NBI Round 15 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.

After a midweek rush of Magyar Kupa matches, NBI rolls on with the penultimate match of the year this week as teams jockey for position heading into the winter break. Diósgyőr, Kisvarda and Ferencváros (you heard me the first time) were all eliminated from the cup this week.

Rotated squad and a number of missing players might make this another surprising weekend in terms of results. Let’s take a look under the hood and see what’s in store for Round 15.

Saturday, 7 December

Mezőkövesd vs Diósgyőr

Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd (14:30)

Chris: Mezőkövesd survived the cup against a very good Győr side, giving a first team debut to forward Artem Kontsevoy, but fielding a strong supporting cast.  Attila Kuttor’s side drew at Puskás last week in the league to remain in the top three.  Even though they’ve “cooled down” from their red-hot start in August and September, Mezőkövesd are still without defeat in their last seven league matches.  They’ve managed to stay away from injuries to key players and can arguably boast one of the best midfields in the league with Tamas Cseri, Aleks Karnitski, and Zsombor Berecz holding everything together.

Diósgyőr decided to field a second string side against MTK in the cup this week and were unable to overturn an early goal by hosts MTK.  Not only did they crash out before the final 16, they also lost key midfielder David Márkvárt to injury and he won’t feature against Mezőkövesd. Despite having a rested first team, the absence of Márkvárt will be significant blow.  The good news is that suspended defender Dejan Karan as well as forward Mirko Ivanovski return to the lineup.  Mezőkövesd played a more difficult match than they hoped this week and that could cost them.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 1-1 Diósgyőr

Paul: Mezőkövesd play their eastern Hungarian rivals in what should be an enteraing match.  The midfield of the home side will be the difference in this match. Mezőkövesd have won their last two home matches by two goals.  Can they make it three? That’s a bit too predictable for NBI.

Diósgyőr has been up and down as usual.  The men from Miskolc are so unpredictable like wildfire.  The wildfire will flicker in and cause some concern before it is put out by a single goal.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-1 Diósgyőr

Debrecen vs Honvéd

Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen (17:00)

Chris: Debrecen’s cup match against Dorog was postponed until next week due to an unplayable pitch.  This could be a blessing in disguise as they host Honvéd this week.  Loki have been banged up with injuries this year and the match-postponement has given them a few more days to heal.  Ádám Bódi came on as a second half substitute last week, making his debut after working hard to overcome an injury.  Debrecen also get defender Ákos Kinyik back from suspension this week.  Goalkeeper Tomas Rosicky has been brilliant in place of injured starter Sandor Nagy and is likely to start again.  Their problem remains in defense and don’t let last week’s clean sheet fool you.  Zalaegerszeg were kept off the scoreboard due to their own lack of finishing rather than a stellar Honvéd back line.     

Honvéd finally came back down to earth with a thud at Kisvárda last week to end a five-match winning streak.  Kisvárda stifled Honvéd’s attack and finally broke through what had been a very stingy Honvéd back line.  Giuseppe Sannino’s side earned a comfortable 3-1 win over Monor this week with a strong starting attack.  One notable addition to the midweek cup squad was defender MacDonald Niba’s return to the lineup.  Niba has been out since Round 5 and will be a welcome addition to an already good back three.  Despite controlling the ball for a good part of the game last week, Honvéd are still lacking tactical guile to break down NBI defenses with precision.  As Lanza goes, so goes Honvéd, and Lanza was a passenger last week. 

Prediction: Debrecen 1-2 Honvéd

Paul:  Debrecen aka Loki are alive. They shocked me to life with their away win against Zalaegerszeg. Perhaps that will turn out to be the match that served as a wake up call for this young squad.

I fell into the romance of seeing Honvéd try to win five consecutive road matches. Four in a row was quite a feat for the men from Kispest. Right away they have a opportunity to begin a new streak. Here they catch a team at the wrong time and another streak begins…

Prediction:  Debrecen 2-1 Honvéd

Újpest vs Kisvárda

Illovszki Rudolf Stadion, Budapest (17:00)

Chris: Újpest were given a reprieve as their mid-week cup match was postponed due to a frozen pitch. Coming off a splendid win over Paks last week, Lilák are hoping to keep the attack flowing this week.  Robert Feczesin was astounding again but will have to become more consistent if he’s to keep Újpest moving up the table.  Defense continues to be a problem as they’ve now conceded at least two goals in five of their last six competitive matches.

Kisvárda crashed out of the cup after fielding a somewhat weaker starting lineup at Pecs. With starting goalkeeper heading back to Brazil to undergo surgery for torn cartilage in  his knee, Kisvárda will be without their heart and soul in the back this week.  21 year-old backup goalkeeper Illés Zöldesi will be making his season debut for the club.  Claudiu Bumba returned to action in the cup match but might make way for Stavros Tsoukalas who rested midweek.   

Prediction: Újpest 3-1 Kisvárda

Paul:  Újpest are showing continued good form in winning three out of their four matches.  Now home matches are a bit more different. The tough part is that the Lilak are two different sides home and away.  With that said I will make the easy choice….draw.

This match is one of clashing styles. Kisvárda, with so many foreign players, can adapt during the match depending on the formation of their opponent. They are a fun squad to watch as will this match.

