NBI Round 14 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.

Last week we saw Honvéd come back to win their fifth straight while MOL Fehérvár tumbled into third place after a home defeat to Puskás which led to the sacking of manager Marko Nikolic. Will Joan Carillo have a successful debut in his second stint in Székesfehérvár? Have Diósgyőr turned things around? Are Paks and Kaposvár already doomed before the winter break? Can Debrecen win without defenders? Are Zalaegerszeg on the verge of a strong run? Hopefully the answers to these questions become clearer as we look ahead to Round 14.

Paul:  Chris, wait please. I’m on vacation but NBI football is not.  Our love of Hungarian football is great and I knew that my piece could not be late.  What a round 13 for players, teams and managers. I hope the players of Diósgyőr bought lotto tickets, or at the very least were given a feast by the board.  I can’t remember the last time they won in Budapest? Another very good manager for “Vidi” was fired and a old-new manager rehired.  A major announcement, I have been making my predictions based on statistics.  From this point on my choices will be from the Heart. It’s never too late to use your heart and maybe be smart?

Saturday, 30 November

Zalaegerszeg vs Debrecen

ZTE Aréna, Zalaegerszeg (15:45)

Chris: Zalaegerszeg conceded three goals in the first half against Ferencváros last week, but turned things around and came a whisker away from leveling in the second half. Their lack of points isn’t because of lack of effort.  None of their defeats have been by more than a goal.  They’ve played the top three teams in the league in the last three rounds, scoring six goals while conceding seven.  They lost at Debrecen earlier this season but should feel somewhat confident playing at home this week.  Regular center back Zoran Lesjak was missing from the lineup last week, as was left back Krisztián Tamas who has played in only two of their past six games due to injury.

Debrecen saw Kevin Varga return after his three-match ban but was unimpressive as they fell to a second consecutive defeat last week.  Goalkeeper Tomas Kosicky was the best Loki player on the pitch as he deputized for the injured Sandor Nagy.  Manager Andras Herczeg announced Nagy won’t be fit for the clash against ZTE.  Center back Ákos Kinyik will be out due to yellow card accumulation, but it looks as if winger Ádám Bódi could make his season debut after sitting out the first 12 games due to injury.  It’s more likely he’ll come on as a late substitute but the fact he’s being considered is good news for the club.  Debrecen’s defense has been their weakness and Kinyik’s absence thins out an already fragile back line.

Prediction: ZTE 2-1 Debrecen

Paul:  The stars will align in Zalaegerszeg on Saturday.    Bring on Jiminy Cricket and a wish! ZTE will win as is their due.  (Note: I have been wishing upon a star for the last 20 years)

DVSC please do not fire András Herczeg as he knows his young players!  Debrecen need to get to winter break and things will be fine. For now it’s “Frozen II” and in the Spring they will ring and click.

Prediction: ZTE 3-2 Debrecen

Puskás Akadémia vs Mezőkövesd

Pancho Aréna, Felcsút (17:00)

Chris: Puskás took advantage of a Fehérvár team in turmoil last week, scoring three goals in Székesfehérvár and exacting some revenge against them for an early season defeat at Pancho Aréna.  Adám Gyurcsó added two more goals last week to give him seven goals in his last seven matches, ending PAFC’s run of two defeats.  Zsolt Hornyák’s squad have proven they can compete among the top teams this season.  Puskás’ defense rode their luck a bit last week as Fehérvár lacked confidence despite creating some good scoring opportunities, but Mezőkövesd will be in a better frame of mind than moody Fehérvár and the Horny Boys will have to be alert.    

It was business as usual for Mezőkövesd last week as they easily dismantled Kaposvár and nullified their attack with a smothering defense. Now in second place after Fehérvár’s hiccup last week, Attila Kuttor’s side are cruising on a six-match unbeaten run playing some very efficient football.  Daniel Vadnai started at right back in place of the suspended Daniel Farkas and played one of his best games of the season.  Farkas is likely to return at right back and with Erik Silye shining on the left side it probably mean Vadnai starts on the bench again.  Mezőkövesd are one of two teams that are undefeated away from home (the other is Fehérvár).

Prediction: Puskás 1-1 Mezokovesd

Paul:  This may be the most up and down match of the week.  Both sides are entertaining to watch unless weather interferes.  Draws are so difficult to predict but I will. I love this Mezőkövesd side.   An away win could happen but a late goal makes this dramatic.

Prediction:  Puskás 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Paks vs Újpest

Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks (17:00)

Chris: Paks descent into the relegation zone continued last week as they fell apart in the final 15 minutes against Honvéd, sending them to their fourth defeat in their last five league matches.  Interim manager Gábor Osztermájer will have midfielders Kristof Papp and Norbert Könyves back from suspension this week which should bolster the squad ahead of this week’s game which pits them against another side that can score goals in a hurry.  Paks defense has not been up to standards in recent weeks and, with no one carrying the attack, their feeble back line hasn’t kept them in close games like in years past.

Újpest manager Nebojsa Vignjevic’s frustration was palpable last week as he saw his side dominate yet lose to two first half goals that could have been avoided.  Lilák’s domination was at its zenith in the second half and they still couldn’t find the back of the net.  It was a game they could have won 3-1 or 3-2 but instead were held without a goal.  Újpest have the capacity to beat any team in the league depending on which team shows up mentally.  Captain Robert Litauszki returned to the side last week but it was obvious he wasn’t back to full match fitness. He’ll only improve in the weeks to come but will that be enough for this week?  Robert Feczesin, Donát Zsótér, and Obinna’s misses last week need to be converted. If they can keep creating the chances it’s likely they’ll be successful in Paks.   

