NB1 – Round 19 preview

Paul Treso and Chris Barrett  preview the NB1 fixtures for the final match day of the year. As the teams prepare for long winter’s nap (and usual transfer window shakeup), our preview duo will attempt to give the casual (and not-so-casual) NB1 observer some insight into this weekend’s action.

Paul: Chris, it’s beginning to look like Christmas. Not a creature was stirring, not even Marton Eppel in front of the goal… but I’ll stop.   Hungarian football fields are becoming unplayable if they’re not already, and players are ready to leave the NB1 for more promising opportunities or vacation abroad.   But we remain, and once again we’ll attempt to pick these impossible Hungarian football matches.  Goodbye 2017 and may 2018 be a better Hungarian football year please.

Chris: I agree Paul. Hungarian football seems to be in quite the state of turmoil this season. With the National Team’s run of meek efforts and managerial change, the plethora of managerial changes in the league and the ongoing stadium carousel – it’s not a wonder that everyone’s head is spinning! Add the recent shenanigans in the MLSz and the uncovering of some questionable stewardship of the future of referees in the country and the spin reaches a dizzying velocity. Hopefully we will see improvement and stability on all fronts in 2018.

Saturday, 9 December
Balmazújváros vs Mezőkövesd
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Paul: The “newbies” are playing with both heart and effort.  Let’s hope in the new year, more heart and effort will be seen on a consistent basis from most NB1 clubs.
The “Force” is with Ferenc Horvath as he invoked Star Wars in last week’s post game comments.  It never hurts to do so in December with a new movie upon us.
Too early to say that the winner stays in and the loser exits?
Prediction: Balmazújváros 2-1 Mezőkövesd

Chris: Balmazújváros are on a four-match unbeaten run despite conceding two late goals at Újpest last week. After a early season run of six defeats in seven games they’ll need every point to keep their noses above the relegation line. They’ve scored 2 goals in six of their last seven, but they’ve needed every goal as they’ve conceded ten in that same span.
Mezőkövesd are propping up the table but have also had a string of encouraging results lately. Two draws and a win in their last three isn’t ripping up trees but it has kept them within touching distance of the safety line.
These two played to a 2-2 draw earlier this season. Mezo’s recent away form (DDLW) coupled with Balmaz’s leaky defense should provide an exciting match.
Prediction: Balmazújváros 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Honvéd vs Paks
at Bozsik Jozsef Stadion, Budapest

Paul: Who knows what will happen to Honved in the winter?  The fall has been a dud though, but the football is always interesting.  What a difference a half a year and a change in coaches makes?  Paks are not the same team away as home.  Add the two together with a cold, wet pitch, equals a draw.
Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Paks

Chris: I agree that Honvéd are in the doldrums and the winter break can’t come fast enough for Erik van der Meer’s Kispest side. Three defeats on the bounce for the champions isn’t sitting well with the Honvéd faithful. Their frustration at their lack of finishing in last week’s defeat at Debrecen was on display, but I think they have the quality to turn things around this week.
Paks defeated lowly Vasas last week after a couple of tough defeats against the top two and they’ll be looking to take advantage of a team that’s in disarray. János Szabó returned to the spotlight against Vasas scoring twice in their 3-1 win on Saturday. They’ll need someone to step up in attack again if they’re going to get anything out of this one.
Look for Davide Lanzafame to be back in the goals after this one.

