NBI Round 13 Preview

Welcome to HungarianFootball.com’s weekly preview where Chris Barrett and Paul Treso take a look at each game and give their predictions throughout the season.

Paul:  Chris, we are back after a short vacation.  I feel great! I spend a good amount of time on this column per week, anywhere from 5 to 120 minutes.  I do countless, endless hours of research pouring over statistics, reading about Hungarian football in Hungarian, watching Gol TV etc.  The NUMBER 13 has a special place in my heart. I work in Room 13 after breaking the curse of the room 13. My daughter is 13 and she was born on April the 13th.  I am excited about Round 13 and am not at all superstitious. Wouldn’t it have been fun to have matches on Friday the 13th? I miss Hungarian football on Friday.

Chris: Well Paul that’s quite the opening statement. It’s also been 13 days since we last watched NBI. That being said, let’s get to the previews.

Saturday, 23 November

Honvéd vs Paks

Új Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest (17:00)

Chris: Four wins on the trot have lifted Honvéd up from the depths in NBI.  What’s even more impressive has been their defense.  In their first five games they conceded an average of close to 3 goals per game.  Since mid-September they’ve only conceded three goals in seven games, and just one in their last five (including an impressive goalless draw against Ferencváros).  They’ll be without their manager Giuseppe Sannino for a second time this season as he was sent off by referee Csaba Pintér in their 1-0 win over Diósgyőr last round.  Patrick Ikenne-King remains injured, but Honvéd’s three-back defense with Lovric, Batik, and Kamber look almost impenetrable in tandem with Tujvel in goal.

Paks interim manager Gábor Osztermájer must be dreading the trip to the capital this week as in-form Honvéd look to exact some revenge on their early-season 3-1 defeat at Fehérvári úti. Paks will be missing two key players: Kristof Papp, who was sent off in their last match against Kisvárda, and Norbert Könyves who is suspended after collecting five yellow cards. The loss of both midfielders will take bite out of the heart of their midfield against a solid Kispest attack.  Dániel Böde’s return hasn’t sparked the Paks’ attack, and János Hahn (despite some good effort) hasn’t scored in 7 games.  Mohamed Remili hasn’t been available in a couple of weeks due to injury but is reported to be available against Honvéd.

Prediction: Honvéd 3-1 Paks

Paul:  Four straight wins equal for the homeless “home side”.  Who would have imagined the transformation of this team? The Honvéd train moves on, but it seems too easy and that makes me a bit queasy about this match.

Paks are the side that everyone in NBI would like to play.  They are in major disarray and can’t find a manager who can get them to play.   It won’t happen today as no managers to speak of ,even the jobless, are anywhere to be found.

Prediction: Honvéd 3-1 Paks

MOL Fehérvár vs Puskás Akadémia

MOL Aréna Sóstó, Székesfehérvár (17:00)

Chris: Fehérvár need a strong win after a trio of unimpressive results.  A defeat against Fradi, followed by a draw at ZTE and then an efficient (if not comprehensive) win against lowly Kaposvár who were without their first choice keeper and playing with only ten men from 20 minutes.  Marko Nikolics should have everyone but Szabolcs Huszti available to him and they’ll be looking to return to their early season dominance against Puskás who they already beat in Felcsút back in August.   

Puskás return from the international break on the back of two consecutive home defeats.  Zsolt Hornyák’s squad has actually been more successful away from home during the first third of the season and will take a four-match away unbeaten run into Székesfehérvár. Adám Gyurcsó has scored five goals in his last six games, and Ezekiel Henty looks to back in Hornyák’s good graces with two in his last three. Their problem has been in defense.  After an impressive run where they only allowed five goals in six games, they’ve shipped five in their two.  If they can return to keeping it tight in their own end they might be able to nick a point against their old tenants.

Prediction: Fehérvár 2-2 Puskás

Paul:  A battle between distant cousins that once shared the same home.  Something is not quite right in Fehérvár. Perhaps the return of team captain, Roland Juhász, can ignite Fehérvár to regain their opening season form?  The week off does the side well and they win uncomfortably at home which is a great improvement to losing two of their last three home clashes.

Puskás are in the fourth position on the table.  I repeat this is not a lie. It is so hard to write that first line, but it’s true.   This about where I would have predicted them in the pre-season. Recently, they have been a very streaky side, losing their last two after winning their last two before that.  This match could go any way but gaining a point is the most one can expect of Puskás.

Prediction:  Fehérvár 3-1 Puskás

Mezőkövesd vs Kaposvár

Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd (17:00)

Chris: Mezőkövesd drew their second game in a row at Zalaegerszeg and extended their unbeaten run to five games.  Attila Kuttor’s team has lost just twice this season – interestingly enough, both times they were defeated they conceded more than one goal.  This has been a terrific run for Mezőkövesd which has been highlighted by the rise of goalkeeper Peter Szappanos whose average InStat rating (256) is third best in the league. They will be without the services of right back Daniel Farkas who was sent off last match and are still unsure of the fitness of their other right back Gábor Eperjesi.

Kaposvár didn’t rest fully over the international break as they played Szolnok to a 1-1 draw.  The encouraging news is that goalkeeper Krisztián Pogacsics played 45 minutes and looks to be back to fitness – the bad news is that he will be suspended this week after being sent off after 22 minutes.  This, of course, means Balázs Slatka will take over custodial duties.  Kaposvár have lost their last five games and ten of twelve this season.  They’ve been held goalless in six of their defeats including three of their last five.  Ironically both of their wins are clean sheets.  Mezőkövesd have the second best home defense, conceding just five goals in six games.  That doesn’t bode well for a Kaposvár attack that has scored just four goals away from home all season.   

