NBI Round 16 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.

This is the last round before the winter break and the table has begun to tighten up. Recent results have proven that even the top teams have chinks in their armor and can be beaten on any given day.

Saturday also features one more Budapest derby before the end of the year as Honvéd play host to Újpest in what should be an entertaining contest.

Saturday, 14 December

Paks vs Mezőkövesd

Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks (17:00)

Chris: Paks shocked NBI last week with a 2-0 win over Fehérvár in Székesfehérvár.  It wasn’t an “excuse me” win either as they took advantage of Fehérvár’s vapid defense.  It was their first win since early October and second clean sheet win (the first was at Mezőkövesd in late August).  Paks have won only two of seven home games this season and have not shown much consistency despite some above average talent in their squad.

Mezőkövesd were held goalless for just the third time last week despite dominating Diósgyőr at home.  It was a game that was highlighted by the play of Tamas Cseri once again, but forwards Budu Zivzivadze and Daniel Nagy misfired leading to just their third defeat of the campaign.  This week they’ll be without the services of midfielder Zsombor Berecz and defender Matija Katanec to suspension – both of whom who have played almost every minute this season so far.  Manager Attila Kuttor has balanced his team well this season and should rebound with a more clinical performance here.

Prediction: Paks 1-2 Mezőkövesd

Paul: Ladies and gentlemen, Paks are alive after being missing in action.  I dare say in the upset of the season, the men of Paks defeated Fehérvár away to announce that they have not given up on the season.  Paks will not go down quietly and will battle to remain in the NBI.   Hopefully they will make it excitng as Haladás last season. Yes a good number of “if’s.”  The task doesn’t get any easier this week. “Upset of the week.”

Unlike Paks, Mezőkövesd were the victims of an upset loss, this time to Diósgyőr. Go figure?  I cannot gauge this side at all. They seem to do the opposite of what I predict though I have no data to prove this just my vague memory.  No matter what happens in this match, it has been a great 1st half of the season for Mezőkövesd. Richárd Guzmics is ready to join the side in the winter and the side are in for an exciting Spring 2020.

Prediction: Paks 2-1 Mezőkövesd

Kisvárda vs MOL Fehérvár

Várkert Stadion, Kisvára (17:00)

Chris: Kisvárda felt the absence of goalkeeper Felipe in a narrow defeat at Újpest last week. It was their first defeat in four games and they looked out of ideas going forward. There’s something about the Brazilian goalkeeper’s presence behind their back line that bolsters the defenders’ efforts and they will have a tougher time against at team like Fehérvár.     

Fehérvár missed a perfect opportunity to gain some points against the champions but laid an egg at home to Paks.  They’ll be looking to rebound with a good effort here and should be able to return to winning ways as long as Roland Juhasz and Visar Musliu can regain their concentration in the back line.

Prediction: Kisvárda 1-2 Fehérvár

Paul:  Middle of the table, safety for Kisvarda supporters and six points above the relegation zone.  I think most fans of the side would have been happy with their start to the season. A loss of a manager but the return of a master motivator, László Dajka to the sideline.  Will this be the final match of Gheorghe Grozav for Kisvarda? In the NBI?

Fehervar seemed to have been on an “unofficial” vacation for severval matches now.  Perhaps they were not aware that round 16 was the final one of 2019? Regardless, three straight home loss and yet two straight away victories.  Your prediction is better than mine. Heads is a win, tails is a loss….Heads it is!

Prediction:  Kisvárda 1-2 Fehérvár

Puskás Akadémia vs Zalaegerszeg

Pancho Aréna, Felcsút (17:00)

Chris: Puskás’ Ezekiel Henty has turned up the heat in the final few weeks of 2019, scoring five goals in his last seven games.  Zsolt Hornyak’s side completed a sensational come-from-behind result at Groupama last week.

Zalaegerszeg got their reward with a solid win over Kaposvár last week.  Barna Dobos’ side were clinical early and then played a well defensively to complete a third clean sheet of the season – their second against Kaposvár this term.  Eduvie Ikoba got back on the score sheet after two frustrating defeats in a row.  This will be a big test for them heading into the winter break.   

Prediction: Puskás 2-1 ZTE

Paul:  Name this player?  12 matches, 7 goals, 3 yellow cards, and 0 red cards?  Ezekial Henty! Yes this is only a half a year’s worth of statistics but a nice start to the season.  I was very impressed by Zsolt Hornyák in his first few interviews. I heard a solid manager with good people skills and a manager ready to adjust his starting 11 in a fluid manner.  I was and am very impressed to say the least.  

Zalaegerszeg is another one of my pleasant surprises to the first half of the NBI season. I like their style, they attack, they are scrappy and not afraid.   They are not the luckiest side in the league but that is bound to change. Zalaegerszeg need to remain in the NBI. They play young players with a few experienced veterens.  Manager, Dr. Dobos Barna is a lot calmer than I. With all these turn of events, I would have had a heart attack by now. In 2020, I hope the bad luck of 2019 will be replaced by a side that stays up in the NBI.