Prediction: Paks 1-2 Újpest

Paul:  Everything says Paks will lose this match. And they should. Do they even have a permanent manager?  Despite the odds, this is my “upset of the week!”

Your guess here is as good or most likely better than mine.  Újpest have to be better than what they are showing on the pitch.  Their manager deserves so much more . . . hang in there Nebojsa!

Prediction:   Paks 2-1 Újpest

Kisvárda vs Honvéd

Várkerti Stadion, Kisvárda (17:00)

Chris: Kisvárda returned to winning ways at home against Debrecen last week. Of course it was Anton Kravchenko who led the way with a first half goal increasing his stature as one of the better all-around defenders in the league.  Kisvárda suffered two blows last week, however, as rising box-to-box midfielder Claudiu Bumba and defender Rados Protic both hobbled off injured and are questionable for Saturday’s match.  Kisvárda took advantage of Honvéd’s early-season goalkeeper crisis, putting three past backup András Horvath in a win in Budapest back in August.  This will be a tougher test despite being at home as they face a positive Kispest.

There is no hotter team in Hungary right now than Honvéd.  Giuseppe Sannino’s continues to win whether he’s on the bench or not.  The fiery Italian supremo spent another match in the stands last week due to a compiling of touchline infractions.  Despite all of that, Honvéd turned around a late 1-0 deficit and came from behind to defeat Paks.  Davide Lanzafame score his second penalty of the season to tie the league lead in scoring (7 goals), and Naser Aliji scored his first of the season for the winner.  Defender Bence Batik was removed early in the second half due to injury and was replaced by David Kálnoki-Kis who played his heart out for 41 minutes.  Even so, this isn’t a team that looks dangerous week-in and week-out. They’re riding their luck a bit and I think it runs out this week.

Prediction: Kisvárda 2-1 Honvéd  

Paul: I will check in here at times just for the Kisvarda supporters as their drumming and spirit is small town football at its best.  Kisvárda continue to be a side of a great many nationalities. Who else has Greek and Portuguese players with a very good Romanian of good skill mixed in?

Honvéd enjoy football outside of Budapest with their recent success.  Something has to give or will it? Lanzafame may have a goal but a card to go with it?

Prediction:  Kisvárda 1-2 Honvéd

Diósgyőr vs MOL Fehérvár  

Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc (17:00)

Chris: Diósgyőr have now won three of their last four and all is looking up for the team from Miskolc.  Haris Tabakovic is back and he opened his account last week in a win against Újpest.  Debrecen’s leader scorer two seasons ago, Tabakovic could be a key ingredient to Diósgyőr’s turnaround this season.  After a poor start they are now in 9th place, four points clear of trouble.  Forward Mirko Ivanovski is available after serving his one-match ban, but Serheii Shestakov and Tabakovic’s performance last week might make it difficult for him to return.  Manager Tamás Feczkó will return to the dugout after sitting in the stands last week.

A disappointing defeat at home to Puskás spelled curtains for manager Marko Nikolic.  The Serbian had led Vidi to a championship in 2018 and into the the Europa League group stages last season, but their early exit in Europe this summer and recent slide in league form was enough for the club.  He was replaced this week by former Vidi manager Joan Carillo, who won the championship with the club in 2015.  This is a talented side that has reportedly been underperforming because a poor clubhouse atmosphere.  The arrival of Carillo is sure to bring some hope and fresh air to a side that was stagnating in both attacking creativity and defensive resilience.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 2-3 Fehérvár

Paul: Diósgyőr are back home after their great Budapest win.  With the 12th man in force they will have another Spanish manager at Miskolc but sorry girls it will not be Fernando.

Another new manager for Fehervar, though this time it was done not after but during the season.  An new-old manager should bring some salsa picante to the side, and he will. All indicators point to an away win so I’m going for my “upset of the week #2″ here.

Prediction:  Diósgyőr 1-0 Fehérvár

Sunday, 1 December

Kaposvár vs Ferencváros

Rákóczi Stadion, Kaposvár (18:00)

Chris: Kaposvár were shut down by Mezőkövesd last week and they really seem a step or two behind the level needed to really compete for survival in NBI. With captain Attila Szakály suspended for this game and their recent run of form it would take a miracle for them to get something against the champions.  

Ferencváros are in first place with a game in hand but are also coming off a tough result against Espanyol in the Europa League.  After missing a penalty and then going ahead late at Groupama on Thursday, they conceded a late, late goal to drop two vital points in their group.  Playing lowly Kaposvár will be a welcome respite for a team that’s playing two competitive matches per week.  Fradi have conceded in six of their last seven matches which means they’re not without their weaknesses, but they shouldn’t have much trouble in Kaposvár.  It’s likely David Gróf will get the start in goal and there could be some other rotation with a Magyar Kupa match next week.

Prediction: Kaposvár 1-3 Ferencváros

Paul: Stranger things have happened!  Remember PAFC upsetting Fradi with that goal from half field?  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.

Ferencváros played a very exciting match against Espanyol.  They could have and should have won. But if they should’ve won they would have won.  That match is done, so now onto more fun. Will they have any gas left?

Prediction:  Kaposvár 1-2 Ferencváros