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-0 Kaposvár

Paul:  Mezőkövesd has to be the biggest suprise so far in the NBI.  They find themselves in the third spot which is something to be proud of so far after 12 rounds.  They play very attractive football. I like the service of their midfield. Business as usual for the M.I.B.

Kaposvár are proving that the first division may be a bit too much for them.  I cannot fault them for their effort. The “little engine” has come close many times to the three points but will have to travel a bit more to find that goal.

Prediction:   Mezőkövesd 2-0 Kaposvár

Kisvárda vs Debrecen

Várkerti Stadion, Kisvárda (17:00)

Chris: Kisvárda painfully conceded a late goal against ten-man Paks last round to enter the international break with disappointment. They have won just one of their past games after starting the season winning three of their first four.  This is a team that’s in need of a kick start.  Forward Patrik Tischler came on as a substitute in their 2-0 defeat against Romanian side CFR Cluj in a friendly last week which means he might be available for selection on Saturday.  The player to watch is centre back Anton Kravchenko.  The Ukrainian defender has been Kisvárda’s best player all season but didn’t play at all against Cluj.  Neither he nor Claudiu Bumba traveled with the team to Romania last week.

Debrecen will be glad to have Kevin Varga back in the squad after finishing his three-match ban.  They won one and lost two without Varga, but last round’s 6-1 defeat at the hands of Ferencváros at home was the low point of their season so far.  They actually matched Fradi very well in the first half and were unlucky to be down 2-0 at half, but after Márk Szécsi was replaced a halftime, and goalkeeper Sandor Nagy left the game (both via injury) it was as if the fight left them for good.  Backup goalkeeper Tomas Kosicky actually made some key saves, but the defense fell apart and the rest is history. There are a lot of “ifs” for Loki on Saturday and I think this will be a difficult game for them.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-2 Debrecen  

Paul:  Kisvárda drew last week against Paks but in reality they should be penalized two points for not getting the job done, and not beating a side when they are down.  This is somewhat of a Eastern Hungarian derby and could have a good atmosphere. Must this match be predicted?

The time off hopefully  came at the right time for Debrecen after their Fradi fiasco.  The club has to be hoping to somehow limp into the winter break, get healthy and make some useful signings.   Three losses in a row, but a solid point here is something I can endorse..

Prediction:  Kisvárda 2-2 Debrecen

Újpest vs Diósgyőr  

Illovszky Rudolf Stadion, Budapest (19:30)

Chris: Újpest have flipped the script from last season and are now scoring goals like they’re going out of style.  Six goals in their last two matches have seen them outscore both Kaposvár and Puskás in a bid to return to the podium chase.  Róbert Feczesin’s two goals against PAFC has him atop the scoring charts for Lilák.  Nebojsa Vignević has to be happy with his side’s recent results but his back line and goalkeeping situation is still a concern.  Újpest played NBII side Vasas over the break and won 4-3 with Márk Koszta scoring twice.  The three goals conceded weren’t ideal, however.

Diósgyőr’s two-game winning streak came to an end against the resurgent Honvéd in Round 12.  Tamás Feczkó’s side will be without forward Mirko Ivanovski who was sent off in the last game.  Feczkó himself will be absent on the bench as he was sent off in the closing moments as well. Diósgyőr will also be without key defender Dejan Karan who has collected five yellow cards.  Rui Pedro hobbled off after 66 minutes against Honvéd and it’s likely his availability will be a game-time decision.  Miskolc’s attack goes through winger Sergiy Shestakov who should be able to create some chances against Liláks suddenly loose back line, but the absence of Karan should be a cause of concern against a confident Újpest attack.

Prediction: Újpest 3-1 Diósgyőr

Paul: Újpest have won their last two matches but on the road if truth be told.  They have no home but their fans are well travelled. They should a little battle before scoring two goals total.

A second straight Budapest match for Diósgyőr from the Eastern Hungarian city of Miskolc.  Diósgyőr do not play well in Budapest.  It is a bit of a ride truth be told. I wonder when they last won in Budapest, maybe Chris will know?  For now a win is a no go.

Prediction:  Újpest 2-0 Diósgyőr

Sunday, 24 November

Ferencváros vs Zalaegerszeg

Nagyerdei Aréna, Debrecen (18:00)

Chris: Ferencváros entered the international break on the highest of notes as they dismantled Debrecen 6-1 at Nagyerdei Stadion.  With their international players surviving the break without injury they’ll be looking to take that momentum into the final few games before the winter break.  Tokmac Chol Nguen, Isael, and Roland Varga were rampant in the game against Debrecen, and backup keeper Dávid Gróf made some quality saves in his first stand-out performance since joining the club this summer.  With an important Europa League match coming up on Thursday their might be some rotation but, as we’ve seen all season, this Fradi squad has depth for days.  

Zalaegerszeg recorded their third draw in a row last round.  If it wasn’t for Peter Szappanos’ heroic penalty saves they could have defeated Mezőkövesd but it wasn’t to be.  Barna Dobos’ side has only lost once in their past six and have risen out of the relegation zone for the time being.  They were minutes away from defeating Ferencváros at home earlier this season but lost their concentration late one.  This has been a common occurrence for ZTE and, despite their organization and strong will, they will likely struggle at Groupama on Sunday.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 ZTE

Paul: Ferencváros broke out of their offenisve drought and put six in the back of the next at Debrecen.   A match after a high scoring one is always a concern. Did they leave those goals in Debrecen or is it a pattern?  

Zalaegerszeg have to be the unluckiest side in the NBI.  They have drawn in their last three matches and are playing decent football.  All this drama and they are in the relegation zone. I will not not call for a fourth.

Prediction:  Ferencváros 3-0 ZTE