Even though it’s Thanksgiving week here in the US, I’ve still managed to find the time for a ‘quick’ preview of Saturday’s games. Enjoy!
Unless you’ve been living in a hole somewhere recently you must have noticed the Hungarian NBI season this year. Last week alone had enough shining moments to attract even the most passive football aficionado. This season has everything – a packed table, a legitimate underdog, and some amazing individual feats occurring on a weekly basis.
This week there are battles at both the top and bottom of the table, key players (and a manager) banned, and plenty of anticipation for the spectacular to occur. Read on for a preview of each of the six game slated for Saturday
Kispest look to close gap on leaders
Budapest Honvéd (4th) vs Vasas SC (1st)
at Bozsik József Stadion, Kispest
Honvéd came from behind to draw against Paksi last week. As disappointing as it was to drop points, Marco Rossi’s side will pay for their lack of discipline. Skipper Patrik Hidi and right back Endre Botka are banned after amassing 5 yellow cards. Botka’s absence will be felt as both games he hasn’t featured in this season were defeats. Honvéd are unbeaten in their last three but they haven’t done well against the top sides this season. Their last meeting with league-leaders Vasas ended in a 2-0 defeat. Other recent defeats have been against Ferencváros (3rd), Videoton (2nd) and Mezőkövesd (5th) – not a good omen as they prepare to host the pacesetters.
Vasas got their own bad news this week as forward Mahir Saglik was handed a three-match ban for his dismissal against Ferencváros at the weekend. The Turkish forward has been in good form with four goals in his last five matches. However, Vasas have won five of eight without Saglik starting and he wasn’t in the squad when they beat Honvéd in their last meeting.
Vasas are unbeaten in their last six, on a run of 3 draws, and have scored 14 goals in last 6 games. István Ferenczi scored two goals in 12 minutes in his first appearance last week. The 39-year old ex-Ferencváros forward led the way in an inspiring performance that led Vasas to an important 2-2 draw against the champions.
Prediction: Budapest Honvéd 1-2 Vasas – Zsombor Berecz and Mohamed Remeli to carve open a depleted Honvéd back line.
Teams desperate for victory in relegation six-pointer
Diósgyori VTK (11th) vs Paksi FC (10th)
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd
DVTK move from one temporary home to another this week as they shift to Mezőkövesd for this week’s match. Their excursion to Debrecen last week proved favorable as they ended a three-game skid with a victory that pulled them off the bottom of the table. It was the first time they weren’t propping up the table since 20 September. Ferenc Horváth looks to be getting some of his troops back as Márk Tamás was back in training this week. Tamás has been out with injury since late September. István Bognár came off the bench last game with a cast on his broken hand and looked great last week. Look for him to start on Saturday. Diósgyor are a better team than their record reflects. They have scored 10 goals in their last 5 matches and should continue improving defensively as players return from injury. In their last match against Paks they disappointingly conceded two late goals to fall 2-1. They’ll want to set the record straight this week.
Aurél Csertoi has done wonders with Paksi this season. With just one defeat in their last 8 matches they have stayed above the drop zone by grinding out results. They’re currently on an impressive unbeaten run in which they picked up points against Újpest and Honvéd at home while defeating Ferencváros away. They are undefeated at home, but their 7 draws and 6 goals scored in eight matches conveys a conservative style. However, they play a much more open game on the road. Their recent results have only increased their confidence and that should serve them well in the weeks to come.
Forward János Hahn has scored twice in Paks’ last four matches to level László Bartha as the team’s leading scorer with 4 goals, but Bartha hasn’t found the net since mid-October.
Prediction: Diósgyori VTK 1-1 Paksi FC
Limping Fradi look to return to winning ways
Ferencváros (3rd) vs Gyirmót FC Gyor (12th)
at Groupama Aréna, Budapest
One might think that returning home would be a comfort to most clubs, but Ferencváros have conceded more goals on their own pitch (15) than any other club in the league. To add to their recent misery, left back Cristian Ramirez has been banned for 3 matches for stamping on an opponent in last week’s sensational derby against Vasas. Thomas Doll also received a two-match ban for his antics on the touchline and will watch Saturday’s game from the stands. Despite their defensive woes they have scored 9 goals in their last four games. They did defeat Gyirmót 1-0 away last time they met but it wasn’t anything to write home about. Doll has a strong rotation in his back line and should be able to cope without Ramirez in theory, but implementing a “fortress mentality” will get harder unless they can stop the flow of goals at home – especially against the likes of Gyor.
