NBI Round 21 Preview

The league is front and center again on Saturday as the heavy schedule rolls on. Most teams have played four games in less than two weeks and after this week’s cup matches the fatigue might be more evident in this round. Join Chris Barrett and Paul Treso as they preview each match and give you their predictions.

Saturday, 15 February

Debrecen vs Mezőkövesd

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen (17:00)

Chris: Debrecen came from behind last week at Diósgyőr to stretch their unbeaten run to four games.  With most everyone available this week and the possibility of players coming back from injuries, Debrecen could be hitting the stride most thought they’d hit this season.  No midweek cup match to fatigue the squad is a bonus.

After falling to Fehérvár last week, Mezőkövesd returned to winning ways in the cup on Wednesday with a 2-1 home win over Kaposvár while being able to rotate their squad.  They were unlucky not to get something out of the Fehérvár game as they had two goals ruled out on close calls and by no means looked second best.  Daniel Vadnai returns from suspension and Attila Kuttor pretty much has a full side to choose from. 

Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Paul: Debrecen has not lost in their last four matches and in fact have not lost in 2020.  They scored a rare away victory in Miskolc and the side are now up to the sixth position.  This will be a major test for the side as they seek to attempt to regain that famous Debrecen home field advantage.  The fact that I am even thinking of a victory speaks volumes of how far this side has come since their embarassing loss at the end of 2019 to Kaposvár. 

Mezőkövesd found that the upper echelon of Hungarian football is still ruled by  Ferencváros and Fehérvár.  Their away form has left a lot to be desired in the new year.   Unfortunately for Mezőkövesd, they catch a team on the rise but they should have enough wherewithall to earn a valuable draw which is always an achievement in Debrecen

Prediction: Debrecen 2-2 Mezőkövesd

Zalaegerszeg vs Újpest

at ZTE Aréna, Zalaegerszeg (17:00)

Chris: ZTE seem to be slipping fast, and the introduction of new boss Gábor Márton this week wasn’t able to galvanize them as they lost to NBIII side Lipoti in the first leg of their cup tie against them on Wednesday.  All season long this team has been snakebit in front of goal, but perhaps a new manager will shake things up – but only after the squad settles in with him. Midfielder Gergo Kocsis will be. a significant absence as he’s been one of their more consistent performers in Zalaegerszeg’s transition game, but the late addition Lukas Bőle from Fradi gives them a big boost in midfield.  They could be playing Újpest at the right time. 

Újpest had Saturday off as the derby was cancelled, but even with a fresh team they were unable to find a way past Fehérvár in the cup this week.  Dzenan Burekovic’s suspension will force Nebosja Vignjevic to change some things around.  Burekovic has been serviceable to good this season and he’ll be missed on the left side.  It’s difficult to see this club enjoying much success with everything that’s going on internally as well as on the pitch.  Vignjevic was audibly upset during halftime of the cup match on Tuesday, but hopefully he’s inspired his players to turn things around this week.

Prediction: ZTE 1-1 Újpest

Paul: The new year has not started out well for Zalaegerszeg to say the least.  They have not won in 2020, earning only a draw in four matches. Yet another new managerial changel in Gábor Márton.  A surprising choice in my opinion as he was an excellent player, but I have no idea about his managerial experience nor performance. Perhaps Ferenc Horváth is too busy enjoying his year off?  After an embarassing mid-week  Cup loss this side needs a vitamin B shot NOW to energize themselves or a quick return to the second divsion is in order.  

Újpest should be fresher than most sides due to only playing a Cup match in the mid-week.  Their away form has been solid and their defense should keep them in match with a draw being the logical choice.   Of course a victory is not out of the question as well. All this depends on the mental condition of the home side which is anyone’s guess.

Prediction: ZTE 1-1 Ujpest

Kaposvár vs Honved

at Rákócki Stadion, Kaposvar (17:00)

Chris: Kaposvár have been abysmal lately, and they were unable to take advantage of a weaker Mezőkövesd side in the cup as they field their own second choice side – probably with hopes of turning things around in the league.  There’s not much to base any hope on this side without a bit of luck and some inspiration from within.

Honvéd signed experienced winger Roland Ugrai.  The former Diósgyőr and Haladás player returns to NBI after a 16 month stint in Greece.  It’s likely he’ll make his debut against Kaposvár as the fixture list has put a lot of stress on clubs over the past few weeks.  Honvéd will also get Bence Bano-Szabo back from suspension this week so Giuseppe Sannino should have most of his players available.  Their midweek cup match against Haladás produced plenty of drama with Davide Lanzafame unsurprisingly in the middle of.  This should be a fairly easy three point for a team that has come together defensively and are in fairly good form.

Prediction: Kaposvár 0-2 Honvéd

Paul: Kaposvár’s leaky defense was apparent and exposed in allowing 5 goals in their defeat last week to Kisvárda.   They do play exciting matches to say the least as 8 goals matches are few and far between in the NBI. Kaposvár has lost their last three home matches and even a draw here would be a minor miracle.   They continue to fight and show spirit as their ineviatable demotion is merely a formality.