Prediction:   Puskás 2-2 ZTE

Kaposvár vs Debrecen

Rákóczi Stadion, Kaposvár (17:00)

Chris: Kaposvár are now eight points adrift of the safety line and falling fast.  They’ve played some entertaining football but haven’t been able to turn it into points.  Center back David Hegedus’ return to the lineup was good as the 34 year-old looked tireless after missing the last four games.  This is not a team that currently has the tools to survive at this level but they can take a couple scalps along they way.  This seems like one of those opportunities for them.  

Debrecen’s lost in penalties against Dorog in the cup this week and have not had a particularly good autumn season.  The loss of Nagy and Szécsi will hurt them, and if Kevin Varga has the flu as reported it’s quite possible that he won’t feature in this one as well.  If ever there was a banana peel for Loki this would be the week for it.  Failure to reach the last 16 in they Magyar Kupa and playing against a motivated team on the road could be see them miss out on a couple of points again this week. 

Prediction: Kaposvár 1-1 Debrecen  

Paul: Against whom did Kaposvár win their only NBI matches so far?  Take a moment – Diósgyőr and (sorry Charlie) Debrecen. Interestingly two of the eastern Hungarian sides.   Kaposvár are in dire straits and prove that a side cannot get money for nothing and their players for free.   They will battle be assured and give it their all.

Thanks goodness Debrecen have one of the best managers in the NBI, András Herczeg.  They played Honvéd to a hard fought draw.  The offseason will be big for this squad.  Will a healthy Ádám Bódi return to the side in the second half?  Will Debrecen sign some magical players to reneergize the squad? Back to the prsent, can they lose again to the newcomers to the NBI?  NBI unpreditabilty says yes, but my heart says no!

Prediction:  Kaposvár 0-2 Debrecen

Honvéd vs Újpest  

Új Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest (19:30)

Chris: Honvéd are still sorting out who they want to be this season.  Eke Uzoma’s return for them at left back was a boost to their sides’ performance but they only managed a 1-1 draw against Debrecen.  Attacking midfielder Änis Ben-Hatira terminated his contract early and has left the club.  The sparsely-used Tunisian scored just one goal in 8 appearances this season after impressing with 3 goals and 2 assists in 12 appearances after he joined Kispest last spring. It’s been a wild ride for Honvéd in the first half of the season and their heavy lifters will need to come with their best to get something out of this one. 

Újpest dismissed Pacs with relative ease in the Magyar Kupa earlier this week.  Their impressive league form has also handed them four wins in their last five to solidify their league position in the top half of the table. Robert Feczesin continues to be Nebojsa Vignjevic’s talisman with 8 goals on the season and four in his last four league matches.  Lilák’s fortunes are looking up and they should be able to hang with Honvéd in the last Budapest derby of 2019.

Prediction: Honvéd 2-2 Újpest

Paul: The last round of 2019 cannot end without a derby and this is it!  Honvéd have not won in their last two matches.  You know they would love to end 2019 by defeating their fellow Budapest rivals with whom they are tired with at 23 points.  Is it too dramatic to ask for a Lanzafame goal and red card?

Újpest just a month ago  looked liked a team left for dead.  With the skillful tuning of their masterful manager, Nebojsa Vignjević, Lilak have won their last two matches.  A win here would send the lads off to a nice winter vacation with hopes of an excting 2020.

Prediction:  Honvéd 1-2 Újpest

Sunday, 15 December

Diósgyőr vs Ferencváros

Diósgyőri Stadion, Miskolc (18:00)

Chris: Tamás Feczkó has turned Diósgyőr’s fortunes around with some smart tactical changes to suit his most committed players and it has allowed them to pull five points clear of the relegation zone after nicking one against high-flying Mezőkövesd last week.  Now that he’s righted the ship, Feczkó will be looking to end the autumn season on a high note heading into the winter break.

  This has been an exhausting first half of the season for Ferencváros.  They ended their Europa League campaign with a 1-1 draw in Bulgaria this week, falling just short of punching their ticket for the knockout rounds.  They made a good showing for themselves in their first foray into continental group stage competition in quite some time, but they were also eliminated in the Magyar Kupa before the final 16.  This, however allows them to put their sights solely on the league which they are currently leading with a game in hand.  Sergei Rebrov’s team is tired but won’t be satisfied without a strong result to kick off their winter break.  Look for some rotation in the squad but Fradi should eke this one out.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-2 Ferencváros

Paul: Diósgyőr made an excellent decision in bringing in Tamás Feczkó to replace Fernando early in the season.   Feczkó is indeed one of the hardest working managers in NBI and his influence on the club has been immediately felt.  The new arena will be full and the 12th man, the fans, will be ready. I’m not ready to predict just yet but I know I must.

Ferencváros capped off a successful season by reaching the group stage of the Europa Leauge all the while leading the NBI by 4 points with a match against Debrecen in hand.  I can argue that they were some defensive lapses and a referree decision away from finsihing 2nd in their group. But that is old news. They travel to Miskolc in what I hope is an excellent end to round 16.

Prediction:  Diósgyőr 1-1 Ferencváros