Gyirmót have reached the bottom with a thud because, well, they’ve been playing like a bottom team. Their last minute defeat to Újpest last week had made it five on the trot, ending Lilák’s run of six draws. They’ve conceded 8 goals in their last three and have scored just 2 in their last 5. They’re even worse on the road, scoring just 1 in their last 5 away matches.
Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Gyirmót – Fradi claim their first clean sheet at home.
Haladás seeking safe harbor to patch sinking ship
Szombathelyi Haladás (7th) vs Debreceni VSC (8th)
at Soproni Városi Stadion, Sopron
Haladás are having a bit of an identity crisis. Since their four-match winning run in the early stages of the campaign they’ve been somewhat inconsistent. They’re a team that could be kept off the score sheet and lose to Gyirmót at home one week, and then defeat Ferencváros the next. Most recently they’re without a victory in four, scoring just 3 goals and conceding 8 in that span. Bálint Gaál continued his purple patch in front of goal last week in a losing effort. He scored his fourth goal in his last five games. Haladás have only lost once at home, but Debrecen are hot on their heels and will be hoping to leapfrog them this week.
Leonel Pontes’ side come into this one as road warriors – undefeated away from home in their last four. They’ve scored 5 and conceded 5 in their last five matches. Dávid Holman continued his torrid form with stunning late leveler against MTK last week. He’s now scored four goals in his last six.
Prediction: Haladás 2-1 Debrecen – everything points to another draw here but I think Debrecen are on borrowed time away from home. Their luck runs out and Hali get the points.
Windecker goal wakes sleeping giant
Újpest FC (6th) vs Mezőkövesd-Zsory SE (5th)
at Széktói Stadion, Kecskemét
Nebojša Vignjevic’s side returns home this week with their first 3-point haul since mid-August. Jozsef Windecker’s injury time strike assured Újpest of the victory in a dramatic finish in Gyor, and should give them the spark they need to finally start reaching their potential. Újpest haven’t won at home since a 3-1 win over Gyirmót on 13 August, and Vignjevic will he looking to keep the good times rolling against Mezőkövesd on Saturday. Enis Bardhi had two assists last week, adding to his impressive offensive contribution this season. Windecker’s winner was his second goal in as many games, and it had to be encouraging for János Lázok to get back on the score sheet – his first in three games.
Mezőkövesd will be tough opposition for their hosts this week. Impressively, they have conceded just 1 goal in their last five matches. They’re also unbeaten and not scored upon in their last two away matches. Currently fifth on the table, after being as low as 11th in late September, Attila Pintér can be buoyed by his squad’s impressive recent form – a lot of which can be attributed to goalkeeper Tomáš Tujvel’s form. Since replacing Dávid Dombó at the club’s low point, Tujvel had gone 387 minutes before conceding Marko Scepovic’s equalizer against Videoton last week.
Marek Streštik’s late winner against Videoton was the forward’s first goal since 10 September but it ensured Mezőkövesd’s fourth victory in their last five.
Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Mezőkövesd – Lilák end Mezőkövesd renaissance
Vidi looking for revenge against MTK
Videoton FC (2nd) vs MTK Budapest (9th)
at Puskás Akadémia Pancho Aréna, Felcsút
Henning Berg has to be in a foul mood after watching his side fall to Mezőkövesd despite outplaying them for long stretches. Videoton are also looking to make amends for a similar kind of defeat the last time they played MTK which ended 1-0 thanks to a Sándor Torghelle header midway through the second half in mid-August.
Vidi have been spectacular at home, scoring 22 goals and picking up 16 points in 8 games. They’ve outscored their opponents 9-1 in their last two home games. Marko Scepovic has been magnificent, scoring 5 goals in his last five. They have so many weapons it’s no wonder they’ve only been kept off the score sheet just once this season.
MTK seemed to be heading toward their fifth consecutive home win last week when a late Dávid Holman strike left them with a subdued point at the New Hidegkuti Nándor Stadium. They were without striker Sándor Torghelle who was serving a one-match ban for accumulating 5 yellow cards. They needed the points at home because away days have been as dry as the Sahara Desert for them. MTK have only scored four goals are the only team without a victory away from home.
Prediction: Videoton 4-1 MTK Budapest – Berg’s boys bounce back!