Prediction:   Újpest 2-2 Kisvárda

MOL Fehérvár vs Paks

MOL Aréna Sóstó, Székesfehérvár (17:00)

Chris: Fehérvár looked a different team as won just their second league game since early October last week and scored more than two goals.  New manager Joan Carillo seems to have given them permission to enjoy the game again and now return home to face a struggling Paks side.  Fehérvár got past Szeged 1-0 in the cup this week with a somewhat second string side. Juhász and Musliu anchored the defense, and Pátkai supported Ivan Petriak through the middle but the rest of the side was rested.  They’ve lost three of their last four home games, but will be looking to make Carillo’s first game in charge back in Székesfehérvár one to remember. 

Paks made no mistake in the cup with a strong lineup which ensured a comfortable 4-0 win over Mosonmagyaróvár. Perhaps it was what was needed after falling at home last week to Újpest, equalling their highest amount of goals conceded at home this season with four.  They allowed four against Ferencváros back in late August as well.  Paks haven’t won in their last six league matches and will have their work cut out for them here.  Players who weren’t in the squad last week such as midfielder Kristóf Papp and right back Attila Osváth, started in the cup so it looks as if most players (besides the injured Laszlo Bartha) are available. 

Prediction: Fehérvár 3-1 Paks  

Paul: Vidi, my old way of calling this squad, were back to their winning ways in their resounding win over Diósgyőr. Once again, I think we see the “Carillo effect” in a match where the home side dominates with many goals and beautiful football.

Paks still have an interim manager as far as I know. Does anyone want the job? They have not won in their last five matches. Things will not get any better in this match. Could it get much worse? Yes it does unless the cold weather stops this from being a route.

Prediction:  Fehérvár 4-0 Paks

Zalaegerszeg vs Kaposvár  

ZTE Aréna, Zalaegerszeg (17:00)

Chris: Zalaegerszeg continue to be a frustrating club to watch.  With all of their good ball movement of positive play, they are still lacking the final touch to finish off all of the chances they’re creating.  Last week’s 2-0 defeat to Debrecen could have been a draw or a win if they would have finished half of what they created.  Barna Dobos’ squad did make it to the final 16 in the Magyar Kupa after a 2-1 win over Szarvasi this week.  Eduvie Ikoba was back on the score sheet for the first time since September which will hopefully be a boost to his confidence.

Kaposvár battled bravely against Ferencváros last week but eventually fell and are still on just 6 points after 14 games.  This week won’t be any easier despite having midfielder Attila Szakály back after suspension as Csaba Vachtler will be forced to watch this game from stands.  The defender picked up his fifth caution last week.  To heap on the misery, leading scorer Martin Ádám is out as well as winger Norbert Csiki – both of whom are sick and unlikely to play on Saturday.

Prediction: ZTE 2-0 Kaposvár

Paul: Zalaegerszeg is a snake bitten team but it’s time for them to throw that snake to the side and earn three points.  We can say “should have”, “could have”, “would have” but if you “should have” won, then you “would have” won the match. Zala will take the 3 points here but not easily.

Kaposvár have lost five straight matches which can be seen on paper. In reality we see a squad that enter each match and give it 100%. Last week we saw them give Fradi a tough match and a run for their money. They will give another effort in this battle of promoted squads.

Prediction:  ZTE 3-2 Kaposvár

Sunday, 8 December

Ferencváros vs Puskás Akadémia

Groupama Aréna (15:45)

Chris: Fixture congestion might just be catching up to Ferencváros as they fell 2-0 to Békéscsaba this week to end this season’s Magyar Kupa campaign.  Leandro’s first minute dismissal had them down to ten men and the NBII side took advantage.  In Fradi’s last two league contests they’ve just edged bottom sides Kaposvár and ZTE despite dominating the games, and then gave up a late goal to Espanyol in the Europa League in a game they should have wrapped up earlier.  Sergei Rebrov has made it clear that the league is where Fradi’s priorities lie, but with the lure of playing continental football in the spring still within their grasp they’ll likely continue to manage their players fitness and minutes to maximize their chances over the next couple of weeks.  

Puskás rested a number of key players but still managed a fairly comfortable 3-0 win over Dabas-Gyón in the cup.  Ezekiel Henty, Kamen Hadzhiev, and Josip Knezevic all sat this one out and Puskás still controlled the game.  Captain Roland Szolnoki will miss this game after picking up a red card in last week’s league draw against Mezőkövesd but Zsolt Hornyak’s team has confounded the league with some good results.  They’ve defeated both Fehérvár and Ferencváros earlier this season, but I think the champions will eke another close one here.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-1 Puskás

Paul: Ferencváros are on a roll and have won four of their last give matches. Their wins have not been convincing but in the end its all about earning the 3 points. This will be a match where Fradi have to work a little harder to win as their opponents are no pushovers

Last week, I recalled the upset of Puskás defeating Ferencvaros with an odd midfield crazy goal.  Crazy things in football stick in my head. I don’t see anything like that goal happening in this match.  Of course this is football where as in life anything goes. Who knows but I can’t see Puskas winning here a draw maybe (not).

Prediction:  Ferencváros 2-0 Puskás