zsolt Szabó, has awarded two penalties in the six matches he’s been in charge of, both of which were awarded to Honvéd away to DVTK! Kispest have had little success away from home since that game as they’ve lost three of their last four in recent travels.
Prediction: Paksi FC 1-0 Budapest Honvéd – Fehérvári úti Stadion has been a place where ambition goes to die – just ask Thomas Doll. Lanzafame’s fire snuffed out in this one.
Diósgyőri VTK (12th) vs. Szombathelyi Haladás (5th)
at: Nagyerdei Stadium (20,340 cap. – 4,454 avg.)
Preview: Another ‘neutral venue’ affair as both teams travel to Debrecen for this one. Diósgyőri will travel south and Haladás will have the longer trek east, but home advantage won’t be as great for the Miskolc-based side. Ferenc Horváth has bemoaned injuries and sickness within his squad for his club’s poor league position. His defense has taken a battering as they’ve shipped 32 goals so far this season, putting them on course to easily eclipse the 47 they conceded all of last year. They have put together some good results at home – drawing Vasas 1-1, defeating Videoton 2-0, and running it close with Fradi before conceding a second half winner. It’s hard to say which side will turn up, especially as this isn’t actually a game they’re playing at home. The absence of István Bognár (4 goals, 6 assists) was felt last round as DVTK didn’t record a shot on goal against Honvéd.
Haladás have certainly slowed down after climbing to the heights during a run of five victories in six games. Since then they’ve only managed one win in their last six. They ended a run of two defeats last round, drawing 1-1 against MTK. An early exchange of goals was all the action in that one. Bálint Gaál got the goal against MTK and he seems to be the in form attacker at the moment with 3 goals in his last four matches. However, the rest of Géza Mészöly’s squad has lost their nose for the net, scoring just six goals in their last eight matches.
Prediction: Diósgyőri VTK 0-2 Szombathelyi Haladás – DVTK have been disappointing and they look downright impotent without Bognár. More trouble this week.
Gyirmót Győr (11th) vs. Újpest FC (7th)
at: Alcufer Stadion (4,500 cap. – 1,873 avg)
Preview: Gyirmót are in a free fall at the moment. With four consecutive defeats and just one goal scored during that span, István Urbányi has seen his side drop from 9th place into the relegation zone. They are three points adrift from 10th place Paksi who are finding their way to safety. Before this dip in form Győr had been on a run of five without defeat including 3 wins, but now they can’t buy a goal. Their 4-0 reverse against Videoton before the break matched their worst defeat of the season. It’s the third time they were hammered for four goals this season. After a run of 8 games where they conceded just three goals, they’ve now conceded 6 in their last two. Left back Ádám Présinger was out against Vidi as well as Attila Filkor. Both were sorely missed and their continued absence might make it a long day for them on Saturday.
Unbelievably Újpest have played to six consecutive score draws – relinquishing the lead after the hour mark in every match. This must be a frustrating time for manager Nebojša Vignjevic who hasn’t yet been able to solve this mystery. Lilak have scored goals against every defense except for MTK’s so far this season. The problem looks to be psychological in nature and while success can breed success, ineptitude can be contagious as well. They could have easily won their last three games but couldn’t hold off their opponent for 15 minutes or less in each.
Enis Bardhi is coming off an international start for Macedonia against Spain and must be feeling pretty good despite the result. Bardhi gave a good account of himself and it will do nothing but boost his confidence to be starting for the senior squad in full, competitive internationals. He leads Újpest in goals this season with 6 and has two in his last three appearances.
Prediction: Gyirmót Győr 1-3 Újpest FC – Lilak break free and take advantage of a subdued Gyirmót side.
MTK Budapest (9th) vs. Debreceni VSC (8th)
at: Dunaferr Aréna (12,000 cap. – 681 avg)
Preview: MTK are the only team that haven’t registered a win on the road this season but they’ve been flawless at home recently. Four wins on the trot at home over Gyirmót, DVTK, Fradi, and Vidi have kept their noses above water. Sándor Torghelle has scored the winner three of those four games, but he won’t factor in this one as he’s suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card against Haladás last round. MTK are 0-3-1 without their talismanic striker. He’s the only player on the squad that has scored more than one goal. Who will step for Vaszilisz Teodoru this week?
Debrecen were held off the score sheet for the first time in five matches despite bossing the game against Mezőkövesd in Round 15. After defeating Gyirmót on the road, Leonel Pontes was confident his squad could return home and get consecutive victories for the first time since early August. Mezo ‘keeper Tomas Tujvel had other plans, however as Dávid Holman was denied his third goal in four games.
On a positive note, Debrecen kept a clean sheet for the first time in 11 matches. Their last clean sheet was against none other than Mezőkövesd.
Prediction: MTK Budapest 1-1 Debreceni VSC – No Torghelle, no magic, no win. MTK get first draw at home this season. Robert Vittek with an equalizer for the visitors.