NBI – Round 21 preview

Last week we welcomed NBI football back into our lives and it didn’t disappoint. The plot thickened at the top of the table as Ferencváros fell further behind the leading pack. Videoton easily brushed aside Újpest as Fradi dropped points at Debrecen heaping more pressure on the champions. With Vasas’s match against Haladás postponed it was up to Honvéd to keep pace at the top and that they did, albeit unimpressively. Join us this week in witnessing the drama unfold which will include a mouthwatering tie between champions Ferencváros and league pacesetters Videoton. Victory for Fradi could signal a positive turn in their fortunes while defeat could see them drop as far as fifth and springboard Vidi into a stronger pole position at the top.

Budapest Honvéd (2nd) vs Debrecen (9th)

at Bozsik József Stadion

Marco Rossi’s side continued their blitz through the league with an important 2-1 win over MTK last week, making it six victories in their last seven matches. It was a solid result at a place that had been difficult for other teams to pick up points recently. MTK hadn’t lost at home since early August, and Márton Eppel’s second half penalty ended that streak and allowed Honvéd to keep in stride with Videoton at the top. Davide Lanzafame looked energetic, taking five shots and scoring his first league goal since early November. George Ikenne-King was also impressive. His pace and industry on the wing opened up opportunities for his teammates throughout the game. Honvéd have the makings of a championship side and if they can continue to take maximum points against the lower sides they will be in the hunt as May approaches. Since their lost to Ferencváros in round 13 they’ve quietly risen from fifth place to sharing the spotlight at the top of the table.
Debrecen gave Ferencváros a rude awakening last week as they stifled the champions’ newly-stocked team in a goalless draw at Nagyerdei Stadion. Goalkeeper Branislav Danilovic was impressive in goal for Leonel Pontes’ side, registering their first clean sheet in five games. The problem for Debrecen, however, continues to be the lack of a pure goal-scorer. Dávid Holman and Frank Feltscher showed flashes of an attack but they never really looked like scoring last week.
Honvéd have scored in every game since a goalless draw against Gyirmót back on 25 August. One just might be enough here. It was all they needed in round 10 when Lanzafame scored the only goal after just six minutes in a 1-0 win and, with the way Debrecen has struggled in front of the goal in recent weeks, the hosts should pick up another 3 points here.

Prediction: Budapest Honvéd 2-0 Debrecen

Key facts:
– The last three contests between these two clubs have been home matches for Debrecen and they’ve been kept off the scoresheet in each.
– Honvéd haven’t won at home against Debrecen since 2010
-The penalty spot has been a friend to Honvéd as they lead the league with 9 awarded to them (all converted) and just one against.
– Debrecen have scored one goal in their last six matches
– Honvéd have conceded just 3 goals in their last five home matches

Diósgyor (10th) vs MTK Budapest (11th)

at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

What a crazy season it’s been in terms of stadium changes alone! Diósgyor suffered at the hands of Mezőkövesd last week and now return to the scene of the ‘crime’ to host MTK at the Városi Stadion. “Home” has been a nebulous place for Ferenc Horváth’s squad since they moved out of their regular stadium at the end of October. But they’ve done well in games at Városi, winning all three as the ‘home’ team so far. Against Mezo, Roland Ugrai’s dismissal before the break put them on the back foot early and they never recovered. There was very little to see in Horváth’s squad that was positive but they did play down a man for 54 minutes.
They’ll take on MTK who are the only team in the league to have yet to win away from home all season. MTK were cruelly handed their first home defeat last week against Honvéd. Playing with only ten men after Sándor Torghelle was sent off, they were sunk when Dániel Vadnai’s challenge was adjudged to be too harsh on Davide Lanzafame. Márton Eppel ended any hopes of a point when he converted from the spot for Honvéd with just 13 minutes remaining. Despite the impressive play of teenage midfielder Bálint Vogyicska, Zsolt Tamási’s side will be hurt with the loss of Torghelle up front. New-signing Yuri Kolomoets came on as a second half substitute last week and was mostly anonymous, though, one could argue he was just getting his feet wet and had little time to make an impact. For MTK it’s going to be difficult to win without a competent attack. They haven’t scored more than one goal in a league game since mid-October – four of six coming from Torghelle.
These two teams’ last meeting ended in a 1-0 victory for MTK in Budapest with Torghelle in the lineup but Patrik Poór getting the winner. Away from home it’s going to be difficult for MTK and with Diósgyor’s recent record as hosts at Városi Stadion I think they’ll have the edge here.

Prediction: Diósgyor 1-0 MTK Budapest

Key facts:
– Diósgyor haven’t lost to MTK at home since 2010
– MTK are the only league team that hasn’t won’t a game in their travels this season
– Diósgyor have won their last four home games in all competitions and have conceded just once in that span.