Prediction: Honvéd 3-1 Paks

Puskás Akadémia vs Újpest
at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul: The paper says these two teams are headed in opposite directions and Ujpest will win. Murphy’s Law says Puskás will blow up and win 5-0.  Murphy’s Law has hurt me many times, but I’ll take the paper over Murphy and predict Újpest continue their run up the table and cap a strong end to the year.
Prediction: Puskás 2-3 Újpest

Chris: Puskás’ Josip Knezevic has been a revelation this season with 10 goals in 16 appearances but he missed last week’s defeat against Haladás. His return will only help their cause at home this week against Újpest. This should be another wild one as Puskás have conceded 9 in their last four.
Lilák are unbeaten in their last five and have won their last two away games. Despite losing at home against Puskás in September they have been in fairly good form since then. Soma Novothny has scored four in their last two game (including two penalties last week) and overall Nebojsa Vignjevic’s squad have looked much better in attack but I’m afraid another draw looks on the cards here as neither team have the killer instinct.
Prediction: Puskás 2-2 Újpest

Haladás vs Videoton
at Szombathelyi Haladás Stadion, Szombathelyi

Paul: Hali plays a second top team in their new arena.   Two weeks ago it was FTC and Vidi will be the second  top 2 team to fall in a full house arena.  Vidi will stumble into the winter with Nikolic promising new signings while Hali will enter the winter full of hope, a new coach, and finally a new place to call home.
Prediction: Haladás 3-1 Videoton

Chris: Haladás has been in tip-top form over the last two weeks and it’s been encouraging to see Péter Halmosi captaining the side during their recent upturn. It’s true they’re heading back to their new stadium where they dispatched Ferencváros a fortnight ago, but I can’t see them keeping up this form against a team with a point to prove.
Videoton lost for just the second time this season last week in a heated battle against fellow title-chasers Ferencváros, but taking on this week will be like trying to handle a wounded animal. Expect them to lash out and make this on interesting. Danko Lazovic seems to be spending more time in the acting studio than the training room but he’s still making things happen in attack with four goals and two assists in his last four appearances. It was unthinkable, however, that he didn’t get a yellow card for simulation last week, especially on a team that has collected 53 cautions already this season.
I’m banking on Videoton to bounce back this week.
Prediction: Haladás 0-2 Videoton

Diósgyor vs Debrecen
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

Paul: Diosgyor still have no home so why not play the match in Mezőkövesd for this battle of Eastern Hungarian teams?  Bodog’s boys are distracted and limping into the winter while Loki are the surprise team of the Fall.
Look for Loki to continue to play their attractive brand of football and this game would be ugly if played in any other time than the Winter.
Prediction: Diósgyor 1-2 Debrecen

Chris: Diósgyor got their first point in four games last week but they’ve only scored twice in that span which has to be worrying to manager Tamás Bódog. Playing without a home all season hasn’t been kind to them and they’ll really need to pick themselves up to match Debrecen who has won two very impressive games in the last two weeks. A 5-1 dismantling of Vasas two weeks ago paired with a brave 1-0 victory over the champions has them with tails up in this Eastern derby. I’d love to go with the fancied side here but this one has a Hungarian twist written all over it. David Forgacs has been moving into a more attacking role out wide and Roland Ugrai is due. Watch out Debrecen! DVTK are due!
Prediction: Diósgyor 3-2 Debrecen

Vasas vs Ferencváros
at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest (TV: M4 Sport)

Paul: At the start of this season this would have been a great match to conclude the year. Vasas have disappointed so far, but I am still  a fan of Oenning.  Sadly win or lose, Vasas will say “Auf Wiedersehen.”  No ( nem, nicht) please do not bring back the long-time NB1 retread, Meszoly! That’s not a good idea with a young, still promising club.
Fradi is playing well on all cylinders. Any other team and a let down after the Vidi win would be possible, but not here.
Prediction: Vasas 1-2 Ferencváros

Chris: Vasas are like a car accident on the highway. Despite wanting to get past the wreckage and get on with your life you are drawn to the carnage because it demands to be noticed. There! That’s Vasas’ season summed up thus far. They’ve conceded 11 goals in their last three and that doesn’t bode well. Sure, they’ve been better at home but they were hammered by Ferencváros in their first meeting this season.
Fradi is brimming with confidence after a solid win against Videoton last week. They are bristling with talent and have been dominant in most league games this term. Perhaps Thomas Doll is getting things right? It’s about time.
Prediction: Vasas 1-2 Ferencváros