Honvéd had quite an exciting mid-week Cup match but I will leave it at that.   They made a great new signing in Roland Ugrai after his return from Greece. I am not sure how much he will feature here.   This an excellent chance for Honvéd to earn a valuable away victory. Despite their poor away record anything but a victory would be a great dissapointment.

Prediction: Kaposvár 0-2 Honvéd

Puskás Akadémia vs Kisvárda

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút (17:00)

Chris: DefenderKamen Hadzhiev returns for Puskás this week and they’ll need him against a Kisvárda side that exploded for five goals against Paks last round.  Pancho Aréna hasn’t been a comfortable place for Puskás this season as they’ve been without a win there in their last six.  They sent out a fairly strong starting XI against Bekescsaba in the cup this week.

If Tamás Bódog’s return to NBI means more goals, then this could be an exciting team as the season progresses.  Kisvárda took advantage of every opportunity despite conceding three goals and managed to grab three points for the first time since November last week against Paks.  With no cup match to draw their attention away they have been able to concentrate solely on the league.  Patrick Tischler seemed a man re-born under Bódog last week, but it remains to see if his tutelage will also bring consistency.

Prediction: Puskás 1-2 Kisvárda

Paul: Puskás are hoping to build on the momentum of  their comfortable Cup win. The minor obstacle to this thought is their home record.   Puskás has not won in their last five home matches but still find themselves just four points behind in the race for  the third spot in the table. I can’t figure out this club. On paper they are much better than on the pitch, but in truth isn’t true of a great many sides in football?

Quite a return to the NBI for new manager Tamás Bódog with a big assist from Kaposvár.  Patrik Tischler is alive and well as his name has not been mentioned in who knows how long?  I have to wager that there has not been an “all header” hat trick (any correct terms for this football fans?) in the NBI this season and who knows when the last time this rare feat happened?  Goals should be much harder to come here in a tight match. Kisvárda will need to play much better here than round 20 to have any shot at a point(s).

Prediction: Puskás 2-1 Kisvárda

Diósgyőr vs Paks

DVTK Stadion, Miskolc (17:00)

Chris: Diósgyőr started well last week but were unable to hold onto their early lead against Debrecen.  They played well enough to earn a point but were unlucky in a couple of occasions.  Fully rested and at home this week, they should be able to take advantage of a weakened Paks side. 

Paks dropped a difficult one last week, seeing two key players sent off in Daniel Böde and Norbert Könyves – both of whom deserved their dismissals but not without some crap sportsmanship from Puskás.  They did managed to win the first leg of their cup match against Pecsi on Wednesday but their attack will be severely hampered without two of their best producers.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 2-0 Paks

Paul: Diósgyőr came back to earth last weekend with a resounding thud.  They home record has been poor despite having some of the best fans in Hungarian football.  Last week they were outplayed by Debrecen in losing at home. This round despite playing a much improved Paks side, they will find a way to win in a tight, low scoring match.

Paks took care of business in their mid-week Cup battle but will be missing Norbert Könyves who has been their best player of late.  Paks has won two of their last three away matches but even a draw here is a bit much to ask of this side but not impossible. Maybe János Hahn will get a chance to earn his way back to the starting 11?   He has proven to be an excellent warm weather player and the weather in Hungary has been very nice lately.

Prediction: Diósgyőr 1-0 Paks

Ferencváros vs MOL Fehérvár

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest (19:30)

Chris: Ferencváros are well-rested and mostly healed up for what could be a turning-point match of the season against second-place Fehérvár.  With so much depth in midfield, they sent Lukas Bole to ZTE this week to get more playing time.  Fradi are champing at the bit and should take the game to a beaten and battered Fehérvár side.

Fehérvár claimed a massive win against closest pursuers Mezőkövesd last week despite not being the better team on the pitch.  They are struggling with injuries as right back Attila Fiola has been added to the heap that includes Loïc Nego and Szabolcs Huszti none of which are likely to feature in this top of the table clash.  Lyes Nouri hammered a stunning goal to open his account last week and Nemanja Nikolics is slowly becoming re-acclimated to NBI football after making his debut as a second half substitute last week.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-1 Fehérvár

Paul: Ferencváros had no matches during the week due to their early Cup exit and the unplayable grounds at Újpest.   The extra time should benefit the club as I am certain their manager Rebrov made valuable use to acclimate his new players to the side.  Things should be a bit more difficult here than it would have been a few weeks ago.

Fehérvár hopefully have found themselves after looking much better in their defeat of Mezőkövesd last Saturday.   Despite their poor play, they are still only three points behind Fradi with Fradi having a game in hand. These matches have not usually lived up to the hype but I see this match having some quality football.   It was special to see Nemanja Nikolić back in the NBI and he should be featured more in this match. A low scoring draw but will live up to the billing this time!

Prediction: Ferencváros 1-1 Fehérvár