Paks (8th) vs Mezőkövesd (5th)

at Fehérvári úti stadion

This will be one of the more interesting games of the round and should garner a lot of attention. Paks are a calculating juggernaut who have refused to lose at their home ground. They are, in fact, the only team remaining in NBI who have yet to taste defeat in front of their home support.
They’ve ground out 7 draws and managed 3 victories in their ten games there, allowing a league lowest 6 goals. The didn’t look impressive last week in a goalless draw against Gyirmót who, despite propping up the table, created most of the chances and should have grabbed a winner on at least two occasions. Paks are another team at home, though, and should provide a stern test for Mezőkövesd.
On that note, a 3-0 win over Diósgyor was just what new Mezőkövesd boss Tomislav Sivic needed to keep the momentum going. They’ve been unstoppable at home and have found a way to get results on the road as well. Astonishingly, they’ve only had one defeat in their last nine games and their on the verge of overtaking Ferencváros in fourth place. Belá Balogh scored on his debut last week and Lazar Veselinovic came a hair’s breadth away from following suit. A team that’s succeeding with Ulysse Diallo on the bench is a formidable foe, but until someone can take down Paks in their own castle, it’s difficult to bet against them.

Prediction: Paks 1-1 Mezőkövesd

Key facts:
– Paks are the only remaining undefeated team at home in the league this season.
– Mezőkövesd have never defeated Paks in a competitive fixture

Haladás (7th) vs Újpest (6th)

at Káposztás utcai Stadion, Sopron

Haladás have been chomping at the bit to get back into action after their match against Vasas was postponed last week. They’ll be looking forward to seeing how their new attack will turn out with the absence of Balint Gaál up front. Géza Mészöly will probably look to new wingers Karol Mészaros and Funsho Bamgboye to spread the attack which may mean aging captain Péter Halmosi will feel his time is coming to a close at the club with the arrival of fresh talent. Target man, David Williams should be injury-free and ready to take Gaál’s spot up front which could tip the scales for Hali either way depending whether he’s in form or not.
Nebojša Vignjevic was visibly upset after their 5-1 defeat at Videoton last week but handled it with class. It was obvious he wasn’t happy with some of the officiating. They were second best on the day but didn’t deserve a thrashing. Souleymane Diarra’s antics and dismissal set the stage for a disappointing and lethargic final 25 minutes which Ūjpest’s defense was exposed and brutalized. Despite Lilák going up early, they continued the same storyline we’ve seen with them all season – they’re unable to hold a lead. I think Vignjevic will change a few things this week. They certainly missed the injured Jonathan Heris in the back, and József Windecker’s deliveries from midfield. Much will depend on how the team responds from this setback.

Prediction: Haladás 1-1 Újpest

Key facts:
– Újpest haven’t lost at Haladás in their last three trips, winning two.
– Haladás have score one goal in each of their last six games (Bálint Gaál scored five of them)
– Újpest’s defeat at Videoton last week was their first defeat in their last 11 league games

Vasas (3rd) vs Gyirmót (12th)

at Szusza Ferenc Stadium

Vasas dropped from the top spot for the first time since early August, but only because they didn’t have the chance to keep pace last week. Locked and loaded after they winter break, Vasas were ready to continue their fight for the top spot in the league when their fixture was cancelled due to poor pitch conditions. They’ll actually be in a better situation to start off on the right foot facing Gyirmót who have been the whipping boys of NBI lately. Vasas’ addition of Balint Gaál up front will only make them better and they have managed to keep the heart of the team that’s gotten them to where they are. Gyirmót did manage to beat them 1-0 in their first meeting this season so there will be some revenge in the mix here as well.
Gyirmót can be bolstered by a profitable performance last week as they grabbed just their first point in nine games. They still haven’t managed to find the back of the net but they kept their first clean sheet since late September thanks in part to the work of new goalkeeper Oleksandr Nad (from Honvéd). Manager István Urbányi got a good look at new striker Bebeto who exhibited a bit of flair which is a rare occurrence in Gyirmót football. Unfortunately they’ll be lining up against a Vasas team that’s rested and ready and I can’t see them creating too much problems for this season’s Cinderella story.

Prediction: Vasas 3-0 Gyirmót

Key facts:
– Gyirmót have scored a league lowest 8 goals so far this season.
– Vasas have only been defeated once at home this season.
– Vasas have defeated Gyirmót in their only two competitive home matches

Ferencváros (4th) vs Videoton (1st)

at Groupama Aréna

Is it too early to say that this is the ‘game of the season’ yet? Ferencváros slogged out of the gate last week with a lethargic performance against a side they should have easily dispatched. It’s true that they created chances and if not for the stellar goalkeeping of Branislav Danilovic they might have escaped with a win. But even talking in those terms is an indication at how far Fradi have fallen. The side Thomas Doll has assembled shouldn’t be “escaping” from anything – especially against a team like Debrecen. Perhaps things will be different as they return home this week. However, they’ve only won half of their games at Groupama and have conceded the most goals at home than any team in the league so far (16). That has to be music to the ears of their opponents this week who just put 5 past a fairly good team in Újpest. There is much settling that needs to occur with this club who added no less than 7 players in the latest transfer window.
For Videoton they’re flying high after a great result last week. Michael Oenning’s only job will be to keep his side’s feet on the ground as they step onto the pitch at the Groupama. Danko Lazovic and Marko Scepovic should be salivating at the chance to play Fradi in a season where they’ve seen some wide open games at home. These two clubs’ last few meeting have been quite conservative affairs with just 8 goals scored between them in their last five contests. This could be a very entertaining match to end the day with and there could be some goals in this one, but in the end I think Fradi will somehow pull it out in a wild one.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-2 Videoton

Key facts:
– Ferencváros have scored 3 or more goals at home this season five times
– Only one team has scored more than two goals against Ferencváros this season – Újpest (3)
– Videoton have one just one of their last five away games

Follow me on Twitter – @crusader120